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Dating my best LOR...

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Sooo, I am currently dating my advisor/mentor who chaired my thesis and whose lab I worked in, and I don't think it's a good idea to ask him to submit a LOR for me to a PhD program (different school). The program I'm most interested is more advisor-based on acceptance (rather than departmental decision). I'm fairly close to my POI but am not sure how to bring this up. Should I just not mention it all together? Mention it in a e-mail or SOP? The purpose of me mentioning it is to say I've chosen not to ask him for a LOR due to our dual relationship; however, please feel free to contact him if you would like more information about my work/time in the lab that I did not address here. 



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I'm actually not sure whether you need to tell your POI the reason why you don't have a LOR from your advisor. I'm also not sure if you should ask your advisor for a LOR or not either! Personally, my gut would be to not ask the advisor for the LOR and only tell the POI the reason for not having a LOR. The things I'm sure about are:


1. If this is the only school you are applying to, then you should probably only tell your POI the reason you don't have a LOR from your advisor. I don't think the rest of the department needs to know, especially if you say that your POI would be the one ultimately making the decision on your admission. I think what you suggest doing in your original post sounds like a good idea. I would not include the reason for not having a LOR from your advisor in your SoP or any of the application materials. I have this opinion because if your POI is the only important decision maker, then why divulge extra personal information to those who don't really need it.


1b. If you are applying to other schools where it's not just your POI making the decision, then maybe you should include one-sentence in the optional "any extra information" section of your application (not your SoP or any other main sections of your application) about the nature of your personal relationship that made you decide to not request a LOR from your advisor.


2. If you do include your advisor's LOR, then you should make sure your advisor discloses the nature of the personal relationship! I would probably only include the advisor's LOR as an "extra LOR" (i.e. some schools require 3 LORs but will accept up to 5 etc.). I still think you don't have to mention your personal relationship in the SOP and you should just let your advisor's LOR disclose the relationship, and maybe also put a one-sentence thing in the optional "extra info" section.


Overall, I think that since this personal relationship should not have any affect on your abilities as a PhD student (only on the potential reliability of your advisor's LOR, if you submit it), the info about your personal relationship doesn't need to go in the main application materials. If you mention it at all, it should be sufficient to keep it to the extra info section, or where it actually matters, in the LOR itself. 

Edited by TakeruK
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Talk to someone at your university career center. They will have had experience with something similar.


I do not believe it is appropriate to request a LOR from your advisor because of the clear conflict of interest--if I were writing a letter of reccomendation for my partner, I doubt I could be objective regardless of best intentions. Such a letter would be viewed as suspect by anyone who knew of the situation, and hiding that but obtaining a LOR from your current advisor would not be a very ethical course of action. Maybe someone else here on the forums will make the case otherwise...


You don't have to disclose your relationship, and it may or may not hurt your standing in your prospective PI's eyes, or in the view of the admissions committee. This decision is where the career center could be a valuable resource.

Edited by Usmivka
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In addition to what others have already mentioned, you should be consulting with your advisor about these questions. The POIs you are applying to work with are his peers and if you disclose your relationship it will also have an effect on him. This is not to say that you should do what he wants necessarily, but that you should involve him in the decision. Whatever you decide, he should be aware of it. He might also have his own opinions about how he might view a letter from someone who was dating their student, which would also be useful to know. My personal inclination would be not to ask for a letter and also not to disclose the relationship in the application, because you can't control how the information will be perceived and it can negatively affect others' perception of you. My experience with similar situations is that the (female) student is always affected more than the (male) professor. I would only divulge such information after getting to know people and having a good idea of how they might react. 

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