Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Dating in College or University: Making Time to Study and Date

Dating in College and University

Dating in college and university can be difficult.

I recently started dating a non-grad student, and even more recently broke up with her.

When we were together, things were great, but still the relationship failed. Her main complaint was that we didn’t spend enough time together, and she was spot on. My main complaint was that she wasn’t available in the middle of the day on Mondays and Wednesday, or at all during my Spring Break, which I recognize is kind of a weak argument.

In the end, our schedules couldn’t even synch up enough so that we could break up in person; we had to do it over the phone. This story illustrates the biggest problem I’ve faced since joining grad school: most people my age aren’t in school anymore.

Dating is Particularly Hard for Adult Learners

Most people in their mid- to late-twenties have joined the regular workforce. They have an eight-to-five job with weekends more or less free. They have a consistent and predictable schedule that allows for planning. They have work and stress that they can leave at work (although many choose not to). And they are looking for someone whose schedule matches up with theirs.

My schedule, on the other hand, is highly variable. I am in an accelerated full-time MBA program, which means that I’ve basically signed my life over to my professors. I never plan anything more than two days in advance. And homework, by its very definition, is not meant to be left at school. Like I said, my life is school.

The simple solution, at first, appeared to be to date a fellow grad student, but this turned out to be a disastrous decision. I dated someone from my program. It was great at first. However, we found ourselves talking about nothing outside of school. We complain about the same professor, work on homework together, eat at the cafeteria together. In the end, it felt like school had found a way to invade that little bit of us that we had kept private. Neither of us felt that the relationship was healthy, and we decided to part ways. It was at that point that I started to look for people my age in the “real world”.

Juggling a Family, Studies, and Dating

If I had to pick, dating someone outside of school is the healthier and more productive option, hands down. I know it’s possible because there are married grad students. There are grad students with kids, for crying out loud. If they can do it, I should be able to maintain a relationship for longer than two months. But to make it work, it has to be a two way street.

Regarding the non-student, almost all my married classmates have said their spouse understands. Except they don’t say it that way; they gush about how understanding and supportive their spouse is, and how they don’t think they could get through the program without their significant other.

I think that’s half the trick: you need to find a partner who recognizes the temporary nature of your schooling, who sees the potential in you that your education is helping you realize, and is willing to be flexible and supportive. Even if you’re pulling an all-nighter on a Tuesday.

Manage Your Time. Make Time

You, on the other hand, need to have discipline. You can find time at the end of most days to spend with your partner, if you make that time. That might mean when you have free time in the middle of your Monday and Wednesday, you do that assignment that’s due in three weeks. It might mean that you set aside two hours a night to spend together, even if that means you have to wake up early to make up the slack. It might mean having one room in your house or apartment that is free of school. And finally, no one ever needs to spend the entire day at the library.

In the end, it’s about the two of you coming together and agreeing to make the relationship work despite the sacrifices you both have to make.

…Though it wouldn’t hurt if your accounting professor assigned a few less problems.

Chris Spartz
Author: Chris Spartz
Chris Spartz is currently a grad student at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Post a comment
  1. Chris Says:

    Do you think it is tough dating someone who will be in school for 6 more years? She is a very good student and studies a lot so will be busy busy during her semesters. I will be 29 and she will be 32 when school is over for her. It seems as if this is too late in life to be getting started :(. What are your thoughts on this?
    Very nice blog. It helped my thoughts a bit saying that I’m not alone. I’m on the other end of the school stick.

  2. Amatalka12 Says:

    Could not have said it better myself. I love
    this blog!

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