Not long ago, a little over a year, I walked away from an abusive relationship.
It didn’t start that way of course, it started with great hope and great expectations and had much potential. This went on-and-off for about two years (that should have been a clue).
Then, in the last few months of the pairing, I was neglected, hookwinked, ignored, bullied, harassed and taken for a few thousand dollars.
But this was a professional relationship, although I think there are some parallels to those in personally abusive relationships.
The short version: A buddy of mine, who had known for 9 years, had introduced me to his mentor, Frank, who liked what I was doing in my business. He claimed to have all kinds of connections and could make it bigger — he knew the right people and could get money. Finally, after two years and a ill-fated trip to New York with them and about 4 months of barely any word from them when we got back, I realized they were all talk (and lies) and whatever big plans they had were all illusions. I wrote them a short note, saying they have seemed to lost interest in the project and we should all move on.
And then THEY. FLIPPED. THE. ‘F’. OUT.
I got e-mails with subjects like “What the hell were you thinking?” and “You better call us and act like an adult.”
Here’s where it gets interesting — I erased all messages when I heard my buddy’s voice (“Hey Dave, you better — beep. Deleted.). I didn’t read any of their e-mails, I simply put them in a folder in case I needed them for a lawsuit.
A strange sense of calm came over me — these guys aren’t my dad or my boss — they are just two big babies who aren’t getting their way. I had no contract with them. Not even an e-mail with any promises of equity or money or anything. In my mind, this was ancient history. I was done — my mind already left the station they were screaming from.
(I did have to send some letters to their lawyer buddy who sent me a $17K bill for his “work” on the project — my lawyer sent a note saying he can’t bill a third party and if he keeps mucking about, we will report his $700/hour ass to the State Bar for various violations. Then like magic, he went away.
I also did respond to a letter my assistant had read from Frank she thought I should address — and I did in a 3 page letter that basically said whatever his plans are with the project (which was my idea in the first place) — JUST DO IT WITHOUT ME — and that if he wants to spend time and money on a lawsuit, we will fight it. If he wrote back, I don’t remember/know/care — I wrote my peace in that 3 page letter and wasn’t really interested in hearing “his side”. If he did, it went into the ‘folder’.
For a few weeks, I kept expecting to get served. It never happened. It’s a year plus later.)
The thing is — they were all talk, I called them on their bullshit, it had (at one time) great potential but no results (after 2 years), no commitment (after two years) and I moved on with barely a look back. Sure, it was hard, I felt like they were friends (esp. the 9 year buddy) but in the end, they weren’t and it took breaking it off to realize that. It was costly too (my lawyer spent about $2000 of hours dealing with it, but only charged me $800).