The other side of dating: Why it’s difficult to find love at business school

Posted on February 3, 2011

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Photo courtesy of jo-h

We received a lot of reader response “offline” about this week’s article, “Why the odds are good for finding a husband/wife at business school.”

Some readers asked us to make the counterpoint – why it could be difficult to find someone at business school – and we started thinking: for every handful of couples and speedy in-school engagements, there were many, many more amazing, attractive, and hilarious friends of ours who were single toward the end of our two years there.

Given all the ways in which MBAs could be “made for each other,” what are the reasons we’re really just…not?

We’re too busy making friends to date. Yes, it’s always nice to have a boyfriend/girlfriend to hang out with, but the point of attending business school is to build our networks, right? And who can do that snuggling on a couch watching reruns of “Mad Men“? Not us.

It’s a numbers game. We’re MBAs, so let’s run the numbers. 1/3 of people arrive at school already married, sometimes with kids. They’re out. Then we’ve got the male-female ratio which is still about 2:1 at top-tier business schools. Bad news for the men. And then there are other small factors like this one: a small percentage of international students have cultural barriers to dating/marriage in America (e.g. a couple of our friends from India who are anticipating arranged marriage). They’re likely out. The odds, in every sense of the word, are shrinking as we speak.

We’re all a little too similar. While it’s important in a relationship to share similar goals and values, it’s also important to date someone who complements your interests and point of view. As MBAs, our view of the world gets increasingly filtered by the Career Management Center, by our professors/classes, and by what other people consider “success.” And sometimes business school can seem like a bunch of ambition clones without a lot to talk about besides the job search, how stressful club leadership can be, and how much we partied last night. It’s good to have someone who can peer beyond that to be your partner.

Some students arrive at b-school with a “one last stand” kind of mentality. “Why settle down with one amazing person when there are 1000+ other people to ‘meet’ while you’re at school?! WAAAAAHOOOOOO!!!!” Okay, that isn’t a direct quote, but you get what we mean.

You usually marry your best friend from business school, not your boyfriend. Listen up single people! There’s hope and anecdotal evidence yet that you are the smartest of the bunch for not dating anyone a b-school. When we were there, we heard this:

Careful who your friends are at business school. Most of the cited alumni marriage statistics are usually MBAs who graduate, get into the real world, and realize how much more they’d rather date their friends from business school. Most people don’t marry their boyfriends/girlfriends from business school. They marry their best friends.

Why else might it be hard to find love at business school? We welcome your thoughts. Or your war stories. Preferably both.