(This article is my answer on Zhihu to “Are Men with Strong Career Ambitions Suitable Life Partners?”)

After starting my own business, I met many entrepreneurs, most of whom are men with strong career ambitions.

I noticed an interesting phenomenon: these entrepreneurs have a significantly higher rate of being single compared to their peers, and their marriages are also less stable.

High Single Rate

In the fields of AI, mobile internet, and Web3, successful co-founders of startups usually have at least a modest fortune; those whose startups didn’t succeed still often have impressive resumes, such as graduation from prestigious schools, high positions in major companies, and various titles and awards. They/She definitely wouldn’t have trouble finding a good partner. But why is the single rate so high and the marriage stability so low?

The core reason is that men with strong career ambitions mostly spend their time and interest on their careers, investing less in life, emotions, and family.

The entrepreneurs I know generally have very modest personal life requirements, dressing and eating casually, and they hardly spend the money they earn. They also rarely have time to go out and have fun.

I consider myself one of the more playful entrepreneurs. For example, recently at Token2049 in Dubai, most entrepreneurs were busy rushing from one meeting to another. My co-founder and I took advantage of the breaks between meetings, and two days of meetings were canceled due to flooding, which gave us time to explore quite a bit of Dubai. Last year in the US, I wanted to go out with some entrepreneurs I was staying with, but most of them were too busy even on weekends, or they were just very homebound; some had been in LA for half a year and hadn’t even been to the beach. At that time, I had just started a business and wasn’t very busy, and I like to travel around, so I just had to let the AI Agent accompany me.

If you are a woman, think about your boyfriend, your future husband, who has no time to go shopping or watch movies with you every day, who doesn’t want to make an effort to create little romantic gestures, who doesn’t pay attention to your mood, and who doesn’t want to coax you when you’re angry.

You would feel that your boyfriend doesn’t love you, and he would think you are too troublesome.

For example, my ex-girlfriend once wrote an answer complaining about me “What’s it like having a computer genius as a boyfriend?”. On one hand, it was low EQ, and on the other, it was prioritizing technology over our life together.

Although my EQ isn’t that low now, it’s still below the average level of my peers. And career still takes precedence over life to this day, although among entrepreneurs I am considered one who enjoys life more. But when there’s a conflict between career and life, career still takes priority. Most of the arguments I’ve had with my wife over nearly 7 years have been due to conflicts between career and life.

Low Marriage Stability

So why do men with strong career ambitions have low marriage stability? Since their minds are all invested in their careers, theoretically, they shouldn’t have time to find mistresses, right?

There are three reasons for this:

  • First, people with strong career ambitions often have different values from most partners;
  • Second, people with strong career ambitions generally prefer trying new things and have a stronger desire to conquer;
  • Third, people with strong career ambitions need their partners to keep growing.

Firstly, the most suitable types of partners for people with strong career ambitions are either the supportive type or the like-minded type. People with strong career ambitions are picky about their partners, and they don’t really match with most people.

Supportive partners are the life assistants of men, helping their partners manage various household chores without demanding too much emotional value. They understand and support their partner’s career and choices, and they also have good emotional control, not demanding too much from their partners in life. Most successful men with happy families have such supportive partners. My own wife is also this type.

Like-minded partners are harder to find, generally involving two people with the same career plans and hobbies, both starting a business together, being partners in work and life. Many family businesses start this way. Like-minded partners are indeed envied by everyone, but there are three risks:

  • First, people’s career plans and hobbies can change, and once they no longer share the same goals, they will part ways.
  • Second, people with strong career ambitions usually have strong opinions, which can easily lead to conflicts between the two.
  • Lastly, if both are busy with starting a business, no one pays attention to the family, and the upbringing and education of children and the care of parents will become a problem. My wife’s mentor once said that the career of both spouses and the education of children form an impossible triangle, where one aspect has to be sacrificed.

Unfortunately, most people only look at whether they are a good match when finding a partner, whether their personalities and hobbies match. Many people with strong career ambitions are not aware of their most suitable partner type, or even that they prioritize career over life, so they end up with a mismatched partner, only to find after many years that they are stumbling and not very happy. This is the most important reason for low marriage stability.

Secondly, chasing girls and starting a business are both challenges for men with strong career ambitions, and most who choose to start a business have a challenger’s personality, liking to try new things, with a stronger desire to conquer. This is why they choose to start a business rather than a stable job.

My mentor once told me, starting a business is to realize a dream, not to make money or to enjoy life.

If it’s for making money, it’s better to join a fast-growing startup or a big company. Because the failure rate of starting a business is high, and even if successful, the period until cashing out is generally long, the expected income is actually not as good as joining other companies or big firms.

Starting a business to enjoy life is even more absurd; those who seriously start a business from scratch are generally busier the wealthier they become, unable to guarantee even sleep during the high-speed development phase of the company. Only after achieving financial freedom and retiring might one enjoy life. But since those who choose to start a business have a challenger’s personality, after succeeding once, they want to challenge the next problem, and unless they encounter some major change, it’s hard to stop challenging.

Why start a business, just like why climb mountains? Climbing is tiring and risky, but it’s a life experience. The scenery seen during the process of starting a business is different from that of ordinary workers, so starting a business is a lifestyle. This kind of lifestyle is something most people have little chance to experience, because it requires first swindling millions of dollars from investors.

I believe, starting a business is to realize dreams and experience life. It’s just that this kind of life is different from the life most people like, which involves daily shopping and dining.

Returning to the issue of low marriage stability, some men also see trying new partners as part of the process of conquering new things. Although I do not agree with this value system, I am describing an objective fact. Moreover, entrepreneurs need to face various dark aspects of society, and their moral bottom line is generally lower than most people’s, hence the saying “the merciful cannot command an army.”

Lastly, people with strong career ambitions themselves grow very quickly, so they need their partners to keep growing too; otherwise, the gap will widen, gradually becoming mismatched.

Many people find their partners during their school days, when the differences among students are not very apparent. But in society, the gap will grow larger and larger. People with strong career ambitions grow quickly with each challenge. But most people are unwilling to learn actively or grow on their own. If a partner remains stagnant, unwilling to learn or improve themselves, then the gap in cognitive levels will widen, and what was once a match in values will gradually become mismatched.

The best relationship between two people is one where they accompany each other and grow together. A relationship maintained solely by responsibility is unhappy and even short-lived. Only by continuously matching values and connecting spiritually as they grow can two people maintain a stable relationship and a happy life.