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Let’s Look at Our Relationships the Way We Look at Our Jobs

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It’s something many people wonder at some point in their lives: Is my relationship normal? Chrisanna Northrup, along with relationship expert Dr. Pepper Schwartz and social science researcher Dr. James Witte, surveyed over 70,000 people from around the world and compiled their data in their book The Normal Bar. Today we’re disseminating their research and exploring your relationship and your career—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Do you believe in love at first sight? When you first saw your partner, did you know they were the one? Did your eyes lock from across the room as everything and everyone faded into the background? According to their survey, 28 percent of women and 48 percent of men knew they were in love the moment they met their partners. Women tend to be more wary than men; we want to first feel the chemistry and test their personalities while men primarily have an initial sexual attraction towards potential partners.

Love, of course, involves more than attraction. Compatibility is key, or so we’re taught from a young age with Disney movies, romance novels, and our own families. We’re often on the hunt for The One—drop-dead gorgeous, ambitious, smart, loves kids. More than men, women tend to believe in soulmates and trust that years of horrible dates, phone calls, and unrequited love must mean that they’re still out there, waiting to make us whole and rescue us from Single Island.

As a Levo woman, you’re more than likely smart, ambitious, and career-driven. You want to make a name for yourself in this world and be influential in your community. You want to impress your family and friends and prove all your harshest critics wrong. So when it comes to relationships, are you attracted to like-minded individuals? Are things like religion and political views important to you, or do you believe opposites attract?

“There are two schools of thought here,” writes Northrup. “One says that the more you have in common with your partner, the better your relationship will be. The other says that the less you have in common, the more fascinating you’ll be to each other. Which is right?”

Fortunately, there’s no right or wrong answer. But there is a good or better way for each person. As a smart, articulate, career-driven person (like yourself), why not look at relationship compatibility the way you look at your job?

Are you and your job similar or different?

More than likely, you’re in a job (or applying to one) that you feel fits you. You went to school for it or you’re fascinated by its inner workings or your parents bestowed it upon you. Is it perfect? No. Does it challenge you? Hopefully. But whether your job is drastically different than what you envisioned or it’s perfectly molded to your capabilities, it can become overwhelming or monotonous.

Treat your relationship like you do your job: Think about whether it motivates you to accomplish and strive for more, or whether it pigeonholes you and stumps your creativity.

Does sharing the same belief systems and ideals make a difference?

If your company has shady business practices or unclear harassment rules, it’s probably a very difficult environment to work in. You want to feel safe at work, and you want your position to be appreciated and respected, just as you do in a relationship. But if you’re constantly feeling pressured to make immoral or unethical decisions at work, it might be time to hit the jobs board.

Quite surprisingly, when it comes to different belief systems in relationships—specifically religious differences—80 percent said no, it doesn’t hurt the relationship. Since you’re clear about your goals and boundaries at work, why not be the same in your relationship? If you want to nail that client account in four months, don’t let anything prevent you from reaching that goal… but do it on your terms (as long as it’s good for your company, too).

My friend’s job’s mission statement is, “Do more. Feel better. Live longer.” In a relationship, what’s more motivating than supporting and encouraging each other to achieve goals and do more? Talk to your partner up front—especially if the relationship is new—about your morals and beliefs so there are no (or few) surprises. Issues like whether or not you want to have kids or what church you’d like to attend can make or break relationships, just like bad business deals.

Are you doing what’s best for your company?

When you go on job interviews, you try to dazzle them with your skills and experience; you want to impress your potential employer so much there’s no way they can’t hire you. And once you start working there, you become challenged by your position and strive to make a difference, setting goals and timelines to stay motivated. But in your relationship, are you doing what’s best for your partner?

“When we asked guys in unhappy relationships to tell us what they want most from their partners that they’re not getting, we expected sex to top the list,” Northrup writes. “But when we posed this question, we offered nine answers to choose from, and sex was not their number-one wish. No, the winner was communication!”

Women are typically the ones wishing for their partners to open up more and share their feelings, but maybe they’re talking and we’re just not listening. At work, if you’re not communicating properly, you could lose precious time, money—even lives! If you’re doing what’s best for your company at work, why not make better attempts at home to do what’s best for your partner? Put away your cell phone, take them to dinner, or encourage them to go out with their friends. Communicate your accomplishments and failures (as you would in a boardroom) to them and see if they can help. If you do what’s best for them—and, ultimately, your relationship—they’ll return the favor.

How does this change your perception of relationships? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Ask Tracy Cioffi, Vice President of Marketing and Advertising at See’s Candies, about her strategy for thinking about her career!


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Join the conversation:

This is such great advice! I also love her friend's personal mission statement of “Do more. Feel better. Live longer.” I may want to adopt that for myself!

candace johnson
candace johnson

smart article

J Gray
J Gray

The day I approach any human relationship, even my job, like a job and I may as well become a hermit. I can't think of a better way to suck the marrow of joy out of the bones of any relationship than to systematize my approach to it, perfunctorily managing it as though having it were more important than being alive in it every day. But that's just my opinion...

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