Fish or Cut Bait? Go or No? Can 2 PhD's build a life together?

posted
05-Mar-19, 01:47
Avatar for yogi2019
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi - New to this place, not to PhD's. Accepted to school in SE that partners with my former employer. Could graduate in 4 years as I don't need to John-Forbes-Nash my dissertation (good chance old employer would hire me back). Full funding for 5. I'm older for an Econ PhD (32) but damn the grass is greener and I hated what I was doing without! Boyfriend (37) has the same PhD and works for my old company on the WestCoast. He had a rough PhD experience & often goes to a dark place reflecting back. Meanwhile, I've been pining for a PhD for 8 years so VERY solid expectations for how to get out quick and get-the-hell-on with my life. He won't give me advise because he's afraid of influencing me, but he works for my former company, so I give him advice all the time. He might be able to relocate or work remote from SE, as we know another who has while their wife finished her PhD, but it's straining the relationship b/c he's really happy in the current role and doesn't want to move. Year 1 is so bad, I won't see him even if we live together, so we could reevaluate in year2 if I don't fail out. I could live partially WestCoast writing the dissertation in year 3/4. I think he's the love of my life. He knows he's a mess without me. He gets me...and the PhD (on days he doesn't have PTSD). I'm not 20-something anymore, but I'm still a catch. Been together 2 years. I'm not giving up on my dream, but we want kids(I'm more agnostic about how-adopting/foster/IVF if needed). I have callbacks for a 1-year-research job WestCoast and could reapply to those schools after, but I'd be older. Do we keep this crazy train going? Do I acceptthePhDthisyear?
posted
05-Mar-19, 12:27
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
"I'm not 20-something anymore, but I'm still a catch."

I don't have any advice to offer I'm afraid but this sentence of yours made me laugh so hard that I had to spend 5 minutes wiping tea from my screen and keyboard :-D
You have GOT to be winding us up saying stuff like this right?
posted
05-Mar-19, 21:27
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
I don't understand the question!
posted
05-Mar-19, 23:34
Avatar for LilyRachel
posted about 2 weeks ago
If you want to stay with him, and you want to get the PhD, you can make it work! :) these things can be tough but they’re only temporary. Have you had a chat with him and asked him what he wants or how he feels about it?
posted
06-Mar-19, 02:33
Avatar for yogi2019
posted about 2 weeks ago
Welp, re-reading my post, I certainly sound like a love-sick crazy person.

@pm133: poorly phrased perhaps. I guess I meant, I'm not as naive as I was when I was in my 20s i.e. I've dated enough idiots to know a great thing when I have it, but if it's not the strong match I need it to be, I know it's not the "last Ferry", so to speak, either.

@Tudor_Queen: There are MANY questions but the biggest is, do I break things off? Context: I live in the middle of the US, he lives on the West Coast, and the program is in the SouthEast.

1) Do I break things off because he's not up for relocating while I get the PhD?

2) Alternatively, do I try to get a pre-doctoral research gig for a year on the WestCoast, live w him, and reapply to West Coast schools again next year? It would be great to live with my partner again someday soon, but fully funded PhD programs don't come along every day and it would suck to reapply and not get in anyway on the next go.

3) If we try to do distance, am I just chewing my arm off instead of making a clean break now? In other words, do other people successfully do distance during their PhD's? Or is this totally a pie in the sky idea?
posted
06-Mar-19, 03:00
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for yogi2019
posted about 2 weeks ago
@LilyRachel: Thanks! It's nice to hear some optimism! We've had many chats and he wants me to move in with him, but he won't outright say that (apparently, he can tell his co-workers, he's hoping his girlfriend will move there, but not me). He vocalizes that he wants me to get a PhD because he knows how much it means to me. He doesn't want me to give up my dream for him and be bitter later on, but he doesn't want to break up either.

I think he's trying to be as supportive as he can manage, but it still just suuuuuucks to keep doing distance for that long. He's not trying to ditch the job he worked so hard to get, with all the years he spent in a PhD program, and he's really happy that he's getting to use his degree as many others don't. But we have a LOT more flexibility than other PhD's because of the company and the multiple locations / telecommuting, so it seems reasonable we'd work it out. I also think that every job is just a job after enough years doing it, so was hoping he'll change his mind after the "magic" wears off, as he's doesn't have much work experience.

Am I a fool for being hopeful? Does any body actually do distance this long?

4 years feels like a long time to pause a relationship, but a drop in the bucket, when considering the career trajectory you get for the rest of your life.
posted
06-Mar-19, 11:04
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
You say that you have been dating this guy for two years but you are not talking to each other about living together. Is there a reason why you are both waiting? Surely you both know by now whether you are right for each other?

I am particularly curious over why he is talking to his friends about relationship stuff but hasn't spoken to you about those things. Are you absolutely sure this relationship has a future worth risking your career dreams over? You want to be exceptionally sure of that.

You story is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.
posted
06-Mar-19, 18:47
Avatar for yogi2019
posted about 2 weeks ago
Ya like most relationships it's complicated. To answer your question @pm133, "Am I absolutely sure the relationship has a future worth risking my dream over?", that's exactly what I'm trying to work out. Right now, 60% of me says yes, and 40% says no.

The city he lives in is incredibly expensive so despite having a high income, he's living with family to save $ for a house. We had talked about moving in together for some time. Since I never moved, he's still with family & saving for now.

I interviewed at a LOT of jobs in his city last fall, but I thought cost of living would limit jobs I could consider. I started interviewing at high paying jobs but they all required insane hours (recruiters said they were "work-life-balance" companies). I knew I'd never prepare PhD applications with that, so I suspended interviews at those companies.

I asked him in January if we could broker a deal: I would retract my PhD applications and just apply to schools in his area next year, if he would pull the plug and move into an apartment with me. We had a very long conversation and agreed we'd have a think on it. but then I began interviewing for PhD's.

He thought I might move there, because I applied to low-paying/low-hours research positions to give us some options. He mentioned an apartment he was going to visit. Maybe he got excited prematurely and confided in his friends/coworkers? I'll have to ask him.

(to be continued)...
posted
06-Mar-19, 19:57
edited about 2 seconds later
Avatar for yogi2019
posted about 2 weeks ago
(continued)...

He was excited for me about PhD interviews. He asked coworkers for advice on my research interests (if I was interested in X with Prof X at X school, I should talk to his coworkers/friends because that's what they research). In relaying the story, that's how he mentioned that he confided in them that he thought I was moving west.

He paid for my GRE course, sends me links to research, etc. He obviously cares a lot about me and my success. We talk research for hours. Laugh a lot. Have a romantic relationship. Share values, lifestyles, & goals. --> 60%

I'm conflicted because he's helping me, but he's not being selfish enough to tell me to join him. --> 40%

He has cried to me before, explaining he thinks he's self-sacrificing, pushing me towards my dreams, even if it means away from him (which I must admit made me angry). Don't know if that's means he's lukewarm or waiting to understand where I end up.

Also, I don't have a PhD yet, but I think I can imagine how jeopardizing the job you worked so hard for, would put him in a similar spot. Maybe he vexing over the same question "Am I absolutely sure the relationship has a future worth risking my dream over?"

Seems like self-sacrificing love is a good quality in a life partner, but not sure if this is window-dressing for preserving his own career interests.

Someone on this forum said getting a PhD is selfish. Can two selfish PhD have a relationship? A marriage?

Seems like we're both asking ourselves, "do you want to marry this person," and we're just not there yet.

I'm putting the 'cart before the horse', but I have to decide on the PhD offer, so decisions are necessary.

He won't tell me what he wants me to do (trying not to influence me) which is maddening!
posted
07-Mar-19, 04:07
edited about 20 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 week ago
Your subsequent posts are ringing further alarm bells for me.
One leaps out immediately which is his apparent unwillingness or inability to express his clear thoughts to you about the choice you are facing. You call it maddening. I would say it was more than that. He has a responsiblitity to be honest and open with you. As part of a couple, he doesn't get to stay quiet on such a major relationship-affecting issue and leave you to make the decision on your own. That leaves you at risk of being accused of causing any problems which then arise.

Unless you can find a compromise arrangement you might have to decide what matters more to you - career or a relationship with this man. You have been with him for two years so you should know as much about him as you're ever likely to know. Your gut instinct should already be pulling you in one direction over the other.
There is a crude test you can do. Toss a coin and allocate career to one side and him to the other. When it lands, look at the side showing, shut your eyes and think about how you feel about your "decision". If you feel you want to change the result of the coin toss or go for "best of three" you'll know the other side is what you really want.

Postgraduate
Forum

Copyright ©2018
All rights reserved

Postgraduate Forum

Masters Degrees

PhD Opportunities

PostgraduateForum is a trading name of FindAUniversity Ltd
FindAUniversity Ltd, 77 Sidney St, Sheffield, S1 4RG, UK. Tel +44 (0) 114 268 4940 Fax: +44 (0) 114 268 5766