Image via Flickr.com (Gabriel Madrigal Photography).
As police officers, we deal with people in tense situations every day and take it in stride. Then why is it such a challenge for us when it comes to our dating lives? Why is it that what seems fairly black and white for us when we deal with other people's relationship issues on calls usually ends up being a giant mess for us as female police officers?
I've asked myself, are there special challenges for me because I'm an officer? Would those challenges be there had I selected another occupation such as school teacher or veterinarian? Well, yes and no.
The Numbers Game
By the time a woman can become a police officer in the U.S.—considering the birth rates and immigration rates—there are slightly more men than woman in the population per age group. Also, traditionally it has been acceptable for younger women to date men who are considerably older; and by considerably I mean about 10 years older.
This means a woman in her Twenties has a wide selection of men to choose from for dating, but as she ages—regardless of her occupation—the pool of available men drops off sharply. This is a result of men getting married and no longer dating, older men dating younger women, and the higher male mortality rate. So by the time a woman reaches her Forties, the pool of men for her to date is considerably smaller.
The Intimidation Factor
Next, occupations such as school teacher or nurse are more traditional female roles that are considered much less threatening or intimidating than police officer by men. It isn't just men who have trouble with the women they're dating being officers. Women who date female officers have trouble with this too.
This causes relational boundary issues that, especially when couples are dating and still getting to know one another, create tension when the partner isn't comfortable with the woman being an officer. It's like saying to her, "I really like you, except this one big part of you that happens to be paying the bills."
Several officers have explained to me that this makes them feel completely unappreciated, as if what they do as female police officers doesn't count. They feel that if they were men, they would be considered heroes for their chosen occupation, but as women they are just doing something to upset their partner.
Where's the Fun?
For me personally, I was a divorced mom when I became an officer. Dating wasn't fun at all. It felt like men were looking for a challenge or they wanted to be able to put an "X" in the box on their bucket list that reads, "Dated a Cop."
Some of our challenges are obvious—we can't date criminals or our bosses, and sometimes these seem to be the only people around. So we have to make extra efforts to really get out there in the world to meet dateable people.
Even with all the incredible technology out there to help people connect, there appear to be a couple of consistent truths in dating as a female officer no matter how old you are or how scared you may be to get out there and try to meet someone.
Always put your safety first, even when you are really lonely. If you wouldn't want your best friend to do it, you shouldn't either.
Secondly, don't be so serious. We tend to treat everything like a homicide scene. It doesn't have to be perfect all of the time. Have fun!