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“I want to make friends with/potentially date a woman in my grad program. I met her during orientation, and I was immediately drawn to her enthusiasm and wit. I’m taking online classes from out of state, but I will move to campus in the next semester. She’s on campus now. We are Facebook friends, but we haven’t talked much. How can I start getting to know her without coming on too strong/only talking about school? P.S. I know she’s at least bi because she mentioned an ex-girlfriend. I am also bi.”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Claudia Astorino Says:

Well, hellooooo there, Anonymous!  As I write this, it’s a beautiful Friday—the sun’s out, it’s not freezing-my-butt-off cold, the weekend’s nigh, and I’m feelin fine! In celebration of this OMG IT’S ALMOST SUMMER weather, enjoy this silly classic Muppets video I love, “Mahna Mahna.” Hey, is it cool if I call you Mahnanymous?! I SURE HOPE SO (cuz I’m doin it).

So. Mahnanymous. Having crushes can be S T R E S S F U L L L L L, but they can also be kind of fun problems to have. I mean, cute folks! Daydreams! Nervous flutters!  POSSIBLE SMOOCHES (if you’re into smooches—hello, lovely asexual friends)! Or a rad new platonic friend! Lotsa good stuff can come out of crushes.

If you’re a grad student, then you’re likely going to be spending a TON of time with at least some folks in your program. With these folks, you’ll be: in class together, in the department together, in the library together, having study parties together, having actual parties together, and generally hanging around one another ALL THE DANG TIME. As long as the folks in your department aren’t particularly cliquey, you will have approx a zillion billion opportunities to make friends with and get to know your fellow grad students.

Including your crush. *heart eyes emoji*

The fact that you’ll be coming to campus next semester gives you perfect excuse to contact her—and the fact that you’re already Facebook friends gives you a low-key way to do so! I’d suggest contacting her via Messenger with something like the following:  “Hey there! This is Mahnanymous, from [your grad program]—it was great to meet you at orientation! How are you liking [the program so far, particular class, place your school is in]? I did my first [length of time] online, and am excited to be moving onto campus next semester! It would be great to hang out when the new semester starts—want to get [coffee, a beer, a doughnut] together sometime? Hope you’re doing great!”

BOOM! And just like that you started talking to her—GO YOU!

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If she takes you up on that hangout, that’s great! But if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have AMPLE opportunities to talk. See above: you’ll be around your fellow classmates 23 ½ / 7. And the fact that you’ll probably be doing at least some of the same work means that you can use work stuff as an excuse to hopefully talk about non-work stuff! Ask her if she wants a study buddy at the library, to work on homework together, to bone up for your upcoming exam. AND REMEMBER, YA CAN’T WORK *ALL* THE TIME. Ask if she wants to take a break to go get coffee, a beer when you’re done, a doughnut (YOU CAN SEE I’M NOT TERRIBLY CREATIVE, BUT YOU GET THE POINT, RIGHT). Tell her you really wanted to go see this movie, this cool exhibit at a museum, this great restaurant, this show—does she wanna come too?

Y’all, I have gotten a lot of crushes on women I met through school, and this chat-and-chill method has def worked for me. I had crushes on some women and then ended up not having any chemistry with, but remained either great classmates or my besties. And, my dear Mahnanymous, it’s worth mentioning that my amazing girlfriend of 5+ years? I met in class during grad school. I said hi cheerfully when I saw her, even though there wasn’t time to talk besides that. I paid attention to when she was in lab and tried to study around the same times she did. When I needed a break, I asked if she wanted to grab something from the corner deli, or walk around the block a few times. I invited her along when I hung out with other students in my class. And eventually, I asked if she wanted to go on a date. AND SHE DID.

One last thing you should think about, Mahnanymous, as you get to know your crush: dating someone/breaking up with someone in the same academic field has major pros/cons. Dating someone that’s in your same academic field can be fantastic. There’s something amazing about dating someone who just GETS IT: who knows the words you’re using, who can intelligently pick apart theory, who can act as a sounding board for your ideas. IT’S GREAT.

That being said, if you break up with someone in your grad program, you’ll still see them regularly. In class, in the lab, at seminar, at journal club. And well into your academic career—at the conferences every year, at the symposia you organized, at the women in science workshop you’re going to. You should ask yourself: Is this person awesome enough that I’m willing to date them knowing that I’ll have to see them forever after we break up? First things first—talk to your crush! Save that ish for later!

Well, Mahnanymous, I hope this helped!  Good luck talking to Crushy McCuteface, and best of luck in your grad program! <3

***

Claudia Astorino is an intersex activist living in NYC and a Point Foundation Scholar for LGBTQ students.  Claudia is the former Associate Director of Organization Intersex International’s USA chapter (OII-USA).  She coordinates the Annual Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) events in NYC and writes for Full-Frontal Activism: Intersex and Awesome (her personal blog) and Autostraddle. Follower her on Twitter @claudistics

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