Having just moved to a new city, I’m now undergoing the unending grind it takes to build the life I want – a meaningful job, the cozy yet attractive apartment, the circle of friends, the amazing life partner, and all those little extras that don't normally appear on big life lists.
I’ve recently become painfully aware of how the modern world has short-circuited the process for several of these goals to the point that they are practically identical. Of course I’m speaking about the eerie and irritating similarities between job hunting and looking for love in a technologically stratified future-present that requires an Internet connection just to get up in the morning. Here are some ways that finding a career and finding a date have become pretty much synonymous:
Feeling cuddle-deprived? Maybe you're looking for flexible hours? How about working as a professional cuddler? If there's a niche out there you will find a website or app that covers it; the flip side is that there’s no longer a go-to location for anything. Where you used to be able to apply directly to a job in person you’re now expected to navigate ever-increasing layers of html just to find whether they have openings, and if they do they're probably posted on multiple platforms. But which should you use? Is Indeed better than Idealist? Does GlassDoor really beat a Google search? Likewise with dating, your options are only limited by your (mental) hard drive space: Tinder, Okcupid, POF, Wapa, Zoosk... the sheer volume of possibilities is overwhelming, and can lead to decision paralysis and the feeling that no matter what you choose you're missing out on that perfect one because they're somewhere else.
The Match Game. Whether it's your resume or your dating profile, it's all about presentation. Forget listing what you're looking for. Figuring out what qualities you have to offer, and how to make them sound irresistible, is the whole game. In fact, some websites, like LinkedIn, have already blurred the line between the job and personal relationship worlds, featuring photos and news feeds, which is why some (tactless) people have started using them as another way to get a date.
Reaching out. If you needed any more evidence that this world is not geared towards introverts, look no further than the hyper-reliance on networking for pretty much everything. Tough job market? Go to some networking events and booze and schmooze. Dating is no different now that you can find singles through sites like Meetup. In fact, the other alarming similarity here is the preponderance of people around you in both cases who’ll suggest the most well-intentioned and disappointingly tangential connections for you to pursue: you know, the “You want to teach? My old friend I haven't spoken to lately is a lawyer, he should know a few people,” or “Hey, I think someone in my building is a lesbian, why don't I invite her over some time?”
Closed auditions. The only difference between a job interview and a date is the setting and how pointed the questions are, depending on the date, of course. Otherwise, in both cases each party is auditioning the other for a specific role they have in mind, for which some criteria have been stated and others are completely hidden. Thankfully with a date you usually don't have to wait two weeks to find out if you got the part.
The power of no. Unfortunately for us sensitive souls, there's no escaping rejection in either of these realms. Ninety percent of the time you're either getting the cold shoulder from the HR department or trying to let someone down gently. Likewise, this rejection has varying degrees of success: from those people who flood an inbox with resumes in a flurry of frustrated ambition to the semi-stalkers who can't stop sending you passive aggressive text messages, there's no getting around hurt feelings.
Terms of endearment. When you finally do land that long fought-after job offer or really attractive repeat date, it's all about negotiations. The art of giving yourself the perfect price tag and job description, or making sure you're on the same page about exclusivity or what constitutes cheating is defined by equal amounts of boldness and circumspection. Either way, you'll be doing a lot of fancy footwork.
The final, and most essential, similarity here is the endless wellspring of hope that whatever you're doing is the right way to get that dream job or perfect mate, that they're just around the corner, that you can make it work when you do find them. Because after all, that's what our whole lives and frighteningly large parts of the economy are built on.