A few days ago I polled the beautiful crowdsource on how they were doing relationship-wise (both platonic and non-platonic) in the post-grad world. Thank you again to everyone who sent in responses! We had even lengthier responses than our last go-around. Overall, everyone seems to be having a hard time forming post-grad relationships. Hopefully you’ll read something amongst the responses below and be able to resonate with the experiences of a fellow Millennial. At the end, I’ve included responses that end on a more hopeful note, because God knows we can use a healthy dose of that.
As for my thoughts on relationships and love … “We accept the love we think we deserve.” You deserve the best. You deserve to love yourself first and foremost. You deserve to accept only that which will inspire you, fill you, fuck you in all the right ways. You deserve.
Now for what the rest of you had to say:
For a lot of us, we’re having a hard time meeting new people
Relationships are fucking hard. I didn’t have that many close friends when I was in college so now that I’m entering the real world, it’s even harder. The people I hang out with the most now are my roommate and my co-worker. It’s pretty sad to be honest and I find it extremely frustrating. —Anonymous, 21 year old straight woman
It has been more difficult to find a relationship in the post-grad world. I believe the reason is because my life is more hectic now. I have had to move around sporadically for my post-graduate studies and work, not allowing me to forge meaningful relationships near my temporary residences. Whereas my undergrad education at Berkeley facilitated a stable environment for me to immerse myself amongst my peers in a consistent fashion. Sex comes and goes as usual, but often I’m more inclined to stay in with wine and Netflix, rather than pursue even these fleeting encounters. —NB, 25 year old gay man
How’s the relationship? So many failed attempts in college until almost senior year. Turns out that one of my best friends (as cliche as it sounds) may be the one that sticks.
Old friends? It’s hardest to keep in touch with people. Everyone goes their separate ways after college to try and do amazing things, and it’s hard to reconnect and have a crazy night as a group like what used to happen on a random Thursday night in college.
New friends? Happy hours after work. —Anonymous, 21 year old straight woman
Seems a lot more difficult. I always found it easy to meet people in college, but now there isn’t the same influx of people in my life. I feel lonely sometimes. — Anonymous, 22 year old straight man
In law school, there are two distinct people, those who have found lasting relationships and those toiling in the dating pool that is nearly identical to undergrad. This transfers into friendships with only a few people in long-term but not married relationships who bridge both segments … [those] who are able to be both friends with the married people, but party with the “less committed” people. —AS, 22 year old straight man
I’m not necessarily talking about “forming” relationships, as much as maintaining them — being in college was like a fairy tale-esque alternate reality where meeting people/spending time with people was a choice you got to make, pretty much every hour. The “real world” unfortunately is fraught with commitments and constraints and I think the hardest part about relationships is that how you spend your time or where you spend it, isn’t a choice anymore. —ND, 22 year old straight woman
At least one of us is doing really well!
I have way more friends, few of whom are Cal alumni or students, and that change took only 1-2 months. I’ve only had mild successes in the dating world, but it’s a huge improvement from zero successes during the past couple of years. I think being more successful in relationships post-grad is especially likely for those of us who have smaller communities for dating pools (e.g., LGBT community). I gotta say, it’s a lot easier now that I don’t effectively live in Main Stacks. —Anonymous, 23 years old, bisexual woman
For some, sex life is hard. Hard in all the wrong ways.
Forever single. —AM, 21 year old straight, gender unidentified
880 days without sex and counting … Does that answer your question? —Anonymous, straight man
Some of us are in long-distance or long-term relationships, which is quite the experience in and of itself
I’ve been in a long-term relationship with a friend who goes to a college around a half-hour away from me since sophomore year of college. I’ve remained in a relationship with her. The relationship is slightly more difficult now because of work schedules–it’s difficult to coordinate time to be together. We love each other a lot, but it can be taxing. As far as platonic relationships, it’s REALLY tough for me. I’m a schoolteacher, and because of work (where my coworkers and bosses are much older than I am), I really don’t have time to go out and meet new people. I’ve felt pretty isolated from folks my own age. —Iain, 22 year old straight man
In the words of Flo Rida, where dem girls at? Or any of dem people I am supposed to call friends? Making friends outside of college is hard. You know what makes it even harder? When you don’t exactly have coworkers that you get to talk to every day at your new job. How am I supposed to make friends when all of the viable friend options work three floors above me while I am stuck in the basement handling drooling babies and working with unintuitive programs that don’t have manuals? And if not work, then where else do I meet people?
I never realized how much school made up my life and my social world until I stepped outside of the school bubble. I never realized how important it was to be able to physically see your friends and hang out with them in person until I moved one expensive plane ride away from most of them. Man, thank god I am currently in a relationship and not having to seek out a non-platonic relationship. I can’t even imagine how that would work out. Or perhaps I can, and the answer is “not well.” Because let’s face it, this ain’t Berkeley or the Bay anymore, and I am not quite sure how LGBTQQ+ the community is (despite the university emails that insist that this place is a “safe zone” for all). Want some advice about how to make friends? Move to where this Golden Bear lives and come be my friend. Now both of our problems are solved! —K, 21 year old bisexual woman
Very difficult. Regards to intimate relationships, this is a period where couples are generally force to go in different directions. Job offers, grad schools, family, etc. are all factors that are playing a part in the relationship. Questions of long-term commitment have to be asked; working through long-distance is never the ideal situation. Sometimes the individuals make it work, and sometimes it doesn’t. You are asking fundamental questions about the partnership that feels too rushed. —Anonymous, 22 year old gay man
Romantically, in the past two years of post-grad, I’ve done international long distance, reunited, was devastated over the breakup of that serious relationship, did me for a year, this year somehow picked up two friends with benefits (one jerk, one keeper), had a month of online dating bingeing that wore me out, and now have settled into another long-distance thing with a Spanish lover that I met at a hostel in Mexico City … with whom I have an emotional, talk-every-day relationship … while I maintain a physical relationship with my keeper friend with benefits … Really, just go with the flow. I’m barely keeping up. —Anonymous, 24 years old, straight, gender unidentified
But for most, the dating scene is rough.
It’s nearly impossible to even think about dating in the first year of law school, because there’s just too much work. Everyone is looking at each other like “who would I date if I didn’t have to read my casebooks 14 hours a day?” And I hear whispers of a few people who have hooked up with each other, but the vast majority of my 450 person class either came into law school with a serious relationship, or has put their dating life on hold. —Anonymous, 23 year old straight woman
[Dating is] pretty crappy and hard to do. Online dating sucks. It’s easier to find someone in college. Work colleagues are obviously a no-go and the bar scene is awk to find someone. Solution: eat food and watch football on your home TV until someone discovers you exist. —Mihir Deo, 22 year old straight man
I’m busy, which sucks. The boss says that it’s hard to have a partner and get work done this time of year, so I guess I have to wait it out. My downtime is precious. I’m having little luck with two dating apps. They seem like toys, They get boring. More seriously though, I wavier between wanting someone, and wanting myself to change. idk. I’m reading poems and eating healthier in the meantime. What else can I do? —JE, 23 year old, gay, gender unidentified
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s all shit
As corny as it is, the advice that has resonated most with me since graduation is “You have to love yourself before you can love someone else.” I spent years convinced that a relationship would suddenly make me the cool, smart, pretty girl that I always wanted to be, but that just leads to unrealistic expectations and disappointment. Before you can feel happy with someone else, you have to be happy on your own. And as treacly as that sounds, it’s the fucking truth. —RH, 23 year old hetero lady with two x chromosomes and a penchant for drunkenly making out with ladies
Since leaving college, I’ve discovered how difficult it is to meet prospective partners organically. The working world means interacting with many people who are several decades your senior, and unless you’re interested in dating a cradle-robber, it’s hard to meet people in the working world. Of course there are also other means, but not being a partier or a pub-crawler, none of those options seemed ideal for me either.
For the quiet and reserved among us, a group which I identify with, the internet is a pretty fantastic resource. Dating websites aren’t just for lonely 30-somethings anymore. I’ve met some truly interesting people through OkCupid specifically, and would recommend it highly. —Anonymous, 22 year old straight woman
In my experience, it has been much harder to form relationships of either type. The lack of a large local friend base dramatically reduces the number of new people (of a similar age) that I meet on a regular basis, making it much less likely to make new friends and meet new potential partners. However, the girls I do meet are now much more interested in me than before. My guess is that it is because I become far more unique when I am located in inland LA versus the college of engineering. —J, 22 year old straight man
You think you have a good grasp of how relationships are supposed to work when you are in school. You find that one that makes you feel fuzzy, that makes your mind wander, and makes you feel complete. You no longer have to swipe right or swipe left on Tinder … but the post-grad world obliterates everything you know. Distance tears you apart. Real world issues and decisions obliterate you rather than bind you.
You try to move on, you try to get over college dating and college relationships, but it is never the same. You are at home or living in a cheap house with a few roommates. You have no privacy and there is no one to turn to. Shot down you revel in the sorrows of being single and dream of the day that you go to grad school again … to relive the past in a new setting.
The day I walked across the stage is the day hook-up culture or romance died in my life But there is beauty to all of this. Certain friendships continue to grow stronger than they were in college and you are left to wonder why. Post-grad is a vacuum and who knows what will happen. —AN, 21 year old straight man
If you ever find someone who wants a relationship with you because of what they can give to you instead of what they can get back, keep them. It’s rare to find people looking to date without some sort of ego or selfish intent in our 20s. I sound bitter, but I’m actually really optimistic and filled with love … ok so maybe a little bitterness too. —RH, 25 year old bisexual man
It has it’s ups and downs, to be quite honest. You do all the “Tinder” and “Coffee Meets Bagel” things and you realize that it sorta sucks. Finding more friends or relationships ends up happening through your trusty mutual friends (keep ’em around). You’re in a point in your life where you want something serious but not quite there to last you until you’re 30. In grad school, most people are either taken or really weird and that’s unfortunate. You might get lucky and find that gem who got dumped a couple months ago and is just ready to date. Take ’em out on a date and see how that goes. Might as well since you’re single anyways! Also, with all those new jobs and new schools around the country, everyone seems to be around only temporarily. You really realize the power of the right time and place to build something. If not, you end up investing in something that is so transient. That’s also really sad to realize post-grad.
My OB/GYN from undergrad once gave me this piece of minimal advice …
OB/GYN: Do you have a boyfriend?
20YearOldMe: Yeah, I do!
OB/GYN: It’s starts to get harder the older you get. Keep him!
20YearOldMe: Okay …
I didn’t end up keeping him in my life, and I’m completely relieved and liberated. Despite it being a rollercoaster, I completely have faith that my partner will stroll into my life and say something along the lines of “Want some french toast with our morning sex sesh?” That’s love and I’ll wait for that. In the mean time, I’m learning to be on my own and loving it. —CS, 23 years old, straight, gender unidentified