By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University
Not every girl is born a Carrie Bradshaw in the realm of dating. Young professionals, myself included, live in the five-year plan mindset, leaving little to no room to account for their own Mr. Big.
With the pressures of finding a job right fresh from graduation, we are now forced to sow oats early or risk the trials and tribulations of the dating scene post-grad style. But all is not lost! Learning how to live and love in post-grad world is becoming easier than applying for a job.
Never Mix Work and Pleasure
For newly hired post-grads, the idea of interoffice romance is a big no-no, not only to follow the policies of your workplace (if applicable), but for your own sanity! The last thing you honestly want to come home to after a long day at the office is a reminder of your big assignment lying next to you at night. Instead of seeing the office as a giant dating pool, see it as a way to branch out in the friend zone.
Building friendly work relationships lets you see that not everything in your post-grad life has to be about starting a family, or rather, finding a hookup. Forming friend relationships can be a good jumping-off point to meet someone new. Working in a different city with plenty of fish in the sea? Ask your coworkers for a group hang and see what's out there beyond the work bubble.
The Post-Grad Dating Scene
For the chicster looking for love beyond the campus, dating for any personality is becoming easier and less awkward. First, say goodbye to dating advice circa 1970. The bar scene can be a fun place to meet and greet, but as a "single working gal party of one," a bar is just a reminder how overpriced cocktails are on your starting salary and how bad pickup lines have become! Branch out of the obvious and do a little research on your own area. Pick up a fun adult education class to try your hand at cooking or art and see who walks in the door. Focusing on more low-key public areas for dating like coffee shops, bookstores or restaurants lets you see people for who they really are under much better conditions.
More comfortable with your online persona than in-person, online dating is no longer for divorcees or late bloomers. Dating online has become so specialized that there are now services for specific orientations, religions, ethnicities, and yes, ages! This is even better for those odd work schedules that never seem to match up. Date and meet at your own pace whenever time permits.
Speaking from personal experience, taking a relationship from the college campus into the "real world" sounds easy at first. But after seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend day in and day out, knowing each other’s class schedules and always having time for a date night, taking this routine on the road starts to sound and feel difficult.
Before you commit to taking a long-distance relationship past graduation, it's critical to set some guidelines and know each other’s intentions. If something seems like a college fling destined to fizzle out over a summer apart, end it early before one person gets way too attached. But for those with planner mentality, have a frank chat about life goals, time frames and even budget. (Those weekend trips don't run cheap!)
It is also important to let your partner know what your career means to you before investing in a serious relationship. As someone who has dated the same guy since meeting freshman year, it's vital to understand and respect one another’s life goals. Planning your dreams should hopefully involve sharing it with another person, but compromising one's education or career should not be the only option for true love.
Keeping Your Love Aflame
Whether long distance or playing the dating field, keeping that love alive in your budding career has a lot of challenges. Just like any marriage counselor would say, family comes first, then work. Same goes for those entering the workforce and romance scene at the same time. Try to find ways to incorporate your significant other to your work world, whether that means keeping a photo of them at your desk or making sure you keep in touch through email or text.
While your job is equally important as your partner's, make sure you stay interested and invested in their life. Help them understand the work you do and the schedule you have ahead. Include them in on the work week by sharing your calendar updates or upcoming projects you might have. Probably most important is having communication from the office. Whether it’s brief emails saying hey or sending a special something like flowers or a care package just because it’s Tuesday. While your ability to stay afloat in your work world may seem like top priority, sharing that experience and having someone to come home to or call at the end of a busy week makes it all worthwhile.