Imagine that you were trying to fill a job role and one of the candidates made inappropriate comments, or was argumentative, or maybe they crossed the line. Would you still go ahead and hire them or bring them in for another interview?
Let’s take this a step further: Imagine that you’re interviewing/screening for a potential partner for a joint venture opportunity. At this stage, they’ve said all of the right things that suggest that they could be a potential fit but now you’re meeting up with them to see how they stack up in real life. Would you feel as if you could meet them once or a few times and be in business with them? If they blew you off and didn’t even call to say that they couldn’t make it, would you still hold them in the same light? If they were critical, passive aggressive, aggressive, very forward, railroading your NO, would you not think, Hmm, something’s smelling very funky here, and try to step back so you could see things more objectively? Or maybe you’d ask more questions or just straight up flush the situation because you realise that this is not taking you towards where you want to go? You’d put your own instincts ahead of the opinion of someone who you’ve known for a hot minute. You definitely wouldn’t be mentally already in business with this person without having 1) met them or 2) taken some time to suss them out before committing to progressing things.
I say all of this because dating is a co-interview process.
It’s not an audition for the starring role in the Most Self-Important Person In The World’s life or in fact anyone’s life–you are mutually screening and interviewing.
There is no one person having more ‘power’ and deciding votes than the other–you are both free to walk away at any time. It is a discovery phase where after getting an initial impression that has prompted curiosity and possible attraction, you get a sense, not just of how they stack up in real life, but also how you are around him/her. It’s like, Who am I with this person? Am I more or who I am or less of it? Am I genuinely happy and present or am I in a state of anxiety and if so, why?
If there’s any concern over ‘power’, then it’s not dating–it’s auditioning and of course if you go on every date feeling as if you’re possibly on the verge of landing the role of a lifetime, then not only are you going to be stressed out about so much as putting a foot wrong but you will actually forget to show up as an equal party. You will forget to do your part of what is supposed to be a co-interview process. It will be the equivalent of subsisting on scraps and taking bit parts here and there to cover the bills (your self-esteem) but waiting for your the “big break”. That would make being you, taking care of you, the equivalent of doing that crappy job until you get to do what you really want.
You do know that you don’t need to delay happiness until you meet somebody who can ‘give’ it to you, right?
If you treat dates as if they’re auditions, I hate to break it to you, but they’re now your boss or certainly your future boss. That’s concerning when you either don’t know them yet, haven’t met them, or have but know that you don’t share similar core values.
It’s important to acknowledge that the way an auditionee conducts themselves is entirely different to someone who knows that they are choosing too–that they are a separate, worthwhile individual who had a life worth living before this person entered their radar and will still have a life worth living if it turns out that they’re not The One Forever and Ever Amen.
It pains me to see people selling themselves off cheaply. It’s like, “Please let this person be even a little bit decent so that I never have to go on a date again or be alone”. It’s damn lonely in a relationship that isn’t mutual or where you’ve settled for crumbs because don’t get things twisted:
You’re not settling for crumbs because it’s Armageddon and the dating pool is dead; you’re settling for less because you don’t value you and you don’t realise how that’s affecting not just your choices but whether you will stay in a relationship long past its sell-by-date. It’s very easy to go, “I went on X dates with Y assclowns so that means that there are no decent women/men left to date” but at some point you have to start asking the questions: OK, I know that I can’t control who approaches me but in a world where everyone who dates will encounter some duff deals, especially if they’re starting off online:
1) Why do I think I’m different to people who do go on to have relationships?, and
2) What stops me from either cutting and running as soon as it becomes evident that they’re not great partnership material, or from ensuring that I screen with greater due diligence and stay grounded?
Your answers will help you to understand where you’re really coming from.
A change in attitude relieves a hell of a lot of the stress and anxiety associated with dating, plus it significantly impacts your choices.
People who treat dating like the co-interview process it is, are partners in their relationships, not employees.
They show up willing to be who they are instead of thinking, OK, what does the role of their girlfriend/boyfriend or future spouse call for me to act like? Act like? It would be better to be yourself than to sign up for the soul-destroying act of sucking up to ‘The Boss’ in the hopes of a getting a promotion or a seat on the board.
When you co-interview, you realise that you matter too.
You think about the partnership you want to create and how you’re going to copilot. You don’t take a back seat from the outset and then try to get up front. You also listen to the feedback of your experiences and your intuition so that you become more attuned to when to proceed, and when to roll back. You don’t agonise over stepping away after one or a few dates.
Also, just as you don’t really know what the company, the job role, or the partnership is like until you actually get started, you need to recognise that proceeding from dating to a relationship is where you’re agreeing to see what the professed or assumed values are like in action over time. It’s easier to do this and have positive results when you lay the foundations by showing up as an equal from the outset and co-interviewing—bit tricky to go from auditionee to copilot…
But, do you know what else changes when you approach dating with a co-interview attitude? You stop pumping people up and giving them an over-inflated sense of their own importance.
Suddenly, those who think that they can do as they like because there are people who will accommodate them by not having boundaries, won’t get as much airtime. They won’t be able to go on about how “busy” they are or be able to act as if they have a flock of ‘candidates’ vying for this amazing prize.
Sure, there will always be people who act that way (and there always has been), it’s just that you won’t be hanging around them because they’re not suited to what you have in mind for you. In your mind, the cogs will turn and it will be like, Beep, beep, beep. Not partnership material.
There’s also a portion of these people who get wise to their ways and become open to loving, copiloted relationships but it’s not going to happen in a relationship where the other party is sheltering them from the truth and yes, they are likely to regret how they acted with some of their exes.
Dating isn’t easy. You have to grapple with your own quirks, never mind being vulnerable enough to put yourself out there and try to get to know people–and this is all done without guarantees but always with a level of investment. What makes dating “hard” though is going against your instincts, not being discerning and so skipping the due diligence that the discovery phase of dating provides, and convincing yourself that there are no decent people left to date. Is it really fair to say the latter? Or does that just make it easier to secretly accept failure from the outset and remain stuck in a pattern that’s not serving you where it’s safer?
Don’t give up on you. Until you’ve spent as much time dating from a place of equality as you have from a place of being a pleaser who feels inferior in some way, it’s far too early to call it.