Dating: Grad School Edition



It’s that time of year again!  Valentine’s day.  The one day of the year where people are clearly divided into two categories: taken or single.  And your general mood on this day seems to directly correlate to which of these groups you are a member of.  If you’re taken, you’re eagerly anticipating a special date night with your significant other, and perhaps a chance to re-profess your love and appreciation that they’re in your life.  And if you’re single, you might be planning on heading to a bar tonight.  Or curling up in your pyjamas with a movie and a tub of ice cream. Or drowning yourself in the ever-piling mountain of work that seems to accompany this wonderful time of year.

Grad school dating.  It’s definitely a change from undergrad.  In undergrad, you’re surrounded by opportunities to meet people: in class, extracurriculars, socials… and most people are pretty eager about the prospect of constantly meeting new people. However, grad school is a different scene.  We function very much like our “in-the-workplace” peers.  Research is a job – we’re in our labs 9-5, while maybe taking a class or two on the side.  It’s no secret that meeting people is much harder at this stage in life. Once we’ve established ourselves a group of friends, few of us are likely to branch out too far.  Many of my peers (both in grad school and in the workplace) complain about “how difficult it is to meet someone” and the fact that “I have  never been single for this long!”

So, as a young, eligible bachelor or bachelorette, how does one approach this situation?  Well, lucky for us, we live in an age where new methods of dating have been established – broadening possibilities and dating pools.  As wonderful as this is, we do need to approach these methods with caution.  “What do you mean?” you ask.  Here are some reviews as an explanation.

First up, we have online dating.  A booming industry, with millions of young professionals and graduate students our age deciding that meeting at bars or pubs isn’t really for them, and choosing to instead, sit comfortably behind a computer screen and type up a nice profile.  The perks of online dating are that you get to find out a lot more about a person than you would if you met at a place like a club or bar.  You list the important facts about yourself and hope to find someone who shares your interests, values, hobbies, etc.  You also get to go through their profile and see if you’d be physically compatible: height, weight, attractiveness, etc.  Now that you’ve found a nice match, all you need to do is send them a message and set up a date to meet. Online dating is great because it allows for all this flexibility and the choice from a large pool of possibilities right from the comfort of your home.  However, one problem with online dating is that you don’t know whether you will be fully compatible until you actually meet face-to-face.  And often, how you perceive someone on paper is much different than how they are in real life.  Studies have shown that body language makes up over 90% of human communication – and this very important aspect is missing when you meet someone online.

So, a solution to the problem might be another contemporary form of  meeting people – speed dating.  With speed dating, you get pretty much the complete opposite of what you have with online dating.  You are given around 5 minutes to talk to numerous members of the opposite (or same) gender (depending on your preferences) and see whether any attraction exists. Here we have room for the 90% body language communication to step in.  And you get to the opportunity to  meet a whole lot of people in a short period of time.  But once again, while there are pros, there are also cons.  5 minutes is hardly enough time to have a real conversation – most of the time it’s difficult to get past the “what do you do for a living?” and “what are your hobbies?” part of the conversation.  Along with that, you are bombarded with so many choices in a short amount of time that it’s difficult to determine who are the people you’d actually want to follow up with.

Today’s dating world offers many more options than existed in the past.  Though there are cons to these non-traditional ways of dating, they do offer ways for individuals in an increasingly busy generation to meet people.  So why not give one a try? Or maybe you’d prefer to meet eyes with that special someone in a coffee shop or bookstore.   Personally, I’d say the old-fashioned way of meeting people is still the most effective.  But it doesn’t hurt to try something new once in a while.

Happy Valentine’s Day ♥


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