Dating Games

One MBA equation that is not frequently discussed but that many people are curious about: a group of smart, motivated and highly competitive individuals + tight-knit program + steady stream of alcohol imbued mixers = dating in B-school.

The general consensus is that dating in business school is different from its real world counterpart. For example, the pool may tend to be more competitive. In Alina Dizik’s article “Looking for Love at B-School,” Ithaca College sociologist Rebecca Plante observes that for graduate students “stakes are fairly high for being successful, and that approach towards one’s professional life carries over to the approach that they take towards dating.” Also, male to female ratios in MBA programs are sometimes as high as 2:1, further stimulating competition among heterosexual male students.

More importantly, business school is often viewed as a mixed professional/educational environment. Many students recognize that their MBA colleagues will serve as important professional contacts later in their career. A sour relationship may therefore have a negative impact on more than your personal life. As one Columbia Business School grad put it, “when such a relationship ends, it’s not just the two people involved who will suffer. Everyone who has to deal with an imploding romance will suffer as well.” (for the full article, see “Dating in B-School: Mergers and Acquisitions,” by Elizabeth Angell).

Caveat Dater: your business will be known by everyone else in the program. This might include embarrassing personal information. Simply put, nothing is certain except death, taxes, and the MBA rumor mill, so tryst at your peril.

However, don’t be completely dissuaded from taking the plunge. Several cases of marital bliss and eternal happiness have been documented. Sometimes romantic involvement is either unanticipated or unavoidable. And for the cynics out there, every once in a while, people do fall in love.

For an insider view discussing theories of the dating market, see “Hit the Books Before Dating at B-School” by Nancy Rosen.

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