Question: My boyfriend and I met at university, and are following similar career paths. Last month a visiting family member said he was best friends with a head honcho in our industry, and that my boyfriend and I should send him our resumes; so that he could pass them on to his friend. Now, after we both submitted resumes, I heard back – nothing about a job, and nothing about my boyfriend; but the head honcho set up a phone appointment with me to talk about possibilities, and it’s all rather amazing. There’s no job yet, and he says I can call or email him any time and to definitely let him know as soon as I’m back home; so that he can set up meetings with different companies – not necessarily job interviews, but people who can shoot me in the right direction.
My question is about my boyfriend. We’re going to be going home together, and I know that he’d love to have meetings. But I already feel as if I’m receiving a huge favor, and I’d feel weird dragging him along or asking for meetings to be set up for him too. I know that I should tell him this is my contact, and he had a chance to send in his resume when I did. (He sent his in a few hours past the “deadline” – after my family member had left.) I know he’d understand, but I want him to have opportunities, too.
Although I have this question answered for myself, I have no way of approaching it. Should I just own the fact that this is now my situation? Or should I bring it up and talk to my boyfriend about it? This is nothing we would ever break up over, but I love him and want him to have awesome opportunities too, and I really want to spare his feelings.
Dr. ZZ: I would not present this to your boyfriend as a problem. It is perfectly okay that you are the first to land a job interview, that you get to take advantage of your family member’s contact, that people are interested in doing you a favor, and that the head honcho liked your materials better. Go to every meeting that you can, and seize the opportunity. You don’t have a job until you have a job. Make your interviews about you, about what you can do for the company, and about what you can learn. Don’t dilute the experience by also trying to sell your boyfriend at the same time. It will weaken your position.
Let people do the favor they’ve offered to do for you, and don’t try to expand it to include him right now. If you’re both in the same industry and you’re both good at what you do (and it sounds as if you are), this is something that is going to happen over and over again in your lives. One of you will be the pioneer into a given opportunity, and then once you’re in the door, you will do reconnaissance for the other person.
If your boyfriend is bummed that they didn’t call him too, it’s totally understandable, and you can express empathy without taking this on as an unfair problem you must fix. A good partner will understand and be psyched for you. He may be sad, but he won’t steal your thunder or pressure you into trying to rep for him too. Being awesome is not something to apologize for. Don’t offer to advocate for him or to try setting up meetings for him to make him feel better. In a weird way it will make something that isn’t your decision at all into something that feels like your decision or your “fault.” It’s not your responsibility to get your boyfriend a job or to manage whatever feelings he has about it. Go after this opportunity as hard as you can, and leave open the possibility that the two of you will play a life-long game of job leapfrog.
Question: I’m planning a party for my 21st birthday, and I’ve run into a dilemma. I was dating a woman, with whom I am still on friendly terms, and she’s back in Bali. She invited me to her housewarming a few weeks ago; I went and realized it was a terrible mistake. I was uncomfortable and generally unhappy for a few days afterwards. We’ve been in contact since – but only in a fairly light-hearted context. Now I don’t know whether to invite her to my party or not. My gut feeling is to say, hell no! If she comes, I know I won’t enjoy myself. The problem is, since she invited me to her party, I feel that not inviting her would be a nasty snub. She’s not a bad person, and I don’t want to be rude – especially since she’s been nice to me – but I just don’t want to potentially spoil an event that’s supposed to be happy. Please help!
Dr. ZZ: You can invite whomever you want to your party, and you don’t have to justify it. You can also not invite whomever you don’t want to your party, and you don’t have to justify that either. It’s your party, your money, your food, your place, and your rules about who to invite. Even if your ex is not an inherently bad person, and even if she’s trying hard to be cool, you don’t have to be good friends with her or let her back into your inner circle. An invitation is not a contract or an order. You don’t have to work hard at this lady anymore. Happy Birthday!
Dr. ZZ has a Ph.D. in Counseling and a doctorate in Natural Healing. Drawing on a background of over thirty years as a professional therapist, she offers self-help in the areas health, relationship and personal growth. All queries are answered by email and, if they appear in print, are subject to editing. Please email your questions : <firstname.lastname@example.org> All identifying information is kept strictly confidential.
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