Sunlit Water

February 3, 2012


Filed under: Dating,Personal,Sex — by teofilo @ 10:23 pm

Longtime readers of this blog will recall that college was a spectacularly unsuccessful period for me romantically, and that it was only after I had been out of school for a few months that I finally managed to have a modicum of success in dating. You might think that, having reached that point and figured a few things out, graduate school would have been a more rewarding experience in this respect, but you would have been wrong. My graduate school experience was almost as sexless as my undergraduate experience, and to the extent that it was more successful that had nothing to do with being in school per se.

What I’ve come to realize from this is that school is actually a really terrible environment for me romantically. (Obviously this is not true for everyone.) On reflection, there have been two major aspects of school life that have interfered with my romantic success: the time-limited nature of the experience and the fact that you never really have any true free time while in school.

The time-limited aspect was really more of a problem for me in undergrad than in grad school. It generally takes me a fairly long time (weeks to months) to decide if I’m really interested in someone, and given the compressed time frame and frequent breaks of the school context it would often seem that pursuing a given person wasn’t really “worth it” given the limited time that would be left before the next big disruption. This was particularly a problem for me in undergrad since I was (in retrospect weirdly) focused on finding a serious, long-term relationship rather than a casual hook-up. In grad school I would worry about this a bit, but I had decided that I was not actually interested in anything serious or long-term, which took off a lot of the pressure and made the limited time less of a concern.

The lack of free time was a much bigger issue in grad school, though. In general, one thing I really dislike about being in school is that I never felt at ease or like I had any time to myself. There was always something that I should have been doing, which made it very difficult to enjoy any of the time when I wasn’t in class, even though there was a lot of it. In both undergrad and grad school, but especially in the latter, my friends generally seemed to study a lot more than I did, which made it even more difficult to be social. Even if I wanted to hang out, the people I would have hung out with were probably doing something more important. This made finding time for dating and so forth really challenging, and for the most part in grad school I just didn’t bother trying. In retrospect this was probably a bad call, since I met a lot of great people, some of whom seemed to like me rather a lot, but it’s hard to see these things in the moment.

Now, of course, I have plenty of free time, but I don’t know anyone where I am. This seems to be sort of a fundamental trade-off between school and non-school; in school there are loads of opportunities to meet people but no time to hang out, whereas out of school you have all the time in the world outside of work but don’t necessarily know anyone or have any easy means of meeting people. I still prefer the non-school situation (not having real free time was incredibly stressful and I never want to go back to it), but I can see the trade-off much more clearly now than I could when I was in school.


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