As a teenager, I used to fantasize about rock stars and musicians—both the lifestyle and romantically.
Like most adolescent daydreams, the fixation of living what I believed to be the life of an artist, or an artist’s muse, faded over time as I grew older and realized how much I enjoyed consistent and reliable paychecks.
I was with someone who aspired to be a nurse and I worked corporate with a creative flair for several years—before the universe fired the entire production team overseeing my life and my story arc changed around season 30 to that of a divorced woman who falls in love with a musician.
Having a musician as a partner is impossibly different than I ever could have imagined it to be. Yes, there are obviously clubs, late nights, and parties that come along with the territory—but there are far more nuances to a relationship with a musician than the happy performances that the entire world can buy front row tickets to.
My partner is kind, loving, creative, incredibly talented, and constantly in demand. On face value, we make an odd pair: a pale, cynical woman who panics and cries when she receives too much attention, and a beaming giant of a man with thousands of followers and fans on social media—all of whom are excited to follow his next project.
Music is an intrinsic part of my partner’s life and who he is as a person. The first time I watched him perform live was an emotional experience for us both. I realized that there is nothing tangible or intangible on this earth that will ever make him as happy or fulfilled as music does—and that includes the love that we have for one another. He realized the beauty in being vulnerable enough to share his music and craft with a person you love.
Together, these two truths help to guide us through our relationship when I struggle to understand the necessity of appreciating fans (even the intense ones with questionable motives), and he must resort to begging me to leave our cave of a bedroom and get some sunlight.
Relationships require dedication and patience; and loving a musician, or any creative, is no different in that regard, but quite different in others. And there is no sitcom episode or rulebook that is passed out at the “So, You’re Dating a Musician” conference that could have adequately prepared me for some of the things that my partner has taught me about loving an artist.
Scattered Brain Syndrome
My partner is incredible at so many things. He is extremely handy, he loves being helpful, and he is unbelievably smart. He can also get tunnel vision when working on a project and completely loses track of time, space, his email password, and where he left his car keys.
What works best for us is a delegation of household responsibilities where we both manage tasks that are well within our individual wheelhouses. Most of the administrative and car-key-tracking duties fall to me, which frees him up to focus on more hands-on tasks like fixing our vehicles, plumbing, taming the lawn, and creating music.
Understanding the strengths and limitations that my partner has that make him such an incredible (albeit disorganized) artist is what helps us to work with, and not against, one another.
The phrase sensitive artist is no joke. Creatives are highly sensitive and emotional people—it’s what fuels their spirit and art.
My partner and I are both artistic people in different senses, which means there are a lot of emotional highs and lows that we navigate on a regular basis. It’s easy to support someone when they are riding a wave of success, but it is much harder during the tough times. Sometimes it’s a bad show, other times it’s a creative block that they can’t quite seem to move past.
You must be prepared to compartmentalize and mitigate through the emotions that come along with the creative process, and above all else, maintain a level of respect and honor for your partner during these times. Even if you cannot empathize, you can sympathize.
Respect the Shows
The groupies aren’t going away, I’m sorry. Trust me, I still have moments about them too. But performances are sacred to musicians, and even though there are aspects of them that may not be ideal, it’s a package deal. You and your partner cannot celebrate the highs of having an incredible live performance without also accepting that there will likely always be people who fanboy/girl over their presence.
Live shows are what my partner lives and breathes for, and I have the utmost respect for that. We have an agreement that we honor that says all outside issues are tabled in anticipation and preparation of a live performance, especially if you are attending the event with them. Got into a row the day before a show? Sorry babe, but that issue is officially off-limits until the lights go off and everyone goes home. Hit a curb on the way to a venue? Deal with it in the morning and put on a happy face before you walk into that club.
It’s not about masking your feelings—it’s maintaining a level of composure and respect for your musician’s work and safe place in his or her music.
My partner can (and probably will) tell you that I can be an incredibly clingy person. I will physically crawl on top of him when we are watching TV, just to be closer to him. But I do begrudgingly let him escape from time to time to do what he is most passionate about, which is his music.
If your partner is a musician, you must allow them to be musicians and play their music—alone. Talk to your partner about your needs, and how much time you spend together, but understand that their need to create in private deserves to be respected to just as much.
I am privileged to share my life with someone as talented as my partner is. The life we share is beautiful, passionate, and functional because of the efforts we have made to understand one another. I am as much of a priority to him as he is to me, and because of this, we go to great lengths to honor what is important to one another.
My partner’s first love will always be his music, but the work we put in every day makes the love we share the deepest.