Assistance of Counsel: Less than Legal Advice
By Kelly Smith & Peter Lee
Question from a reader:
Valentine’s Day has come and gone and I can’t help but notice how hard law school makes dating and finding a committed relationship. You inevitably have a crazy busy school schedule and spend what little time you do have left with all the same (equally as crazy) law students. How can I make this happen?
I want to start by saying “I feel your pain.” As a fellow law student and a “single-by-choice” individual, I completely understand where you are coming from. That being said, before I offer my advice, I think it appropriate for people like us to ask ourselves a few questions.
- Why do I want to be in a relationship?
To me, law school is a terrible place, emotionally. It’s unlike college where you can explore and be self-reflective with other explorers and self-reflectors. No, law school is a place where the number one priority is to secure a post-bar job. Now, that being said, because that mentality is in place, I think it is difficult to find relationships that really satisfy the emotional need that we all have to be cared for. This leaves us feeling pretty darn lonely. However, loneliness is not really a good reason to enter into a relationship.
- Do I really have time for a relationship?
Law students are busy people! I know that I don’t have to tell you this, but read it anyhow. YOU ARE BUSY. Sure, we will make time for those things and those people that we really want to do and see, but being in a relationship is even more time consuming, especially if you want to keep up with your friends during that time. So really evaluate whether you think that being in a relationship is worth the time that it requires to be successful.
- Do I have enough significant relationships now?
Your friends, that are also your classmates, will be your future colleagues. Do you have enough genuine friendships among these friends that will have your back when we all enter the legal field? If you’re answer is “No” or “Maybe,” I suggest that you probably do not have enough. Why not take the time to develop these friendships? Like one wise person said, “It is better to have genuine friends, then to have one relationship.” (Just kidding. I am the author of that quote, but hey, wise is wise).
If, after asking yourself these questions, you still feel the need for a relationship, you have several options:
- Tinder: What’s better than the ability to swipe left or right to “Pass” or “Like” on profile pics? If you want to expand your “dating pool,” check Tinder. Probably the easiest, most convenient way to do it.
- Coffee Meets Bagel: Feeling overwhelmed by the seemingly infinite pool of people that you’ve created through the settings on Tinder? Try Coffee Meets Bagel. Coffee Meets Bagel has a similar concept to Tinder, but it limits you to one person per day. Also, there are more settings that go beyond distance, such as age range, ethnicity, and religious preference.
- Match.com and eHarmony.com: If you are willing to pay for more legitimate choices perhaps try Match or eHarmony. Generally speaking, only people who are looking for legitimate relationships pay for such sites. Better yet, sites like these usually offer free trial periods. Why not give it a go?
- Ask your friend out: Come on. You probably have that one friend in your life that you want to ask out, but can’t for whatever excuse, ahem, I mean reason. But really – how legitimate are those reasons really? The benefit in dating a friend is that you don’t have to go through that awkward “getting to know you” phase. And oh gosh, that’s a terrible phase.
- Semi-strangers: Ask someone that you see regularly at one of the places that you regularly go. Whether it be that local Starbucks or rock climbing gym, I bet that there is that one person, you see often enough that you would like to say hi. Step one: go say hi first. Unless you’re just really bad at talking to people, the worst that can happen is that you’ve made a new friend. Maybe you can go to option 4 later on.
Reader, no matter what you do, be honest with yourself. Being in a relationship takes time and commitment. Know what you’re getting yourself into and know when to say “Stop.”
First, I think it’s important to note that being single and being in a relationship as a law student are both equally challenging for different reasons. There are a lot of benefits to being single in law school. Dating takes time and commitment. However, if you’ve decided you don’t want to be single anymore, there’s good news. You (the foxy, smart, successful law student) are highly desirable. Here are some things to think about when you’re looking for that special someone.
Honestly ask yourself what you’re looking for. Do you have time for a relationship? Are you just looking for attention? Relationships take time, energy, and commitment. As law students, we have less time and energy to spare than most. But if you end up with someone, you have to make that person a priority – regardless of how busy you are – if you want to make it work. It’s not cool to date someone for four months before you figure out you don’t have time for them, so do yourself and others a favor and think about that ahead of time.
If you still feel ready for a relationship, then it’s time to meet potential love interests. There are a lot of ways to meet great people. You can meet people through friends, law school, clubs focused on common interests, at bars, and using online dating sites/apps.
Personally, I have always thought that letting your friends set you up is a great idea because you’re not going into a situation completely blind. Your friends should know you pretty well and know whom you’d be compatible. Plus, you can do some Facebook stalking ahead of time, always a plus. If you’re going this route, I’d recommend a group activity with the friends for the initial meeting. That way, it’s less awkward than a blind date and provides easy exit strategies.
Don’t discount law school as a place to meet a potential love interest either. Some people may be opposed to dating someone that they potentially have to see every day on campus in case things go south. That’s understandable, and it’s a personal preference. However, being in law school, we’re in a unique environment where we’re surrounded by bright, hard-working people who will be very successful. In other words, a pretty darn good pool of people where you can look for potential matches. Plus, by dating a law student, you are dating someone who understands school pressure, crazy study schedules, and all-things unique to being in law school. If it goes well, you can have cute study dates. If it doesn’t, you have to see that person a lot. It’s a gamble, but it could pay off big.
Being part of a club or group centered around a common interest is also a fantastic way to meet someone. Think a cross fit gym, playing in a VAVI recreational sports league, going to Toastmasters, signing up for a church group, etc. First off, when you pursue something that you are truly interested in and you meet someone in the process, you already have something in common. Plus, odds are the person you meet will be like-minded. If you’re into public speaking and join Toastmasters, you’ll likely meet other entrepreneurial-types who are looking to advance their careers. If you are really into fitness and join a cross fit gym, you’ll meet people whose lifestyles are compatible with yours and who actually understand what the heck you mean when you start talking about the “wod.” If there is a club, team, or group that interests you and you have time to do it, this is a great way to meet someone.
I’m not a proponent of meeting people in bars. I know that some people have met the love of their life randomly in a bar, but that is the exception, not the rule. When you meet someone in a bar, all you really know about him or her is what he or she looks like. That’s not a bad start, physical attraction to a potential partner is important too. However, you generally do not get to know people that well in bars. Alcohol + loud music + shallow first impressions does not equal the best combination if you are truly looking for a relationship.
Lastly, you can meet potential love interests via the internet or other technology. I’m talking about Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid, Eharmony, Grouper, etc. Forget any online dating stigma; it’s only awkward if you make it awkward. Tons of people are dating online and using Tinder these days. If you aren’t, I guarantee you have friends who are. The beauty in online dating is that you get to see what a person looks like and find out about their interests before you meet them. It’s a pre-screening process, which is much better than rolling the dice and hoping the cute guy/girl at the bar is relatively normal and has passably similar interests to you. Some might say the pre-screening of online dating is shallow. And maybe it is, but you have to be attracted to the person you’re dating, so I say no-harm, no-foul. Online dating takes time because crafting witty emails takes time, but it can be more of a time-saver in the long run “meeting” people from the comfort of your own living room. Additionally, by the time you agree to go out for coffee with that person, you’re already pretty interested. Side note: if you do online date, take precautions. A friend should always know where you’re going (and maybe go spy on you on your first date), so they know you’re safe.
Finally, remind yourself to be patient with the dating process. Life is not like the movies. It is doubtful you will ever accidentally crash into someone in the hallway who stops to help pick up your notebook and turns out to be your soul mate (though that would be nice). Awkward, weird dates before you meet your match are far more likely. But don’t discount the value of bad date stories! They make for great material to share when you’re hanging out with your friends and maybe even that eventual special someone. Take your time. Because you (the foxy, smart, successful law student) are so cool, it might take some time to meet someone as cool as you.