Everything in my life lately is a metaphor for dating and relationships.
I was recruited for a new job. I went on one interview. Then another. Then another. Between the second and third interviews I had trouble getting their attention to schedule a time (the third interview was at their request).
And then I heard nothing.
I reached out to the recruiter and asked if they had any insight. They said I should definitely hear by the next week. I followed up with the CEO of the organization. She confirmed they’d be in touch the following week.
And then I heard nothing.
Friday was my personal deadline to hear back from them before I withdrew my interest. My mom said, “If they call you a week later and offer you the job you’ll take it, though….” and I said, “No. I won’t.”
See, ’cause they way they treat you when you’re dating is supposed to be the BEST you’ll ever get with them. Once we settle into our routine, I’ll know what they’re really like, but in the beginning, I’m supposed to feel like they’ve as much interest in keeping tabs on me as I am in keeping tabs on them.
If someone I was dating had sent such mixed signals, they never would have made it to the third date. And, now having ghosted me for the second time…
I know my value enough to know that an employer who doesn’t contact me after two weeks after promising the world is an employer who makes empty promises, same as I would if some guy on OK Cupid showed tons of interest at first and then disappeared without so much of a “nice to meet you.”
A few months ago, when I thought I might lose access to my alternate Facebook account because they would not accept “Phi” as a name I am known by, there were hundreds of comments in the polyamory discussion groups lamenting the potential loss of my participation.
In the end, I was able to modify my name and continue participating. Everything was fine until a week or so ago, when someone posted something that I felt went against one of the group rules (no derisive comments against any relationship style, including monogamy). Despite my, and several other members’ protests, the group administrators allowed the post to remain unmodified.
I questioned whether or not to stay in the group and several people suggested it would be a shame to lose my voice in the group because I’ve helped so many people.
But I felt that with that post, the group administrators had taken a stand that said “your voice in this forum is not respected.”
I left the group and started my own, because a relationship in which there are agreements that are not upheld by those who set them is not a relationship that deserves my emotional labor.
Selling My House
I listed the house at a lower price, hoping to inspire multiple offers and incite a bidding war. I did get multiple offers, but they weren’t much higher than my original asking price. Meanwhile, the job thing fell through and I no longer had the pressing motivation to move beyond wanting a shorter commute to my existing job. But, hey – I’ve been making that commute for ten years. Another few months won’t kill me.
So I say I’m going to wait before countering, and the buyer’s agent says “Well, the buyer is on a strict timeline….”
Yeah…well, I’m not, champ. So if you’re on a strict timeline, that’s good for you, but I’m not going to take a hit on the sale of my house to accommodate your timeline.
The buyer threatened to pull their offer.
It’s been a week. They increased it. I’m countering today.
I know that the value of my house and my stress-level in packing up and moving out of there is incompatible with that of a buyer who is motivated to get me out, but no so much that he’s willing to pay a reasonable price. The fact that he made an offer isn’t enough doesn’t mean I have to accept it if I’m perfectly comfortable staying where I’m at. Same with the dating world, where the fact that someone shows more than a passing interest in you does not mean you have to drop everything to be with them, lest you find yourself all alone.
I’d rather live in my house than sell it to the wrong buyer.
And I’d rather be alone than in a relationship with the wrong partner.
My Current Employer
I’d told them I was interviewing and I might be leaving them soon. They freaked out a little and begged me to stay. I was honest with them – told them I wasn’t going to turn down the other position if it was offered to me, but that if it wasn’t – we could have a conversation about what it would take to stop looking.
Now that I’ve decided that other job isn’t in my best interest, it’s time to decide what to do with this one. I briefly spoke with my CFO about my concerns. She validated them and told me she agreed with me on many of them. She felt that what our organization is going through are growing pains and lots of organizations go through this, but that if we stick it out together, we’ll stand on the other side of this troubling time having grown both personally and professionally from the experience.
I told her we were in the “couples counseling” phase of our relationship. I was going to have to air my grievances, and they were going to have to validate and address them if we’re going to move forward – but that I have every intention of feeling fulfilled, appreciated, and acknolwedged for my contributions to my workplace, and if that’s not something that can happen here, I will seek it elsewhere.
Ever since I told people that I had given my employer a heads up that I was interviewing for another position, I’ve been counseled that it was a bad idea. Thing is, my employer needed to know that I was unhappy to the point of being willing to leave. I know my value as an employee …I know they wouldn’t be pleased to see me go. And now that they know I’m willing to walk away, I’m in the power seat during these negotiations. I can name my price (as long as it’s reasonable) and they will likely give it to me.
Of course, that will mean having to continue to prove that I will be worth whatever it is I ask for. In this case, it’s not so much about the pay rate as it is about the authority and autonomy over my department, and a seat a the table during the executive meetings.
But I’ll take a little more money, too.
Yes, on the surface – all of these situations are easily compared to some of the broader aspects of dating and relationship building. But there’s a deeper connection they all have that is what dating and relationship building really boils down to:
I finally learned to set my own value rather than allow others to set it for me.
Whatever happens with this house or this job or the next one, I know my worth. Since reaching this epiphany, I’ve noticed I spend far less time pining for the attention of those who would not give it enthusiastically, and more time cultivating relationships (be they romantic, platonic, or professional) with people who value me as highly as I value them.