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Significant Others and Grad School

  

785 members have voted

  1. 1. What's your relationship status

    • single
      238
    • in a relationship with another grad student
      103
    • in a relationship with someone not in grad school
      444


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I got married while in college, and had a baby my senior year. My spouse and I took a year off from school. We both applied to graduate school last fall. We didn't get into the same PhD programs, and we decided to take my offer. My spouse is doing a post-bacc certificate program and plans to apply to PhD programs next fall. I just finished my first semester of my graduate program. My spouse is pouring more energy into the domestic sphere while I finish my course work and comps, and then we are going to switch roles. It's definitely a juggling act! I'm very fortunate to have a supportive spouse who is selfless enough to let me pursue my dream first. For our family, taking turns and sharing responsibility is key.

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It's been a while since I posted, and this has been bumped up several times with long gaps, but I feel the need to respond:

 

It's not "well known" that graduate school is a relationship killer. It can be, just like any other stressful intense situation can be. But it's definitely not common, nor should it, in my mind, be "expected" that it will be. 

 

My wife and I were married before grad school, we moved when I started, and she applied the next cycle. We've experienced life without grad school, with one of us in grad school and with both of us in grad school. Grad school isn't a relationship killer unless you suddenly decide that it's more important or of a higher priority than the rest of your life. 

 

And if you decide that, it's not going to stop with grad school, but will just continue through post-docs and tenure track positions. 

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Your location might really have something to do it. I know from experience that dating a blue collar guy just doesn't work out for me, we have nothing in common, and nothing to talk about. I need someone who at the very least has a university degree or acts like someone who has a university degree.

I'm not sure I know what someone with a university degree "acts like." Some of the dumbest people I know have degrees, and some of the smartest people I know don't. My husband doesn't, but after six years of me being in school, he understands the demands and issues that come with being a student more than some of my school friends have. I couldn't have done all that I have without his support, and when I applied to PhD programs we agreed that wherever I want to go, we'll make it work together. If/when I'm accepted, we'll make the decision together (if I have choices) but ultimately he's made it clear that I am to choose a program that is the best fit, and we'll figure everything out after that.

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I'm not sure I know what someone with a university degree "acts like." Some of the dumbest people I know have degrees, and some of the smartest people I know don't. My husband doesn't, but after six years of me being in school, he understands the demands and issues that come with being a student more than some of my school friends have. I couldn't have done all that I have without his support, and when I applied to PhD programs we agreed that wherever I want to go, we'll make it work together. If/when I'm accepted, we'll make the decision together (if I have choices) but ultimately he's made it clear that I am to choose a program that is the best fit, and we'll figure everything out after that.
100% agreed! My blue collar spouse has been nothing but supportive and encouraging! We have a great time together. I have my colleagues for "work speak"! My home is for family, friends, and fellowship. You don't need a degree for that!

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I was in a similar situation not too long ago. My ex GF was accepted into two graduate programs out-of-state and denied by all local programs. At first, I was going to stay behind and we would see each other as often as possible. Then at the last minute, and some circumstances that made it easier, I moved to where she was. In retrospect, that was a mistake. I hate this state (still here until May or so) and we have since broken up.

Anyways, she was putting in long days, sometimes from 6am to 2am. Yes, there were many times when we were there but not there to hang out. That wasn't the problem. We still went out and did things, watched movies, and generally spent a good deal of time together. The problem was her stress. She was constantly stressed out. And that ended the relationship.

y

As for the topic of the other "understanding". The SO has no choice. They simply have to accept it. If they can't, then they need to get lost.

 

I am sorry you broke up, Its good to know you were able to spend some time together.  I am kinda high stress, but now we are engaged :) I think I'll be okay he knows how hard I have to work.  I dunno I have asked around and someone suggested trying to do most of my work at school, so that when I am at home I am acutally with him.  I think I will try that.  As for the no choice, aspect ohhhh belive me it wasn't a choice I was in a situation (american educated but canadian citizen) where it would have been hard to impossible for me to work out of undergrad because of the visa issues.  I don't regret what I did, but only because I know it was the best option, and in  the only one. The longer we are apart the more positive he seems about when we will be togehter, I have seen him very minimally sadly mainly because of money.  Anyways, I did really well this fall, and a long lonley spring is about to start.  I figure if he can accept the 'hell' of what will be almost a year and a half of very long distance, he'll accept it when we are togeter.  Once again, I am sorry about your situation though.....

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For those of you doing long distance currently, have you had any issues with being judged for visiting your s/o? For my partner and I, it was easier for me to visit him last semester, and I flew down twice to see him, as well as spent most of the winter break with him. I've been very cautious about mentioning my visits because I'm afraid that people - either other grad students or professors - will think I'm not taking the program seriously. Any comments I've had so far have been from other students. It'll be easier this semester - he'll mostly be traveling to see me. I was just wondering if other people have experienced this, and how they handled it. 

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For those of you doing long distance currently, have you had any issues with being judged for visiting your s/o? For my partner and I, it was easier for me to visit him last semester, and I flew down twice to see him, as well as spent most of the winter break with him. I've been very cautious about mentioning my visits because I'm afraid that people - either other grad students or professors - will think I'm not taking the program seriously. Any comments I've had so far have been from other students. It'll be easier this semester - he'll mostly be traveling to see me. I was just wondering if other people have experienced this, and how they handled it. 

 

 

I wouldn't worry about it.... in my case, he came to me three times last semester and once over winter break and I went to him thanksgiving, (unfortunatly due to his program requirments and job situation we had to spend most of winter break apart).  This semester it will be split, two and two ...anyways he met all of my professors at a socail thing we could bring guests too, and many of them ask me about him once and a while.  When we got engaged (as a classmate informed all of them) I got several congradulations.  I think what helps is I always work when are togehter, hes really understanding about that.  As for teh profs I think if they see your effort, (and if you make little sacrifices like working while you two are visiting....I don't think you will have any problems. 

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I am an international student. Both my girlfriend and I applied to PhD programs and we hoped to go to the same school. We ended up going to grad programs in the same general area but weren’t accepted to the same school.

Now that I’m in grad school I can see how difficult it would have been for us both to be accepted together- we are at Cal Tech and UC Santa Barbara and each school has only one person per year per department from each country. We are from the UK and while both Cal Tech Applied Physics and UCSB Materials Science have close to 50% international students this still translates into more or less one student per country in each department for each admission year.  I thought I would post something about this and would encourage couple who are applying to grad school to apply to programs in the same geographic area. For example- Cal tech is in Pasadena which is close to LA and within 3 hours of driving time to San Diego and Santa Barbara. Within this area there is UCLA, University of Southern California, California State, California Polytechnical Institute (different from Cal Tech), UCLA and many others (30 colleges actually- the lists are online). On the East Coast, trains are cheap and fast and University of Pennsylvania is 90 minutes from Columbia and Princeton. Drexel is two blocks away.  Good luck to everyone with their applications.

Edited by Snowqueen

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I moved 900 miles to start my program; both my SO and I had been living in the same city for our entire lives, and I was ready for a change. We had decided while I was applying that we would stay together regardless of where I went. I told SO that I would like it if he came with me, but I wasn't going to demand it. SO wasn't ready to move at that time, but he said he would be coming eventually. The first semester ended up not being that bad, even though we didn't see each other in person at all until I came home for winter break. It was strange being apart for so long and we certainly missed each other, but honestly it didn't really put a strain on our relationship (if anything I would say I feel even more confident in the relationship now, having gone a whole semester apart without thinking "this isn't going to work"). 

 

SO had mulled over his options in the fall and decided to make the move before spring, so I have definitely been more anxious this semester. But he's given me a date, and it's very soon, so I am feeling good about that.

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I am an international student. Both my girlfriend and I applied to PhD programs and we hoped to go to the same school. We ended up going to grad programs in the same general area but weren’t accepted to the same school.

Now that I’m in grad school I can see how difficult it would have been for us both to be accepted together- we are at Cal Tech and UC Santa Barbara and each school has only one person per year per department from each country. We are from the UK and while both Cal Tech Applied Physics and UCSB Materials Science have close to 50% international students this still translates into more or less one student per country in each department for each admission year.  I thought I would post something about this and would encourage couple who are applying to grad school to apply to programs in the same geographic area. For example- Cal tech is in Pasadena which is close to LA and within 3 hours of driving time to San Diego and Santa Barbara. Within this area there is UCLA, University of Southern California, California State, California Polytechnical Institute (different from Cal Tech), UCLA and many others (30 colleges actually- the lists are online). On the East Coast, trains are cheap and fast and University of Pennsylvania is 90 minutes from Columbia and Princeton. Drexel is two blocks away.  Good luck to everyone with their applications.

 

Quick correction: Cal Poly is part of the Cal State system and many Cal State schools do not offer PhDs, with MS as the terminal degree in their home institutions.

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For my SO and I, The threat of going off to grad school was a thorn in our relationship for 2 1/2 years, even while I was still in undergrad. He didn't exactly handle it in a mature manner in the beginning, and it was only when I broke up with him that he declared he would move with me wherever I wanted. I've had a long time to prepare for the transition to grad school and what that would mean for our relationship. Our relationship started to deteriorate six months ago. I finally broke it off, and he has tried to come back promising he'll get me an engagement ring and that he wants to get married and get an apartment together in Colorado.

It's very hard turning down the support. This is the person who would get me wataburger and Excedrin at 2am when I have a migraine and message my temples until I fell asleep. So the thought of having someone to help me with my bills, my daughter, sickness, and any other life difficulties is ever so tempting. But, all the benefit comes at the cost of appeasing a controlling SO and limiting my overall potential to participate in grad school to my fullest potential.

I've decided to try and make it on my own (with daughter) vs. stay with him because of selfish reasons. Even though I love him dearly, It's one of those brain vs. emotions battle...and hopefully I've let the wiser one decide.

Considering all this, I am "single", but not at all interested in dating. I have a 6 year old, a teaching gig, and my own "research" to work on. I figure I'll try and find myself a support network when I'm moved, and worry about everything else later.

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My boyfriend is an undergrad in engineering.  He should be done in December. We've done the long-distance thing on-and-off for 3 years (he's in AZ, I'm in OH).  He has been very supportive of me, and told me that he would be willing to move wherever I got in and chose to attend, but he did give me a few preferences within the list of where I applied.

I applied to graduate schools in areas where there are potentially jobs for him.  When he moves to wherever I am, it'll be interesting to see how we handle the odd hours that lab work requires...

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I just got excepted into grad school today. I'm really excited! I've been with my SO for 11 years, we built a house together. Unfortunately, he's freaking out about the financial aspects of me going to grad school. Since building the house we pretty much live paycheck to paycheck. Also, I already have student loans I am paying back currently.

I'm really hoping he will be supportive of me being in grad school. And luckily it is a low residency program in the same state that we live in. My current bosses are even being very flexible and letting me keep working there when I can. Anyway, I'm having issues with him not being able to get passed the financial part. I know it's a risky investment so to speak, but it's something I need to do. He didn't even congratulate me. A big bummer.

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I just got excepted into grad school today. I'm really excited! I've been with my SO for 11 years, we built a house together. Unfortunately, he's freaking out about the financial aspects of me going to grad school. Since building the house we pretty much live paycheck to paycheck. Also, I already have student loans I am paying back currently. I'm really hoping he will be supportive of me being in grad school. And luckily it is a low residency program in the same state that we live in. My current bosses are even being very flexible and letting me keep working there when I can. Anyway, I'm having issues with him not being able to get passed the financial part. I know it's a risky investment so to speak, but it's something I need to do. He didn't even congratulate me. A big bummer.
I am so sorry to hear that. Here's to hoping he sees the Return on Investment soon and give you the support you need!

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I wouldn't worry about it.... in my case, he came to me three times last semester and once over winter break and I went to him thanksgiving, (unfortunatly due to his program requirments and job situation we had to spend most of winter break apart).  This semester it will be split, two and two ...anyways he met all of my professors at a socail thing we could bring guests too, and many of them ask me about him once and a while.  When we got engaged (as a classmate informed all of them) I got several congradulations.  I think what helps is I always work when are togehter, hes really understanding about that.  As for teh profs I think if they see your effort, (and if you make little sacrifices like working while you two are visiting....I don't think you will have any problems. 

 

Heh. Due to some quirks of planning, I will be getting married very early on in my program. We're postponing the honeymoon until the following summer, but I'm looking forward to the range of reactions if I need to take that Friday/Monday off from classes in order to travel to the wedding site. "Well, see, I'm getting married.."

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Heh. Due to some quirks of planning, I will be getting married very early on in my program. We're postponing the honeymoon until the following summer, but I'm looking forward to the range of reactions if I need to take that Friday/Monday off from classes in order to travel to the wedding site. "Well, see, I'm getting married.."

 

I think you should okay with taking time off to get married! During my MSc, I took about 10 days off for my wedding (it was on the other side of the country, in our hometown, where most of our family was from). Earlier in the same year, I took a total of 20 days off to do wedding related stuff (although I combined this with trips home during the holidays). All of this was possible because the time off was either during the winter exam period, the spring exam period, or the summer. However, for the honeymoon, I took a week off right in the middle of October (I combined it with a conference trip the week before). That was harder to schedule since I was TA-ing, but it was Canadian Thanksgiving week so my prof agreed to run the lab course by himself that week (we are usually both there) in exchange for me adding extra office / lab help hours later that term when students worked on their projects. After that though, I didn't really take any more time off (other than conference/work related travel) until I graduated! Overall, if you only count "work days", then I probably took about 20-something days off during the first 13 months of my Masters, but it was also the only work-days I took off during the 2 year program.

 

Most schools usually say that grad students are allowed 10 "vacation days" (i.e. 2 weeks) per year in addition to the university holidays. They usually say something like it's up to the student and advisor to schedule them around their work, but if you count holidays, then there should be about 20 vacation days per year. If you need to take some time off for personal things, then you can always make up for it by working on a weekend or a holiday! I think most profs will understand if you talk about it early enough!

Edited by TakeruK

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Glad to see all of the support on this thread! My S.O. (now-husband) and I had a long discussion before even getting engaged about graduate school and our career goals. We're both highly driven individuals with completely different career interests. We decided to take a year after getting married (right after I graduated undergrad) to live together as I applied to graduate school. It was a great decision to really break-in getting used to being married and allowed me space to develop more career skills before I applied. Similar to other posters, we went over my applications together to make sure that the only  far places (i.e. airplane required) that I applied to were worth the separation. He's been wonderfully supportive of my goals and I'm proud of him sticking to his own guns about getting his own business started. I've thankfully been accepted to the closest school (3 hours away), which seems like a really great fit, but I haven't heard about funding yet. (Eek!)

 

For those who have gone before, I have a few questions:

 

-Since we'll be living 3 hours apart, I'll be in an apartment while he keeps down the fort at home. We're planning on seeing each other 2 or 3 weekends/month (is that too much to expect?), one driving out to the other depending on schedules. I prefer having a roommate, but would it be wierd considering that I'm married (and that he'll be a regular visitor)?

 

-What kind of groundrules helped you in maintaining a strong relationship despite crazy schedules?  (E.g. when it's alright to be working on career stuff on visits versus just relationship time, skype schedules, should you maintain a shared calendar, ect.) We've done stints of long distance relationship, but I want to get on the right foot because the PhD program I'd be going into would be about 6 years. The first year will be very critical for me to continue to ensure funding and I want to make sure I'm not too busy missing him!

 

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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I think you should okay with taking time off to get married! During my MSc, I took about 10 days off for my wedding (it was on the other side of the country, in our hometown, where most of our family was from). Earlier in the same year, I took a total of 20 days off to do wedding related stuff (although I combined this with trips home during the holidays). All of this was possible because the time off was either during the winter exam period, the spring exam period, or the summer. However, for the honeymoon, I took a week off right in the middle of October (I combined it with a conference trip the week before). That was harder to schedule since I was TA-ing, but it was Canadian Thanksgiving week so my prof agreed to run the lab course by himself that week (we are usually both there) in exchange for me adding extra office / lab help hours later that term when students worked on their projects. After that though, I didn't really take any more time off (other than conference/work related travel) until I graduated! Overall, if you only count "work days", then I probably took about 20-something days off during the first 13 months of my Masters, but it was also the only work-days I took off during the 2 year program.

 

Most schools usually say that grad students are allowed 10 "vacation days" (i.e. 2 weeks) per year in addition to the university holidays. They usually say something like it's up to the student and advisor to schedule them around their work, but if you count holidays, then there should be about 20 vacation days per year. If you need to take some time off for personal things, then you can always make up for it by working on a weekend or a holiday! I think most profs will understand if you talk about it early enough!

 

This is very encouraging! I'm definitely planning on notifying the right folks as soon as I get a course schedule set up. We'll see what happens, but I can't see anyone throwing a massive fit about it. 

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My situation is rather interesting. I moved to Boulder because my boyfriend is a Marine finishing his undergraduate degree here so he can commission. I moved to be with him, and applied to the PhD program here and got accepted. So, we'll both be in school in the same department (economics), but I'll be a graduate student and he'll still be an undergrad.

 

We already live together and I think it'll actually be easier, because we'll both have to study and be in school. Still, he'll have quite the adjustment since I've taken on almost all domestic rolls since I moved here because he's so much busier than I am right now.

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My hubby of 7 years and I don't see uprooting the entire family, selling the house and moving 20 hours away for a one year program. That is one reason I plan to live on campus...no need to nest! Plus, when else will I get an opportunity to fully immerse myself into personal and professional development? I am so excited I could burst! My super hubby is a very capable single dad and I know my girls are going to have such a better relationship with him for it! Anyone have creative ways for staying close with the kids as well as hubby? Frequent travel is NOT an option! (Obviously calls and webcam...) anything else?

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My hubby of 7 years and I don't see uprooting the entire family, selling the house and moving 20 hours away for a one year program. That is one reason I plan to live on campus...no need to nest! Plus, when else will I get an opportunity to fully immerse myself into personal and professional development? I am so excited I could burst! My super hubby is a very capable single dad and I know my girls are going to have such a better relationship with him for it! Anyone have creative ways for staying close with the kids as well as hubby? Frequent travel is NOT an option! (Obviously calls and webcam...) anything else?

 

although i'm neither married nor a parent, i've spent a good amount of time away from home, starting with 2 months of sleepaway camp from ages 8 until 15, all the way through bouncing around the world during my late high school and undergrad years. i loved it, but my mom and i have always been close, so being apart was hard. we would play games by letter, e.g., each drawing one line or one shape onto something at a time, and mailing it back and forth to create hilarious, strange things (usually friendly monster-critters!) together. as i got older, we kept in touch as much as possible by phone, skype, etc., but we still writer letters and send "surprise" packages to each other. i think having tangible mail to look forward to, share, and enjoy is really nice.

Edited by pears

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Glad to see all of the support on this thread! My S.O. (now-husband) and I had a long discussion before even getting engaged about graduate school and our career goals. We're both highly driven individuals with completely different career interests. We decided to take a year after getting married (right after I graduated undergrad) to live together as I applied to graduate school. It was a great decision to really break-in getting used to being married and allowed me space to develop more career skills before I applied. Similar to other posters, we went over my applications together to make sure that the only  far places (i.e. airplane required) that I applied to were worth the separation. He's been wonderfully supportive of my goals and I'm proud of him sticking to his own guns about getting his own business started. I've thankfully been accepted to the closest school (3 hours away), which seems like a really great fit, but I haven't heard about funding yet. (Eek!)

 

For those who have gone before, I have a few questions:

 

-Since we'll be living 3 hours apart, I'll be in an apartment while he keeps down the fort at home. We're planning on seeing each other 2 or 3 weekends/month (is that too much to expect?), one driving out to the other depending on schedules. I prefer having a roommate, but would it be wierd considering that I'm married (and that he'll be a regular visitor)?

 

-What kind of groundrules helped you in maintaining a strong relationship despite crazy schedules?  (E.g. when it's alright to be working on career stuff on visits versus just relationship time, skype schedules, should you maintain a shared calendar, ect.) We've done stints of long distance relationship, but I want to get on the right foot because the PhD program I'd be going into would be about 6 years. The first year will be very critical for me to continue to ensure funding and I want to make sure I'm not too busy missing him!

 

Thanks in advance for any advice!

 

Its hard to say how much you can visit.  I just got engaged a few months ago and me and my SO are close to 1100 miles apart.  Hes finishing his undergrad and will be with me but not until fall.  I am lonely a lot because we see each other about every two months and because I am Canadian, I can't work there in the summer and yeah....

 

Anyways, I have a classmate who is two hours away from her bf and sees him every weekend.  It works because her bf is a grad student too, so they study a lot when they are together.  For us, that is essential, as our graduate program is demanding.  In the times I have spent with my SO I haven't wanted to do any work (but have often had to do a little bit at minium).  Its not that he would mind, its just that he doesn't have to do it too and we see each other so little that I just want to spend every minute I can with him, not working. 

 

Having said that, I have a roommate who sees her bf every weekend and usually doesn't bring her books.  I think this is rare (but I really don't know). 

 

ANyways as for the distance thing, here is what I would suggest....

 

* Text a lot....I know it sounds silly but its nice to keep in constant contact.

* If your program is like mine you may have a heard time schedualing skype time, but make sure you do once a week.

* When you visit know when the next time you will see each other is, it makes it less sad to say bye if you know when you will say hello again.

 

ANyways I hope I helped, long distance with the stress of grad school isn't easy (believe me I am counting the days until its over) but its worht it in the end.

Edited by phonology_rocks

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For those of you doing long distance, how long are you planning on doing it for? I started my PhD program in August, so I still have another 3-4 years here. My partner is about 900 miles away and has another year for his MS. We knew when I moved that we would have two years long distance, but now with some other life things, there's the possibility that it might be more like 5 years. Anyone out there do it for that long? Any thoughts on making that work? 

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I could not do long distance for 5 years. I did it for one, and after realizing how much another 4 years would suck, I decided it wasn't worth it. Also, there wasn't a clear end-date in sight - which makes things even more difficult.

 

I also think it depends on your partner. I had a needy one. I was made to feel guilty when I concentrated on school. We skyped daily and it started feeling like a chore.

 

He also said he'd never move to the States. While I have no idea where I'll end up working in the future, I am not eliminating job possibilities just because of his stupid Canadian superiority complex.

 

I am much happier dating someone local now.

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I decided to end a long-distance relationship during application season. I know grad school is going to be a ton of work, but I imagine the right kind of relationship would help to re-energize and motivate a grad student. That was not the case with my relationship, as the stresses that seem to go hand-in-hand with grad school were precisely the stresses my SO was already having trouble with. Like demanding more and more of my time (like, 2-3 hours on the phone as well as 1-2 hours on skype, per day), and then saying it was not enough.

 

I think many relationships can last through grad school, if they have a good foundation. When I really looked at my situation, I saw that we lacked that foundation, and that our time together felt like a burden because it was demanded. I hope my ex will be able to find someone who can give all their time, but that isn't me. My education is precious to me, not to the exclusion of love, but that kind of totally melded love just won't work for me. I hope I will find someone who is equally passionate about and dedicated to something, anything! Because then they will probably understand me and won't need so much of my time and energy to feel all right.

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