When do we find time to date? A single teacher's lament

It's Valentine's Day, and Amy Smith would like to meet a potential partner. But, frankly, who has the energy after a day in the classroom?

Woman falls asleep with phone fallen on her face

Being a single teacher can be lonely. The long days with no one to come home to can be hard and depressing, especially in the winter months. 

But being a teacher and trying to date can be even harder.

“What are you doing Friday night?” 

Sleeping.”

Here are some reasons why it’s so challenging and why this is a problem for many professionals working in education. 

Young, free and very, very busy

So many of us leave university and embark on this career in our early twenties, and we’re single because we’re young.

Whatever your route, training to be a teacher is tough. You have to be committed and dedicated to your future profession. When you get your first job, after dreaming about it for so long, you’re excited and you’re passionate. 

Time flies during your NQT year. Then, before you know it, you’re done. But you’ve barely found the time to keep up with your family and friends, let alone enter the dating scene. 

Swiping...or marking? 

Eventually, you feel settled enough in your career to enter the dating scene. But where do you meet potential partners outside school? 

This is a problem, especially if you happen to be an introvert. So you download a bunch of dating apps on your phone, as it seems to be the only realistic way to meet anyone. 

However, it’s a chore: swiping right and left is tedious and feels like a huge time-waster, especially when you could be doing something more valuable with that time. 

Still, when you finally get talking to someone properly, it feels like the hard work has paid off. But now on to the next problem: when do we find the time to date?

Evenings are a no-go when you’re covered in paint from the afternoon’s art lesson and sweaty from teaching netball in the hall. 

So that leaves the weekend, which is your recharging time. But then you’re entering the new week exhausted and stressed, because your planning isn’t up to its usual standard. 

The perils of dating a non-teacher

So many other teachers have told me that the only way a relationship can work for them is if they date another teacher. Who else will understand your time commitments? 

A friend told me that, if I’m not going to date a fellow teacher, then I’d best find out if he’s good at sticking and laminating early on. Otherwise it’s not worth the effort.

Many tend to find that, although partners with different careers can do their best to be understanding, it’s hard for them to realise just how much work we need to do behind the scenes to do our jobs properly. 

Often that work needs to come home with us, or takes up our weekends (potential dating time). 

When potential partners don’t have to do the same, it can be extremely challenging for them to understand what we do and what we don’t get paid for, and why we work so much unpaid overtime

...and the perils of dating a teacher

On the other hand, if you date a teacher, you’re both going to be equally tired all the time. A routine needs to be set, so that you know what time in your day or week you can realistically spend together. 

But teaching is an unpredictable job, and you might regret arranging an evening date when you suddenly have a day where your PPA gets cancelled, your classroom ends up in chaos, or you have an additional staff meeting after school. 

Sometimes, having a nap while watching Netflix is the only dating plan that can work for a teacher. 

Ultimately, a challenge for many when dating is finding a partner who accepts that sometimes your work just has to come first. This is tough to understand for a lot of people who aren’t in the profession.

I’ve heard many heartwarming stories of teachers successfully navigating the dating world and finding partners who understand our lives.

The right person, whether or not they are a teacher, will be delighted with your passion for your vocation and proud of everything you do for those you teach.

Now you just need to find them. 

Amy Smith is a primary school teacher in London. She tweets as @londonteacher_ 

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