Dealing with a break up


So I'd posted on here before about planning to keep going with my girlfriend long distance while I did my PhD. Nine months in and its over. She ended it and I totally understand her reasons. The age old story of a PhD student becoming distant. It also seemed like she was putting her life on hold for me, which really wasn't fair.

I'm absolutely gutted but just about coping, I've got a good group of friends around me. My ex and me are still friends and still talking. We'e even spoken about getting back together in the future if the circumstances are right.

I'm just worried that I'm going to start to resent my research and the city I've moved to. It's the only reason I've lost her and I already feel myself being less motivated than I ever have been. I've lost all sense of self and security and just feel no affinity for my work at the moment. For the first time ever I actually wondered about what the process for withdrawing would be.

How am I supposed to manage this? Has anyone been through something similar?


I suppose it's about priorities. What do you value most, her (a relationsip) or the PhD? People might say relationships come and go and not to put them before career but personally I think what's the point in anything without a fulfilling personal life, but then again I'm probably a hopeless romantic. Is there any way you can salvage the relationship? Would uni allow you to work 'away'. I believe lots of people don't live near their uni and travel in when required. You don't say what your PhD is so I don't know if you need lab access etc.


Absolutely no chance I could live away from university. My PhD is in molecular biology, I need to be in the lab.

I have spoken about this to her, about me quitting and starting again at a university near her (which is nowhere near as good as the place I'm at now but I'd probably do it) and she says she's made her decision and there's no point. The only chance we have is when I'm finished.

I value her more than I value qualifications but I have some people saying "don't be stupid, you're only 22, you can't jack this in for a girl." and others saying "don't let her slip away."

Avatar for BethWorthy

One of my friends had the same situation. He and his gf were country apart from each other. He told me about all the misunderstandings and problems he is currently facing because he can't meet her gf. He decided to complete his graduation and move with her gf. But one thing I know about that guy, he was very passionate for PhD. He used to tell me how badly he want to do it. But just to work out his relationship, he threw his ambition away. For his current status, they broke up because girl didn't like the decision he made.
True story. But what I want to say is if you start something then finish it off. If you think that the person you love is truly your life partner, then explain it to her what you really want with your life and try to work it out. If he/she doesn't want to understand it, then I am sorry to say that person does not deserve to be your life partner because relationship is all about sacrifices and trust.
I don't know if I reached you or not. Anyway, best of luck for your future. And don't get distracted just because a girl left you. "There are plenty of fish in the sea" :D


Ah right, yes you can't do both and if she says no way until PhD is finished, well she's made that decision for you. I would take this as a perm break, don't let thoughts of maybe you will get back together cloud your PhD as who knows what will happen to both of you in that time. If you get back together after, great if not, you're still young. I know I wouldn't have bet on me sticking around at 22, too flighty by half. However, my now husband and I met just before I actually moved away, 3 years later we bumped into each other again and are now on our 10th wedding anniversary so in the end, if it's meant to be it's meant to be. Get your head down, get busy with your PhD and let life take you where it will, it will all work out in the end, particularly as you sound like you have good friends. Good luck.


I'm sorry to hear that you've broken up with your girlfriend, but like Beth said she is probably not the one for you anyway. I don't want to sound harsh, but if she really wanted to be with you then she would have put up with being long distance for a while; for her to break up with you in the way that she did, with a clear decision, suggests that she intended to do that regardless and needed a 'bigger' reason for doing so. Please don't withdraw from or resent your work - this is a difficult period for sure but you'll get through it and meet someone else in your new city. Think of this as a fresh start and don't think you can't do a PhD and have a social life/girlfriend at the same time. Yes it's very engaging and important but it shouldn't stop you having time for anything else.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

Charmless lad,

I refer back to my PM to you on the other forum.

Beth has given you some good advice there, but give yourself a little space to get sorted in your own mind before looking for someone else. Being single for a while ain't so bad.

If she'd been willing to give it a go if you have moved, then perhaps it would have been worth a go. If she's wanting to move on with her own life at the moment (and it does sound like that - she wants make a move herself from where she is back to her home city as you said to me) then she needs the space to do this. If she wants to get back with you once she's done this, then so be it. You've finished on good terms and if you at least stay in friendly contact, you never know. Withdrawing would achieve nothing except leave you without either a job or the PhD.

As said in the PM, the institute you're at is world renouned (I happen to know Charmless a little on another foum) and you're well set up for the PhD, with what I know is a good funding package. What you feel now will pass. Give it a little bit then get yourself out for a few drinks when things are not so raw.

You might want to have a quick chat with University counselling (anonymous, confidential) if you're really feeling low.

There's always Sunderland AFC to take your mind off things!!! :-)

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)


Hey Charmless

Hi this is Dr. Sayan Banerjee just joined this forum today.What struck me unique was the same case of plight and suffering for doctoral students through out the world developed undeveloped alike.I am from India a somewhat undeveloped country as compared to yours ,when we were research students we used to think that in western countries like West European nations,USA, Canada or Australia- a research student's life should be very smooth full of milk and honey,but later when i went for some international conferences I got to know may be life is tough- there also . I remember in 2007 on coming back from my supervisors office one i felt chastised so much so that I messaged a girl in orkut (pre facebook days).Now this girl who was already a PhD from Princeton must have felt sorry for me after getting my message and we started becoming very close.But as I was not having a job her parents thought that I was worthless.We parted our ways but Phd continued .Later on I completed my Phd . Anyway the crux of the matter is never lose hope.As Indians we are believers in Destiny ,and we believe firmly that God has some definite plans for each one of us provided we are working hard to the fullest of your potential. As for that girl we got married this January.

Do your best leave the rest in the hands of god.