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Dating in Grad School


mechengr2000
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What is the dating scene in grad school like? How/where does one approach this? Have you noticed if people are more/less serious about it? What has your experience been?

BTW, I will be living in grad student housing.

Edited by mechengr2000
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Personal Observations in a Humanities department:

We had a big incoming cohort of MAs and PhDs from all over the country. Some of us had significant others move with us, some had SOs in a long-distance thing, and some came single. In this first year, I can't think of anyone whose situation has changed significantly (though there are probably one or two people who I'm just not as familiar with). Anyhow, I think for a lot of people the first year is just so busy that, whether or not they're lonely, the idea of actively dating can be a little daunting in a new city with a new crowd. I imagine that is going to be changing over the summer and through the next few years once the work loads even out and we're all more familiar with the scene.

Pieces of advice that I've heard bandied about, which seem pretty solid:

-Avoid dating (or playing around) in your department. These people are technically colleagues now, and it can get messy and awkward.

-Check for inter-departmental functions, especially regular meetings (with food!) for Graduate Student Unions and the like. Cross-pollination of the disciplines often = success for grad student dating.

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Interestingly, it seems that a lot of the single contingent of my cohort paired up fairly quickly once they got to town, including me. One of my colleagues met the man she's now engaged to within the first four months of the beginning of the term, and I met my partner about a month later (we've been dating for over a year, now).

I noticed in my department that a lot of my colleagues are in serious relationships or married (particularly the men, though I won't get into the gender dynamics of the field here)—in fact, I was surprised that my department didn't have more single people in it. I'm not sure if this is what most other departments are like.

I agree that cross-disciplinary social functions are great for dating. I met my partner at a mixer (that he helped organize...hah). Take advantage of any social events you can! A bunch of us from my department went together, which helped make it less awkward for us.

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i agree with the poster who said to not date within your own department. in my first year, most of my colleagues were already in serious relationships or married and only one department relationship formed. whatever drama they had, they kept it to themselves. but in my second year, we got a host of new singles, all very, very young, and they all proceeded to pair up. every person in my department that was single in september is now dating or fooling around with someone else in my department, except for myself and a 40 year old divorcé. it is very messy. they talk about and compare each other's relationships and spend far too much energy on being in competition with other couples. they're also in competition within the relationship, comparing grades and comments. if both partners are serious about their work, then one's successes can never be celebrated. the less successful half minimizes the accomplishment. if one partner is less serious about the work than the other, then the "serious student" will, in moments of stress, convey that the partner can't possibly understand how he's feeling because his work is more difficult, more rigorous, more advanced. it's a massive distraction and it seems very high school-ish. unsurprisingly, at least one half of all of these relationships is 23 years old or younger.

as others have said, interdepartmental mixers are good ways to meet people. so is serving on university-wide committees like the grad student organization. you'll usually get emails about people giving talks in other departments. attend the ones that seem interesting and hang around at the wine and cheese table to chat up the students afterward.

for dating outside of academia, you'll need a hobby that brings you into contact with other people. go to concerts at a local club all the time and you'll start to see the same people (i met someone that way). go to local art galleries. volunteer with an NGO. find a running group. go to a yoga class. if you're friends with someone who is dating someone outside your department or outside academia, go out of your way to hang out with them when you know that non-grad students will be there. a friend of mine haunts his local grad bar on a regular basis to be able to talk to people outside of his program. ended up dating the (non-academic) bartender.

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I dated someone in a different program in my department as an MA student and it was not a particularly healthy relationship. Generally speaking, you'll be much happier if you date someone outside of your department (and better yet, outside of the university). The most common problem that students experience in graduate school is a lack of support from other people. This can be especially hard to deal with when your significant other is just as stressed out as you and unable to look at your situation with any critical distance.

If you decide to date someone who isn't in school, you will probably find that you are most compatible with people who are working full time, as opposed to the underemployed twenty-somethings that dot many university communities. In my opinion, a lot of relationship problems occur when the other person has too much free time on their hands.

That said, dating in grad school can be a blast. When else will you be surrounded by so many intelligent, motivated, and (in some cases) beautiful people? Enjoy it.

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I'm dating someone already, but if at any point I'm single in grad school I plan to say the following thing to any alluring fellow grad students: "Now, I think I'm totally worth it, but just so you know that by being in a serious relationship with me you are committing to always choosing my career first." This statement is almost guaranteed to thoroughly douse ardor.

In this way I hope to sidestep the two body problem. That's also partly why I'm dating someone with moveable ambitions.

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I'm dating someone already, but if at any point I'm single in grad school I plan to say the following thing to any alluring fellow grad students: "Now, I think I'm totally worth it, but just so you know that by being in a serious relationship with me you are committing to always choosing my career first." This statement is almost guaranteed to thoroughly douse ardor.

In this way I hope to sidestep the two body problem. That's also partly why I'm dating someone with moveable ambitions.

huh?

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I'm dating someone already, but if at any point I'm single in grad school I plan to say the following thing to any alluring fellow grad students: "Now, I think I'm totally worth it, but just so you know that by being in a serious relationship with me you are committing to always choosing my career first." This statement is almost guaranteed to thoroughly douse ardor.

In this way I hope to sidestep the two body problem. That's also partly why I'm dating someone with moveable ambitions.

Good idea, qbtacoma! I may use that line myself, if you don't mind. I know that it's going to be hard enough to find an academic job after I graduate- I'd really rather not have to try to coordinate with an SO in the same boat of desperately searching for an academic job! Unfortunately, being in grad school, I tend to meet mostly other grad students, many of whom have ambitions of academia. I should get out more :-P

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I'm dating someone already, but if at any point I'm single in grad school I plan to say the following thing to any alluring fellow grad students: "Now, I think I'm totally worth it, but just so you know that by being in a serious relationship with me you are committing to always choosing my career first." This statement is almost guaranteed to thoroughly douse ardor.

In this way I hope to sidestep the two body problem. That's also partly why I'm dating someone with moveable ambitions.

Lol - "moveable ambitions".

Makes subordinating oneself to your significant other's goals sound like a redeeming quality.

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Lol - "moveable ambitions".

Makes subordinating oneself to your significant other's goals sound like a redeeming quality.

I'm not forcing my partner to play second fiddle to me, if that's what you're getting at. I meant "movable" in the sense that one doesn't have to be in any particular place to be a teacher, musician, etc. Or a stay-at-home parent, for that matter. And yeah, compatibility of life goals is actually important - I would rather not go through the heartache of being in love with someone whose career ambitions were in competition with mine.

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I'm dating someone already, but if at any point I'm single in grad school I plan to say the following thing to any alluring fellow grad students: "Now, I think I'm totally worth it, but just so you know that by being in a serious relationship with me you are committing to always choosing my career first." This statement is almost guaranteed to thoroughly douse ardor.

In this way I hope to sidestep the two body problem. That's also partly why I'm dating someone with moveable ambitions.

Hey that's as honest as it gets and you know where your priorities lie...the humor and or sarcasm, if there is any there, is appreciated too. Being upfront like that is most likely for the best..."we like each other and that's great, but my career comes first..or at least our goals have to be compatible." why bother with all of the hard work if your career will only come in second to a relationship? I mean hell, don't rope me in and then expect me to follow you around in pursuit of your dreams and goals...no thanks. My career is just as important as yours and if we both realize that then it'll work. So well said qbtacoma, I like it.

Edited by Mal83
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Hey that's as honest as it gets and you know where your priorities lie...the humor and or sarcasm, if there is any there, is appreciated too. Being upfront like that is most likely for the best..."we like each other and that's great, but my career comes first..or at least our goals have to be compatible." why bother with all of the hard work if your career will only come in second to a relationship? I mean hell, don't rope me in and then expect me to follow you around in pursuit of your dreams and goals...no thanks. My career is just as important as yours and if we both realize that then it'll work. So well said qbtacoma, I like it.

Thanks for this. As Dan Savage so wisely says, there's no such person as "The One," but there are a lot of people who could be rounded up to one.

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Thanks for this. As Dan Savage so wisely says, there's no such person as "The One," but there are a lot of people who could be rounded up to one.

Haha...that's good too, and wise, although the less rounding up we have to do the better.

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I just hope this does not create bad feelings if this happens inside the department.

It could unfortunately. It is generally not wise to date within your department or office since it could be *very* awkward if you breakup, but there are a few cases where it works out, so who's to say?

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This "dating inside your department" topic comes up frequently here. If you are mature, level-headed, and even-keeled I think it's manageable. (btw, if you aren't mature, level-headed, and even-keeled, you should be working on that before you start dating).

Everybody is different, and only you can know how you would react in professional situations with somebody you dated and then broke up with. Let's say your significant other broke your heart. Do you have the strength and maturity to act professionally and separate you personal life in conferences, presentations, etc? If the answer is no, then look elsewhere for love.

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I was seeing someone in my undergrad class and eventually didn't work out, but it was not awkward at all. It may not be the best idea, but we just pretended like nothing happened and continued being friend. It did, however, take about half of year of awkwardness, then everything was back to normal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm dating someone already, but if at any point I'm single in grad school I plan to say the following thing to any alluring fellow grad students: "Now, I think I'm totally worth it, but just so you know that by being in a serious relationship with me you are committing to always choosing my career first." This statement is almost guaranteed to thoroughly douse ardor.

In this way I hope to sidestep the two body problem. That's also partly why I'm dating someone with moveable ambitions.

Lol - "moveable ambitions".

Makes subordinating oneself to your significant other's goals sound like a redeeming quality.

I second Grimm's scoffing reply here. qbtacoma's post sounds extraordinarily self-centered. Assuming first of all that you were to happen to find and really fall in love with a person with "moveable ambitions," do you really think that alone will solve all possible conflicts that could come up? You could end up getting your dream job -- or your only job -- in a place that you're ok with or for which you're willing to settle, but which your significant other absolutely abhors, regardless of whether or not he or she can find work there. What happens then? Taking on the attitude which you've stated here sounds like a wonderful way to ultimately find yourself bitterly alone.

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I've read this thread as a moderator before, but now that I'm officially divorced I'm reading it with new eyes... (Note: I may need a couple of years of therapy before I can be in a LTR, but that's another story!)

For me dating will be a different cup of tea than for you, maybe, because I'm >10 years older than 95% of the grad students in my department...and the other 5% are already married! There are professors my age, though. *squick*

So for me, the only way I can really date anyone is to get involved in stuff off-campus which, conveniently, I already am. There's one group in particular that is fun to hang out with which includes some very nerdy people; we play games together one night a week. I figure any dates I get are likely to come from this pool. I just hope the guys aren't too intimidated by a woman who has more formal education than they do. :rolleyes:

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I second Grimm's scoffing reply here. qbtacoma's post sounds extraordinarily self-centered. Assuming first of all that you were to happen to find and really fall in love with a person with "moveable ambitions," do you really think that alone will solve all possible conflicts that could come up? You could end up getting your dream job -- or your only job -- in a place that you're ok with or for which you're willing to settle, but which your significant other absolutely abhors, regardless of whether or not he or she can find work there. What happens then? Taking on the attitude which you've stated here sounds like a wonderful way to ultimately find yourself bitterly alone.

True story about two friends of mine that have been dating and living together for several years. He got a postdoc. She's a nurse so you would assume movable ambitions but, she's locked into a contract (which basically guarantees her work hours and pay rate) so she can't move with him. Even "movable amibitions" may not always be enough.

For me dating will be a different cup of tea than for you, maybe, because I'm >10 years older than 95% of the grad students in my department...and the other 5% are already married! There are professors my age, though. *squick*

Why does the thought of dating a professor weird you out? I mean, if they're your age and you have common interests... Think spousal hire!

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Why does the thought of dating a professor weird you out? I mean, if they're your age and you have common interests... Think spousal hire!

Well, if it were someone not in my department, I guess it would be OK. I just don't know anyone else. :D

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I know this is a complete noobish question but how exactly do you get involved in clubs and organizations at grad school??

I went to a super small college for undergrad and to join a club you just showed up to the meeting and everyone was friends. I'm going to a much bigger school for grad school and I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed but just how much stuff there is! Are there clubs and activities just for grad students??

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I'm assuming that your department has a graduate student association of some sort...most programs have something like that. Also, if you check your school's student life page, you should be directed to an entire list of student organizations, ranging from undergrad to grad.

I know this is a complete noobish question but how exactly do you get involved in clubs and organizations at grad school??

I went to a super small college for undergrad and to join a club you just showed up to the meeting and everyone was friends. I'm going to a much bigger school for grad school and I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed but just how much stuff there is! Are there clubs and activities just for grad students??

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