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Finding (and Keeping) a Male Partner as a Successful Female Grad Student


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This is why I'm not married yet and don't plan to be married until I'm settled in my career. Of course you have to sacrifice when you are married to someone. In the meantime, it's much easier to find a new guy that I could be happy with than it is to find a new job that I'd be happy with. That may be harsh, but it's true. I don't believe in soul mates or anything close to soul mates, and I know that my boyfriend could also easily find another girl he was happy with. I want us both to have everything, and if we can't have everything together, then we'll have to have it apart. And for now, we've been lucky and will be very close for the next 4 or 5 years :)

I have only seen maybe 5 truly happy long-term marriages in my life, and it seems to me that the best formula for a happy marriage is two people who knew who they were before they married and are happy with all other aspects of their life. I want to be satisfied and happy myself rather than following someone else and depending on them for happiness.

Sadly, this perspective does seem kinda cold, but this is my current perspective too. I know I'm still growing and figuring things out and I'm not ready to factor obligations to another person in that yet. Luckily, when I brought this up with my boyfriend when we had been dating a few months he agreed and said he felt the same. I was looking around for PhD problems and we both agreed that he shouldn't be part of my decision. If we were still together when the time came for me to move, he could follow me (he's a teacher) or not based upon what he felt was best for him. Similarly, if I stayed (which I did) it was not because he was there.

Everybody's different and at different points in their life though. Even though I've been with my boyfriend for quite some time now and care VERY deeply for him (I have a phobia of the L-word), there are still parts of my life I'm not ready to compromise on. I feel I'm too young to want to be tied down and regardless of who I meet, I'm not ready to give this up. By some miracle, my boyfriend has no problems with this and encourages me to live my life first. We just talk as things come up and take life one step at a time. He's right for my life right now and I for his, but we are honest and talk and re-evaluate when we hit bumps. So far, so good, but neither one of us is looking for a life-long commitment right now and that's what matters to us.

There's nothing wrong with this. Maybe it's not romantic or fit other people's notions and experiences, but it works for us, we're happy, and honest and that's all I care about. I have plenty of friend that got married right out of high school though and had no problems compromising from the start. That's what they wanted, chose, and have been happy with.

As for the OP, if you convince yourself that situations won't allow it to work, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It happens just because you believe it will. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Nobody can tell you this is how you have to do it, or this is how it should be, but you do owe it to yourself & your partner to be honest with each other.

Edited by iLikeTrees
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This is why I'm not married yet and don't plan to be married until I'm settled in my career. Of course you have to sacrifice when you are married to someone. In the meantime, it's much easier to find a new guy that I could be happy with than it is to find a new job that I'd be happy with. That may be harsh, but it's true. I don't believe in soul mates or anything close to soul mates, and I know that my boyfriend could also easily find another girl he was happy with. I want us both to have everything, and if we can't have everything together, then we'll have to have it apart. And for now, we've been lucky and will be very close for the next 4 or 5 years smile.gif

I have only seen maybe 5 truly happy long-term marriages in my life, and it seems to me that the best formula for a happy marriage is two people who knew who they were before they married and are happy with all other aspects of their life. I want to be satisfied and happy myself rather than following someone else and depending on them for happiness.

I agree with you about soul mates. The reason I don't believe them is because, simply put, you're not going to have it all with anyone. You must compromise. The point is that even if you find someone at the right time with the right career and with all the characteristics you want, you are still going to have to give up a lot of things, many of which one can never foresee. For that reason, happy marriages are those in which communication and compromise comes natural. Those happy marriages you see -- I'd bet the house that they don't have it all. But they do have love and understanding, and that is as close to having it all as one can get.

I think, no matter how old you are, if you're not willing to factor your partner in to your decision, that tells you everything you need to know. You haven't met someone that you love enough to make the compromises. There is nothing at all wrong with this. Putting yourself first in that case is exactly the right decision.

But that is so different than claiming you can't respect someone who sacrifices for you, by following or making career adjustments, which is immature. If you really love someone and want to spend your life with then, then it really is crazy to lose respect for them because they want to sacrifice.

Edited by west
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My husband is a high school graduate, and I made more in scholarships this year than he did at his full time job. For us, that's a very very GOOD thing, since it all goes into the shared bank account anyways. One partner's success should be an asset to the overall relationship, not a cause for competition.

Good to hear. Yeah, my BIL is so proud of her. He has started his own business now and it has been very successful as he has good skills. and because they both have such different yet somewhat flexible schedules, it allows them to not have their daughter in day care. You can tell she gets a lot of love and attention. I actually wouldn't mind finding a nice BC guy in Philly.

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Good to hear. Yeah, my BIL is so proud of her. He has started his own business now and it has been very successful as he has good skills. and because they both have such different yet somewhat flexible schedules, it allows them to not have their daughter in day care. You can tell she gets a lot of love and attention. I actually wouldn't mind finding a nice BC guy in Philly.

One of my favorite english profs told me once that all of her 50+ years of living had taught her one piece of invaluable advice that she felt obligated to pass along to me: marry a plumber who loves poetry.

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I'm sorry, but your comment is really out of line and someone needs to call you on it. Some might even say it's bigoted. What if someone made a comment about a hilarious example of "minority people problems"? Wouldn't be very nice, would it?

Anyway, I really don't see how race is an issue at all with the OP's concern. Do you even know what race she is? Then why bring it up? Without your first paragraph your point would still have come across quite clearly.

I think the point was that this thread's original issue is small potatoes compared to people who have had to grapple with much tougher life situations.

Ethnicity-related comments aside (and I read the 'white' comment as a synonym for 'privilege,' rather than leaping to defensiveness), she does have a point; it'd be nice if questioning an optimistic partner was the biggest issue I had to face.

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And I agree with the point about the original issue being small potatoes. The problem is that using a racial identifier promotes a stereotype and prejudice. I think that interpreting "white" as a synonym for "privilege" falls into the same problematic boat.

I don't think that using a racial identifier is the problem here. what is really the problem is the petty, self-absorbed, and soul-less tone of the original post. i guess the other poster could have used the term "priviledged people's problems" rather than "white people's problems" but either way the basic idea is the same and is right on point, in my opinion.

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I think the racial identifier is a problem since it had absolutely no relationship to the "petty, self-absorbed, and soul-less tone of the original post." By linking race with something so negative, it perpetuates negative stereotypes about a racial group. I'm not sure why such remarks are worth defending since it's basically defending derogatory racial stereotyping.

Actually, I kind of thought the poster was representing "white people" as in the "Stuff White People Like" blog. It's not a racial thing at all, more of a cultural thing (you don't have to be white to be a "white person"!)

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So my question is... how do other people cope with success differentials in a relationship?

My partner is a lot more successful than I am financially, and he always will be even if one day I become a rockstar scholar because he is not an academic. ;) Success differentials have never been an issue in our relationship because we both know whatever he offers me, I will offer him exactly the same way if we have to exchange roles. I don't understand how you dare think of maintaining a functional relationship if you don't plan on treating your partner as equal (or bigger) regardless of intellectual/career/financial success. That's very odd to me.
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Really? Does that mean that I can be a "black person" without being black? Because I've really always wanted to become the singer from the 5th Dimension but my pastiness and lack of soul is hindering my progress a bit.

People have definitely tried to do that. Look at the Bee Gees, for example, and there are actually a few other artists. And sometimes people might even say you're pretty fly (for a white guy).

Personally, I'd say the original question was posed by someone suffering from the overly-ambitious-type-who-doesn't-know-how-to-enjoy-life syndrome.

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I don't really understand the OP's need to have a super successful partner.

My long-time boyfriend is a nurse. He is in a completely different world. He makes good money, but once I get a PhD I will probably make more, and I will have the "Dr." title and the prestige associated with it, along with a hopefully also successful career. And I have never resented him for it. He loves his job because he loves the feeling he gets, going to work and helping people every day. He started out in Physics in college, and while he was good at it, he had no passion, no drive. He comes home from work excited to tell me stories about his day, or so happy when a patient gives him a gift because he helped them. THAT is success. I hope that someday I can be that happy with my job every day. And truth be told, I think it is a good thing to have only one career-oriented spouse. When we have kids, he has a much more flexible schedule and has mentioned that he wouldn't mind being a stay-at-home dad, or only working part time. I would hate to raise kids in a house where both parents work all the time!

And so far at least, he has shown no resentment to following me. He followed me to the city I did my undergrad, and he will be following be to grad school as soon as he gets a job up there. We are lucky that he is a nurse, and has reasonable mobility in his career as well.

To the OP: Re-evaluate what you want in a relationship. It's not a competition. Who wants to fight with their spouse to be the best their whole lives? It's about being with someone that you love and see past "faults" (thought I truly don't think this is a fault, it's not like he is an unemployed loser living in his mom's basement) and finding someone who you want to build a life with. If you don't see this with your boyfriend, do the boy a favor and break up with him. Let him find someone who will enjoy his caring and selfless nature, and who won't resent him for not being a star.

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A lot of what I want to say has already been said by other people, but I feel compelled to say something anyway. I will be celebrating my 20th anniversary in 2 months, so I like to think that I have bit more experience in keeping a relationship together than most.

A marriage, or any relationship, works only when two people are willing to support each other, despite the sacrifices that such support entails. It involves accepting the other person the way they are, even though you wish they were slightly different.

Reading your post, I get the feeling that you seem to want to shape him into your idea of success. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe he has a different idea of success? Have you ever considered the idea that he might not want to be a rock-star academic? Has it ever occurred to you that he might not WANT your "advice" on graduate school? Maybe he just needs someone to listen to his woes; someone who will say, "Wow, sounds like you had a rough day!" rather than telling him what he should do about it. Maybe he wants to be treated as an intellectual equal even though he didn't get into quite as good of a grad school as you did.

FYI: I come from a family with many strong, successful women. For example, my sister Chrissy (who paid for her graduate education by first becoming a NSF fellow, then a Hertz fellow) has been the "successful" one as compared with her husband, who still works part time so he can pick up their kids from private school. She has a Ph.D., he has a M.S. She is a tenured professor, he is a research associate in her department. If you were to walk into her house, though, you would not know which one was more successful. They treat each other with respect and kindness.

I could give you more examples of the women in my family and the men who married them, but I won't bore you. Just trust me--the attitude you have is immature, and not at all conducive to convincing a male partner to stay with you. ("Keeping" makes him sound like a pet or a trophy.)

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Here are my thoughts on this issue..its quite simple actually.

To the OP,

This isn't an issue about your boyfriend and his aptitude for success is it? It sounds to me like overtime you have come to define your own worth (or meaning) by how others see you. In all actuality, scholarships and degrees may be used to describe one form of success in this world, but no matter how many different levels or even ideas of success you achieve--it can't (and shouldn't) give your life meaning.

Think about if all your education, money, looks, good health, sociability, etc. was taken away, who would you be? I applaud all the things you have been able to accomplish this much in your life, but that is not what life is about. I implore you to do some deep soul-searching to learn what really defines your worth in life--not the "who's" or "what's" that you have used to define you, but YOUR ACTUAL WORTH. And its when you can begin to see yourself as worthy even without material success that you can begin to see the priceless worth of others as well!

BTW you boyfriend sounds like a great guy that is doing everything he can to keep you in his life (I making this assumption on the basis of an earlier comment you made about him choosing to attend schools near you instead of the school that is best for him somewhere else in the world). If you don't feel the same away about him as he does about you, its ok to talk to him about it without having to end the relationship.

Paix et Dieu Benisesmile.gif

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I am in a similar situation now with my girlfriend (I'm a male). I'm guessing here, but it sounds like your just not that into him, and maybe more into yourself? I say this because I am sort of the same way. I want a mate who is successful, has a degree, ect., but not one who has "more" of that than me. I would resent a girlfriend/wife who did not eventually get a masters, or even a phd. I think this just comes down to age and maturity, but I'm sure some people never really grow out of that. I'm confident I will! Don't drag the guy along if you really don't see yourself with him, whether that be because of your own selfishness or his own issues. I'm sure it will work out just fine, good luck!

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Wow. I originally thought that this post was about finding a decent boyfriend/SO from simply reading the title. Boy was I wrong. I'm sorry OP, but I really feel sorry for you. You've found a man that is willing to follow you to the ends of the earth and you're upset because he isn't on the same level as you academicallyblink.gif. Women have, for decades, been expected to follow men as they pursue their careers and you have (from what it seems) a genuinely great man on your hands that you're ready to throw away because he's willing to do the same for you. I assume that most women would be happy to have a man that is willing to take "slave wages" and live with family just to be with the woman they love.

It seems, as so many other posters have stated, that you are looking for a way out. We've given you that, just not in the way you expected. We are telling you to break up with him, but more because you don't seem to even like him than because he's not on the same "trajectory."

Good luck in the future. I hope you do eventually realize that money and success and degrees can only keep you so warm at night. I personally like sharing my bed with my SO - he's perpetually at 99 degrees and he keeps my toes nice and toasty. laugh.gif

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Really? Does that mean that I can be a "black person" without being black? Because I've really always wanted to become the singer from the 5th Dimension but my pastiness and lack of soul is hindering my progress a bit.

Pastiness has always been acceptable, lack of soul however is a deal-breaker. Sorry. :D You can always do the John Mayer blues-minus-any-actual-soul thing but you strike me as nowhere near douchy enough.

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Since you're a social scientist and appreciate honesty . . .

Your response has a lot of animosity, for what appears to be fair questions given your original inquiry. It sounds like you almost resent your boyfriend. If he doesn't grasp that "his grad school trajectory isn't the same," why are you still together?

You also come off as if you have an inflated sense of self-importance. This is an internet forum, so it's quite possible that's not the case.

I'm in a long-term LDR with an academic, but he's ahead of me, so our situation isn't the same in that sense.

Mostly agreeing with previous posters here, it seems to me that he has no issues about you being "more successful" than he is, but you do. He sounds very positive, even when he's told in your own words:

He doesn't seem to mind having to live on low wages to be closer to you, but you seem to be resentful about his optimism. Considering he's going on about how great things are, it also seems that he sees no problem with your differences in "grad school trajectory".

Anyhow, I'll just leave you with a question to consider. Would you be happy if it turns out your misgiving is utterly and completely disproved or would you be happy only when you two are "equal" in terms of what you call success?

I simply don't see what the big deal is with him being two years behind you, or why you feel that he needs to "catch up" with you. So he would be on the job market a few years after you, which is not a big deal in the scheme of things.

Honestly, from what you've said, it almost sounds like you want people to validate your feelings about why dating this guy is the wrong thing to do.

It sounds like you should explain to him exactly what your reservations are about him attending the slave-wage program. Tell him bluntly that you don't think it's the best offer, and that you will not be able to come see him very often. I am in a somewhat similar situation to you in that my SO wants to move with me, essentially following me as I am quite a bit more ambitious than he is. On the one hand, this is great because it gives me the freedom to decide where I - and by extension we - are going to live. Also, it's nice to be with someone who knows how to relax and who makes me stop thinking about productivity for a short while. On the other hand, this freedom makes me feel responsible for the both of us, to the point where I become responsible for both of our futures and he can relinquish his own responsibilities, dumping them on me (along with all the housework). If he fails to find work where I go, then he can use me as a convenient excuse to explain to his family why he is unemployed and broke. I am worried that I will end up having to cover our expenses in the event that he can't find a job, as he hasn't even started looking at anything yet. I also don't want him to resent me for making him waste years of his life following me around aimlessly, if things don't end up working out. On a different note, I am worried about what my parents will think. He does not quite live up to the standards my family (and I myself) have set for me, but I am happy to forgo those traditional standards if he a least tries to rectify the situation.

For all these reasons, I am forcing myself to be blunt with him. I know that I would advise a friend in the same situation to break up with the guy, but I know that I would regret doing so myself. So I am instead telling him exactly what my expectations are for next year, and that in reality he should probably focus more on getting his own career on track instead of trying to live with me. I doubt either of us will be happy if, living together, I am insanely busy and he is unemployed. At least that way if we do break up, he will have a more stable life to fall back on. If your boyfriend wouldn't be happy attending the slave-wage program if you weren't living nearby, then I would personally discourage him from attending.

Sorry to usurp your thread with whining about my boyfriend, but I find that a few of my friends share similar problems in being with men who are less motivated to do well for themselves than they are. Often our anxieties seem to be rooted in very similar frustrations!

The ideal man for women like us owns his own very successful business and can move around! Perhaps he is even an artist and we get cool free art to hang in our homes. Since he works out of his studio at home, he can do things like bake fresh bread during the day and answer the door for plumbers and electricians.

Ultimately I'd rather be with someone less ambitious than I am because I wouldn't feel quite as much pressure about staying home to raise children. I'd love to have a husband whose career isn't so demanding that he can't spend any time helping out and having fun around the house. If things go swimmingly with my current boyfriend, that is the kind of lifestyle we can look forward to. My father had a high-paying job, but it required him to spend much of his time on business trips and he was not around very much. I'd rather not raise kids with someone who is only around half the time. I'm fine with doing my part around the house, but I'm not okay with being a full-time academic and a housewife at the same time.

It all depends on how you measure success, really.

I'm finishing my second year of graduate school, and I'll earn my MA this spring. My fiance didn't finish his bachelor's degree. But who cares? He's got a good job as an enlisted Air Force serviceman; he loves his job and he's good at it.

The only thing I do to "keep" him is give him lots of love and affection, communicate about problems, etc...the same things I'd do if he had a PhD too. We both talk about work with each other a little bit, especially when stressed. And, we discuss the future and the issues of thinking about being the "trailing spouse." Right now we're not sure who that's going to be, with me an academic and him a military man. If things stay as they currently are it will be me; if he leaves the military, it will be him. But the most important thing is that we're willing to make it work and be flexible (i.e. I don't necessarily want to be a professor willing to move to Podunk just to teach and he's considering us and a future family when he makes his re-enlistment decisions in August 2012).

We're about 2 to 2.5 hours away from each other. If you want to see your boyfriend often you find ways to make it work. I slave on the weekdays; he comes to see me almost every weekend when he's off (Thursday through Saturday) or I'll go to see him. I arrange my schedule so that I have at least one full day to spend with him with very minimal work. It's doable, you've got to be willing.

Co-signing this. I sense resentment and that you don't see him as "good enough" for you. I hope I'm wrong, but only you can answer that. If that is the case though, DTMFA. You're just asking for misery. I can't imagine being in a successful relationship where I didn't fully respect the career and intellect of my partner.

This is crazy, absolutely 100% certified bananas crazy. You would lose respect for someone because they made career moves -- that is, sacrifice -- to follow love? I can't fathom that.

There are very few jobs out there where you can't do meaningful work because of your location. On the flip of that, there are a lot of jobs where you can do good, important, satisfying work just about anywhere. There are, and probably in academia more than other places, rare instances where both people have jobs in which location is crucial. In which case you shouldn't date that person. More often than not, at least one partner can make a move without much sacrifice.

If you really love someone, really want to keep them, both sides will have to sacrifice at various times. If you can't do this without losing respect for your partner, save yourself some heartbreak and run for the hills.

Here's my male perspective.

I would personally resent being with a spouse who thinks I am a failure.

"he would be the trailing spouse" -- you sound pretty cold and competitive. i suggest that you consider whether or not you and your boyfriend are actually in love with each other. and if not, then do him a favor and break up with him.

Wow... so my original post got a lot of hostility, and I've been busy so I haven't checked back in a while, but I just wanted to respond to everyone at once after I've had a while to think everyone's comments over.

1. I apologize if I came across big-headed in my posts, I can definitely see how they could be read that way. I would say that I have been lucky and blessed to be admitted to a great school, and have worked hard, but I wouldn't say that "I'm all that". None of y'all know my friends, who could confirm this to you, so I guess you'll just have to give this other internet forum person the benefit of the doubt. I'm giving everyone here the benefit of the doubt that they were just trying to provide constructive advice and not personally attack me. I mean, hey, how great can I be academically if I can't even express myself well in an internet forum?

2. I love my partner. I don't think I expressed that well in any of my comments. He is amazing. And I am very lucky to have someone who is willing to follow me around. My concern (which I did a poor job of expressing) is how as a female having a trailing spouse can impact a relationship. Yes, he is comfortable with it right now at this stage in our careers. Will he be in 10 years? Also, the difficulty of women negotiating positions for their trailing spouses when they come into new departments at R1s concerns me.

3. Two years doesn't seem like a big deal to most people in this thread, but most of you acknowledge that LDRs are strains on a relationship. The concern about the two years behind has more to do with LDRs than with.... well whatever I was accused of.

It seems that I have personally offended some people, and I'm not sure why, but I obviously didn't do a very good job at expressing my true feelings in my first post. Mostly I'm concerned that my partner is accepting a position that is below him (because I think he's great and worth more!) and that it is eventually going to create more strain on our relationship by continuing the long distance relationship.

I hope I clarified my position. I don't know if I need any more advice from everyone, but I just wanted to clarify something that managed to get so many people riled up.

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I think it's great that you responded to all these posts. Some of them were quite hostile. I think your best bet is to talk to your boyfriend honestly. Since you think he deserves more and you are worried that he may be settling for less, then tell him. This way, whatever decision he takes, you know that you've both discussed it beforehand and that he's thought it through.

Good luck with everything

Funnily enough, we did speak honestly, and he laughed when he saw all of the animosity directed at me. "They didn't understand you at all!" He's decided to accept the offer, but he's only going to finish the masters at the school that gave him the offer, which after I pushed him, he negotiated up. He's also planning on applying for several paid internships, and jobs in the area to supplement his income and resume.

He understands where I was coming from, and said he can't promise he'll be okay with following me in 10 years, but that we aren't there yet and I just need to slow down and focus on the present. Which he's right, but it's not typical of most type-A people to live in the moment. So we'll see, but hopefully we can make it work, even with our very different career goals. I love him a lot, and he loves me, and in the end, that matters more than any career.

edit: Also, thank you for your nice reply. I'm not quite sure why I got so much venom, but I thought the best thing to do was to respond to everyone's thoughts.

Edited by HereKittyKitty
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I think CJD hit a key point. Tell your boyfriend all your concerns on either side of the issue, and then let him make his decision. He cannot reasonably resent you later if you are clear now that this is his decision and you will accept it as such.

I love that you are worried about whether or not he will still be happy with this decision ten years down the road. If there is one common trait I have in this forum of mostly high-achieving, successful, intelligent people, it is that everyone worries about everything obsessively. There is no way to know what your boyfriend will regret in ten years! If you tell him your fears about the long-term consequences, that is all you can do. He will have to deal with the (completely unpredictable) consequences of his decisions ten years from now, just like the rest of us :D

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Pastiness has always been acceptable, lack of soul however is a deal-breaker. Sorry. :D You can always do the John Mayer blues-minus-any-actual-soul thing but you strike me as nowhere near douchy enough.

Totally off topic, and we could probably start a new thread based on this, but I am so glad there is someone else out there that sees John Mayer for the douche that he is. My hope for the world has been renewed. Thank you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've run myself out of one-up votes two days in a row just by reading this thread. Even when the advice got a bit inimical, it was still usually very perceptive and thoughtful. And here's to an OP who dealt with it all calmly and tactfully! Is it any wonder that this is a great community?

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I've run myself out of one-up votes two days in a row just by reading this thread. Even when the advice got a bit inimical, it was still usually very perceptive and thoughtful. And here's to an OP who dealt with it all calmly and tactfully! Is it any wonder that this is a great community?

I also think the OP took it quite well. Having spent a few years reading up online relationship forums, I have noticed that folks who wrote about their issues tend to be at the highest stress and frustration level. There are dramatisations, exaggerations, and outcries at trivialities when in many occasions those conflicts can be solved over an open, honest and calm talk with their partners (the exception being the cases of abuse, of course). However, for us readers, all information available is whatever is written by the OP who could have been in a particularly bad mood, and thegradcafe crowds are exceptional at analysing and critiquing the written information (as we should be!).

I think all the advices given here are respectful in its own rights, as we have a limitation as a commentator without fully knowing the OP and her boyfriend, and the details of their relationship. The OP probably has got all the possible advices given the suggested issues. However, I feel that up to certain degree the issues of the OP echo with what many academic women fear regarding finding and having a successful relationship (or we could call it the whole heart vs. brain matter as the early generation of University women did?).

My ex was an intellectual man with attractive qualities (handsome, romantic, musically talented, metrosexual, cooking skills, etc) who somehow set a norm of discussing philosophers over dinner. After he broke up with me, after spending 2 years in recovery (and analysing what went wrong, and learning lessons over what to put up with and not to/seeing through immature vs. mature habits of a person), I went out to date for the first time and things were dramatically different outside the academic setting. To make it worse, I moved to Los Angeles after the breakup, and it is safe to say that the majority of the population do not read in this town, let alone critical readings.

My attempts at finding a learned man was hard enough, and then I had to filter the egotistical ones, the self-absorbed ones, the hypocritical ones, and mostly the incompatible ones. It is a small pool to begin with, and during the process, oh gosh, how many times I thought maybe I did something wrong, I am being unrealistic, and men in my age group find me unattractive because of my academic background, etc etc?!?! And then, of course one's mind wanders to think about societal prejudices and gender expectations over the inner workings of the relationship, and sometimes gets frustrated by unfathomably conservative folks with their notions of what women's status should be in relation to men's, and insecure people who can't accept what is outside their comfort zone, etc etc...and eventually to a point where a chain of self-questioning begins (aka. "am I a scholarly mind good enough to deserve another scholarly minded one??! I mean, everybody tells me I should give up and keep them to myself and settle with a decent man.").

In the end, I didn't settle. But I did change in some sense. My current boyfriend is not a trained academic. He is a filmmaker with a BFA and does not read (he claims that he doesn't have time to read), but has other important qualities (emotionally capable and communicative, artistic, reasonable with finances, career ambitious and has an healthy and mature attitude towards gender/minority). As a feminist, I guess it was a foremost importance to find a man whose belief system is similar, who is comfortable with himself and is open to the idea of multiplicity in what an individual can be. Yet I was uncertain about his being less knowledgeable in the academic literature, and couldn't ignore my longing for a joy of discussing academic subjects. However at the same time, I realised that since he listens well and is a person of wits and intelligence, why can't I explaining concepts to him in a more ordinary language? (after all, my research interest aligns with education...and one shall be true to herself in a life style as the Greeks believed...right?)

Kinda went sideways, but wanted to mention the other side of the spectrum where the significant other is not even in the academia. It really is all about having a balance, and what one may consider an essential may be not so and subject to change in a long run. At least my postmodern theorists say so! (tee hee hee) And cheers to all graduate students and their relationships :)

A last word to the OP: you didn't mention about the duration of your relationship or anything except you guys are in a long distance relationship. In case if you guys never had a long period of physically close (distance-wise) relationship, this may be a good chance to see what is actually working and not working. Seeing and interacting with the beloved one in person actually affect the dynamics of the relationship profoundly as things can be highly abstracted in the cases of LDR/online relationship.

Edited by appliqed
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  • 1 month later...

This thread is exactly why I want a woman that's as dumb as a box of bricks. Just give me a laid back girl with bright smile who doesn't know the meaning of the word "ambition"

i hope that's a joke

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i hope that's a joke

Maybe not, but it made me laugh...at a memory.

UnlikelyDad had a good friend in college with this same attitude. All he wanted was a dumb, easily-led girl with a big smile and big boobs. He was appalled when UnlikelyDad started dating me because I am not naturally sunny, and I'm not particularly well-endowed. When UnlikelyDad said he liked my brains his friend rolled his eyes.

Fast forward ten years. UnlikelyDad and his friend now lived at opposite ends of the country and hadn't seen each other for years when, out of the blue, this guy calls to talk because he is lonely. At some point UnlikelyDad asks if he has a steady girlfriend. Answer: no, he dates, but all the girls are too stupid to have a conversation (or a long-term relationship) with. To which UnlikelyDad replies: "That's why I snagged a smart one while I could."

So the poster may live to regret his rash words.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hrrm...

When I did this, we ended up breaking up... this was awhile ago... We had been dating and I was already done with school, she was a few years younger. I needed to get into a job market as there was no market in the college town we were in... She decided to go to grad school... We started off long distance, but that didn't work. about 6 years later now, she is STILL in grad school with maybe another 1-2 more years to go (I would have gone insane there) and I've way beyond moved on...

Personally I would NEVER do a ld relationship... I've done it twice, neither worked out... You guys should figure something out and compromise, or just move on.

I'm in a different relationship now, and going to grad school myself... so tables slightly turned... Planning to do it in a major city though, as there are many more options to compromise and it won't be a shakeup if we change schools/jobs/etc.

Edited by njw
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