I’d like to spend a post talking about what it’s like dating as an academic. In case you don’t want to read all the way until the end, let me summarize this for you quickly: it’s quite awful.
If you care to keep reading, please do :)
Dating is tough, no matter what you do or where you live. All of the online stuff exposes you to more people, but doesn’t mean you get a “match” in most cases. I’ve done my fair share of dating and only a few have made it to what I like to call “the lightning round” or the “meet the parents” round. I know the research and statistics on marriage, divorce, and staying single. As someone who has been married, divorced, in long-term relationships, and now single, I can say this: it’s rough out there for anyone.
In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d regale you with some quick stories from the field. You can call it research if you’d like. I decided to do what any living, breathing human would do: I asked my academic girlfriends to share their stories. I also included a few of my own.
Here we go:
“I went out with one guy. I told him I was a professor, where I’d gone to college, etc…. over coffee. The man excused himself to the bathroom, came out and said, “I’ve gotta go, I can’t do this, I knew you were smart, but Ivy league?” and left.”
“I went out for coffee with a guy who proceeded to tell me his philosophy on life and how his only goal was to just wait until he could retire. Not much there in the way of ambition or goals. When I told him about myself, his only comment was, “so, you really want to live a full and good life? that seems worthless.””
“A guy who said he was in the medical field (fine), but upon meeting him, he proceeded to tell me how he’d gotten let go due to “legal infractions” and was busy making sandwiches waiting to see if he got his “license” back. Liar, liar, pants on fire? Cannot deal with liars.”
“Didn’t even get to meet one man. He stalked, harassed, and then proceeded to send me no less than 19 messages one day in a row that went from “hey, how are you?” to “what the hell? why aren’t you answering me?” I had been on the phone taking a work call that lasted about 10 minutes. Slow your roll.”
I could do this for a few more rounds, but to spare you the details, I’ll summarize by saying this:
Academia is isolating and filled with nerds. I like nerds. I am a nerd. Dating is really hard though. As a female, I’m sure all the ladies out there can share and have similar stories to my four quick anecdotes above. It’s incredibly difficult to find a good man who understands what we do, why we’re workaholics, and still respects us after knowing that we went through massive amounts of training and education to get to the lower rungs of academia.
If you decide to date an academic know the following:
- We’re usually highly self-motivated
- We keep odd hours
- We probably won’t be home waiting for you with a hot meal.
- We’ll probably get home later than you and leave earlier so you better know how to get your own meals & be self sufficient.
- We’re quite independent.
- We’re used to rejection, so if it isn’t working out for you, just say so.
- Work life balance is this thing we read about but rarely do.
- We speak our own language. Learn some of ours if you plan on conversing and we’ll learn some of yours.
- Grant deadlines are a thing that haunt our dreams and ruin our days.
- So are submission deadlines.
- We do love you. We want to be with you, but we get distracted by a deadline.
- We’re faithful, loyal, and loving. We believe in our science the way we believe in our partnerships and will usually stick with both through the high’s and low’s. That’s saying a lot!
In short, dating in academia is pretty much as bad as it is in any field. Since you can’t fake chemistry, there’s likely to be a lot of frogs before you land anything close to prince charming.