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Adelaide9216

Love, Academia and Success

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Hello,

This is a bit of a personal/off-topic thread.

I've often been told that as a woman of color in graduate school, it will be harder for me to find a partner. Because the things that I represent don't fit the image that most people have of black women. And yes, I have to admit that I have been single my entire life. I am about to turn 25 in a month and I haven't been successful in my romantic life in the same way that I  am perceived to be in my professional/academic life. I have never been in a committed relationship with anyone. But I am still young, so I try to remain hopeful but as I see all of my friends getting married, engaged or having children, I would be lying if I said that I am starting to lose hope. Even if I am truly passionate about my career and the projects I am involved in, I don't want my life to be only that.

A friend of mine was telling me the other day that all the work that I do, the activism that I am involved in outside of the classroom and the media attention that I get might make it difficult for a man to approach me because I don't "fit" in. The thing is that I don't want to change the things that I am involved in because they make me happy and keep me grounded and sane. But I get these kinds of reflections from friends and adults since my teenage years. It's starting to hurt to get this feeling that I have to choose between being myself and finding a partner. I just want someone who accepts me as I am and with whom I can have interesting conversations with but it seems to be too much to ask.

Do you think that finding love is harder for people pursuing graduate studies or with graduate diplomas, especially if they are part of a minority group? Do you think the whole idea of a woman being successful makes it harder to her to find a partner?

I am happy in my life and I have never been happier but yes, sometimes, I do feel some kind of void in the sense that I fear to fail my personal life. I am able to manage that fear by trying to focus on the things that I already have in my life, and yes, I do have a lot already and I recognize that with great humility. And I try to cherish that because nothing can be taken for granted. I'm in a good place in my life and it has not always been the case. However, I'm afraid of turning into the kind of unattached woman who just works and has her career for sole purpose in her life. 

 

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So real talk, I was married for a while. Though not the only contributing factor, I knew the marriage was over the second I started talking about going to grad school and his response was that I wasn't allowed to unless it paid us. I'm so happy to be divorced because I'm no longer anchored by someone keeping me from living the life I want to live. AKA I have dreams and aspirations and I'm not willing to give up on those for a partner (and a partner shouldn't ask you to, though there may be some situations where you choose to value the partner over the dream). I'm not gonna lie and say it'll be easy to find the right partner, because it honestly won't, but you should not have to compromise your values in such an extreme way for the chance at romantic fulfillment. I hope you find a partner who will make you happy and who values your passions and goals as much as you do. <3 

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From the stories I've heard, most of the people I know with PhDs met their significant other in grad school and or got married during grad school. Also, I would not worry too much about changing yourself or your activities to find a man. You want a partner in your life, someone who believes, endorses, and will stand by your side throughout your activities and trials. Yes, doing such activities may limit the pool of men that will be interested, but there are plenty of men out there.

I also wouldn't put a date on marriage, or even kids to that extent. You want to get married at 30? That's fine. You want to get married at 40? That's perfectly acceptable too. You want kids at 35? That's fine. I wouldn't put a time-frame mentality on it (oh no, all my friends at my age are married and have kids, what am I doing with my life). You do you. Hell my philosophy is, I don't even want to get married until my late 20s. I want to enjoy my 20s (and by enjoy I mean stress over exams, now applications, and eventually dissertations).

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6 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Do you think that finding love is harder for people pursuing graduate studies or with graduate diplomas, especially if they are part of a minority group? Do you think the whole idea of a woman being successful makes it harder to her to find a partner?

I totally understand where you are coming from. I am about your age, and I am also from a very conserved and outdated culture that "women who are capable turn men away". Right from I decided to pursue a PhD, my aunt (my mum's sister) immediately "reminded" my mum that I would encounter difficulties with finding a partner. My mum's colleague also asked if she would worry about me being single forever. I was quite taken aback by these reactions. I was not surprised that my grandma had thoughts like these, but I could not imagine women who are active in the workforce would think so. You know, in good old dates, women were not supposed to work at all!

I had relationships in the past, but I would rather not have them. I don't mind sharing a bit here, as hardly anyone knows my romance history anyway. I met my first at a very young age. We were frantically in love with each other and talked about getting married. However, we were too young to balance studies with dating, so both of our parents stopped us. Today, we live in different countries. I am pretty sure that even if we meet again, we will not be together anymore. The reason is we just loved for love and we don't really know each other well enough. I met my second during undergrad and it was love at first sight. However, things went terribly wrong when we got serious, i.e. when both of our parents were involved. We simply have very different values (actually opposing in some aspects) and will not work out without significant compromisation, e.g. giving up important life goals. So we broke up in pain. It's another case of immaturity, because we just fell in love before knowing each other well enough. I learnt my lessons and when I met "someone special" again during my PhD years, I told myself to calm down and get to know more about him objectively. He was also a PhD student back then (now a postdoc) which I thought we would make a good match. However, his personality is not quite different from my ex, so I gave up after a few dates. I am about to finish my PhD (hopefully) and I am still single at the moment. 

Speaking from my personal experience, I am glad that I do a PhD, because I get trained on viewing things objectively and with speculation. This ensures that I don't madly fall in love with someone before getting to actually know each other. I don't think our risk of being single forever is higher with graduate studies, because so many people who remained single for lives did not have graduate degrees! I simply don't buy the idea that you have to be less successful to get a partner, as someone who truly loves you will accept you as it is. Actually, it is not uncommon for grad students to meet their partners in grad school, so just stay positive and be yourself. Everyone's life is different, so it is meaningless to compare. In other words, enjoy your life! 

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I don't have any helpful stories about my own romantic life, but I can say this: As I have gotten older, the men I meet/encounter are less and less of the type that would feel insecure being with a woman who is educated and successful. However, as I have gotten older, I meet more and more people in academia so the correlation may be with being a researcher rather than with age (but probably both). Whatever the case may be, I would say that it may not be a good idea to "extrapolate" past experiences with the future, since if/when you are looking for a partner, you will likely be meeting people older and more experienced and these people might be more interested in who you are as a person instead of who they want you to be.

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 Thank you all for your replies. It means a lot to me.

I just wish I knew what it feels like to be in love with someone that genuinely loves me back. I feel like I have a lot to give, and I do believe that I am worthy of love, but it seems like nobody is seeing my potential as a partner. 

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I think you will meet more people like you intellectually in grad school than outside of it.  Keep being yourself (and approach men for dates if you meet someone interesting).  Don't wait to for them to decide if you fit and for them to ask you.

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7 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

 Thank you all for your replies. It means a lot to me.

I just wish I knew what it feels like to be in love with someone that genuinely loves me back. I feel like I have a lot to give, and I do believe that I am worthy of love, but it seems like nobody is seeing my potential as a partner. 

You are right that you are worthy of love. Be confident of yourself. Just because it is not happening right now does not mean it will never happen. 

Have faith that you will get to know the feeling of love at some points in your life :)

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Thank you all.

Once, someone asked me if I am a lesbian because they never heard about me having a boyfriend in years. (stupid question, yeah I know). Another time, someone asked me "Well, it seems like you don't want a boyfriend". Which is entirely false. I want to be with someone, but with someone with whom I'll be happy and have interesting conversations with, not just the first one that will come my way.

I'm lucky to be really passionate about school and my work otherwise I'd just be depressed. I just find it so hard to find someone interesting. Every time I do, they're already involved in a relationship with someone else. And every time, they tell me "I would be interested in you if I was single."

I'm just not lucky with these things. Makes me so sad sometimes. 

:(

Edited by Adelaide9216

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1 hour ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Thank you all.

Once, someone asked me if I am a lesbian because they never heard about me having a boyfriend in years. (stupid question, yeah I know). Another time, someone asked me "Well, it seems like you don't want a boyfriend". Which is entirely false. I want to be with someone, but with someone with whom I'll be happy and have interesting conversations with, not just the first one that will come my way.

I'm lucky to be really passionate about school and my work otherwise I'd just be depressed. I just find it so hard to find someone interesting. Every time I do, they're already involved in a relationship with someone else. And every time, they tell me "I would be interested in you if I was single."

I'm just not lucky with these things. Makes me so sad sometimes. 

:(

It is really rude (not just stupid) of that person to assume that you are a lesbian because you have not had a boyfriend.

I know I have posted that in other threads - there is a particularly nosy lady in my department who is into others' personal lives. Once I had lunch with her in the common dining room. She started by asking if I was in a relationship. I told her no and was expecting that she would talk about something else. However, her next questions were, "How many relationships have you ever had? At your age, it is normal to have had 2 or 3 relationships. Is that the case for you? Why did you break up with your ex?" Why on earth do I need to share these with her?! That's none of her business! She has a sister of my age and there's how she bonds with her sister. Come on, I am NOT her sister!!! Of course, I did not answer her anything and found an excuse to leave, "Sorry it's time for the next step of my experiment. See you later." She is also into gossiping and I don't wish my romance history to be the headline of the office. From then on, I don't have lunch with her and only talk to her for academic purposes. 

Unfortunately, these people do exist and you somehow need to find ways to deal with them. 

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On 11/9/2017 at 1:28 PM, Adelaide9216 said:

 Thank you all for your replies. It means a lot to me.

I just wish I knew what it feels like to be in love with someone that genuinely loves me back. I feel like I have a lot to give, and I do believe that I am worthy of love, but it seems like nobody is seeing my potential as a partner. 

I never fell in love until I met my husband, and I was nearing 30 at the time. I spent my 20s traveling, and while I had one or two relationships, mostly it didn't fit my nomadic, expat lifestyle. By the time I was 28, I was living in an East Asian country, and I got weekly questions about why I wasn't married yet. A cab driver even asked me if I hated men. LOL. So, yeah.

Then I decided to come back to the States and go to graduate school, to which my father's only reply was, "... Well, alright. But just be careful. Men don't like a woman who's too smart." (Other Dad-Classics: When he saw me in high heels, "You know, men don't like a woman who's too tall." And staring confused when he saw me lifting weights, ".... ..... .... ..... .....")

I know it's been even harder for my girlfriends in grad school who are black. It's just shitty. But honestly from where I'm standing, you're only 25. You're doing fine. You're doing important work. There are women in solidarity with you, and you are far from being done meeting men. So hold out some hope on that front, but keep doing what you love to do. ;)

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@rheya19lol and understanding on the parental front. My parents haven't done comments quite like yours, but they did speculate that I'm asexual because I wasn't dating in high school and have told me that, until I told them I was engaged to a man, they assumed I'd one day come home on a harley with my girlfriend on the back. 

Actually, come to think of it, I have never told them which gender(s) I'm attracted to, so they're probably still taking bets on "how I'll turn out."

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I have found having a relationship very tough next to grad school. I have finished my master's now and it has taken its toll on things between me and my bf. I have been fortunate that he's super supportive of my ambitions and has no problem with them. He is himself a bit less ambitious. He's even looking forward to move abroad with me for my PhD as he's always wanted to live in North America again. That said - the balancing act of things I wanted to do for my career vs. him has not always bene in his favor. But I'm determined to do it better this time. I'm less hung up on sticking it out in academics tbh and becoming a succesful academics. Almost losing him.. there's more to life than careers and education really. 

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9 hours ago, Psygeek said:

I have found having a relationship very tough next to grad school. I have finished my master's now and it has taken its toll on things between me and my bf. I have been fortunate that he's super supportive of my ambitions and has no problem with them. He is himself a bit less ambitious. He's even looking forward to move abroad with me for my PhD as he's always wanted to live in North America again. That said - the balancing act of things I wanted to do for my career vs. him has not always bene in his favor. But I'm determined to do it better this time. I'm less hung up on sticking it out in academics tbh and becoming a succesful academics. Almost losing him.. there's more to life than careers and education really. 

Interesting, I have the exact opposite viewpoint (although it could be an age thing). I've been in a relationship now for over 2+ years, and as I apply to various PhD programs across the country (none are even remotely close to where I live), the question has crossed my mind of what will happen to my relationship. For me, career and education come before any relationship. If I need to break up with her to continue my education and career, so be it. However, again age could be a big factor. I'm 23 atm, and am not looking for marriage until at least 26 or 27, and definitely no kids until 30s. Now someone who's already 30ish in this situation, they may consider the relationship aspect a lot more important than I do. 

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A lot of this can come down to your own goals and priorities. However, I would stress that you should not give up your academic and career goals for a relationship that doesn't exist yet. If you eventually are in a relationship that you prioritize over your education or career, that's nobodies business but your own. Do what's best for you. Just don't give up what you want for what might be, if that makes sense.

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I'm 25 now so not much older than you really. We don't plan on marriage really (except for visa reasons) nor desire to have kids (we live a bit of a nomadic life and really enjoy that - we love travelling and different cultures. I mean - I want to be a cultural psychologist for a reason. I find exploring the world - whether it is in terms of human psycology or travelling the most satisfying thing there is). But if you would have asked me 2 years ago - before I started grad school - I would say I would sacrifice everything. But there is so much about academics I don't like that I have discovered and there are so many parts of myself that have not received the attention they should have because I was always working/studying/competingwithothers. I miss some of my more time consuming hobbies - especially hobbies and interests I share with my boyfriend. There are so many things I want to learn outside of academics that I don't have time for. So it's not that I would sacrifice my career for my relationship. I wouldn't do that. But I would do it for myself. There's a lot more in life than work - and I love academics - but I love myself more. Work/career is only one part of my life and certainly not the most important. 

This opinion has also been shaped by working in industry/business as a researcher recently in consultancy. And although I find it less satisfying than really pursuing my own line of work in academics, there are a lot of pros there in terms of work-life balance, no concerns about grants, no pressure to publish, etc. I wouldn't be against it considering there's a lot of gains in terms of my personal life. Seeing my research (I did some research on mental health & corporate world) translated in interventions and a growing network of companies that use this line of work to tackle this problem - it is also super rewarding to see that I made the world a bit better in this way. That said - I'm still pursuing a PhD because I also think it will help me find these type of jobs (especially if I improve my stats). I'm currently pursuing a line of research with my supervisor about group dynamics & pay in corporate world so I've always had been interested in applied research as well. So Yes - I want a career but it doesn't have to be in academics and after all - I just want to do research on topics I like. 

Sure I still want to stay in academics. However, I am not willing to make the same sacrifices I had to make the last two years to succeed and compete. I nearly had a burnout, I was not able to do some of the things I love, it affected my health (luckily my boyfriend is super supportive and always cooked, cleaned - but it was no fun for him to see me so stressed and tired), and it affected my overall happiness. I have had talks about this with my amazing supervisor and he also acknowledges a career in academics - at least until tenure (and in Social Psych) does require certain sacrifices in terms of time spent on work vs. self vs. others. And I don't want to do this again. I hope I will just be able to work on a very fruitful line of work during my PhD and go to a good school - but I'm not gonna force it. If it's not gonna happen, its not gonna happen and that's totally OK with me.  

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I felt the same way that you do earlier in my life. I was also told by many people that men don't want to be with someone who is driven, accomplished, ambitious, etc.

It was so relieving to learn that isn't always the case. I have a wonderful partner that I've been with for almost 4 years, who supports my academic and career goals, genuinely isn't bothered if I make more money than him, doesn't find any of this threatening/emasculating/concerning, etc. Unsurprisingly, he is a thoughtful and considerate person, who supports social movements including feminism, and is open to changing his mind when presented with facts. I met my partner in my research lab, which might not be where you meet someone, but the university environment, especially at the graduate level, has fewer people who are threatened by achievement, who are bigoted and inappropriate, and other things you want to avoid (at least in my experience).

This article below is really relevant. Although the message can seem really depressing (stay single if you dont find someone that supports your career), I think you already have this part figured out:

https://hbr.org/2017/10/if-you-cant-find-a-spouse-who-supports-your-career-stay-single

 

As for layering on your minority membership on top of being a high-achieving woman, it is absolutely a challenge. Although I recognize that Canada is no better than the US in a lot of ways, it does not have the same issues of race relations that the US does. And if you're in specific cities in Canada, such as those with more than 50% foreign-born residents which places it at the top of list of diverse cities in the world *coughTorontocough*, you luck will be much better than the majority-white, racist college town I live in right now (for example).

So being part of a minority group can make all of these issues even harder, you can still make it easier by choosing specific places to live and people to surround yourself with.

I'm taking an online course and reading some books by Richard Florida, who studies cities and economic growth at U of Toronto. He finds that cities that prosper have all the tech and the people, blah blah blah, but they are also tolerant places. Tolerance for some people may be nice to have, but for other people it's the difference between having a relationship and not having one, or getting a job and not having one. So it's in your best interest to try to move towards those types of places, where you are more likely to be accepted for who you are than somewhere that is not tolerant (unfortunately).

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I just told a man with whom I've been friends for the last four years that I have feelings for him. I haven't gotten his answer back, but I'm sure it won't be the one I am hoping for. I'm so ridiculous, I don't even know why I put myself through this, everytime it's the same negative result no matter who I declare myself to. I'm sure this is going to ruin our friendship, on top of it.

I'm an idiot. I hate this

 

:(

Edited by Adelaide9216

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2 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

It,s not reciprocal. Just like I had assumed. I hate this. I hate being in love, everytime it just destroys my whole spirit

That's how love works I'm afraid. But personally, I'd say it's worth it. Yes, it will break you, crush you, and make you wish you never even had feelings. But as someone who's been to the top, and at the very bottom, I'd say that feeling at the top, is worth every ounce of pain and depression at the bottom. 

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3 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

It's not worth it if you're never experiencing the positive aspects of it.

And yet, you can't experience the positive aspects of it without risking the negative. I wish it were easier. ;)

Edited by rheya19

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On 11/8/2017 at 11:07 PM, Adelaide9216 said:

Hello,

This is a bit of a personal/off-topic thread.

I've often been told that as a woman of color in graduate school, it will be harder for me to find a partner. Because the things that I represent don't fit the image that most people have of black women. And yes, I have to admit that I have been single my entire life. I am about to turn 25 in a month and I haven't been successful in my romantic life in the same way that I  am perceived to be in my professional/academic life. I have never been in a committed relationship with anyone. But I am still young, so I try to remain hopeful but as I see all of my friends getting married, engaged or having children, I would be lying if I said that I am starting to lose hope. Even if I am truly passionate about my career and the projects I am involved in, I don't want my life to be only that.

A friend of mine was telling me the other day that all the work that I do, the activism that I am involved in outside of the classroom and the media attention that I get might make it difficult for a man to approach me because I don't "fit" in. The thing is that I don't want to change the things that I am involved in because they make me happy and keep me grounded and sane. But I get these kinds of reflections from friends and adults since my teenage years. It's starting to hurt to get this feeling that I have to choose between being myself and finding a partner. I just want someone who accepts me as I am and with whom I can have interesting conversations with but it seems to be too much to ask.

Do you think that finding love is harder for people pursuing graduate studies or with graduate diplomas, especially if they are part of a minority group? Do you think the whole idea of a woman being successful makes it harder to her to find a partner?

I am happy in my life and I have never been happier but yes, sometimes, I do feel some kind of void in the sense that I fear to fail my personal life. I am able to manage that fear by trying to focus on the things that I already have in my life, and yes, I do have a lot already and I recognize that with great humility. And I try to cherish that because nothing can be taken for granted. I'm in a good place in my life and it has not always been the case. However, I'm afraid of turning into the kind of unattached woman who just works and has her career for sole purpose in her life. 

 

Does your grad school not have any groups for students of color? Or department mixers? Are you friends with more advanced students?

Speaking as a black woman, I will say that dating life in grad school can be a bit awkward. But here are my solutions:

First and foremost, you gotta be open to "dating out," if you aren't already. Not only do black folks make a small percentage of grad student population, but there are often more black women than black men at this level. 

Secondly, you have to go out--out with your cohort, out with other female grad students, out to conferences, out to events, etc. Only socializing during seminars is a recipe for perpetual lonliness.

Lastly, you should just play the field and be brave. This isn't high school, where you have a crush and he has a crush and then you're boyfriend/girlfriend. You're allowed to date multiple men at the same time. Don't get a crush and pin your hopes on him. 

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I am definitely open to dating out. I've noticed, over the years, that when men of other backgrounds come toward me, it is to have an "exotic experience" and not to have me as a real partner in a real relationship. I've had men that I had disclosed the feelings I had for them responding back to me saying things like "you're really beautiful and I would like to see how it feels like to fuck a black girl" basically.

Or, I've been rejected by white men who had romantic feelings towards me but were afraid of what other people would think of us. One of them is someone I loved for four years. He's now married and has a kid with a white girl.

That's why I feel kinda depressed over this because it has happened to me through my entire life. I feel like there's no escape one way or the other.

I also tried dating websites. For the last four years. I can't count the number of dates I had, and I've encountered these situations a lot or I just wouldn't feel like it could work so I gave up entirely on trying that. 

I also tried in the last six-seven months to not attempt anything at all to find a partner, in the hopes that someone would come towards me. Nobody came towards me. I feel like people are literally afraid of me. But I am a very nice person and I am well appreciated in my community. But for romantic stuff, I NEVER have boys asking me out, it's always me doing the first steps.

I just don't know what to do anymore. I try to focus on school and work otherwise, I'll just keep thinking about how terrified I am of never having children and have a family. (and having a family is not even something I mention when I date because I don't want to put pressure). I just feel like I am doomed in this aspect. 

I truly find this very difficult to accept and to deal with. Makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. People tell me that it isn't the case though. But I don't know what to do. I just wish I knew how it felt like to love someone who loves me back.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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