Monday, March 7, 2011

I received an email from a college student asking for advice...

Q: In college, it is easy to casually meet up with someone you are interested in. However, I will be living at home after graduation and want advice on how to meet guys or what to expect about dating while working in the professional world.

A: This is more common that you think. Most graduating college students are entering the workplace single – as in, not even dating anyone. So you’ve got this big stamp on your forehead that says “Available” as soon as you begin your new life. While it does become more difficult to meet guys once you’re living off campus and possibly even living at home while looking for a job, there is one time-tested solution: friends. And friends of friends.

This might scare some of you introverts, but don’t worry. You don’t necessarily have to start making new friends from scratch. Thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn, you should be able to find out if any of your friends have other friends or relatives living or working near you. The hard part will be forcing yourself to join them when they invite you out to events and parties. Just don’t go there looking for a date immediately. These are the events where you’re going to meet the friends who might later introduce you to someone you might want to date.

When I first moved to D.C., I didn’t have any friends here. My friend from high school in Florida had a cousin here, who was kind enough to invite me to her friend’s party. I ended up dating one of the guys on her friend’s soccer team after meeting this group out several times. It ended badly, but hey, at least I tried.
Too often, college grads go for the immediate gratification – date me now! Give it some time. Let yourself attend a few of these events and make some friends or become better friends with existing circles. This is also beneficial to getting the background scoop on any guy you want to date. If you’ve been hanging out long enough, you’re more likely to find out which guy is worth dating.

Ask around and you’ll learn that many successful relationships began because a friend introduced some girl to some guy – and they took it from there! A couple of footnotes on the above advice: if you’re invited to an event you don’t feel comfortable attending, don’t go. This isn’t a free pass for shy people to not attend a dinner party. This means you’re not going to find the right fit for you if you constantly attend events you don’t enjoy. And you’re going to look miserable. No one wants to date that.

As for the second part of your question about dating while working in the professional world – if you meant dating at work when you’re the new college graduate, I’m going to put a flag on the play right now. There are more reasons not to do this, than to do this, but in case you’re a visual learner, here’s your list:


- The guy you start dating is also dating your boss. She finds out and fires you.

- You chose to date the guy who has the worst reputation in the office, but you don’t know it because you haven’t worked there long enough. Everyone loses respect for you and you’re no longer CC’ed on happy hour invites.

- You end up going for the same promotion as the guy you just started dating, only he’s worked there longer and manipulates you to get what he wants.

- Your boss thinks you’re paying more attention to your social life than your work life and you either get passed over for opportunities or worse, fired. (yes, this has happened)


- You have a date on Saturday night.
- You feel attractive.

Starting to get the picture? Trust me on this. I am speaking from personal experience. Maybe, and I mean maybe, after you’ve worked at the same office for almost a year, you can safely date a co-worker. But that’s only if your Human Resources department allows it. I’ve had friends (women) who started dating an intern and had to keep it on the major down-low. That became the appeal of the relationship and once he was hired as a regular employee, their relationship hit the rocks. Even if a co-worker friend recommends dating another one of your co-workers, think things through first: how will a break-up affect their working relationship? How will it affect your friendship with your co-worker?

Once you’re in the “real world” the ripple effect from dating one person becomes much bigger, since you’re now skipping stones in a bigger pond. If you plan to work in that industry for a long time, keep in mind that certain circles are small, even though the city seems huge.

To end on a fun note, there are some great movies (and terrible ones) that explore this topic. Check out “Working Girl” with Harrison Ford. Total 80’s movie with huge hair and shoulder pads that would make the NFL jealous. . If you love the classics, check out “His Girl Friday.” There’s also Jason Bateman’s “Extract” from 2009: “In Good Company” stars Dennis Quaid (aka guy who used to be married to Meg Ryan). ... And, of course, “Boss’s Daughter,” is available for those who like cheesy flicks.

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