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How to date an artist

It’s a fact that our careers affect many aspects of our romantic relationships. We can learn a lot from dating people with different occupations. What does a doctor know about bedside manner? What’s it like to date on a fireman’s schedule? In this series, I explore how careers influence the way real couples relate to one another.

Woman being painted by her artist boyfriend

Melissa Center, actress and creator of the award-winning YouTube series “Missed Connections Live” shared what she’s learned about love, life and partnership from dating her boyfriend, Artist Benjamin Salley.

Melissa and BenSheKnows: So, is having an artist as a boyfriend really like that scene in Titanic, when Rose poses for Jack?

Melissa: I do find him looking at me sometimes and I’m like, ‘What? Did I do something stupid?’ Then, I realize that he’s looking at the shapes on my face and the shade of red on the end of my nose. I have to say, an appreciation for the human form is not a bad thing.

SheKnows: What are the pros and cons of dating an artist?

Melissa: It’s simultaneously really cool and really stressful.

We have no financial security. It’s scary and there’s a lot of trust involved that at any given time one of us will have to sustain the other. I’m still learning how to cope with that coming from a background where financial structure was in place.

But, knowing that your partner looks at the world with a deep understanding of expression is really inspiring. Hearing about his process definitely informs mine and inspires me to look at my world in a different way. Though our mediums are different, knowing we have a common understanding about that language enables us to help each other out in our art.

SheKnows: How does dating an artist affect your interactions with friends and family?

Melissa: My dad is an art lover so that’s been hugely helpful to have common ground for the two of them to connect. On the flip side, being an artist and interacting with people who aren’t is always going to be challenging. There are certain lifestyle things that they just don’t comprehend. Though, he’s not the typical “emo” artist. He’s very much a craftsman.

SheKnows: What have you learned from his lifestyle as a painter?

Melissa: His way of painting is very process-oriented and in layers. The idea isn’t to achieve perfection right away and it’s to allow the subject matter to come to life. He’s much better at allowing things to be imperfect at first, whereas I like to just get in there and problem solve. Watching his process is a great lesson and reminder every day.

Also, I’ve learned that everyone’s work style is different. It might seem like he’s procrastinating on the internet or looking at stupid things. That’s research. That’s giving himself space to allow art to happen. I had to learn to not judge him that way. It can be challenging. His studio is at home, so we see each other a lot throughout the day, and we’ve learned to take judgment off one another.

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