Why is Everyone Afraid of Dating?

Here’s a crazy thought.  Imagine you met someone through an online dating site.  You read their profile and liked what you saw; they had all the makings of a good partner on paper, they seemed interesting, attractive and to have a lot in common with you.  So, what the hell… you decide you’re going to go on a date.  You set a date and time, put on your best clothes to leave a good impression and spend a couple of hours together.  Maybe you go on a date or two after this.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, well before fully getting to know this individual, trying things out in the sack, or getting to know their friends and family, you hop a plane to Vegas, find a chapel with an Elvis impersonator licenced in the state of Nevada and tie the knot. ‘Till death or thousands of dollars in legal fees do us part.
Sounds absolutely crazy, right? This has to be either destined true love or complete insanity. Who in their right mind would get married after only a handful of dates, without meeting another person close to this individual to vouch for them and without ever experiencing some of the things that make relationships work: fighting, sex, compassion, challenge.   Well, as crazy as this sounds, I just effectively described what the hiring process looks like for many of us (minus the Elvis thing).
Think about it. Based on a resume or job application, a company finds you attractive. You go through a handful of interviews, perhaps meeting a couple of HR professionals along the way who hardly represent the image and culture of the whole organization. The company is never able to see how you actually work and you never get to experience the lifestyle of a typical day in the office. Finally, after a few meetings, a contract is tossed in front of your eyes and each party signs away a commitment to each other.
The divorce rate is currently hovering around 50% for all marriages, but I’d love to hear what the latest statistics are on corporate attrition.  Long gone are the days of people receiving gold watches for their 20 years of service; now you’re lucky to get 5 out of an employee. However, even if we discount the fact that people make many career changes in their lives, how many employees jump ship within less than 2 years of being hired simply because they didn’t like the job?
More importantly, what is so awful about dating? Particularly with new grads who are still trying to find their way in the world, why should organizations commit to an individual who has a decent likelihood of being awful at their job and wanting out? On the flipside, why should I be expected to take a full time position with a company I know next to nothing about?  Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind being hired on for a 3-6 month contract.  It would give me the opportunity to get to know the company, the clients and the type of work that would be expected of me.  At the end of this contract, both sides would have the opportunity to review the past, consider their options and either make a more firm commitment or move onto greener pastures. I know individuals hate the idea of such ambiguity and are usually more risk averse than this, but for a new grad in their 20s, is their really that much to lose?
If contract work frightens you, there are new services popping up from groups like Toronto’s Challenge Factory.  CF is a career services organization that offers a unique service to individuals: the opportunity to spend a day in the life of your targeted career. Instead of simply dreaming about what it would be like, Challenge Factory will place you in an office to volunteer for the role of your choice for a day (I always wondered if I would be a good cop). However, there is no guarantee that your day will be representative of the job, coworkers or organization you could be walking into.
I’m still a hopeless romantic who believes in love at first sight, Santa Clause, finding the perfect job, and one day having a wife, big house and 2.2 kids (pray for mercy for my third child). However, my warning goes out to women and companies alike: if you want to put a ring on this finger, you’re going to get to know me and really impress me before I’ll sign anything.