Relationships require a lot of work. What if a relationship were work? If a relationship were a job, how would you apply? What type of relationship would you apply for and how good would your qualifications be?

If you've dated much, you might have engaged in the familiar recitation of your self-description, listing key qualities, experiences and past relationship events: "I grew up in Ohio in this little town. I always wanted to work in the city so I came here after I finished college. I majored in political science, I try to keep up with politics even now though my work is different. My last relationship ended when I wouldn't move so my partner could follow the job . . ."

How often have you recited your story? Have you ever wanted to just print it up and hand it to a new prospect? "Here's my resumé. If you're interested, call me." This activity requires you to reflect on your "relationship life," your goals and qualifications, as if a new relationship were a job and you're applying for it.

Start by spending a few minutes thinking about your past relationship "job experience." Now consider where you are at present. Do you want a romantic relationship? If your romance is happy and stable, perhaps you'd like a friend. Once, when I assigned this activity in my college-level "Psychology of Close Relationships" class, one of my students, an older woman, chose to apply for the position of "grandmother," and listed among her qualifications her experience with her own daughters, her patience and sense of humor, memorized stories and a good-sized wardrobe of clothes she didn't mind getting soiled in the course of cleaning up and playing with a baby.

Your qualifications may not only lie in personal qualities and traits but objects and possessions. Got a chessboard? sketch pad? gardening tools? bicycle? all the Dorothy Sayers mysteries in paperback? Any of these could support a relationship with the right person.

Once you have mentally surveyed your hopes, abilities and resources, organize them under the headings below, just as for a "real" resumé:

Create a rough draft or two and then a refined final draft.

Type it up and print it out on your best bond.

What kind of impression does it make?

Hand it to a couple of trustworthy friends.
Suggestion: Have a "relationship resumé party" by first having these friends complete the same assignment, then coming over for refreshments, resumé-swapping and friendly critique.) In what ways have you judged yourself too harshly or overlooked important skills? Friends will tell you what they like about you. They might also tell you what they don't like -- but this isn't psychotherapy, so don't test the limits of this exercise. Ultimately, what matters is what you learn from creating this very different type of self-report, and then reviewing how you think of and portray yourself.

Click here for a sample resumé.
Please note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the resumé.

Categories. Choose your own favored format for your resumé. Center the top heading, include your date and place of birth if you like. What's important is how you describe yourself. Create categories that matter to you: awards won ("Most Tolerant Spouse," "Best Friend and Good Sport," "Ex-Lover Who Was the Best Cook"); skills learned ("sailing; rappelling; auto repair; sleeping soundly while other is snoring"); education ("3 pre-college steadies, 3 serious romances, 2 fiancés, one spouse, 2 stepchildren, 3 dogs, one very old Volkswagen minibus"). As you can see, I recommend you keep your sense of humor handy and write with tongue in cheek. Have fun with this assignment!

Below are listed some of the category headings I suggest for an instructive relationship resumé:
  • Name and contact information
  • Job objective (i.e., what kind of relationship do you want? what are you "applying" for?)
  • Personal background (hometown, date of birth, family information)
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Resources
  • Awards won
  • Relevant job experience
  • Scholarship/creativity (e.g., "moved East to get away from ex" or "three beautiful children" or "I got custody of the dog, and she's a GREAT dog!"
  • Professional associations and memberships (include friendships, groups joined because of past relationships, hobbies or interests that reflect what matters to you now)
  • References (here's an opportunity to ask close friends or former partners -- those on good terms! -- to sing your praises, summarizing what they like best about you and why they would recommend you for a new "job" or "position"!)

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