How to maintain a great relationship between an artist and a business man?
September 13, 2008 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Can a "low-functioning" artistic person like me maintain a great relationship with a "high-functioning" creative business man?

I finally understand why me and my hon, have certain disagreements and arguments. It pops up when my principles and artistic views clash with his principles and high-functioning personality. It also affects the way we see things, such as when I make a joke, and the times he doesn't laugh or he will simply not see what I see at times. But for the most part we run on the same lines of what is fair to people and our judgments about others are the same. We both love music and share some likes in each others choice of genre. We have great political and deep discussions about life, family and friends. He is obviously great with money and I am fervent with handling my finances properly. Most of the time we are funny and laughing at the same things. He is very imaginative like me. So basically we are cool together with spots that need improvement.

There was a time, however, in our second year together where he had no idea of the OCD I was going through and saw my delayed, low-functioning level as proof of me not caring. He would sometimes criticize me for not being on his level with being consistent in areas that were important to us as a couple. He finally understood that was not a way to approach me because I don't take too kindly to coach-like tactics. He has apologized for acting like an ass and is happier knowing the real person I am instead of me willing myself to be something I am not comfortable with however, some of our discussions will turn into arguments because I feel that he can over-do it with the motivational can-do talk instead of flowing and relaxing with me. I sometimes feel his certain ways of thinking can be so opposite of what I believe in which has me anxious and then my obsessional thoughts creep in. And it also stems from my childhood of always being an awkward kid whom all the high-functioning children disliked because they saw me as annoying and stupid because it took me a bit longer to grasp a logical problem. So, after I graduated and then went to high school, I made sure I hung with only students on my level and we used to have a great time. I felt great. When I met my boyfriend, part of me knew he was one of those "high-functioning" individuals who might dislike what I have to offer. Well, he didn't dislike most of what I offered but when he did, he made it clearly known which was something I was not used to and rightfully so, made me upset because I felt he was acting spoiled.

Now, I love him to pieces and despite it all we still grow with each other. I just want to know how to understand and be right with him not being on my same level of artistry or function when our clear differences show up occasionally? How can I relate to my boyfriend better and how can he improve his relations with me? Anybody ever went through this as well?
posted by InterestedInKnowing to Human Relations (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is very hard to truly relate to someone who in some way, even a very small way "judges" you. When people are different, even people that love each other, when there is judging going on by one or both of the parties, you can't mesh. I would ask this person right out if they feel you are inferior to them in some way or ways and if they belive they are superior to you in some way or ways. You should never feel inferior in a relationship. Even a little bit.
posted by regularperson at 12:08 PM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

You have to, honestly, really be strong enough to handle criticism over a long time without succumbing to depression for this to work between the two of you. By 'criticism', I don't mean actual verbal abuse, either, because I bet he doesn't do that. It's not something intentional on his part, it's a completely different mindset.

Here's the rub: if his well-meaning "motivational" talks lead to the eventual soul-crushing acceptance in your heart that you aren't ever really going to live up to his standards , that belief will suck the life right out of you and break you down little by little, day by day, until you are mired in deep depression.

I know what I'm talking about. Insecurity and sensitivity to criticism, which most of us who have "artistic temperaments" suffer from, make this a really tough long-term situation. Whether or not it works depends a lot on how much he is able to restrain this (on his part) natural compunction to "motivate," and how well you can rebound and regain your spirits afterward when and if it does happen.

Ask yourself this: is he appreciative of the things that you take most pride in having done, or is his mindset so different that he cannot really see value in efforts unless a dollar amount or big important title is tied to them? Does he measure people by their status? If so, I see a long hard road ahead for the two of you.
posted by misha at 2:33 PM on September 13, 2008

Response by poster: Actually he sees the true value of people through their spirit and behavior. He never really put a dollar amount on what's important or wanted to get close to people because of any high status. He has told me numerous times how I helped him in discovering that there is more to life than trying to climb your way to success. My work, I take the most pride in and he definitely gives me huge props in doing a job well done but there were a couple of times where I would show him a song and he would give me an honest answer if he did not like it. But we have been together strong for 5 years and I can sense I am very sensitive to criticism when I know he is not trying to be an ass about it but it used to come off that way a lot. And my OCD only made things worse because we hold on to that feeling of resentment a little longer than needed. So, all the good positive aspects stated in your post Misha is exactly what he does. He believes in having financial means but also doing what you love just as long as you have your finances covered. That's where he stands. He has his regular job, then he has his side business in which he, thankfully is not a slave to because we both made sure his business life doesn't take over his personal life to keep things in line.
I freelance and do other part time entertainment gigs and he knows how hard I work. He tells me all the time how he is inspired and appreciative with me just being myself and knowing what I want to do with my life. These posts are helping a lot, keep them coming guys. Thank you!
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 3:32 PM on September 13, 2008

Best answer: times where I would show him a song and he would give me an honest answer if he did not like itYour problem is not the relationship, it is your own sense of self. When your sense of self worth is not good every negative thing sounds like something hurtful. He is only relating to you like an evolved person who is not afraid of the full emotional spectrum. You do not seem to be ready for that - you are still feeling hurt by any criticism. You would rather not be real than feel the pain that comes with playing with the whole spectrum of our emotional lives.

This is not a criticism - I was the same way until I got older - just saying you two are not on the same level in this area. So should you break up? Hell no! He needs to lean towards gentleness and you need to toughen up, buttercup. That is how relationships and our own emotions grow. Too many people are not willing to put in the work and our society certainly shows it.

Stick to gether, work on lightening up - that is when things start to sound more funny than hurtful and have him work on his more understanding side and see what happens.
posted by shaarog at 6:20 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

What exactly do you mean by high-functioning and low-functioning? Where did you hear about that expression?

I'm just curious because I feel like I relate to your boyfriend somewhat. Or at least I fear having some of the issues that you are.
posted by mhuckaba at 12:00 AM on September 14, 2008

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