Before I learned that it would take me two more years to finish grad school (when I thought that I would be done by the end of next year), I had been seriously considering joining an online dating site again. I recently received a LinkedIn request from a guy whose name only sounded vaguely familiar. I'm not on LinkedIn, but I clicked on the guy's page to see who it was.
It turned out to be a guy I went on a date with a few years ago. He actually mentioned his wife on his job profile. I wasn't sad or disappointed to learn that he'd gotten married, since I hadn't even spoken to him since our one date and I hadn't even liked him very much anyway. On that night, he acted like he was doing me a favor by hugging me goodbye, and at one point during the date he high-fived me. And when I say "he high-fived me", I don't mean that as a euphemism for something dirty; I mean he actually gave me a high five. (It made me feel like I was his fraternity brother or something.)
I was curious, so I Googled a couple of the other guys I'd met through online dating. (I'm not on Facebook, so I couldn't check out their profiles. And I wouldn't WANT to, because what if they found out I was checking up on them and then they either laughed pityingly at me or did something worse, like call me?) I found out that a guy I hadn't even dated had gotten married as well; I found his wedding picture online. This was one of the disappearing acts, who e-mailed me once and then I never heard from him again. In his one e-mail, he had mentioned that he was a filmmaker, and I later learned that he had made a film about stick figures having sex with each other. (I WISH I was making that up.)
So after learning that those two had both found love, I started making plans to try online dating again. A lot of women wonder where the men are, but I already know. In Chicago, many of them are at the sports bars, yelling authoritatively at the games on the TV screens and chugging beer with their friends. But seeing as how the last time I drank alcohol (I used to let myself have a drink once every few years, but I don't do that anymore.), I tripped and fell into a crowd of people (and this was after I'd had only ONE drink), I figured that I wouldn't make a very good impression at a bar. And my idea of playing a sport is imagining my loud, annoying, and inconsiderate neighbors trapped in an arena with a couple of gladiators, or perhaps a couple of lions who haven't eaten yet. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
I wanted to try match.com, because it's so popular, NOT because of all the commercials that feature people having fun on their first dates. That already tells me that those commercials are unrealistic, because on most of my first dates - including the ones that I went on the first time I tried match.com - I did NOT have fun. Instead, I spent most of the time counting the number of exits in the places that I went to with my dates, or wishing that I had worn sneakers instead of heels so that I could make a faster getaway. The more popular a site is, though, the more people are on it.
But that meeting with my professors made me realize that I have to make my dissertation a top priority, now more than ever. What if I screw up again, and they told me I have to leave the graduate program? When your life revolves around your work, the possibility of failing at your work is enough to completely freak you out. Knowing that any of those guys I went on dates with had gotten married doesn't bother me. But knowing that I couldn't be a teacher anymore would truly break my heart.
I really do want to start dating again, even if it means going on more awkward first dates (sighhhh). And I want to get married someday, and have children. (But seeing as how I'm pushing thirty-two, I'm not sure how many children I'll be able to have. I hope I get to have at least one, though.)
But instead, I've become even more of a workaholic. I spend most of my free time studying. The problem with online dating is that it takes up a lot of time. There are all the hours spent combing through profiles, writing e-mails and answering them, talking on the phone with people I'm interested in, and going on the actual dates. There is also the time I have to spend blocking certain guys from e-mailing me again, particularly if they a) are too old or too young for me; b) apparently believe that no response from me means that they should keep e-mailing me as many times as possible, since the word "stalker" is not in their vocabularies; c) make it clear in their profiles that they're looking for someone to hook up with (on okcupid you can specify if you're looking for a "casual encounter"); d) make their profiles sound like they were written by one of the characters on South Park or Family Guy.
So I've decided that unfortunately, online dating is going to have to wait until the end of the school year. It sucks, but it would just be too much of a distraction right now. I wish I could figure out a way to balance work and everything else, but it's hard to do that when graduate school makes you feel like if you don't commit to it completely, the other academics will haunt you or you'll have nightmares about footnotes.
What about you? How do you balance work and everything else?
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