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To date or not to date during my undergrad? (M, 19)


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Background: I'm currently a sophomore in college graduating a year early. I plan to get my phd in clinical psychology after my ba, and the problem with that is clinical psych is very competitive, so it's very likely that wherever I end up attending is going to be in a random state.


The dating problem: I've been out of the dating scene for about a year to get my head on straight from my previous relationship, and all is well. I would like to get back into dating, but I can't help but overthink the future possibilities, some being that if I date anyone my age (19), I'll graduate at least a year before them, and be instantly whisked away somewhere in the country, and I don't plan on doing any LDRs since my last relationship ended as one. There are lots of other possibilities, and the only one I can see myself being with someone, is if they're my grade in college or older (so we can be together while I get my phd) and not going into graduate school of any kind, because the likelihood of both of us attending nearby graduate schools, is very low. Another thing is that many people at my university are currently in a medical early-acceptance program, which anchors them to the medical school at this university. That means that I'll guaranteed be somewhere else in the country (no uni's with my specific program are within 6 hours) and my SO would be stuck at this university, making the relationship definitely long-distance. My best friend suggests that I take it day-by-day, but that would likely lead to me in a relationship someone that would be forced to end (assuming they're either going into graduate school or years behind me, which seems to be likely) because of my moving due to grad school, and their being forced to stay here to finish their bachelors. Any advice besides "stop overthinking"? My solution would be to wait until I attend grad school, where I think a more flexible population of possible partners would be, as nobody is stuck with finishing their bachelors.

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Take a break from dating. Concentrate on studying, making the grade and your goals wherever you may end up even if it's faraway.


Not that you have to follow my lead but I'll tell you my story. I didn't bother dating during college. I didn't have time between college, working full time night shift and financially supporting my widowed mother and younger siblings. Upon graduation and attaining a new job, suddenly a whole new world opened up to me and I found other high quality men doing the same as I was. They were too busy on the fast track and when they were ready, many of them dated and married. Work hard now, party later! That's my motto.


My MIL (mother-in-law) said, "While everyone was busy sloshing around in the milk, the cream rose to the top." It was her country way of saying that people work or study hard now and enjoy the fruits of their labor later. She milked cows on a farm as a young girl. Hence, her country expression.


Good things happen to those who wait.


If you're impatient, the advice is right; you're indeed overthinking the future which you cannot control. As your friend said, take one day at a time. Just remain realistic and don't get involved with LDRs because you know they're apt to fail as you can attest.

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Date casually. Be clear and honest about your intentions and future plans. That's all you need to do. You don't need to forecast years ahead or keep licking the LDR wound. If you are still stuck there, don't date.

I'll graduate at least a year before them, and be instantly whisked away somewhere in the country, and I don't plan on doing any LDRs since my last relationship ended as one.
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You are overthinking this. Who says 'dating" has to be mapping out your whole life at age 19?


BTW, if you think bagging your PhD means you get to tap the brakes once you are a professional, then you may get a rude awakening.


Think of it like the difference between college football and NFL football.


Personally, if it were me, I would make time for a personal life. As someone training in psychology you would likely know that a brain has to recharge periodically with down time.


Romance or not, do something besides studying or you risk burn out.

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If you are having these thoughts in a vacuum, meaning not connected to someone you're interested in, then, yes, you are overthinking and in very real need of a chill pill. Were I, at various junctures, to try to map out in my brain the kind of romantic dynamic needed to "work" my brain would have exploded every time. And yet, lo and behold, romance has happened at just about every juncture. It has a funny, lovely way of doing that, if you can be open to the funny, lovely way life happens.


For what it's worth, I have a similar story to Cherylyn's, in some ways. When I was around your age—18, to be exact—I remember finding myself immensely disturbed by the amount of energy people were putting into being liked and wanted, and of course laid, by the opposite sex.


"I like him, but does he like me...." "She's so cool, but I'm to sure she's into me..." "Oh, he's so confusing, I don't know what to do..." "I know it's crazy to say after a weekend, but I'm pretty sure she's the one..." I'd hear people having those conversations and would think: you are going to be 30 in five minutes and the story of your life will be crushes and heartache.


Yeah, that was my own weird head playing some tricks on itself, but I did make a choice to not take romance seriously during those years. I had something I was very passionate about, as it sounds like you do, and my dating energy kind of went into that. Once the pursuit of that fantasy became a reality, I started dating again, open to letting it be serious. That was 22, and led to a wonderful love turned lifelong friend, and a handful of deep, loving unions since.


All that said, I wasn't an overthinking monk during those years. I had some fun, some sizzle, some sparks. Casual dating, I guess you could say, but in the sense that it didn't consume me (or them), not in the sense that it was cheap, fast, and out of control. It happened when it happened, became whatever it became, wasn't the hook I was hanging the hat of my selfhood on. I wanted to forge that hook, and the hat, myself.


I've got 20 years on you, but I remain really grateful for those years, both the fun, lovely times and for the self-discipline. Doesn't have to be totally binary, in other words, if you can allow for a little slack in the rope without getting knotted up in it. I never wanted to look back on college as the party that ended, but kind of the pre-party for the party that is life, so I made it that.


So cheers. Stay focused, enjoy what comes, and all will be fine.

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"Man plans and god laughs". So much can happen including meeting someone who is fine with being long distance for awhile, or transferring schools to live where you will pursue a PhD, etc. I had to be very flexible geographically for my future husband and my mom had to do the same. I wouldn't close off options or intensely pursue dating either -just have a balanced work/social balance and see what happens. Chill a bit.

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Wow, thank you everyone for the opinions, facts, and everything that came with! Especially you Cherylyn and bluecastle, your anecdotes really resonated with me, and I'll definitely heed your advice! I talked to my father yesterday, and he opened my eyes pretty fast. It became clear to me that what my stance above was, was waiting for perfection, without putting any effort in. "If you find someone that great, you'll do anything to make it work, including staying in Alabama (where I live right now and with weather that I despise) or taking a gap year, or moving." I've decided to make my school life more balanced, and make an attempt with more social activities with the opposite sex, and I'm already talking to an individual I think is pretty great. Thanks again for everything! P.s. You should definitely write a book, bluecastle, I would definitely read it ;)

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Great way of thinking.


While I'm still figuring it all out alongside you, what the 20 years I've got on have taught me is that, whether you like it or not, your life will always try to balance itself out and that there is always room in it for more than you can imagine. Always. Example: At 25 I spent a lot of time in always-damp Alabama, and ended up owning a home two states west of you at 34. Didn't see that coming at when I was a 19-year-old on the east coast, nor that I'd end up in California at 38. Life!


Keep talking to the great individual. It'll go where it goes. And thanks for the kind words.

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