. . . because you need to be with someone else—someone who will nurture and support your dreams!
Adapted from Pinky Cole’s I Hope You Fail: Ten Hater Statements Holding You Back from Getting Everything You Want
I know you read the title of this chapter and said, “Damn, Pinky!” But follow me; I’m going somewhere. In 2011, Marsha Ambrosius released a song called “Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player).” It was about a woman hoping that in his next relationship her ex would reap all the pain he caused in theirs. While a little harsh, that song was a bop! Now, I’m not saying that I think you’re a cheater or anything—if you are, that has absolutely nothing to do with me. But I am saying that this story is all about my deepest desire that whoever you’re loving breaks your heart so that you can truly see them for who they are, then get on the business of healing so you can go out and live your dreams.
When I came up with the idea for Slutty Vegan, I was in a relationship. I remember the day so vividly. I leaned over and asked if he thought it would be a good idea. “Yeah, I guess so” was his response. He wasn’t really invested in my dream and he really didn’t care. But when the brand took off, he sought to take ownership of my idea. He tried to sue me. I wish I could say I wasn’t surprised, but I was. My surprise and disappointment only sought to reveal a truth I didn’t want to admit: he and I may have been playing the same game, but we were never on the same team. And there is no worse feeling than being in competition with the person who’s lying next to you.
Everybody wants to love and be loved. Finding your person is a complicated enough process without adding entrepreneurship into the mix. When you own a business, you have to be even more intentional than you would normally be about who you invite into your life. It goes without saying that everyone isn’t happy for you, and often the closest people to us can be the most jealous. Who wants that in their relationship? It is draining in every way imaginable.
To see how your relationship fares, take an inventory and ask yourself the following questions.
1. What is my vision of love and how does this relationship align with it? We all know what kind of relationship we want to have and be in. And we’re all grown here, so I don’t need to tell you that yours should not be some Disney “helpless girl falls for a charming prince and they live happily ever after” type of bullshit. Taking the time to revisit what matters to you in your intimate relationships is important. Just as important is asking whether your current relationship ultimately reflects your vision. Even in the toughest times, your relationship should always point back to what you believe about love. If it doesn’t, that’s a problem. And your vision of love should always include your entrepreneurial dreams. You wouldn’t date a person who doesn’t want kids if you want them, right? You need to apply the same logic to your business. Your ideal partner should be someone who supports an entrepreneurial spirit.
2. Are my hopes, dreams, and fears safe in this relationship? There is nothing worse than not being able to show up as your full self in a relationship. Now, we all should recognize that we’re going to be held accountable for the dumb shit we do to our partners—especially if we’re in a healthy relationship. But if you can’t tell the person you’re with about the crazy business idea that came to you in the middle of the night, or about your deepest desire to shift generational patterns in your family, Hell, if you can’t trust your partner to hold space for your mental health, why the hell are you there?
3. If shit hits the fan in my life, is this the person I can count on? In life—and in business—bad things are going to happen. It’s inevitable. And when they do, it is important to have someone dependable in your corner. It can be something as simple as knowing that if my car breaks down on the side of the road, this person is coming to get me. Now, I might have to hear their mouth because they told me to take it to the shop two months ago, but at the end of the day, I know they’re coming. And it can be as huge as a crisis that may threaten the future of my business. Whatever it is, we deserve to be with people who can ease some of the burden simply by being consistent and present.
I absolutely love love, and I make no apologies about that. When I’m in a relationship, I’m giving the best of who I am, and I believe in being held accountable when I’m not. For a long time, though, I wondered whether I’d ever really find the one for me because of how committed I am to pursuing my goals. I think a lot of us feel that way—especially women. As a woman, how many times have you heard that you can’t have it all? Isn’t it interesting that the people who tell you that never ask you what your “all” is? Or, worse, they assume that your “all” looks like their “all.” And Black women get it much worse. There’s the unspoken and unwritten rule in our communities that Black women aren’t necessarily supposed to have big dreams and chase big bags. If they do that, they have to be willing to accept that love isn’t going to happen for them because no man is going to want a woman who doesn’t “know her place.” And what’s a Black woman’s place? It’s standing behind her man— building him up and supporting his dreams, of course. Fuck that!
My deepest longing always was to find someone I could vibe with. In the morning—you know that time when it’s still dark outside and we’ve got just a few moments before our days begin and we have to face the world—I’ve always dreamed of me and my person lying there and going over the business of the day. Whether they were an entrepreneur like me or not, we’d give each other advice and be the sounding board we needed. Scrolling social media, we’d laugh about something we saw on TikTok, look at the latest trending topic on Twitter, and interact with our friends and family on Facebook and Instagram. Throughout the day, we wouldn’t have to be all up under each other sending “wyd” texts every five minutes, because we’d know the other person was hard at work. And in the evening, we could unwind together, watching TV—or in my case, falling asleep while watching TV, because I never make it through a show!
The truth is that what I wanted wasn’t much different from what so many other people want when it comes to how they want their personal and professional lives to intersect. While there are some other pieces that you have to take into consideration as an entrepreneur when you’re dating, this shit isn’t rocket science. Loving entrepreneurs takes work; I won’t lie about that. But before we’re business owners, we’re people too, and we deserve to be cared for and loved simply because we’re human.
Unfortunately, as we all know, it’s not that simple, and many of us have the broken hearts and scars to prove it. I have dated people who were jealous of me and it was confusing as hell. I’ve also dated people who weren’t jealous but they deeply resented my drive and my commitment to my goals. Why? It made no sense. You knew who the hell I was when you met me! I’ve been in go-mode since the day I was born; it’s not like I switched up. But, for whatever reason, I got with people who either thought they would change me or break my spirit—thankfully, neither happened.
If I could give you any preliminary advice when it comes to love, it’s this: work through your shit as much as possible. Remember when I told you how my father’s absence impacted me in ways I didn’t know, and when those things all bubbled up to the surface, my ass got kicked out of school? I had to do the same kind of introspection when it came to my love life. I had to ask myself whether I was harboring some unmet need or dealing with unrecognizable “daddy issues” when it came to my choices in romantic partners. It honestly was the best thing I could ever have done, and I encourage you to do the same.
Spending time evaluating the personal relationships in your life, especially those with your family, will help you identify your relationship patterns. And asking yourself some hard questions doesn’t hurt. What did you see your mother experience and accept in her love life? How did that impact you? How would you describe your parents’ relationship with each other, and what does that mean to you? What kinds of relationships are present in your family, and how do you think they have shaped how you see love and intimacy? Doing this kind of work helped me see—and stop ignoring—some pretty obvious red flags in my life, and I know it will help you do the same.
Listen, I’m not saying you’ll change overnight. This shit is hard. But acknowledging what you need and why you haven’t been able to have it is the first step you can take to going out and getting it. In my mind, a partner supports the one they love. While my father may have loved my mother, he wasn’t there to physically support her. As a result, she had to take on more than her fair share and put too many of her dreams and desires on the back burner. Consequently, I knew I needed a partner who would be there and could help me build the life I wanted.
In I Hope You Fail, Pinky Cole—founder of the wildly successful restaurant chain Slutty Vegan—takes you back to your moments that seemed hopeless to help you discover how filled with possibility they really were.