I’m fascinated by industrial-organizational psychology, the study of why people do what they do at work. I’m especially interested in how companies attract top talent, why people quit, what motivates their productivity, and how they can get started right in onboarding. I’m starting to think about my dating life in a similar way, and that’s why I’m adding an onboarding stage to my next relationship.
Almost everything has a trial period or money back guarantee. The no questions asked policy is a game changer. I have no problem sending back a product in the original package or waiting to rip the tags off a new dress until I’m certain it works for me. Relationships should work the same way. There should be this expectation that either person can break things off within, say, 30 days and the other person isn’t allowed to bitch, cry, or throw shade about it and just has to accept the breakup at face value.
Not everything is personal. One of the questions HR asked me during my one-month check-in at my current job was whether the job was what I expected. It was exactly like the job description said it would be, but what I realized was that I wasn’t what I expected. Sometimes you make stupid decisions like applying to work in a call center as an introvert who hates small talk and fake customer service voices. Sometimes breaking off relationships is the same way; it isn’t that the other person sucks but that maybe I overestimated their readiness to start a new relationship.
I’m super impatient, so let’s speed this discovery process up. I don’t wear makeup on a first date because I don’t want there to be any surprises when he realizes I only get dolled up a few times a year. In the same vein, I don’t want to find out on the fifth date that he thinks women of color are some sort of novelty or that he has a foot fetish or is a chain smoker. I’d rather err on the side of writing a guy off too quickly than finding out down the line it was just a waste of time.
We need to figure out the parameters of the job. At an old job, I was given a second computer monitor that made it easier to code and everyone in my office selected a new office chair. Just like a new employee needs to get to know his or her office space and schedule and how they can make it work with their lifestyle, it’s important for new relationships to explore similar boundaries. What I don’t need from a new guy I’m dating is for him to try to insert himself into my life like he’s my best friend when we’re just not there yet.
We need time to try out our new duties. Looking at a list of key accountabilities is not the same thing as actually implementing those tasks. And although I believe some skills can be learned, there are some things you’re either good at or you’re not. If a guy can’t communicate, listen, show respect, and keep me engaged with minimal coaching, then I’m afraid his trial period subscription has come to an end.
Let’s make sure this is the best fit for everyone. Just because we like each other doesn’t mean this is going anywhere. There’s a chance we may have chosen the candidate with the more impressive resume instead of the person who was teachable and was a better fit for the environment called our lives.
A few rounds of interviews (dates) isn’t enough. I’ve gotten new colleagues who started to slack off before the ink on their business cards had time to dry. And while I can pick up the slack for a teammate whose hiring is probably a secret regret of our supervisor, I don’t have time for that in my personal life. If I found that a guy has charmed his way in the door, I’ll direct him to slither his way back out.
If we don’t set each other up for success, the relationship is doomed anyway. At a past job, I spent the first six weeks sitting at a colleague’s desk while she was on maternity leave, calling prospects every other day to interview them for our company’s magazine, telling them not to call back because I couldn’t check my coworker’s voicemail, and emailing faculty and staff from my personal Gmail account. I felt so unprofessional and extremely disappointed in my poor onboarding experience. I don’t have the patience to deal with that kind of foolishness again as I try to navigate a new role as some guy’s girlfriend, and I’m not about to let the guy in my life flail around as he tries to figure me out either.
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