Today's Guest Post is from a really rad reader named Josh. Since i often give relationship advice on this site, it's nice to have a guy's perspective. Read & enjoy!
There comes a time when you have to sit down, reflect on your experience, and make a list of things you’ve learned. It’s called writing a resume and it can be a painful process. For many, it’s a matter of talking about themselves in a marketable way – it can feel uncomfortably self-promotional and a little awkward. But resume writing is difficult for another reason; most of the things you do at work don’t easily translate to “skill sets.” Much of resume writing is turning “Struggled to ignore co-worker’s Spotify station while filing illegible documents” into “Handled complex documentation in high-paced, energetic work environment.” It takes lots of time and energy to reframe your past experience into something that highlights how its made you a better person.
Recently, while discussing this with a friend, we realized something striking. As difficult as resume building can be, it often results in both healthy realizations and new opportunities. Why couldn’t we do the same process for our past relationships?
Think about it. The process for starting and maintaining both careers and relationships is almost identical. You find something you like: a girl with self-confidence or any job at Patagonia. Then, you try each other out: a round of interviews or a few dinner dates. And finally, you commit to spending some time with one other.
The lessons you learned while showing people to their tables or tolerating his lack of longevity, inform how you behave when you find something that feels right. However, actually learning those lessons and carrying them into your next relationship is tricky. That’s where the relationship resume comes in. It would be the active cataloging of all those “skills” that you’ve learned as a partner.
After some consideration I tried it myself. I finished my relationship resume within just a couple hours. The result: amazing. Not only did I get to reflect on some awesome time I spent with great people, but I also realized I had come a long way. I realized I’d done a lot of growing over the years and I gained a clearer view of what I wanted to focus on moving forward.
Here’s how you can do it too.
Make a list. Start by jotting down all the relationships in which you connected with someone. Just like a resume for your career, you only want to include experiences that made an impact. Including your two-week stint at Pizza Hut or that girl you dated online but never met aren’t going to be very valuable moving forward. Try to only include those relationships that felt significant to your experience.
In order to catalog the things that have enabled you to grow as a partner, you first have to admit that you’ve learned something. When relationships go bad, this can be a hard pill to swallow. You have to omit lessons like “I’ll never talk to rude guys like that again.” Instead, the goal is to focus on lessons that are positively leaning. But how do you come up with positive lessons in all of your relationships? Ask yourself one question: How can I thank them?
In my last few relationships, I can consider myself thankful for many things. I can thank one ex for forcing me to realize the need for balance in my life. I can thank another for lessons in empathy, allowing me to truly respect the perspective of others. I can thank them all for teaching me lessons in trust, communication and patience.
As social beings, companionship is embedded in our DNA. We have evolved to make connections with one other. That being the case, many of us want partners with which we can build successful relationships. However, because we’re also idiots, it’s hard to build relationships that work. We continually make the same mistakes with one person after another and with each encounter we get closer to that final dirt nap. Building a relationship resume allows us to think about the mistakes we’re making, but also cement the lessons we’ve learned. It prepares us for our next partnership and enables us to continuously improve as a significant other to some lucky person.
Whether you want a new job or a new beau, building a resume to catalog what you’ve learned can serve as the best tool for a bright and sexy future. Make a list of partners, thank them for what they taught you and move into your next relationship like the beautiful, majestic butterfly that you are.
Josh Epperson is a writer and doer out of Richmond Virginia. He’s enamored with the creative process, loves to talk about brand, and in his spare time likes to draw on his chalkboard. He’s a fan of people who are brave enough to say what the mean, mean what they say, and are willing to look stupid every now and then.