Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Peace Corps, Dating, & Marriage

Admit it, you've been waiting for this post. I mean, we all hear the rumors, the gossip, the statistics - now, let me blab on about it for the next 2 to 5 minutes.

When I first started telling my friends and family I was considering Peace Corps, I couldn't believe how many people insinuated that in 2 years I would return married. It seems like everybody and their grandmother seems to think Peace Corps is some sort of marriage agency. With only 10% of Peace Corps Volunteers being married when the enter service (stat [link]), the idea that the remaining 90% of us would pair off seemed a little unrealistic.

And it probably is. I mean, don't get me wrong. I have seen a few PCVs pair off and even more marry Host Country Nationals. I have talked with RPCVs and it seems like everybody has got a story of a couple that made it. Upon further review, I think it's probably higher on the RPCV end as it makes sense RPCVs marry other RPCVs. I mean, this experience changes you and for some reason, it just seems natural to think RPCVs marry other RPCVs.

Anyway, my point being don't bank on finding that special someone in Peace Corps. First off, dating while serving is hard. The potential partner pool is small and you often don't get to spend quality alone time (unless you think crowds of 5 or more constitute being alone). Awkwardness immediately springs to life when you watch people battle stomach issues or have mini-breakdowns because they cannot figure out how to pronounce the "g" with the little hat (gggghhhrr).

Then, you throw in the living in different communities, the focus on your work, and the attention you must give to cultural norms...Well, you end up with not a great recipe for a healthy and successful relationship.

Granted, some of these things do push you together. It's easy to latch on to someone when the rest of your life is beyond your control. You may date people you never considered before and even fall hard in just a short period of time. This happens and it's hard to gain perspective when you are in the situation. I often hear PCVs talk about the "real world" when comparing PC life to life in the US. I can't say for certain, but I think a lot of us feel like this is just a wild experiment at times. Unfortunately, even with that feeling, the consequences here are just as real as any others - especially the broken hearts...

Eh. My point is that PCVs do date and marry, but the percentage is just not as high as everybody thinks it is. I mean, if I, the most perfect person on the planet, am still single after 3 years, it probably means something is wrong with the situation, not me, right?