Monday, April 8, 2013

On Law School Dating

I've mentioned this before, but for many, law school is the destroyer of worlds in terms of dating. In some ways it falls along the lines of dating in college, just much MUCH worse.

In undergrad you're getting your footing as an adult. If you head off with a high school sweetheart in tow, it either ends in marriage (or some commitment along those lines) or it ends in some sort of fiery explosion of epic proportions and you end up wishing the other person dies in an inferno. Now, kindly remember the level of stress you experienced in undergrad....or total lack thereof. Now multiply that by at least ten. Or more, if the ABA is to be believed: Combine that level of stress (and believe you me that it is nearly constant) along with the sheer volume of work, the requirements that you network (no matter how bad at it you are), and just generally be some semblance of a functional human, and it's just bad news bears for your love life usually.

I know multiple people who have gone through several relationships in the last two years. Some came into law school with a long-term significant other, others found someone along the way, most ended in a fiery inferno of disaster. Simple truth: people your dating actually want to see you every now and then, and when they see you, they want you to do things other than stare like a zombie at the TV, drink a bottle of wine and then pass out for 12 hours. The problem is, for most law students (note that I said MOST, not ALL), that sounds like a damn relaxing and wonderful weekend night. You'd think that then the obvious choice would be to date someone IN law school so that they understand all the demands on your time - Not generally an excellent solution. You will see this person almost on the daily; you're competing with them for professors' attention, grades, and jobs; at some point they might be your arch nemesis; you will almost certainly annoy the ever-living crap out of each other at some point. Most law students aren't great at seeing to their own hierarchy of needs and those are the ones they're constantly immersed in, so to ask them to consider a second human being is the most utterly ridiculous of propositions. To be fair, this isn't always the case - there's an exception to every rule, BUT do not make the naïve and slightly idiotic mistake of thinking that you're the exception from the get go.

The counterpoint to breakup infernos of epic proportions are people that get married and have kids during law school. More power to them; it's not a reaction I entirely understand. Frankly, that could be a sign of their maturity, and my lack thereof, but that's the other extreme. Notice that I haven't mentioned some lovely middle ground. That's because it's all but nonexistent. It's like the Protestant concept of heaven and hell - there is no purgatory. Now, what all of this drives us of the non-marriage persuasion to do is this: become serial daters. Good strategy for maintaining sanity in law school? Not even slightly. Inevitably, breakups happen to serial daters at the WORST POSSIBLE TIMES. As in when your entire life has tossed itself off a cliff and is rapidly hurtling toward the bottom of an endless toilet bowl.

Bottom line: unless you're with someone that has the patience of a saint and is infinitely understanding, law school will either explode your relationship in fantastical fashion, or you'll be married in no time (despite living in the shadow of crippling debt).

My advice on pursuing that blossoming relationship as you enter law school?

Take it from Ms. Margaret Thatcher, people.

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