Relationships and Grad School: Part 3 – The response

Or, wherein your wise author notices a sad trend.

In Part 1, I described some of the background stuff about grad students and relationships. In Part 2, I talked about my situation at the start of my master’s program. Now, some stuff about general stuff I noticed, and how I feel about it all.

With my ex and I, our relationship’s end was a classic case of two people realizing their lives didn’t really work together.

But it was still a bit sad when I asked him to come with me, and he said no. That’s all it really was, until I got to orientation for my master’s program, and started talking to my program buddies, and a strange trend popped up. Out of 10 (or was it 11? I always forget) people in my program, seven of us were in relationships when it started. One man was married, so he doesn’t count, I suppose…but then again, his wife was the only actual “grad student’s wife” of all of our partners. Four women were in het relationships, and only one of those women lived with her partner. He was also based in the area, so it wasn’t as though he moved to a new town with her. The other three women (myself included) had partners in other towns who refused to relocate. The final two members of my cohort with partners were men who lived in family housing with their girlfriends.

I remember a conversation early on where I realized that none of the women’s partners came with us, but all of the men had their partners with them. It was a sad conversation, tinged with jealousy. Why weren’t we given that kind of support and care? What did it say about all of us, that our partners put themselves above us in every case?

That moment was a wake-up call. I’ve always prioritized my career over my relationships, whether romantic or platonic. This means it’s tough, and it also means that I’ve failed to support my friends through their dark times because I was busy with my own. It means I’ve walked away from the possibility of relationships because I can’t justify taking the effort away from school.

I don’t regret this focus, I guess. Not yet, at least. I just wish it were more acceptable, or at least not seen as a challenge to gender roles. I don’t want to be expected to drop everything and move to where my partner is, but I do expect that my partner will at least consider it. Maybe I’m a hypocrite, or maybe I’m just lucky that my current partner was happy to move to Texas to be with me as I go through my new graduate program. (Yes, I’m lucky. I know that. It’s also a challenge because I’m supporting him in addition to myself, on a grad student stipend.)

Part 1 – The background

Part 2 – The personal shit

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