why is it that impactful people seem to have bad relationship outcomes over time with the people closest to them?09 Dec 2016
my friend, jonathan, and i have a shared theory about the lives of big figures in society. basically, it’s that people who have significant impact on the world also tend to have really difficult relationships with the people closest to them.
i don’t know where jonathan lands on this, but i think it’s a resource flow problem. when you are continuously focused outwardly, the people who love you and are around you work really hard to support you. unfortunately, because they’re focused on supporting you and you’re focused on supporting the world, the flow of care is just in one direction.
i’ve seen it repeatedly with the leaders of social change organizations. they work all the time and their family life suffers terribly. children feel neglected, spouses are frustrated, friends are annoyed. there are tons of historical examples (presidents, political movement leaders, etc.) of this, too.
the result tends to be that the lives of the people doing the support get burned up… often to the point of being detrimental to those relationships in the long-run.
i think, in some ways, the potential to create this pattern exists in everyone. there are just some people whose life pathways make it more likely.
i don’t really know where to take this, but i guess i wonder if it’s a necessary pattern. do social change leaders have to have this effect on their families? is it a requirement of being an important societal figure that your relationship with people closest to you turn sour in the long run? i want to hope that it’s not, but the evidence definitely makes it seem that way…
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