A few days ago, I came across this Relationship Resume and while it’s humorous, it made the gears in my head start turning. It’s often said that job-hunting is like dating. There’s also a really interesting article I came across a while ago about viewing marriage as a business proposal, which makes sense because historically we didn’t marry for love, marriages were entered into to secure wealth. It made me start thinking about the language that surrounds dating, hunting, and jobs, because a point I always want to drive home is that language matters. It can’t be a mistake that two major aspects of one’s life, dating and working, are colored with language that ties to our past as predators that hunted for survival. We hunt for jobs, we tell ourselves that there’s plenty more fish in the sea.
Our happiness is linked to how we spend our days, and a long time ago our happiness would have depended on our abilities to survive. If we weren’t effective hunters, we would starve to death and likely not be very successful at attracting mates. We modernized a bit, but still have the same needs to survive. So we apply our efforts to securing a good job, because having a good job means we’ll have the ability to get the attention of better mates. We want better mates because our biological needs are selfish, the end goal is to make not just more of ourselves, but better versions of ourselves. This is why we focus so much on cues to these external markers of wealth and health, because the underlying message that they are getting across is that “I am sound, I would make great babies if I wanted to do so with you.” Even though we’re not actually hunting physical prey (at least not all the time, hunting and fishing are recreational sports for a reason) we are still utilizing those skills to seek jobs and partners.
Any hunter will tell you that first and foremost, you need to know your quarry if you’re expecting to actually be successful in your pursuit. It wouldn’t make sense to go and get fishing gear, and then station myself in a redwood forest and hope I’ll successfully capture the attention of a wandering deer. Likewise, if I’m planning on applying for a job or approaching to that cute person, I should probably try to get to know them in some sense because it’ll facilitate the relationship I’m trying to establish with them. Knowledge is only half the battle, though, and if I expect to make any headway it’s going to take some work on my end. Relationships aren’t easy, whether they’re with individual people or with our employers.
It definitely would make things a lot easier for me if I could have some sort of guide to look at when I meet someone, because through a ton of trial and error I’ve realized that for me, I need the following three elements if I’m to expect any type of relationship to work:
These are actually pretty sound across the board for most work and personal relationships, too. Two entities have to be initially attracted to each other based on something that each perceives the other possesses and they find valuable as well. In a corporate environment, it’s going to be the case that you’ve found an awesome company to work for because they’re somehow offering you something you find important, like maybe a shorter commute between your kid’s school and home. The company’s also going to think you’re amazing because you possess the skill sets that they need, such as fluency in five languages and they need someone who can speak, read, and write all those five languages immediately. Two strangers will have to feel some type of connection towards each other, whether it’s purely physical, monetary, or intellectual if they’re going to pursue any type of relationship together. A gold-digger is attracted to the wealthy person’s money, for example. Honestly ask yourself, could you really be with just anyone? I doubt it, because everyone’s looking for someone that embodies all the qualities that they deem important. Looks don’t matter to some, but to others they do. Intelligence is often considered important, but some people don’t want to be with someone smarter than themselves.
Common values are the glue that bind the relationship and keep it going beyond the initial stage of infatuation. You might think it’s great that you’re getting a job offer with a company that’s going to pay you a million dollars a year until you hear that what you’re going to be doing is rolling in feces for twenty hours a day (hey, no judgement here – I just know I wouldn’t take the money if that’s what it entailed, but that’s not everyone’s standards). Similarly, an employer might really like a person’s resume and decide to bring them in for an interview, but once they have them in a face to face setting realize that they just look good on paper and are articulating they do not actually have the right combination of skills to get the job done because they misrepresented themselves on their resume. In a dating context, the gold-digger might be physically attractive, but completely intellectually vapid. If the wealthy person only values having a pretty piece of eye-candy around them, then there won’t be any problems. However, if they happen to want someone who not only looks good but actually happens to be intelligent and capable of producing some wealth themselves, they’re likely going to move on to a different person because it’s not a good fit.
Finally, I am the kind of person that actively seeks out ways to improve myself and my surroundings, and that’s why the opportunity for shared personal growth is immensely important to me, and any relationship I enter that will endure will have to continue to encourage me to become the best version of myself. Most of the time, if you really try to figure out why you weren’t happy with a previous job, it’ll likely be because you weren’t being challenged to work towards your full potential. I’m not talking about the terrible jobs out there with crazy employers and co-workers and dangerous work environments (these are more like abusive relationships – toxic and emotionally and possibly physically damaging and not ideal for anyone) but rather those jobs where you’re initially happy but then become dissatisfied with and then you leave. You leave because it’s best for you, because you’re no longer being motivated to be productive there and so you’ll seek out somewhere new. Employers let people go because it ceases to be the case that the employee(s) are contributing to the long-term goals of the company, and I’m sure it’s not a decision that’s entered lightly at companies that have a good management team. In dating contexts, if you care about someone you ought to want what’s best for them. No one on this planet is perfect, despite the misconception that many seem to have that they alone are free of any flaws.
I know I’m not perfect. I don’t expect the person I’m with to be perfect, either. However, I do put in the effort to be a good person, and I recognize that my pursuit of being the better me will always be a work in progress. All I’m looking for is a person who will see this quality in me and recognize it because they also possess it, and find it valuable. In return, I can guarantee that the journey we embark upon together will be worthwhile. How can I make that statement? Because I know that I will not be their better half, but rather their equal.