Meeting People

The top concern for a lot of anxious undergrads is the fear that meeting people will only get harder as they get older. It makes sense. On the surface, college is designed to facilitate your social life. You work, eat, and live with thousands of young, eager individuals. You have roommates. You are forced to do group projects. Clubs and social groups besiege you with invitations. Yet meeting intelligent, fun, perhaps datable people is still hard. So what do you think will happen when you’re living in an apartment, working full time, and eating lunch at your desk?

It will be tough, but with some thought, you can come out ahead in your post-college social life. Meeting people through common friends is of the utmost importance. A long-time friend of mine shared this concern. After graduating from MIT, she moved in with three friends from her sorority. Now, when they throw the occasional Friday-night party, they mingle with people from four different companies. Read the rest of this entry »


Negativity can ruin the atmosphere faster than a can of freon, mostly because being around gloomy people is a miserable experience. One guy used to ask why I never invited him to play basketball with me. He’d see some of my friends shooting around and comment about how he hadn’t been included. Later that week, if I asked how things were going, he would mention that things would be better if people didn’t exclude him all the time. So why didn’t I invite him to play basketball more frequently? The answer is pretty clear. Not only was every interaction with him sour, he clearly did not like me.

Before you complain about how “there are no attractive women at Harvard,” recognize that it sounds a lot like, “women don’t want to date me, so there must be something wrong with the women.” The trouble with being negative is that you come across as bitter. My most romantically successful guy friends rarely find fault with their love interests, even after rejection, and my smartest friends are the least likely to grumble about a bad professor or an unfair class. No one misses the fact that you are trying to justify your failure by blaming someone else. Read the rest of this entry »

Valentine’s Day

I love Valentine’s Day. It’s about as emotionally mature as guys are going to get short of growing boobs and hyphenating their last name. And since it’s coming up on Tuesday, I’d like to provide some quick words of advice.

Do not buy her jumper cables. Do not buy her cable TV. Do not buy her anything that contains the words “Decline”, “Fall”, and “Roman Empire”. Valentine’s gifts aren’t mandatory. If you can’t think of something clever and specific, don’t get anything at all. A two years supply of hand lotion from The Body Shop on Mass Ave is not an acceptable default.

So what is acceptable?

The answer is something she can show off. Rather than expensive, it should be thoughtful. Whether you’re looking for gifts, flowers, or dinner reservations, keep that litmus test in mind. Read the rest of this entry »