Let’s be honest: dating sucks. And, may I say, it has a particular way of sucking for those of us in the teaching profession. As a woman who has been happily married for five years I can, at times, get lost in the past romanticism of dating and how “easy” life was during this chapter of my life, but in reality I hated it. I hated almost every minute of dating up until the minute I met my husband. Dating is a process, and it is exhausting, and as someone who didn’t settle down until 30, I know it can get worse as you get older because it seems more pressured and serious. You know. It’s like there’s a clock ticking and time is slowly, but surely running out.
Now, dating is hard enough for anyone, but for us teachers, it comes with a few challenges that are unique to our profession. If you are a teacher looking for love, here are a few pieces of advice gleaned from my experience looking for Mr. Right while living the teacher life..
You may not want to date where you work
When I was first hired as a teacher, I was young and single. My grandmother was full of hope that I would meet a fellow teacher at work, fall in love and get married. This idea is not well-advised. Don’t get me wrong, dating a teacher is an amazing choice, but not one that works within the confines of a single building. I quickly learned why this was a mistake. I won’t elaborate too much; if you’ve been around the profession for more than a couple of years, you already know what I’m talking about. Let’s just say the awkwardness of sitting with someone in a meeting when you once knew them romantically is uncomfortable, and that feeling lingers…for years. You will find yourself praying that you don’t see their face at the welcome back address in September and then utter disappointment, when once again, there he is!
Your early bedtime still matters
Teachers do not have the luxury of making 7pm dinner reservations with someone for a first date. Our early start time as educators doesn’t quite align with professionals who work corporate, 9-5 jobs. Before the salad course is over, you’ll be seeing cross-eyed from delirium and wishing the dinner rolls were pillows. Dating during the week is a struggle. Reserve the week time for dinners at home, take out and Netflix. Don’t overcommit to a late engagement and then pay for it the next morning.
Publishing an online dating profile will make you nervous
I met my husband online, on a dating website which I paid for. I had extreme anxiety about using the internet for dating, especially as a high school teacher. This could have ended terribly for me, but what choice did I have? No one was introducing me to people and I did not hang out at bars, because…you know, early bedtime.
I had more than one nightmare of coming into work and kids passing around a print out of my “interests” from an online dating profile. Serious caution needs to be taken before you start swiping left and swiping right on a dating app (like, don’t do it) especially if you teach teenagers who have better knowledge of the internet than we do. My advice is to pay for a membership; this way you know you are meeting adults who, at the very least have a credit card and are old enough to gain access to the site. What teenager is hanging around on website that cost $100 to join? None, I would suspect.
Be prepared for awkward propositions
A male co-worker of mine has been approached by students to go on dates with their older siblings, or even one of their parents, on more than one occasion. He has had to field advances at back to school night more than once. I have a friend who teachers at an elementary school where a father scheduled a conference just to ask her out for dinner. This does happen; it is uncomfortable. But stay firm and don’t let people compromise your personal boundaries in a professional setting.
Rethink your happy hour strategy
Happy hour is not the same time as it is for other professionals. This may sound silly as a dating issue, but hear me out. Teachers typically leave work between 3 and 4 if they are joining coworkers for a drink or two. Other young professionals aren’t finishing work for a couple of hours. By the time happy hour is really starting to gear up, you, my teacher friend, are winding down. If your goal is to meet some eligible singles, consider hanging late at work: catch up on stuff before rushing out the door. This way you still get the good drink deals and more socialization options.
Be honest with your partner about how much work you bring home
Isn’t time an issue for everyone? What I mean here is that many professionals leave work at work. Teachers do not have this luxury. Planning and grading will have to come home. The need to devote this amount of your free time to work is likely to be a foreign concept to someone you are dating. This can be particularly inconvenient when your new boo wants to go to brunch and you have to take a raincheck for grading. Make it clear in the beginning what your teacher process is like, and how much time you need to fulfill your professional responsibilities. If you like grading on Sunday nights, be upfront, make it a hard limit and plan accordingly.
Rebecca Stone has taught 12th grade special education English at Long Branch high school for ten years, she is also an education blogger and writer.