We’re a couple who cofounded a company. Here’s how that works.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

“How’d you choose your cofounder?”

That’s a simple enough question. When you’ve known your cofounder(s) for a long time — as is the case with Doug and me — there are so many ways to answer. We could say we went to school together like Warby Parker’s founding team. Or we could say we worked on another project together like Twitter’s founders.

But in our case, the shortest answer is “we’re in a relationship.” Cue shock and awe.

The reactions to that bombshell range from incredulous to surprised to inspired.

“Oh wow!”

“That’s so interesting!” and

“What’s it like?” are the most common responses.

The latter is the point of this post. What’s it like to cofound a company (or start any big project) with a significant other? Well…

It’s hard

In a way, cofounding a company with a significant other is hard because starting a company is hard. In the same way that Morgan DeBaun and Jonathan Jackson (platonic friends and cofounders of Blavity) might have gotten frustrated with each other or experienced major roadblocks when building their platform, so have we. There are disagreements. There are bad days. There are disappointments. That comes with the territory of going into business with anyone—or even by yourself.

It’s beautiful

Even though we’ve launched a startup and not a small business, it’s important to note the ubiquity of the term “mom and pop shop.” We’re not the first couplepreneurs and we certainly won’t be the last. If mom and pop shops are so common, it begs the question: is there a potential benefit of going into business with the one you love?

My answer is a firm yes. Although we’re not married, the idea of building a life with another person is analogous to building a company together. Our careers are connected to the values we hold, the lifestyles we aim for, and the people who will populate most of our days. Sharing even a portion of that with your forever person is a beautiful opportunity for deeper connection, heightened appreciation, and far less time apart than the average couple.

Setting up boundaries is a skill all successful relationships have to hone — cofounders, significant others, friends, or all of the above.

It’s confusing

I recently met David Liu and Carley Roney, who cofounded XO Group, the parent company of platforms like The Knot and The Bump. When I asked David about striking a balance between personal and professional in a couple-cofounder relationship, he said that he and Carley often found themselves talking about their company even on date nights when they’d said they wouldn’t talk shop.

In our first project together, Doug and I did this all the time, too. There was only one additional challenge: we were (and still are) in a long-distance relationship, where our time together is limited to sporadic weekends, lengthy calls, and incessant texting. In the early days of The Curatours (also the early days of living apart), we would spend hours talking about and working on the project. Then we’d look up, and it would be Sunday morning, and we’d realized we’d spent our whole weekend doing work — fun work that we love to do, but work nonetheless.

We had to make a pact to work very little if at all during our limited in-person time together. While it felt unnatural at first — not talking about the thing you’re most passionate about with your significant other is strange — we found ourselves making more memories and finding new passions to share. It’s not always easy or clear, but setting up boundaries is a skill all successful relationships have to hone — cofounders, significant others, friends, or all of the above.

It’s perfect

Solo entrepreneurs often talk about the loneliness of starting their companies. You’re often isolated from family and friends; you find yourself deeply passionate about something others in your life might not even know anything about; and you’re willing to do things for your company that everyone else might think is incredibly ridiculous.

This gets better when you have a cofounder. Now two or more of you are taking leaps of faith together, talking (almost) nonstop about how to improve, and encouraging each other even when your chances of success seem slim to the naked eye.

I like to think that having a cofounder who is also your significant other brings the loneliness levels down even further. More importantly, your passion for the project is proven and palpable to the person you’re with. In normal circumstances, we generally know very little about how our friends, family, and significant others operate at work — we only know what they tell us. But when you see the work firsthand, and you share that commitment, it takes out the guesswork and reveals the raw passion you share for whatever you’re trying to create.

There is no perfect way to start a business or build a relationship, we just happen to be able to do those things together.

It’s not for everyone

Some couples will probably read the title of this post and run in the opposite direction. Like so many things, you have to trust your gut on this one. If your gut says your relationship wouldn’t survive the stress of working together, don’t do it. And if you’re single, certainly don’t wait for your relationship status to change before you start a company.

There is no perfect way to start a business or build a relationship, we just happen to be able to do those things together.