Ph.Dating-Earn Your Degree In Loveology

Academic deadlines and arduous coursework assignments leave little time for graduate students to date. Get prepared to write your own flirtation dissertation by following the expert advice below.

By Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro

repping for the GMAT/LSAT/MCAT/GRE is a nightmare, and then once you're accepted to a graduate program, there's all that studying you've got to do. But after attending seminars, labs and clinics (not to mention re-checking your citations on hundreds of footnotes for that master's thesis), it's time for some leisure and love. And yet, even if you've managed to get your nose out of the books long
For major metro areas and international cities, this isn't a big problem.
enough to stick it into a glass of cheap happy-hour pinot noir, who's to say that off-campus professionals — who long ago traded in their notebooks for checkbooks — are even interested in someone who's still got homework? It's no wonder that intra-program dating is rampant amongst students in graduate school.

Yes, you can always parlay that venerable student discount into witty banter addressing why someone should join you for dinner and a movie, but consider these five common obstacles that put some grad students at a romantic disadvantage:

1. Xenophobia.
Often, a student arrives in a faraway city or university town with no friends to speak of beyond the temporary rapport he or she enjoyed with members of the orientation committee and the friendly clerks working at the local futon store. For major metro areas and international cities, this isn't a big problem — but it can be difficult in more provincial hamlets, where out-of-state transfers (or, worse, "Yankees" with funny accents studying in Dixie) often find themselves at a wooing disadvantage with the local crop, particularly in areas where the question of where you went to high school routinely arises in conversation.

2. Unpolished courting techniques.
For those who rush straight from college into grad school, their wooing experiences have likely consisted of alcohol-fueled hook-up sessions (well, for the most part). However, singles in the grown-up world respond best to more subtle flirtation and dating techniques. Factor in the spate of grad-school lingo on your tongue, a slim wallet, an old beater of a car and a juvenile wardrobe, and voilá — you're just not as alluring as you thought (particularly in an economy where scads of recent law and business school graduates have found that their degrees aren't wowing many prospects, either).

3. The low serendipity factor.
Beyond the usual bar scene and singles events, meeting a mate is often the result of happenstance; a little serendipity at the supermarket can go a long way. If you're perpetually tethered to lecture halls or quiet study sessions at the campus café, however, the chances of getting caught in the crossfire of Cupid's arrows are limited to other students, school staffers and professors who might be willing to bend university protocol.

4. Juggling assignment due dates and dating.
You might think that one of the stumbling blocks to dating an employed professional is that any university student automatically has more free time, while the professional is time-constrained by a perpetually buzzing BlackBerry. Nevertheless, one main problem with making this type of relationship work is that the grad student can't just disregard his or her academic commitments after normal business hours or on weekends. Instead, assignments and projects usually spill over into late-night hours — not to mention the shadow of looming theses, papers and exams that can consume entire weeks at a time. The result is that many a pleasant Sunday afternoon gets curtailed by the pressures of a student's workload. Conversely, when the student has completed a major assignment and wishes to drink an ocean's worth of celebratory margaritas, the professional often has an early work meeting the following morning. And then there's the difficulty of keeping things going as a couple when the semester ends and the student goes home to visit friends and family.

5. Job-related stress vs. academic deadlines.
A graduate student frets over tests, studio reviews and oral presentations,
Online dating is another effective method for reaching beyond the usual pool.
while a working professional is concerned with clients, marketing, career advancement and bonuses — all of which are real-world stresses that, for a mate, may trump academics because there's a paycheck at stake. Nevertheless, anyone who's ever been faced with the daunting task of writing a thesis knows how slyly that big paper — if not in body, then in mind — can dominate one's thoughts and attentions 24/7, sapping the energy normally devoted to a lover or other life pursuits and becoming a tangible burden for the graduate student's mate.

Extra-credit coursework
Despite all of the issues listed above, love usually finds a way. The Red Hot Chili Peppers used to play the liberal arts college circuit before they struck it big; why not style yourself as a rock star on the rise and build your own fan base? That way, even if you're buried in a constitutional law book all day, you can scan the local papers and free weeklies to stay apprised of neighborhood happenings, which can help you feel a bit less like a highlighter-wielding interloper within the community. If you don't have any contacts who can introduce you to other available singles in your area, use your abundant free time to join an off-campus organization, running club, yoga studio or visit a dog park to meet the locals on their turf. Online dating is another effective method for reaching beyond the usual pool of soon-to-be-degreed prospects sitting in your Human Physiology class. You can also transcend the traditional bar/restaurant scene by searching out jazz clubs, gallery openings, and house parties to meet more discerning locals that share a common interest with you.

If you're lucky enough to land a date, practice more advanced wooing techniques and avoid escorting a budding flame to on-campus joints or other bucket-of-beer style cafés that will only accentuate your grad-student identity. If you're low on funds, plan romantic outings on the cheap: free concerts in the park, outdoor jogging dates, or upscale happy hour specials are all perfectly good options. Though, there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of your student status by inviting a date to accompany you to unique campus offerings, such as an NCAA sporting event, guest lecture series, or class-sponsored showing of a rare print of an art film you'll both enjoy.

Apply the home-field advantage
Your own innate charm notwithstanding, graduate students are probably still most interesting to their own species, so go ahead: attend those intramural events and mixers, take classes at other schools, and seek out members of other professional programs within the university itself (for example: MBA chaps might seek out the lasses from the College of Education, and so on). And don't discount the undergrads! To be sure, those first and second-year youngsters are not likely to be interested in dating you… but by the close of a four or five-year program, a number of students have already grown tired with the usual collegiate dating life and perhaps wouldn't mind dating an older, saner med student like yourself who throws out terms like "xiphoid process" in conversation. So, study at the campus snack bar on occasion… and while you may bomb your History of Mass Media final, you just might land a Grade-A amour.

Phineas Mollod traded his J.D. for the editorial life and is often found riding the congested E train with his wife and daughter in New York. Jason Tesauro pushes pen and ink by day and leads the lifestyle seminar series by night, ne'er far from his sweetheart and a Brady Bunch houseful 'o tots in Virginia. Together they are the authors of The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy and Vice and The Modern Lover: A Playbook for Suitors, Spouses, and Ringless Carousers.
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