Dating in academic situations is conveniently built in as though it is on par with Spanish club or debate team. It’s essentially an expected extracurricular activity that all students partake in. As a result, many people find their life-long (in theory) partners at college or during the college years. I don’t know the figures, but I’m willing to bet this is especially true of institutions where the M.R.S. is lauded as one of their top degrees.
After you turn that tassel over, the whole dating ritual seems to become exponentially more difficult. No longer are you in an environment where it is expected that nearly everyone is single and ready to mingle. You now find yourself having to navigate through murky waters of the married, engaged, divorced, in addition to weeding out the disinterested from the interested. And you have to do this in places and situations you would rather not disclose to any future children.
As much as alcohol is associated with college, the dating scene in the world of academia doesn’t rely solely on the lubrication of liquor the way budding romance does outside of the university. The social nature of college made it easy to get to know potential Prince Charmings in respectable situations (e.g. class) where you have the opportunity to interact with cute individuals on a consistent basis before making a move toward the romantic, rather than a seedy bar where you have, at most, a couple hours to make a quasi-positive impression on someone you can barely hear above the sound of crappy top-forty music.
Additionally, college interaction allows you to naturally build on common interests based on where you meet. You met in a Constitutional History class, so you know you share an interest in political science as it relates to the Founding Fathers. You meet at a frat/sorority party so you know you share an interest in douchey attire, organized friendships, copious amounts of alcohol and promiscuity. After college, you meet at a bar, so you know you both like….to drink socially (instant soul mates!).
It’s no wonder more singles are turning to the Internet. Though the stigma still remains to some degree, it undoubtedly provides those easy situations where you know that the person is single (one would hope), interested in dating, and shares interests similar to your own. I still can’t bring myself to release my dream of meeting someone organically, so I’ve yet to hop on the e-dating train, but it hasn’t been ruled out.
I know I’m not the only one struggling with this. I’ve had numerous discussions with friends about the foregone opportunity of meeting “the one” in college. Unfortunately, we can’t just go back to school to recreate the perfect dating circumstances. We have to accept and embrace where we are and realize the benefits of dating after we’ve left the ivy covered halls.
Most of us are now in a position in our lives where we have begun careers and found cities we would like to call home. We can find someone who fits nicely into the world we’ve built without having to worry about building a world around someone you met while you were both just learning what you expected of your future. Plus, you have the benefit of knowing what you are getting into when you date someone who has already chosen a career/life path. In college you could start dating someone who has grand ambitions, but after they graduate they may suddenly decide they want to denounce all they had aspired to be and live in a van by the river because the real world is just too hard.