Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day! (And why I'm happy to be alone for this one and next)

One of my fellow bloggers posted a great piece about dating within the Darden bubble. As a balance to her piece, I wanted to write something for all those of you who find yourself putting your own flowers through the grocery check-out. (Oh, or am I the only one who buys myself flowers?)

Miss MBA did a great job of outlining some of the pitfalls of dating at Darden. I'll take some of hers and add a few of my own:
  • Lack of available men and women (though I disagree that most of the good girls are taken, since I've got some AMAZING single friends)
  • Hook-up culture (hint to the girls: hooking up with a guy most definitely does not mean he will pursue a relationship)
  • Lack of time
  • Darden Bubble Time Warp: you can know someone for a month, but due to the fact that you see them every single day and potentially spend hours and hours together, you feel like you've known them a year. This is great, but it can lead things to moving too fast and depriving you of the opportunity of seeing them over several seasons of life.
  • Incompatible life plans: It isn't always the case that you will meet someone who wants to end up in the same geographic location as you. Given this, a committed relationship is tough because it means that either someone will have to compromise, or you eventually break up. In fact, for many new Darden couples, the first big challenge is going to come over the summer when they are thrown into a mandatory long-distance relationship.

Given these challenges, I've heard that successful, long-term relationships are the exception rather than the rule at Darden (and B-school in general). Now, for a girl who was forced to buy her own flowers on Valentine's Day, this may be a depressing revelation. What do you mean, I'm going to be single for the next year and a half?

However, my strategy class has taught me well. When it comes to dating, I've done the environmental analysis. Given these facts, how can I best position myself for the future? Is it possible that this is not a challenge or something to be woeful about, but an opportunity?

Well, I'm glad you asked. Over the past little while (i.e. since my somewhat cynical blog post of a few days ago), I've learned to see this season of my life as an incredible opportunity. So here are the reasons why I'm glad that I will be single for the next little while.

  • When will I ever again be surrounded by so many amazing single women who are more focused on their careers than on dating and marriage? There are definitely relationships around here, but for the most part, there isn't pressure to find someone or have dating stories to bring to cocktail hour.
  • No pressure. I've accepted the fact that I'm going to be single, thus I do not have to worry about whether a guy seems interested or not. I don't need to feel like I need to go out and find a date for the upcoming SHE auction. I can go and look fabulous all on my own. (AND, most of my friends are also going stag, which builds on my previous point.)
  • This may come as a surprise, but I'm not perfect. I've realized that while I've got a strict list of qualities that any man I date must posess, I've given no thought to whether I'm good enough for that man. Having a distinct season of singleness will allow me to work through some of those things that will better prepare me to be a better girlfriend and wife.
  • Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility... Next year, when I start making decisions about where I'm going to live and what I'm going to do, all that will factor into those decisions is which companies will hire me and what I want to do. I won't be conflicted about how much to factor in my boyfriend, or feel upset that he isn't thinking about me.

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