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Advice on Finding a Girlfriend in Graduate School


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That goes for girls and guys. I have friends in their late 20's who are starting to feel the "bio clock" and as a result are "over-eager" when it comes to dating. If they get a guy's interest say, on Match.com, they will call the guy a few times before their date, start making plans, etc.. and I can't think of anything more off-putting to a guy than a woman that's already planning baby names before you've gone on a second date.

BTW, if bars and clubs are not your thing, check out Meetup.com. It's not online dating or anything like that (not that there's anything wrong with that either)... you just find groups of people with similar interests and meet up to do stuff together. I met my guy at a board game night cause I'm a board game and pub quiz nut.

I am a girl :) so of course it applies to both!

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To add onto jeffster's point about appearance...***what I am about to say is going to sound fluffy and horribly girlie***....putting in a bit of extra work on your appearance (e.g., looking clean cut, wearing a spiffy outfit that you like, smelling nice) will also make YOU feel different and results in you acting different and more confident. There is a reason why when girls are down in the dumps they go shopping for a nice outfit, go get their nails/hair done, or get dressed up- it makes you feel good to look in the mirror and say "daaaayum, I got it!!" [i know that statement is a generalization on all girls! apologies!]

If you spend an extra 20 minutes in the morning putting yourself together, you will feel more confident and your behaviours/attitude will change...and after about a week of putting 20minutes in, you'll find you'll only need 10 minutes, and soon it'll just be a part of your daily routine!

I'm a guy and I feel the same way about a nice outfit too :P One of the reasons I like to dress nice when giving a presentation is that I need the extra confidence boost from knowing that my outfit isn't going to make a bad first impression -- I don't want to take that opportunity away from my title slide.

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I'm 30, and I recently realized for the first time what lipstick means - it is a symbol, not actually an item to make you prettier. I used to never wear it because my lips are plenty pretty enough. However, that's not the point. The point is that lipstick says, "I'm paying attention to my appearance because I am in control and want to impress and/or smooch people." I used to think that appearance should reflect who we are, not what we want. After a breakup, many [OkCupid] dates and too many job interviews, I now know that appearance is a secret code. It relates everything from birth class to aspirations to sexuality. And of course, you are relating these things to yourself, too, as people above have mentioned - a given outfit that you really like can MAKE you more confident. I learned a lot from reading "Mythologies" by Barthes. I am no master of reading and playing with the codes embedded in our everyday lives. But I've finally started trying.

Edited by imisscoffee
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I'm not surprised to hear you guys discussing the importance of good appearance (and the confidence that comes with that), as important in making a nice first impression. I'm a fastidiously clean guy, but I'm not exactly fashionable; whatever clothes are closest to my grasp are the ones I wear. I'll start to give a bit more thought to how I dress (maybe track pants and a button down shirt aren't the best combination).

By the way, I did decide to give OkCupid a try, especially since it's summer and there's less opportunity to meet people on campus now. It's only been a week, so can't judge the site yet, but a rather amusing thing happened. I messaged a girl who seemed interesting, and she replied back. We started chatting online, and when I asked her which university she goes to, she told me that she dropped out of school to take care of her sick mom. Obviously I offered my sympathies, but then she told me that she's doing a nude webcam show to raise money for her mom's health bills, and asked me to watch her perform. Oh, and she also said that I needed to register for a free account on a website to see her, and that, although registration would require my credit card information, it was simply for age verification and that I wouldn't be charged.

Fortunately for me, I'm not a pervert, and I'm quite bright enough not to be fleeced, let alone by a scam as glaringly obvious as this one. I told her that I didn't have my credit card with me, but that I'm a Nigerian prince, so if she sent me her bank account information, I would transfer a fortune over to her. Needless to say, she disappeared rather abruptly. I wonder how many people have been scammed by her by now, and if "she" is really a hairy old man. Who knows who actually lurks behind those profiles. At any rate, even if I find nobody on OkCupid, at least the entertainment quotient has been high!

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Haha thats kinda funny, there are some weirdos on there and probably more scams for men than women. That being said there are real women too so hopefully it will get more promising soon:)

And yeah track pants and a button down? Sure if your hanging around the house, but if you are going out its best to have at least one nice set (polo and some khakis ought to do the trick unless you are taking her somewhere really fancy).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I really agree with the poster who mentioned style being important. A great resource that I discovered a few years back was style-forum (www.styleforum.net). An old Prof used to call me Thoreau because it apparently looked like I had just stepped off Walden Pond, but I have made a lot of progress in the last two years thanks to advice I picked up off of there. Just lurk in there and observe what styles you like best (street style, mens casual, etc) and go from there. Personally, it has made a big difference in my confidence and you start to notice that people do treat you a little bit differently.

Edited by AggieGuy88
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I will second jeffster's point about just meeting people. I have never met someone I wanted to date when I was actively looking for someone to date. I think people can sense a bit of the desperation when you're that focused. Instead what I would try to focus on was just going out and having a good time and meeting people. Even though I'm in a committed relationship I still do the same thing when I go out.

And in addition to appearance, there are many other traits that are very attractive to the opposite sex. For example, my boyfriend is an awesome cook. The first time he cooked me dinner I was incredibly impressed. I know when I look for a mate I look for more than just appearance, things like having a good job (or being in school) and being generally responsible are also high on my wish list.

ktel you sound remarkably Asian here. This is not an insult, just an observation, as I'm from Asia. :)

For clarification, I think that this is an extremely sensible point of view. :)

Edited by avicus
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ktel you sound remarkably Asian here. This is not an insult, just an observation, as I'm from Asia. :)

For clarification, I think that this is an extremely sensible point of view. :)

Haha, what about it sounds Asian?

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Haha, what about it sounds Asian?

For me, the part about the guy having job security. I'd thought (perhaps rather mistakenly) that Western culture tends to emphasize the romantic, rather than more practical, aspects of finding a life partner. Of course, I'm speaking from a cultural background where arranged marriage was rather common up to 20-30 year ago, (and still occurs today for desperate cases LOL)

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To be fair, I said "girlfriend". They're still good for one night stands and friends with benefits. Also, I guess graduate engineering guys have their fair share of issues too, but these are more on the side of introversion and shyness. Nothing that some lifestyle changes can't fix.

Hi ponylevel

What I meant was not to generalize as in assuming that your experience, or the experiences of people you have known (and therefore experienced vicariously) should not be taken as the de facto norm, in graduate school.

There are so many variables at play here, and you know as well as I do how varied graduate school programs can be across different faculties/departments, much less different schools. So my point is that it is really a rather complex scenario that we're talking about here, and I'm sorry if you or someone you knew had a bad experience relationship-wise, but I strongly feel that you should not use that negative experience as a stumbling block, ie to discourage other people on this forum from pursuing relationships while in graduate school.

This forum is about giving and seeking advice, not ranting (per se) or expression of bigotry/misogyny (at all).

Just my 2 cents worth.

Edited by avicus
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For me, the part about the guy having job security. I'd thought (perhaps rather mistakenly) that Western culture tends to emphasize the romantic, rather than more practical, aspects of finding a life partner. Of course, I'm speaking from a cultural background where arranged marriage was rather common up to 20-30 year ago, (and still occurs today for desperate cases LOL)

I think if you talked to a lot of Western women (or men) they would emphasize the practical as well. When a majority of marriages end because of money issues, a good job is important!

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I think if you talked to a lot of Western women (or men) they would emphasize the practical as well. When a majority of marriages end because of money issues, a good job is important!

One of my best female friends used to half-heartedly joke about how she wasn't super picky about men. She just required that they have a job and no felonies. Haha sadly enough, those 2 prerequisites knock out a good amount of the population!

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One of my best female friends used to half-heartedly joke about how she wasn't super picky about men. She just required that they have a job and no felonies. Haha sadly enough, those 2 prerequisites knock out a good amount of the population!

My upstanding boyfriend is now a convicted criminal (misdemeanor) due to some very unfortunate circumstances while on a ski trip with his friends. I have no faith in the American justice system and thank the lord I live in Canada after that. Well I guess the small town American justice system.

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My upstanding boyfriend is now a convicted criminal (misdemeanor) due to some very unfortunate circumstances while on a ski trip with his friends. I have no faith in the American justice system and thank the lord I live in Canada after that. Well I guess the small town American justice system.

I empathize with you. The American legal system is such that it has bred an overly-litigious society, IMHO.

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I totally know where you're coming from with the introversion thing-I'm the same way. I used to be into online dating, mostly for that reason, but after all of my bad/medicore at best experiences with that, I'm trying to mix in some other approaches. I know that it's hard-but you REALLY need to "join," as others have said. When I "join" I don't do it just to meet guys (or friends necessarily) I do things because it allows me to engage in my interests, get out of the house, and out of my shell for a little while. Over the past couple years I have taken classes for fun, joined a Bible study group, volunteered, traveled, and made an effort to reach out to friends of friends. Doing stuff in the community that you are interested in allows you to meet others with similiar values and interests. I realize that as a PhD student you don't have a lot of extra free time, so maybe you could focus on school-related things, such as joining a study group, professional association, or just socializing with your classmates. The "your friends are my friends" line of thinking is also a really easy way to meet more people and expand your social horizons. I have met a lot of my friends this way as well as a couple of past boyfriends.

I don't think anyone should set out with the mentality that they are going to find "the one" immediately. That might happen tommorrow, or it might take 20 more years, but you have to be happy by yourself in the meantime. Another thing I have learned from dating a lot is that you should absolutely not put a lot of emotional or time investment into the early stages of a relationship. It's important to get to know somebody, but take your time and don't worry about whether this person is "the one" or not. That should reveal itself in time, while you are assessing whether you want them as a girlfriend or not. In the meantime, be open to other possibilities and people. I have a good friend who tends to use the "six month" rule with new guys-she will not make things official until that time, that way there is not too much pressure and she has an easy out if things go wrong quickly.

Anyways, don't worry about it too much. I know its hard since you say you've never experienced dating before, but focus on being yourself and making new friends and it will happen naturally.

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Hi ponylevel

What I meant was not to generalize as in assuming that your experience, or the experiences of people you have known (and therefore experienced vicariously) should not be taken as the de facto norm, in graduate school.

There are so many variables at play here, and you know as well as I do how varied graduate school programs can be across different faculties/departments, much less different schools. So my point is that it is really a rather complex scenario that we're talking about here, and I'm sorry if you or someone you knew had a bad experience relationship-wise, but I strongly feel that you should not use that negative experience as a stumbling block, ie to discourage other people on this forum from pursuing relationships while in graduate school.

This forum is about giving and seeking advice, not ranting (per se) or expression of bigotry/misogyny (at all).

Just my 2 cents worth.

Awesome response to my troll posts.

Anyway, truth be told, the best thing you can do (aside from shoring up your style) is maximize opportunity. Find situations in which you can leverage the least amount of effort for the most opportunity. Go to events and talk to everybody. Don't be creepy and just hit on girls, but bring out your social side for a few hours. Have a good time and you'll naturally meet people and find someone suitable.

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I don't really care about reputation points, in case you haven't noticed.

Also, trolling is fun as hell, so I'll continue to do it if I want to.

This made me laugh. I've never seen a troll that actually admits to trolling, and actually gives good advice when the "troll" switch turns off.

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