Ex-JPMorgan dating coach: Stop chasing dopamine and prestige
With a new class of 20-something analysts due to start soon at investment banks, there could be an emotionally tempestuous few months ahead. It’s something of a cliché that hard grinding junior banking jobs are bad for established relationships. Once existing college-initiated couplings disappear, it can be hard to get into the groove of anything new.
This is where Manj Bahra comes in. The former VP product manager on JPMorgan’s London rates desk has a new calling. Since leaving the bank in July 2021, he’s focused on helping people in corporate jobs get to grips with their personal relationship problems.
It didn’t start out this way. Having begun his post-JPMorgan existence as a life coach, Bahra says it quickly became apparent that there was one key issue. “When I worked with people on their careers, I saw that what was really holding them back was their relationships. They didn’t have support and at some level, they didn’t feel fulfilled and loved.”
Like Lucy Puttergill, who also left JPMorgan and also set out to be a life coach but who has gravitated towards helping female bankers navigate dating problems, Bahra says a lot of his clients are women in their 30s. “There is a challenge for women who are successful financially and in their careers, but who feel pressure on time frames if they want to have children. A lot of them worry that they are not ‘settling,’” he says.
Bahra says female clients in particular can get hung up on the prestige of their potential partners. “I had a client working in private equity who was looking for people based on the university they went to and the job they were doing,” he says. “She was dismissing people on the basis that they weren’t on her level.”
Both male and female finance professionals suffer from time poverty. When you’re working 12 hours+ a day, Bahra says it’s difficult to give nascent relationships a chance. Under pressure, there’s an unwillingness to accept imperfections and simply let things evolve. “Dating is supposed to be fun, but people treat it like trying to find a new job.”
People of all genders are also susceptible to the trap of dating-app induced dopamine addiction. Bahra says this occurs when people get hooked on the thrill of the chase. ‘Dopamine responds to uncertainty and anticipation, and people mistake it for attraction. When you’re in a love chase, it’s absolutely thrilling. Dating apps can be like playing a slot machine – people want the hit.” People get addicted simply to putting a bet on a new person on an app and waiting to see the outcome, says Bahra.
How can this be avoided? Patience, tolerance and commitment, says Bahra. “Don’t go in comparing everyone to other people, go in looking for three things you like about the person.”
If you don’t like dating apps, accept that you’ll need to broaden your range of activities and meet people in person. And if you don’t want to do that, consider paying for the dating firms that offer a more curated service. It’s surprising how few people want to do this, says Bahra: “They hate the apps, but they see the paid services as a sign of desperation.”
And if none of this works? Bahra says you can always make a start by healing relationship issues in the place that dominates your time: work. "Your romantic relationships create a pattern for your life," he says. "- If you're someone who people pleases and is always chasing after people, you will do that with colleagues in your career. If you are able to break the pattern of your relationships at work, it will help you bring that behaviour to your personal relationships."
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