I know a woman who has always dreamed of investing in real estate.
Instead of watching Netflix in the evenings, she flips dreamily through real estate listings, sighs in elation at gorgeous photos of stainless steel fixtures and marble counters, and runs mortgage calculations. Real estate is her love language.
She loves real estate so much, in fact that she decided to take her career in a new direction and become a licensed real estate agent. She studied her ass off, passed the exam, and began her next chapter.
This woman has a boyfriend. He’s a lovely guy. One day, he inquired, “Hey, do you think…maybe…I should invest in real estate?” She practically exploded with excitement and told him, “A thousand times, yes! You absolutely should!”
She walked him through exactly what to do, shared her hard-won expertise with him, spent dozens (if not hundreds) of hours helping him choose the right neighborhood, price range, and property, negotiated on his behalf to get him the best possible deal, and held his hand through every step of the process.
All for free, of course.
One year later, her boyfriend owns property, has tenants, and is building wealth.
Meanwhile, this woman still hasn’t been able to save up enough for a downpayment.
He’s living her dream, and rising upward in life.
She’s stuck in a holding pattern.
Sadly, I’ve seen this exact scenario play out with countless women in my life.
A tale as old as time.
Woman invests her time, energy, skills, and sweat to build somebody else’s dream…while neglecting her own.
Woman feels exhausted, resentful, emotionally broke, and financially broke too.
Meanwhile, others profit and prosper…thanks to her labor.
Sometimes people oppress us. And sometimes, we oppress ourselves.
Women of the world, hear me loud and clear:
Stop helping your partner become rich.
And by “partner” I mean your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, cousin, best friend, or whomever.
Unless you are already living your dream life, and enjoying substantial wealth, then you have no business laboring (for free) to build someone else’s dream.
There is a big difference between being supportive, caring, and kind to your partner (which energizes you, strengthens your bond, and makes you feel rich) versus giving excessively to your partner (which drains your tank, depletes you, and leaves you broke).
One more cautionary tale.
I have a friend who helped her (now ex) partner to launch a restaurant—his dream business.
She worked tirelessly by his side for almost 2 years, giving over 1,000 hours of her time to help with every conceivable task: marketing, media outreach, photography, website and logo design, running the e-newsletter, and even waitressing, dish washing, and waking up at 5 a.m. to clean the bathroom and scrub toilets before the first rush of customers arrived.
He never offered to pay her, and she never asked.
She naively assumed they’d be together forever. While she wasn’t “officially” a co-owner of the business, she figured they’d work hard together and savor the rewards together. “He’s my soulmate. We’re building this together,” she convinced herself.
Whilst doing all this work to support him, she was also running her own business full-time, and (as you can imagine) growing increasingly exhausted due to the fact that she was basically juggling two careers. She would frequently work late on her laptop to catch up on her own projects…while her boyfriend enjoyed free time off, snowboarding, and camping trips.
Her income sagged. She took out a loan so she could afford to keep paying her team. She felt lifeless, drained in every possible way.
Her partner began complaining that their sex life wasn’t what it used to be.
They eventually broke up.
I’m happy to report that she learned a priceless lesson and is doing much better today, although she’s still recovering from the physical, emotional, and financial drain of those years that she spent building her ex-boyfriend’s dream. She’s still paying off debt, and still hasn’t been able to buy her dream house.
Meanwhile her ex-partner’s business is thriving, has expanded into a second location, and he recently purchased a duplex.
Let this be a lesson to you.
I repeat: stop helping your partner become rich.
Brainstorm with your partner around the dinner table, sure. Rub his shoulders when he’s tired, yeah. Give her the occasional pep talk (“You can totally do this, babe!”) and recommend a book they should read.
But unless they are paying you cash money, or unless you have a legally binding agreement detailing how you will share the labor and the profits of this enterprise, do not build their website. Do not run their social media marketing campaign. Do not wash dishes in the back of their restaurant. Do not invest 20, or 100, or 1,000 hours of your one-and-only life into building their dream and their wealth.
Because that is not “being a good partner.” That is allowing yourself to be exploited. And honestly, it’s not really your partner's fault. It’s yours, for volunteering to do it.
If you’ve never done this sort of thing, good, and make sure it stays that way.
If you have done this, well, you’ve learned a million dollar lesson. Make sure to never unlearn it. And tell your story to other women and girls. Let them know what is what.
I’m sure your partner has many excellent qualities. He probably loves you very much. She probably smells good. And maybe they have really nice shoulders, too. That’s great. Even so. Stop building his empire.
PS. And if you both build your empires side by side, even better. Rise together. Real Kings want a True Queen, not an unpaid exhausted servant.
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