Relationships and Grad School: Part 2 – The personal shit

Or, the life of a grad student with +1s.

Where we last left off, I was describing my reaction to a blog post and article that brought up the topic of relationships in grad school, and especially the “grad student’s wife” as a source of cheap labor for the university and for the home. Now I’m going to talk about myself a bit, in vague terms.

I’m about to get a bit personal, so don’t mind me off in my corner here. For background, I’ve just started a doctorate program at a new school (let’s call it University A), after finishing a master’s program at University B, which was itself after my undergrad work at University C. All three of these universities are in different states, but B and C were both on the East Coast and A is in Texas. When I started my master’s program, at University B, I was three and a half years into a relationship that had started while my ex and I were at University C. That relationship ended in November of my first semester. Right now at the start of my doctorate program, I’m almost a year into a relationship that started while I was at University B.

That was probably quite confusing, but suffice it to say that at the start of both graduate programs, I was in a committed romantic relationship. Both of the boyfriends in question were not in grad school and had no immediate plans of changing that. My ex was actually in Japan working right after undergrad, even though I asked him to move in with me (he refused). We decided we’d try a long-distance relationship, because we’d already been doing that every summer. It didn’t work. He’s currently happily attached to someone else who is in Japan with him. He works full time, as a salaryman, and is considering business school for the near future.

When we were still in a relationship, our schedules were pretty much incompatible. Japan is 14 hours ahead of EST, so when I was in class from 10-5 or so, and then working until 3 or 4 am, he would be asleep and then working. We had a small window to talk when he woke up for work but before he went in, so around 5-8 pm EST. This meant that communication was difficult, and when problems appeared, we couldn’t deal with them together (and usually ended up stewing and then exploding at each other on the weekends). It wasn’t just schedules, though; our values and priorities were completely different. He wanted a stable, income-generating life and the ability to support and nurture children. I was expecting to be in grad school for the next 5-10 years, and did not want kids at all (still don’t). Like one of the couples in the Scheinkman piece (more reasons you should read it too!), he didn’t understand my work habits and procrastination. All of these little differences that were there in college just became insurmountable when I was in grad school and he was working. I had my ideal life, he had his, and neither of us wanted to compromise. I hope this doesn’t come across as judgmental, because I still consider us to be friends, and we do support each other occasionally even today, nearly two years later. I haven’t seen him in person for at least that long.

…to be continued…

Part 1 – The background

Part 3 – The response

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