PhD boyfriend with NO job


Quote From azureray:

Having said that, I constantly ask myself - can I really live with someone like that for the rest of my life when I have to fight for what I want in this manner. Shouldn't he try to be more understanding. Now that you have mentioned it, can I ask why did you put your ex-girlfriend through all that? I really need to understand why a man that supposedly loves you would be so condescending at times? I hope this won't put you of, I am only asking because this is an area that I am quite concerned about in the long run. I keep telling myself he would be less overbearing, but at the same time I don't want to be unrealistic.

I don't know you or your husband, but for me and my ex I think there were several things going on. For me, the whole PhD culture was really hyper competitive, hard working and aggressive mentality. There was this attitude about being better than others and being expected to make sacrifices, and this did carry onto my private life. While I was a PhD and Postdoc researcher, I genuinely thought what I was doing was far more important than anyone else, and that others were too stupid to understand. At the same time, I felt resentful of my ex and friends who went down the applied route and had more money, better career progression (you can read about this if you search some of my earlier posts), which also came up in arguments.

We would also get in fights about things like money and lifestyle. I talked about moving around for post doc work and trying to get lecturer posts, and had an expectation that she would just follow me around and put her career as secondary to that. When she talked about things like getting a house and planning a family in the near future and getting money. It didn't sit too well with what I knew I would probably have to do and I would argue with her about why she wasn't being supportive.

It was only after I left I realised that I may have been a bit narrow in my thinking. The scary thing is I probably would be still feeling this way if I hadn't left university. The sheer competition of getting a university job doesn't really allow for compromises, and there is always some story in the Guardian about how women drop out of academic life, and how relationships are affected.

Answerinig your question about your friend, its impossible to suggest anything because I don't know the people involved, what they value and what is important for them. However, its not uncommon for partners of academics or academic couples to live apart in long distance relationships for lengthy periods (its called the two-body dilemma). Could they do that?

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

======= Date Modified 01 Oct 2012 11:14:20 =======
This thread has focussed upon a couple of themes, that of the stress faced by the PhD candidate in the final days before submission and the effect of this stress on friends and relatives who do not fully understand the PhD process.

Reading the posts, there's an underlying theme of the PhD candidate being conditioned or 'programmed' if you like that what they do is more important that whatever those closest as doing, which can only be seen as blatently untrue. It is important to only the PhD candidate and the beneficiaries of the project and no-one else.

Reading back, although I managed to largely avoid the above trap, I have to admit I did not avoid this completely. I can see also I made mistakes in my handling of people closest to me in that I did shut them out and talk too much about my PhD work and little else.

In the immediate aftermath, I can see some of my actions were aimed at undoing the damage of me seeming to be distant and trying to make up for the fact I was ratty and had at times shut myself away. I started agreeing to everything they wanted to do and most of the time putting what I wanted to do second. This was to make up for during the PhD period, even when not doing PhD work, I didn't stop thinking about it and shutting them out, which was was not fair on people around me.

I am back in the real world like BadHairCut and I guess the last few years has been a slow deprogramming experience with a slow return to normality and a normal, pre-PhD way of thinking.

In otherwords, I'm admitting this thread has slightly modified my opinion in that we must avoid making those around us victims of our PhDs. We must continue think of them.

However, I will comment to BadHaircut that we cannot keep blaming ourselves for everything that went wrong. Provided we educate people exactly what we are doing, we can help them be more understanding of our perspcetive also. It's a two way street.

Furthermore, there comes a point we must stop dwelling in the past and stop apologising for everything we did wrong. That in itself prevents us from moving on and putting the PhD years behind us. If we continue to live in the past, we never truely escape the PhD years and the people closest to us can become equally tired of us making up for the PhD time as they were of the PhD time and our neglect of them itself. You cannot continue to try to keep making it up to friends and partners in the present, if you are to start moving on properly with your own life post PhD.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)


Mackem Beef, I am not blaming myself. I am just commenting, as you do on the fairly odd things that can crop up in PhD relationships, and some of the mistakes I have made in the past, and the way that it doesn't all get better once the viva is over. Its more like a way of life for many, and I remember reading about rates of divorced being higher in academics than other college grads.


Wow, this thread has been great to read as it's extremely close to my heart at the moment! Partner just starting writeup year and we've already had several arguments over the issue of "when are you going to get a job and earn some money". I have a good job and good income but it's frustrating he doesn't seem to want to listen about how he is going to survive (although some income avenues are being explored, they are survival amounts, and ad hoc at best). And like the OP, no proper job lined up and seems to think that he can keep putting it off and off. We don't live together but neither am I about to pay his way for him either.

I do feel quite guilty at times given that I've been in the situation before (although as I sadly too often point out, I wrote up whilst I was working but I had nobody else to think about at the time) although clearly slightly a different slant. I'm just sick of the arguing about it, to the point I just feel like saying, let's go our seperate ways and if we're both single in 12 months time then think about things. Maybe I just find it hard to see someone with a different ethic to what I had - get a job, write up at same time, earn and progress, no wasting time. I'm actually getting wound up just writing this!

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

======= Date Modified 02 Oct 2012 22:57:39 =======

Quote From badhaircut:

Mackem Beef, I am not blaming myself. I am just commenting, as you do on the fairly odd things that can crop up in PhD relationships, and some of the mistakes I have made in the past, and the way that it doesn't all get better once the viva is over. Its more like a way of life for many, and I remember reading about rates of divorced being higher in academics than other college grads.

Okay, fair enough. It's just the language you were using came across that way and perhaps my bad habit reading between the lines (sometimes wrongly) kicked in a little.

So, erm, sorry!!! I'm just trying to be helpful.

The bit about in not always finishing with the viva rings very true. I was witness to one girl who continued in hyper mode after her viva into her post-doc period. She did not step back to take stock and the work continued to dominate her life. She did not make great company even only as a workmate.

What was worse was she was assigned as my mentor for my second post-doc and I will say that the difference in attitude between me who'd throttled down back towards normal and her trying to do and control everything I guess played a significant part in the friction between us. That was very uncomfortable year, not helped by a senior Prof who's people handling skills were not the best in the world.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)


Academics marry academics (inc school teachers - though perhaps school teachers do not want to marry academics!). That's it. If you are an ambitious person, you should not date an academic.

PhD is a great accomplishment if you manage to finish it and can hit the job markets with or without your PhD before you turn 30. You should be willing to put considerable effort in your job search. You will probably have to do your job search full-time and have to learn the right attitude to convince an employer that you are the right person. Finally, you will have to start from the bottom - there is no associate-entry (i.e., positions that normally become available to you after 2 years of relevant work experience and the salary increase of about 10 - 20%).

PhD is also a great accomplishment if you do it as a hobby alongside your proper career.

If you are an investment banker who has made a fortune in the City and now want to do a PhD in your late 40s or the early 50s, that's great. That will be a great intellectual holiday for you and maybe you can teach for fun after you complete your PhD.

PhD students and academics tend to be arrogant, boring and close-minded. They think they are doing something special. The reality is that most of us in the public and private sectors study for professional exams as we gain professional work experience. We don't just become Excel-monkeys 9 - 5! These exams aren't easy. In finance, some people have CFA and ACA - both of which they have obtained while working full-time. In consulting, some have CIMA (light-weight accounting qualification) and another qualification in your specialism awarded by your professional body (e.g., CIM). PhDs call these qualifications BS!

If you are an ambitious lawyer, have done the training and everything and are ready to make your mark, you should get rid of this boyfriend. He is a loser, quite frankly, and not a good kind.