Dating Outside Your Profession

“So, what do you do?”

It’s one of the most common questions to ask a person upon meeting them and yet some of the responses you get might have you looking for the exit in a hurry. For me, it’s not that I am necessarily going to be running for the door, but I have a personal policy: I don’t date people in my own profession — vets or vet students.

Why is this, you might wonder? After all, I likely have so much in common with individuals who share my profession… And that’s a good thing, right?!

Wrong. At least for me, it’s not.

It’s not that sharing common interests with a partner is a problem for me, it’s when our interests or at least or main interest in life, our career, is the one that overlaps. Sure, maybe that person is going to better understand what my “day” is like, and maybe that person will understand what I’m talking about when I talk about a case, and yes, they may make a great person to talk a case over with at the end of the day to get their opinion, but what it all comes down to is this: that’s not what I want.

I want diversity. I want to be an individual and I want my partner to be an individual. I want to be interested in their life and I want them to be interested in mine without necessarily assuming they know exactly what my job is like from the moment we meet. With different professions and interests it’s fun getting to know the other person and it’s incredibly exciting to hear a person talk passionately about their work, something that doesn’t really occur as much from vet-to-vet. Vets talk to vets more matter-of-factly just like lawyers talk to lawyers matter-of-factly.

I also think that dating someone outside your profession makes it easier for you to focus on and celebrate successes rather than harp on minor failures. That is to say, it is easier to leave failures at work because your partner is not going to know the ins and outs of your small tightly-knit professional world.

My own personal reasons for not dating (even in short term) people in the veterinary profession pretty much end at that. However, there are other factors that might make a relationship between two individuals in the same profession a bit rocky.

First of all, there is the issue of competition. I am not going to say that only men feel threatened by a woman’s competition, because I know plenty of women who are just as competitive (if not more so) than their male counterparts. Nevertheless, competition between a couple within the same profession can make things difficult, especially when it comes to searching for jobs. (Don’t even get me started on working with your partner at the same practice… I think it’s best to avoid that altogether as it is going to be incredibly difficult to keep your family/personal life out of the work place.) Much related to the issue of competition is the issue of jealousy. It’s hard to not be jealous of a job offer, promotion, bonus, benefits, etc when you are in the same profession.

Now let’s look at things long term. I was raised in a household in which my parents had very different professions — one a teacher, the other a lawyer. My parents have been happily married for over 40 years and I had an excellent upbringing that I consider to be, at least in part, due to the variance in my parents’ fields. They were each able to bring different skills and knowledge to the table when it came to my education. For instance, my father could help me make a good argument in an essay I was writing, but it was my mother who would do the proofreading. In addition to the different skills and intellectual strengths that they each individually brought to the table, they also had different schedules for work, which makes caring for children easier.

In the end, who you date is up to you. I know enough people who date and marry within their profession who do great in the long term. I just know that dating someone within my own profession is not for me; I would get bored as I thrive on diversity and I think it is in my future children’s best interest for them to have parents who have varying interests and skills to share.