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Day 312 - Dating - Audit, Introductory or Advanced?

I was talking to a friend last night who struggles with dating. She is smart, beautiful and a good person. A worthy partner for any man to be sure. However, she feels like it is an uphill battle and she is weary.

While we were talking last night I came up with a metaphor for dating...she is currently taking the “Joe” class. She has met someone and is in the process of getting to know him. So she has Joe 101. Many people have likely taken this class, and perhaps will again. It is an introductory course and has its issues. In the Joe 101 class, you don’t really know if you will like it or hate it. The classes are held very sporadically. No regular schedule and the subject matter seems to change with each class session. Sometimes the Joe 101 class is funny, sometimes distant and weird. It is hard to make out in advance what the class is going to be like.

Like all classes, you have the option to withdraw. If you decide to do this early enough, there are no penalties. However, if you wait past the withdrawal date, you can get hit with some charges that might be hard to manage. But for the first few weeks, you are in the withdrawal zone and can easily leave the class if you find it not to your liking.

If you decide to leave past the withdrawal date, then you are going to have a bit of a harder time. The penalties are harder, you may not be able to find a sufficient substitute for the Joe 101 class, so you may have to be willing to sit idle for the remainder of the semester...and that may delay your plans.

The Joe 101 class is introductory because you are just getting educated on the whole topic of Joe. Who he is, where he is from, what he likes, what he doesn’t. Do you have similar values? Are you compatible with Joe? Does Joe chew with his mouth open? Does Joe have a drinking problem? Is Joe a mean drunk? Is Joe kind? What are Joe’s goals? Does he even have any? Do they match with yours? How does Joe feel about you? How do you feel about Joe? Does Joe add to your life or does he take way more than he gives? Does your life feel better because you are learning about Joe?

All you are doing is getting to know more about Joe. But what is also important is that Joe is also taking a class, your class. While you are sitting there in Joe 101, he is similarly situated in the Ann 101 class. Joe could be just checking out your class without even being registered for the class at all. Joe could be thinking that he wants to major in Ann. And everything in between.

It is important to note that you are a student, but also a teacher. You are giving an education to Joe in so much as Joe is providing one to you. It is important to find out if Joe is just auditing your class, having no real intention of taking even a superficial dive into your subject matter. There are loads of essays and books to read about Ann but Joe may lack the enthusiasm for any real education on the subject of Ann. This is important information to find out as a teacher. Is your student really wanting to learn or is he or she just checking off a box to meet some graduation requirement?

In a relatively short period of time, both Joe and Ann should know if they want to sign up for the Joe 202 or the Ann 202 class. The introductory class should provide each of them with enough background information to make a good decision about whether they want to further their education in the Joe or Ann direction. Perhaps, they are interested in one more class but are not really willing to commit to getting a major in it. Perhaps Joe or Ann will be more of a minor. Perhaps Joe and Ann are so into the subject matter that they know they want to pursue a Masters or PhD in the subject matter. Regardless it all starts with taking the prerequisites. And that takes time...

I like this thought process about dating. It takes some of the drama out of it for me. We are all just being educated about the other person. We may love the Joe class or we may hate it. I think it is also important to realize that we are giving a class in as much as we are attending a class. The class being a way to get to know the subject matter to find out if we are really interested in it.

The best part about taking the Joe class is that the future is wide open. Joe could be a one and done type class, a dogleg journey in your relationship education, a complete trainwreck that results in a large hole in your transcript or the beginning of a lovely future. But you are never going to know unless you sign up for that first class.

My friend was getting frustrated about not having more information about Joe. I think she was able to use this metaphor to see that she is not in the Joe 303 class, just the Joe 101 class and she can’t get some of the information at this point. She has to complete the Joe 101 class first. She also needs to pay more attention to what she is teaching Joe. It should be a mutual exchange of information between the Joe 101 and the Ann 101 classes. If there isn’t, that is important information to pay attention to...

Taking new classes and learning new things can be exciting, exhilarating and life altering. New passions can be discovered and trajectories altered. Or new classes can just be boxes that you check, or they can be horrible classes that you wish you had never taken. Regardless of how you feel about the class, you are always getting an education AND providing an education.

I wish that I would have realized this earlier in my life. That dating is really just information my friend I spent a lot of time in the early days of the Joe 101 class trying to grasp material that was not available yet and was not capable of being known without all the things I would learn in the introductory course.

I also wish that I would have spent more time thinking about my Erin 101 class and its related syllabus. I can see that I was a really horrible instructor a great deal of the time and we were all over the map which had to be super frustrating to anyone taking my course. I was more concerned with what I was taking, rather than being concerns about what I was teaching.

Oddly, at 50, when time is something that is more fleeting, dating and the related education is something that I think I want to spend more time in. The introductory classes far more interesting than I previously understood. And I am far more willing to give the intro class my full attention. The older I get the slower the education moves which seems counter intuitive. But I think age provides the wisdom of taking your time in the intro class to be sure to gather and learn all the information as you can see how much you are going to need it later on in the more advanced classes should you decide to take them.

Youth brings an impatience that age has come to terms with...there is no hurry in middle age. Hurry begets bad decisions and by middle age we have collected quiet a few of those already.

So take the class but really learn the subject matter of Joe 101. Pay close attention to your own syllabus as well. You may think you are doing a great job on your own 101 class, but in reality you are may really only be teaching your students what not to do. The older I get, the more I am aware of my own instructional style and the content of my class. I am less concerned with having a packed lecture hall, and more concerned about the quality and interests of the students who show up. I may be an older dog, but I am still wiling to learn new tricks, yours and my own.

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