Reality TV is basically surreal.
So is the art of dating. Just how many "How To" and "How Not To" books are out there? The lines just blur. . . One has a bevy of relationship gurus to heed, some with greater issues than the ones listening to their spiel. I once met two well-known relationship coaches, once married to each other, since divorced, with eight marriages and a host of other relationships between them. I questioned if the messengers had ever listened to their own messages.
In light of all the dating do's, don'ts and wont's it dawned on me, that we in the dating field have been going about it all wrong. The world of work presents a much clearer, more straightforward method to getting the job done. Anyone who has been the hirer or the "hiree" knows the process begins with one crucial step: the application process. To be considered for a position, one needs to apply, complete the required steps, put his or her best foot forward and, always, at every moment and with every step, play to win. To me, this has a direct correlation to the dating process and I'm determined to use it and bound to perfect it. After mulling it over and setting the stage internally, I decided to share the concept with family and friends. Yes, initial responses were lukewarm, heavy with feigned interest and the usual, "she's really lost it this time" eye contact and body language. Not to be deterred, I went out among the masses and gave it a whirl.
I began meeting people with renewed vigor, sometimes fueled by vodka, and would share my new dating mantra, "I'm taking applications..." Strange looks and unprovoked laughter gave way to curiosity, as both men and women began to embrace this new philosophy as I continued to announce, "I'm taking applications..."
It just makes sense when one thinks the average person changes careers or jobs approximately ten times during their employment years. Each time one changes jobs, the application process begins. You know the drill; we all know the drill. If we are searching for that one true love, our soul mate, does it not make sense to do a little across the board screening? As employers and employees, we want our peers to be screened to avoid anyone going postal and putting our lives and livelihood at risk. Does not our hearts, sanity and 401K's deserve the same protection?
What does "I'm taking applications" look like? How would one begin her own process of taking applications were she so inclined? It goes like this. I meet a guy, there is the eye/smile connection, possibly a few witty remarks are volleyed and before the lines start oozing, I step up and explain the process. Right now I am only taking applications. Once the formal interview process begins, they will go before a screening committee of close friends, family, financial advisors and some former mates that didn't cut the mustard. At this point, the pool will be then narrowed to the five finalists, and in a style reminiscent of the television series, "The Apprentice," major sucking up will be required to stay in the game. This will include regular phone calls, planned dates, gifts, flowers and some cash as, hey, I do have mortgage payments.
At any time one of the top five has a fall from grace moment, they can be called to the bedroom, uh, I mean boardroom, and be fired. The pool, now narrowed to two or three, will be expected to perform at a higher level by attending a family function, friend's wedding and a female medical appointment. The one who manages to navigate the last three tasks with the least amount of anxiety and hyperventilation wins.
Girlfriends scoffed at the concept, telling me it was too much to expect and cruel to make men jump through so many hurdles. "We need to nurture them, eat scraps from their past love leftover table and hope for the best!" they whine. With pleading eyes and flailing arms they make their case, in order to have the opportunity to settle down one must settle.
I disagree and tell them this is how the whole relationship thing has gotten so screwed up in the first place. Not setting the bar, in fact doing the limbo under it in a perverse competition to see how "low one can go", increases frustration and guarantees further humiliation. Accepting less then the best promotes mediocrity and lack of commitment. One works their ass off at the job they had to work their ass off to get. If it takes that much effort to get in, they are determined to win. I think the same holds true for relationships.
Interestingly, so do the candidates in my dating pool. As my female counterparts keep conceding in confusion, I am leading in both quantity and quality. As they leave an open door, nothing firmed up, keeping things light, yet frustrating, my phone rings off the hook, I am booked in advance and thinking of adding back up date staff so I am not spread too thin. Men who initially balked at the process, inquire on where they stand in the dating pool and when will they know if they make it to the final five. With so many fine candidates, I hesitate to place a deadline. However, even in the world of work, goodwill goes a long way in promoting success and positive karma. So I do tell each and every new applicant, individually, that they are my favorite.
And in that moment, they truly are.