Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

Relationships are tricky, even outside the entertainment industry. Add in the ridiculous stresses of schedule, the ups and downs of close calls and tier jumps, and of course the fact that flirtation is a part of networking (no matter what your primary type or attachment status) and you’ve got a situation that’s tough for the healthiest, most balanced people on the planet. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve observed that the entertainment industry isn’t exactly a magnet for the healthiest, most balanced people on the planet.

So, there’s work.

Last week, I was asked to point a reader to any columns I had written about “what it takes to have a happy, healthy, functional relationship in the entertainment industry.” Since I didn’t have a column in the archives already, I asked readers to share some thoughts on the issue. As for my thoughts — ten years into the closest thing to a well-balanced, happy, healthy relationship in the industry I’ve ever had — my thoughts are all about the work. Be your authentic self. Connect with folks who — at their authentic selves — celebrate your authentic self. Surround yourself with these folks and when you meet the one who also happens to challenge you intellectually, inspire you creatively, and ring your bells physically, that’s a winner.

But even when you’ve connected with a good candidate for “happily ever after,” know there’s work to do. Every day is a choice. And you’re always either choosing to walk away from each other, walk toward each other, or walk together toward a common goal. Healthy couples can agree, that even when they’re struggling, they’re in it together and they’re stronger together than apart. That’s what has us going strong at ten years, here at Cricket Feet. And every day, we’re choosing that. It’s not a done deal, just because we stood up in front of a few friends, put on rings, and said, “In front of these folks, I choose you.” We choose each other daily. And, as I’ve written before, we always go for the funny. That’s what works for us, for now. What about what’s working for other power couples in the industry? Let’s find out!

From Mandi Moss:

To quote Hal Hartley’s movie Trust: “Respect, admiration, and trust equals love.” Without those, everything else really breaks down. I keep coming back to that quote year after year and sometimes you think you have them all, but once that relationship ends you see that you, in fact, were missing one of those elements. To keep those things thriving, you have to have real communication with yourself and with your partner. If you don’t express how you feel, what your concerns are, what your expectations are, you are dead in the water. On the reverse, if the other person doesn’t HEAR you, you are dead in the water. Remember that you are on the same team and always, always let your partner know that you appreciate them.

From Amy Harber:

My boyfriend Brendan and I have only been together for a mere six months, but it’s been a rather fast six months. We’ve found that open communication and being able to laugh with (not at) ourselves has been key to our still-budding relationship. We also have the yin-yang factor to our relationship. He has had TONS of intensive actor training opposed to my learn-as-I-go training as a model-turned-actor. On the other hand, I am well-versed in the business side of self-managing one’s self. I help him with networking and promoting his work while he helps me by sharing his training with me, coaching me for auditions, etc.

From Sarah Levin:

Relationships are hard. Anyone who thinks they aren’t hard or who claims their relationship is minty fresh 24/7 stinks of lying and the liars who lie about it. You are committing to a whole other human being whose only connection to you is that they are fond of you. You’re going to have arguments, you’re going to disagree, he (or she, of course) will do something at some point to piss you off, and eventually — in all of this — he will witness you fart and he had better be cool with that because you are a human being, damn it, and you are vulnerable!

On top of that, you are balancing a day job, which is a lot of time spent outside of your field, and in the time that remains, you pursue your real career in the industry before working out, taking meetings, going to networking events, paying what bills you can, and trying to get a decent night’s sleep so you don’t look like a zombie at your audition tomorrow (unless your audition is to play a zombie, in which case you stay up all night researching zombies so you know your motivation — AKA the pursuit of brains as sustenance).

So, where does a significant other fit into all this? Right where you put them. You have to decide what’s more important at any given moment, so if you are just too busy or unwilling to give on anything, then you are probably better off being by yourself. Being in a healthy relationship means that you share yourself and your time with another person. Give a little, get a little.

Now that I have made being in a relationship sound awful, let me change your mind. Being in a relationship is awesome! I love having someone who cares about me all the time. I don’t have to worry about him being on my side. Of course he’s on my side; he loves me. I like spending time with him; it’s not a burden. I’m hanging out with my best friend. Here’s an ear to whisper all my secrets in, here’s a brain to bounce ideas off, here’s someone who makes me laugh even when I have had a terrible day and the world is against me. Here’s someone who I can look my worst with and make mistakes with because he likes me just the way I am. Here is somebody who brings something new to the table and sets it for two. Relationships rock the proverbial socks.

Also, this relationship makes me happy and it’s always easier for me to focus on being creative when I am happy in other areas of my life. Less worry, less stress in some parts means it won’t distract me whilst working on other parts. So, in a big way, taking myself off the market for one guy has made me better at my career. How about that? Eh? Eh?

Now, here is my advice about dating/relationshippin’ while pursuing your craft:

  1. Are you still going through your bad boy phase? Do you just have to have the girl who your friend is dating? Did you forget to save the drama for your mama? Don’t stay with someone just because you don’t want to be alone. Think of it this way: That crappy relationship is adding one more hurdle on the road of your career. Sure, Rimbaud was an awesome poet filled to the brim with raunchy ennui, but he stopped writing when he was 21. You know why? Because he was distracted by relationship drama!
  2. Now that you’re in a good relationship: Communicate with him as much as possible. Tell them details about your life and career so they know what you’re thinking and why you do what you do. Remember, you’re the one with the nontraditional job. Mysteries are only good for courtships. Relationships need full disclosure. If you have to kiss someone on a shoot, have a talk about it first with your significant other so there are no surprises. It’s not cheating; it’s working. If your sweetie is in the industry, they may even be able to contribute to what you’re going through (“No, no sweetie, tongue kissing him will only make him turn into a vampire faster. I think your character would start kissing his neck first. It’s ironic”).
  3. Make sure they know they are a priority. Yes, this means that sometimes you have to give up something that you want to do. However, if they are as cool as you think they are, they will forgive you if you have to ditch them for an agent meeting or an audition or anything else that is super important. Remember, they should be on your side. And since you already told them about what you do and how it all works, they know that auditions and meetings sometimes come up at the last minute. By the same token, if you pick a meeting with Steven Spielberg over visiting your sweetie in the intensive care unit after the car accident he was in earlier today, then you suck. And if Steven Spielberg refuses to reschedule with you because you chose to go to the intensive care unit instead of meeting with him, then he sucks and you’ll find another way to get your movie made without his help, thank-you-very-much! (Disclaimer: I don’t know Steven Spielberg, but I have heard he is delightful and I’m sure he would be happy to reschedule with you and make your dreams come true after your partner recovers.)
  4. Be interested in what your partner has to say and learn about it. That’s what makes them special and different. Maybe he likes goldfish or badminton or rutabagas. If that’s what’s important to him, then you should want to hear all about it. As much as you want your career to work out, he may have a similar passion for ichthyology. Learning what floats your sweetie’s boat makes your relationship closer and helps you to be a well-rounded person. And well-rounded people do better in everything.

Like anything in life, you get what you give. If having a relationship is important to you, then spend a little time and effort nurturing it. I don’t see any reason why you can’t have a successful relationship as well as career if you’re with the right partner.

From Keith Johnson:

That “you complete me” line from Jerry Maguire is a recipe for disaster. A lot of people are hollow. They’re missing something. And they search for someone to fill that hollowness. To complete them. Being in a successful relationship has everything to do with being a complete person on your own. Only then can you attract the partner who wants to be with you rather than who needs you or needs to fix you, both of which are bad reasons to connect, emotionally.

I think you need to be committed to giving 70% in the relationship. The goal is, of course, to find another person who is also determined to give 70%. On your good days, that couple is churning away at 140%. (I hate the “over 100%” thing, but what I’m really saying is, this couple is capable of amazing things that neither could accomplish on their own, when both are firing on all cylinders.) On days when one can’t pull their weight, the other can take up the slack. And only on very rare occasions will neither be able to make it go. And on those days, you stay in bed together and make out.

Support your partner, yes. And your partner supports you, too. But support is optional to the individual’s success. It helps. It doesn’t cause the success to happen. And no matter what, celebrate the success. And always go for the funny.

From Helenna Santos:

Barry and I have been together almost eight years and married almost five. While I feel like eight years is definitely nowhere near long enough to have any sort of expertise on relationships, I know what has worked for us so far, and maybe this will help other people out there.

We are like yin and yang and definitely unconventional. We both go against the grain and are true “artist types” so we understand one another completely. Technically, we have only been in Hollywood for three and a half years, but that’s like dog years in LA so you could probably add a few years on to equal regular life years. But kidding aside, I don’t know anything about actually meeting your partner in Hollywood, but moving to Los Angeles together (especially to pursue a career in entertainment) could definitely put a strain on your relationship if you aren’t feeling strain ready.

I have heard a lot of people say for whatever reason never to date another actor, but it is because we are both actors that we are able to be champions for each other. I know of a few couples who feel like they are in competition with each other, which I think is pointless and such a waste of energy. Barry plays “40-something white male” and I play “late 20s ethnically ambiguous female.” We would never be competing against each other for the same part. So instead of feeling jealous if he books something and I haven’t booked anything, I see his success as my success. I am his biggest fan and supporter, and he is mine. I think this is absolutely key to what makes our relationship so strong. I always have someone in my corner and I’m always in his, cheering him on.

We both are big dreamers and have committed to being a part of the entertainment industry for our whole lives. Having said this, because we are both so focused, we need to make sure we spend quality time together each week and do things that have nothing to do with the pursuit of our careers. We set aside one day a week as “date day” and do our best to not touch our cell phones or schedule anything else on that day, and just enjoy hanging out together. Sometimes we get a whole day together, sometimes just half a day due to auditions, etc., but this has become one of the most important things for us. It helps us stay connected when we have those weeks where we haven’t been able to spend any true quality time together due to our “thrival jobs,” auditions, and all of the projects we are producing.

Our marriage is number one for us and the stronger our relationship is, the more foundation we have to support the grind that is pursuing a career in entertainment in Hollywood. In one of my vlogs in season three for Somebody’s Basement, I talked about how pursuing an acting career is like “going up the down escalator.” It feels like you are often being perpetually pulled down and having to fight like a salmon going upstream to get to the top, and if you stop the forward momentum, you can end up getting pulled back down. I’ve chosen to have a partner who will always help me get to the top no matter how difficult the climb is seeming at the time.

And in a city and career where there are such crazy ups and downs, having him in my life has proven to be the best gift I’ve ever been given.

From Ed Green:

While not the top thing, something I have seen in the top five over the years is a great and mutual sense of humor. Face it: Money dries up, life conspires to steal any time for intimate moments, and job-related stress can drive people insane. But if a couple can share a good laugh, they’ve also made all those problems disappear. If only for a microsecond. And sometimes, that’s enough to conquer the rest of the day.

From David Nathan Schwartz:

A successful relationship in the biz? Wow, as if it isn’t hard enough, right? I was lucky. I married the most wonderful (and extremely patient) woman, Jennifer Norkin (Schwartz). We’ve been together for five years this summer and married fourteen months. Our first date actually was on your birthday 7/11.

Stating the, I think, obvious, for us there are a few of things we keep in mind and have to keep reminding ourselves:

  1. We ask ourselves constantly, “What’s temporary and what isn’t?” “Is it really THAT bad?” and, “Okay, do we want to stop doing this and move somewhere else professionally and maybe location-wise?” We have each other, thank G-d we’re healthy, we have things — sure we’ll always want more, but we have enough to eat tonight, right? Okay then, move on. Try to laugh at the other BS. Does it really mean THAT much in the scheme of things? If we’ve “had it,” okay, let’s talk about if we really have had it or not. (So far, so good, BTW.) Things can always change and WE can change them if we choose. The only time there’s no more time is when you’re dead (and if there’s an afterlife or reincarnation then that argument is off too)! So we turn to each other and say, “This will be a good story one day.”
  2. Be each other’s cheerleader and remember you’re a team. Sometimes you’re thriving, making wads of cash, and sometimes the other is… or no one is! Time is fleeting. At one point, I was directing a showcase at AMDA afternoons and evenings and she was up for work at 6am. After that, she was rehearsing a show in the evenings (and working) and I was working on things in the daytime. For about six to nine months, we never saw each other awake for more than an hour or so at a time. Much as we missed and wanted to see each other, we realized that we’re working for ourselves AND for us as a couple. My wife never, ever once made me feel bad about not being around. Ever. She always stated how proud and happy she was that I was working. And I tried to reciprocate. Encourage each other constantly because if you’re not the other’s fan, basically IMHO, you’re totally screwed!
  3. We have a rule… okay, maybe just a strong “suggestion.” Only one person can be “in the tree” (fill in your favorite words here: depressed, jealous, pissed off, postal, etc.) at a time. You allow your partner to be there for a period of time. Then you talk about it, support them, encourage and challenge them, make them a drink and dinner, ask them the tough questions, and, yes — at the appropriate time — kick their sorry sad sack asses OUT of that tree and back to work!
  4. We like each other as well as love each other. We have running jokes and try to make the other smile and laugh as often as possible. We try to do things that make the other happy. We each have a strange sense of humor and that is what keeps us (almost) sane.

It’s always a work in progress, like life itself.

I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you
For all my life
When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue
For all my life

I think the trick is knowing there’s not a trick. Just like everyone wants an edge in getting cast, the edge is hard work, patience, consistency, authenticity, discipline, trust, TIME. That’s true for this business. That’s true for relationships. And sometimes, you’re just done! That doesn’t mean you didn’t know what made a successful relationship, just like that doesn’t mean you didn’t “make it” in showbiz. It just stops working, sometimes.

You do what works while it works. And that means sometimes the skies will be blue despite whatever else is going on in the world. You have fun. You celebrate one another’s successes. You feel inspired by the support you give one another. You make each other laugh, when moments may be the most stressful. Because at the end of the day, that’s just fun. And when you remember that everything is a choice, that should help you through the tough times. Are you walking toward each other, walking together toward something important, or walking away from one another? Only if it’s the latter do you need to evaluate whether this relationship is worth the work. Because even when you disagree about a THING, your ability to be on one another’s side is the difference in a successful relationship, long term.

For the love of all that is holy, I beg you — folks in a relationship you hope will last — never stop flirting. Never end the courtship. So many people date and believe that everything will be different when they tie the knot. No. If your relationship is good and healthy, nothing is different when you get married. (Okay, maybe your name, if you’re into tradition like that.) And if your relationship is not good and healthy, getting married isn’t going to FIX anything. So, whether marriage is in your plans or not, if long-term relationshipping is your goal, never put away the playfulness. Healthy relationships thrive on it!

And for those of you currently in pursuit of a relationship that can last a lifetime, please remember this, overall: Like with casting, it’s not about trying to figure out what someone wants and then changing yourself to be that. It’s about being your authentic self and finding someone who helps you celebrate that. One choice at a time.

Lemmeknow how you celebrate your partnering (or your pursuit of partnering). Comments are open below, beautiful people! 😀

bonnie


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001318.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar Trevor Tevel April 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Wonderful post this week. Keith’s section was outstanding and everything he wrote really resonated with me. As actors it is healthy to recognize that relationships in movies and television shows aren’t always applicable to real life.

    Reply
  2. Avatar CrackerJack April 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Everyone’s advice was super thoughtful and also really sweet. Made me go “aww” at my computer. Trevor, you’re totally right. Most rom-com relationships would be creepy in real life. More of what this article talks about, please!

    Reply

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