Finding the Right Life Partner is Like a Two-Way Job Interview

Both of you are holding each others’ resumes and taking notes about each other as you go along

I believe it is not a exactly a new idea for a lot of people, but I wanted to give myself a go at this from my own perspective.

During my free time, I think about a lot of stuff that happened around me. One of my favorite is thinking about how people interact with each other. Coupled with everyday observation and when I concentrate on a topic long enough, I often find a lot of things around the topic are interesting analogy of each other. Things that are not obviously related could actually be somehow similar in one way or another, and comparing these things, could be just the perspective we need to tackle problems on our daily life with a better approach. Before we jumped into the main discussion, let’s start with some basic.

Dating Is Two-Way Effort

Duh! I know, this is not exactly a revolutionary nor new idea to begin with. But from my own observation, especially here in Asian countries, it is so quietly but widely assumed that in dating, men just had the obligation to initiate a lot of things. We expect ourselves, and people expect us to be, and women expect us to be - proactive, to some degree. On the other hand, there is a stigma where women who initiate are considered ‘aggressive’ or ‘slutty’ or ‘flirty’ or any labels that more often than not have negative connotations surrounding them. Keeping this as a separate topic, though, the idea is that in modern era like today, men and women had to work together, if they are eager to achieve a more fulfilling relationship.

The Two-Way Job Interview

In a job interview, we have employer and employee. Employer looks for potential candidates to fill position, employee seek for potential vacancy they can fill in. In this respect, in dating, we are both employer and employee at exactly the same time. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, heterosexual or homosexual or anything in between, the thing is, you are both looking for both candidate and position. This is why I called it two-way. Unlike job interviews in general where employers are mostly the ones responsible for the candidate they want to let in (one-way), nobody in the dating scene would have a very clear power advantage over another, given that it is a healthy kind of courtship. Either party can reject or accept a candidate, if they found he/she doesn’t fit the position.

The Logic

Okay, so you are ready to look for a life partner. The first thing most people do is to lay down the basic needs, checklist, parameters, criteria, whatever.

Is there an end to the list at all?

And slowly, you begin to have some picture about the kind of partner you would like to have. Attractive, caring, loving, good listener, understanding, great in bed, taking care of their parents, like kids, have certain body types, height, a pair of dimples, or whatever. This will act as your job position ad for yourself and for your potential partner. This is also coupled with the need for a partner or your vacancy. Meaning, you are convinced not to be single is a good idea. Businesses, big or small, started off looking for candidate pretty much the same way; they list out what they need in a possible job vacancy or empty desk they might have, then start to look for the right person to sit on the desk.

Now that you have satisfactorily completed your endless list of ideal partner with glee, it is time to run through the other, less flattering, checklist.

Checklist of Yourself.

What I noticed some people don’t do often in dating, is that to actually go through their own strengths and weaknesses, and what they have to offer to the dating table in general. I observed that majority of people are so gleefully willing to talk about their ideal partner, sometimes with added emotional spices along the way when they try to rationalize their past, wrong decisions on dating as they go on describing their future, presumably better, potential partner. But when it comes to their own value on the game, they would mostly stutter or at least feel awkward about it.

But what could be the benefit you would bring to my life after I accepted you as my life partner?

This comes not without reason: for most parts, people are uncomfortable talking about themselves, even to themselves. We might be thinking less of ourselves, afraid coming off obnoxious or arrogant, or maybe just don’t like to talk about ourselves in general. But I do think, that this is as necessary as the partner position checklist, no matter how you look at it. Skewed view of either oneself or our ideal partner could lead to very serious problems in the long run, especially if either party is beginning to raise expectations over another, question their relationship, or simply getting into something they weren’t really expecting. Honesty plays a very large part of the game here. Unfortunately, like your job interview, you couldn’t always be 100% honest about yourself if you really want the job. Or in this case, really want to date that someone you’ve been talking to very often or in some cases, following closely on social media.

Having ideals is never a bad thing, but when they get in the way on your search for fulfilling life partner in form of bloated expectations, it might be time to reconsider.

When Put Into Practice

Now, for the tricky part: unlike normal job vacancy, the dating scene sets the rule for everyone without exception. You and your crush have both resume and a vacancy ad. So basically, we are dealing with 4 documents here. Job recruitment process usually only involves 2 or 3 documents at most. 1st document is the vacancy itself, 2nd is your resume. The 3rd document is usually brought up when you are a startup and need to somehow reassure your business’ credibility to the candidate (their resume). That doesn’t happen very often, though. Least looked upon is the 4th document: your own expectation of the company you want to work with (your vacancy ad). That is, if you could afford waiting for another few more months for the next interview.

If that sounds a little confusing, let’s break it down to this:

  1. His/Her Vacancy Ad: what he/she expects his/her partner should, would or could be.
  2. Your Resume: your skills, characters and possible benefits that could be offered to your partner.
  3. His/Her Resume: his/her skills, characters and possible benefits that could be offered to you.
  4. Your Vacancy Ad: what you expect your partner should, would or could be.

Most people would easily forget one or two documents for most courtship, especially in the very early stage. What happens then? From my own experience, they would just straight-out judge the person they are talking to, and stop making further interest if they see any “red flag”. Not saying that having certain scrutiny towards basic personal safety is bad (especially for women). There are some people out there who certainly look for some dangerous fun. But to discard the person altogether just because some really minor stuff like the way they dress, his car, her bag brand, hair color, skin color, what he/she accidentally say that you disagree with, or anything like that is just plain unnecessary. People often forget that it takes time for us to get to know about each other.

I don’t know about you, but personally, when I start dating someone seriously, I would mentally and almost immediately go through both of my resume and vacancy ad, while attempting to dig into the resume and vacancy ad of the person I’m dating with, all at the same time. This might come off as overly paranoid or too much for some people, but that is just how I approach dating in general and the reason why I came up with this writing.

Like any employments, things can go two ways: it’s working out okay or so horribly wrong. Part of why I don’t typed in “perfectly right” for the former is because in the very abstract sense, nothing is perfect. In my own experience with employment and recruitment in general, people who made the impression of perfection or the Yes Man eventually revealed very ugly colors behind that flawless fur jacket. This applies to dating scene too. I have found that the feeling of finding someone perfect ended up in severe disappointments for me and my (now ex) partners. No one really benefited.

Misleading, but popular assumption on finding Mr or Mrs Right

I believe most people would not think twice of eliminating people who they aren’t really attracted to the first time. Idea of love at first sight is the big culprit here. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist or anything, and it is definitely a good first step towards any courtship, but initial attraction is really overrated. Putting it on separate topic, let’s get back to business.

Where Is The Love?

At this point some of you might find everything I put up were very cold, utilitarian and just plain mean. You might say to yourself, “but love is all we need! Nobody really would want to go through such a stupid list in dating!”

Frankly, this is where people got me really confused. For one, I’ve noticed people would throw out things like “love is all we need” but then will say “you can’t just date someone you just met” the next minute. So, which side are you really on? Your friend is definitely so into their crush. It was love at first sight!

People who have been in and out of relationship would realize that while love and butterflies are important part of their courtship, some rationalization is really necessary on a good amount. If you think about it, finding a life partner is no joking matter. You will get through 365/366 days a year with them, spend time waking up and sleeping down, eat 3 meals a day, raise kids together, watch TV, YouTube, share stuff on social media … you would even wish every second and every minute and every day is spent with them. So would you really want to settle down just because you can? Ask yourself: How does it feel working 5 days/week on a shitty job?

Now, I’m not trying to make dating so stale and feels like a real job recruitment for anyone. The reason why I wrote this is just to give a perspective to the general idea of dating. Taking a stroll on online dating sites, some of you might pick up that there are people who put up a long essay about what they want and what they don’t want in a really detailed, cold manner, devoid of human feelings whatsoever. At least from my experience, some of these girls on online dating is really putting up just too many stuff in a hope to find the “perfect” partner. I’m not saying it is a bad thing, but if we are to be so utilitarian and frown at any sign of red flag, I don’t think we would get anywhere near happiness.

Personal Take and Conclusion

Just to give you context, I am someone who are hopelessly attracted to the idea of love. I went crazy over it, euphoric, dreadful, angry, resentful, happy, joyful, hopeful … really all of those feelings in one moment. But one time during my life, I realized that this is not the way I should approach it. Doing things on a whim is something I’m particularly good at, and I realized that if I want to be fulfilled in my relationship, and not to cause disappointments in my future partner (like what I have done in the past), I got to change my strategy.

I wouldn’t really mind knowing someone for a period of time, even if I’m not fatally attracted to them in the first place. Who knows what might happen? What I mean is really talk to her, listen to her, notice how she talks, her interests, her views on important life topics, her sense of humor, the way she walks, the way she smiles, the way she talk to the waiter, or little things like the way she would steal that split second just to give me a pinch on my arm, smack or a soft poke. Little kindness really goes a long way. Love is just chemical reactions, but it’s great feeling to have! So great, sometimes I’m so afraid I’ll fall so hard if things go wrong.

So what I’m trying to say is that — if you are in love with someone really bad, go out of your way to show that to them! With the appropriate methods, that is. And when things got serious, then you could probably go through those documents I mentioned before. Or you could go through the documents first? Then express the love? Whatever floats your boats, really.

To newbies, intermediates, experts or veterans dating people alike, really, if you like someone so bad, let them know when the chance comes your way. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t speak, no one will know about your feelings. Perspective is important, but if it feels right, it doesn’t kill to just go ahead and do it.

What do you think of the dating game in the abstract? Do you agree or disagree with my perspective on this? Feel free to drop comment if you have anything to add!

Teguh Li is an Indonesian-born Chinese living in Jakarta. He went to Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and graduated with Diploma in Visual Communication. He likes to write occasionally and make commentary about social issues to his close circle of friends.