You’ve probably seen the promoters for DateMySchool.com around campus lately. Maybe you even took one of the free pens they were handing out. Don’t do it. No, I don’t mean don’t take one of the pens. Take as many as they’ll give you. But don’t date your school. Just don’t. Trust me.
Why am I hating on an online dating site? Well, I’m not exactly. First of all, I met my significant other on an online dating site, so you’ll find no hate there. Secondly, the site was, as you may know, started by two Columbia Business School students. I love to see Columbians starting their own businesses and making things happen! I also think DateMySchool's ability to match you up with other interested singles at your school is an interesting and unique one. It was a great idea on their part, and I’m sure these two grad students will be successful. Dating your school is still not a good idea for you.
Why? Because dating your school is terrible, or mildly awkward at best. Most of us have been told not to date someone we work with. Why should we assume that dating someone at college is any different? It’s not. When things go sour with the relationship, and they very well could, you still have to run into that person all over campus, or worse, in a class you might end up taking together. Say the relationship blossoms. You run the risk of smothering each other from constant contact, especially if you both live on or near campus. You might find it hard to focus if your lover is sitting next to you during lecture. And that is just what happens if your relationship goes well. More likely, you will end up hating the thought of/sight of/smell of the person who broke your heart.
That might all sound cynical, but I have a reason to think negatively about dating one’s school. I’ve done it. At two different schools actually. I was in college many years ago at the ripe old age of 17. I made a lot of mistakes in the three semesters I was there, and one of the biggest ones was dating (or in some cases, “dating”), well, my school. In its entirety. Obviously I’m exaggerating, but it sometimes felt like I had literally been with the entire student population. That school was bigger than Columbia—it had 25,000 undergrads and 15,000 grads—but for some reason I constantly ran into those ex-lovers everywhere. The universe seemed to be playing some cruel joke. At least it taught me never to date a classmate again.
Well, not exactly. I arrived at Columbia in 2010, seven years after my original foray into college life. I hardly knew anyone in New York. I was lonely. There were lots of cute people on campus. Oops. It started all over again. I eventually ended up having a discussion section with only 10 other students, one of whom was an ex-partner. That was awkward. Especially because we weren’t even on speaking terms. I dreaded going to that class each week.
There are some valid reasons to date your school, though. Isn’t it nice to meet other similarly smart and well-educated people? Of course! Wouldn’t it be great to have a significant other who understands your workload and busy schedule? It’s a necessity! Isn’t the only way to find that is to date someone at your university? Absolutely not. Many dating websites allow you to easily meet someone outside of this little Columbia bubble. If things don’t turn out well with that person, you might never have to see him again. If it does go well, maybe they can introduce you to a whole new part of the city or tell you what it’s like to work at a law firm or generally just expand your horizon and help you remember what a huge city this is, that New York is more than just Columbia University.
You don’t have to trust me, but you should. Not just because I’ve lived through the aftermath of bad college “relationships” but because I eventually did find love in this city. My fiancé, whom I met last year on OKCupid, is not a Columbia student, but he’s understanding of my Columbia life. He’s incredibly intelligent and interesting and not in all my classes. We’re getting married in June.
I’m not saying you couldn’t possibly meet your future husband or wife at Columbia. I’m just saying that shouldn’t be the first and only place you look.
Jessica Lovelace-Chandler is a School of General Studies junior majoring in creative writing. Owls and Lions and Bears! Oh My! runs alternate Fridays.