How to Date an Engineer

I have four exams this week: Physics, Environmental Engineering and Science, Calculus for Engineering, and Mechanics of Soils.  When my brain becomes saturated in calculations a weird thing happens – I HAVE to write.  The words push themselves out and I can’t help it.  Due to overexposure of engineering types and based on a few of my own experiences, I have decided that this Valentine’s Day the world can benefit from this non-comprehensive manual on how to woo your favorite engineer.

  1. Plans.

I’ve always heard it said that when you are dating, you should make plans that include dates, times, transportation, etc.  When you have your heart set on an engineer, though, don’t just have a plan:  you should have an entire set of plans.  I am not talking about simply coming up with an creative idea and romantic execution to the last detail of something that is individually designed for the object of your affection. (Which you also must do.)  You must, in fact, have a plan for almost everything.  Engineers love plans. Engineers love plans more than they love people. Have plan sets for dates, for your next automobile purchase, your next significant career development, and your five and ten year goals.  Include measurable intervals (known as construction phases) whereby on time/on budget data can be easily interpreted.  You should have a plan for your life – how you intend to fulfill your singularly significant purpose – and it should be readily available for review.  There should be quantities, calculations, projections, profile, cross-section, and plan views and impact analysis not just on your life but the lives of the people around you and the environment – with particular attention given to endangered species.  Of course, this plan for your life will be subject to technological development and the changes in industry standards.  You can only plan insofar as you have access to information.

Be prepared: these plans will be reviewed and carefully analyzed and a final determination will be made as to the necessity and constructability of your life’s project as well as the practicality of your time frame and expenses.  Additionally, an engineer will inform you as to whether or not he/she is the type of significant other (long term, short term, romantic, platonic, and so on and so forth) that will fulfill the engineering role required by whichever particular plan set you provide.

2. Permitting.

Once you have a plan that you have submitted to the engineer for review and analysis – you should be prepared to demonstrate your familiarity with permitting.  In any request to proceed with each anticipated phase of relationship, you should be able to communicate your intentions clearly, identify the necessary laws or regulations they fall under, and have the capacity to patiently wait for permits to be granted by whichever governing authorities are appropriate.  Even as no two engineers are alike – no two projects are going to require the exact same set of permits.

3. Field Conditions.

Engineers are used to things being within the realm of their calculation. Unforeseen conditions are often encountered on major projects which result in delays or changes of design.  Unless your engineer has had some direct experience with a similar type of unforeseen conditions to the one you are encountering, chances are they will not understand your difficulty.  They will probably not be sympathetic, but they may exhibit some other strange emotions. Additionally, they will begin immediately calculating new time lines and/or costs associated with remediation, and spout facts about minutely related topics that are not useful. Engineers pride themselves on knowing things.

Special Note: If you are a female interested in a male engineer, much of your unforeseen field conditions will likely be because you are female. I am sorry about this.

The following case study is supplied.  Linda and Bill (the engineer) have been going out for some time.  In this we will demonstrate Bill’s responses with prior field experience in the related topic.

“I can’t make it to our date tonight. Sparky, my pet cockroach, died,” Linda said sadly into the phone.  She had been sure to call him.  She knew how he was about changing plans.  He needed to hear her voice.  To hear how sad she was. [engineers are better with spoken word than written word – have you ever seen an engineer spell? Yeah, exactly.]

“Your pet cockroach? I am so sorry to hear that,” Bill said.

“Yes,” Linda replied.  “He was the best ever.”

“I know what it’s like to lose a pet.” Bill said.  “Did you know that cockroaches can live for six to eight weeks without their heads?  Then they starve to death.”

Note how Bill is relating to Linda’s loss, and finding comfort in spouting his random fact.

If an engineer doesn’t relate, you may want to have a detailed impact report handy when you explain the field conditions encountered. Quantifying impacts can be daunting, especially if they are emotional, but it is not impossible. You may need assistance from a secondary engineer on how to best inform and educate your primary engineer of the field conditions. Good luck.

4. Romance

It may come as a surprise to you, but most engineers are deeply romantic. They are builders and fixers – these things require intuition and perception and creativity and art and passion. Engineers find the same emotional satisfaction in setting things in order and resolving quantities and utilizing well thought-out formulas that most of the rest of us feel listening to music and viewing great works of art. Engineers are not Star Trek obsessed calculators – they have a deep appreciation for the beauty that is mathematics and science and reason. While it may not always appear so, they do have feelings.  And just because they get excited about balancing the checkbook and concrete post-tensioning and electrical current capacity in certain conduits doesn’t mean they can’t also be impressed by the mathematics of jazz and the calculations involved in swing dancing or the aesthetic variables of moonlight on red hair.

What does it boil down to?  Engineers have their quirks, just like any group of people, but I don’t think you’ll find a more valuable asset to your plan set than finding a good one.  This Valentine’s Day, don’t be shy or feel weird about your affection for that uber-smart engineer of yours.  Take a calculated risk and set up a social appointment with an engineer to talk about your plan set.  It might just be the best thing you ever did!

Or the worst.

It could also be the worst.

Good luck.


3 thoughts on “How to Date an Engineer

  • The engineer should, perhaps, consider that life endures with or without engineering! The engineer has choices – a) date another engineer and feel comfortable, but perhaps not challenged on worldview, processes and how life can otherwise be; b) date a malleable non-engineer who yearns to be molded, held, rationally understood and bask in the certainty of mathematical rigour; c) date a non-engineer who wants to understand the engineer, cherish and love them, but who also enables the engineer to appreciate the non-engineering vastness of not being an engineer. Happy Valentine’s viking x

  • Not sure about two engineers dating. That sounds awfully… technical. For a start, who’s plan is the real plan, going forward? Amalgamating plans is a tricky business. Much better to shake it up a bit. Always has been. I mean, someone has to refuse to read the map, get lost, sulk, and then drive around for another two hours while the partner gets in a huff. That’s the way it is. Something about Mars and Venus, though I never bought that analogy. For a start, the atmospheric pressures are all wrong. A hundred times wrong, either way. That’ll never work.
    On the plus side, engineers will save the world. 🙂

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