Author Topic: Dating a PhD  (Read 12834 times)

Offline i_am_spacey

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Dating a PhD
« on: December 01, 2012, 04:07:43 PM »
How has dating/jobs/research opportunities worked out for the rest of you seekers of higher learning?
« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 05:07:14 PM by i_am_spacey »

Offline ryan_haupt

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2012, 06:32:58 PM »
Studies have shown that women with PhDs do actually tend to date/marry within Academia at a much higher rate than men with PhDs. I suppose women don't want to date someone less educated than them, but for men there's less social stigma attached to it.

My girlfriend did her Masters online so she was able to move with me when I started grad school. Then when I moved for a PhD I tried to make a move that would give her a chance to get a good job too. I know a lot of purely academic couples struggle with these issues, but I think Universities are recognizing the need to make sure spouses have employment opportunities especially if that spouse is also an academic.

Ultimately, I don't really know. I feel like I've been super lucky to have a girlfriend who moves and is a good sport about everything. Would love to hear what other people have to say on the topic.
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Offline jfpohl

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2012, 10:42:55 PM »
In medical school, most female students (but not all) end up marrying male classmates.  That happened to me (I'm a pediatric gastroenterologist; my wife is a family physician). It was hard when we were dating.  As you may know, medical students interview around the country for residency positions in a process known as "The Match".   Couples can go into the match together, but it is quite stressful and can profoundly limit one's choices. Personally, I've never regretted marrying another MD.  Besides being in love with my wife (sorry--mushy), it is great to relate to someone who understands the stresses, highs, and lows of higher education.  I have met several PhD couples (science and liberal arts) through the years, and they were mostly happy. A word of caution...in careers involving PhDs or MDs, one partner always has to make sacrifices (location, exact job fit, what to do with kids...yikes!!!).  My wife and I have tried very hard to even out the sacrifices which is very difficult in academic medicine, but it HAS to happen to allow a relationship to thrive.  Good luck!  Dating/marrying another person in higher education has a lot of risks but great potential rewards.  I'm all for it if the person is understanding (having been happily married for 17 years).
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Offline Lynx Cat

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 04:25:41 AM »
In medical school, most female students (but not all) end up marrying male classmates.

My family has an enormous amount of MDs (including my parents), and nearly all of them married classmates. The only exception was my non-doctor aunt who married a doctor, on my grandfather's insistence. I briefly attended medical school, but dropped out before I could see any real couples forming...
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Offline jfpohl

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 12:18:23 PM »
I need to correct one aspect of my post---
My data was based on information that I was familiar with in the mid-1990s.  These days, most medical school students are women, so it might be impossible for most women to be marrying classmates.  I would imagine, however, that a sizeable percentage of them still marry their male counterparts.  The pediatric resident that I was working with this morning, as an example, is married to another resident.

My parents are now retired English and History professors.  They met in graduate school and went through alot of these stressors we have been discussing, especially involving tenure.

Hope it works out for you guys, i_am_spacey !
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Offline ibbica

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2012, 03:14:39 PM »
Studies have shown that women with PhDs do actually tend to date/marry within Academia at a much higher rate than men with PhDs. I suppose women don't want to date someone less educated than them, but for men there's less social stigma attached to it.

I'm going to put on my pedant hat for a moment, because I really feel like something should be clarified here: "Women" certainly do not have a problem with dating (or marrying) "someone less educated than them".  Apologies if this seems off-topic, but that sort of generalizing just irritates the hell out of me.

Sure, it's likely true that SOME women have a problem with it.  It's also likely true that SOME men have a problem dating women who are more educated than them.  I'd even go so far as to suggest that the latter is likely to be more prevalent than the former, particularly since it's still so often assumed to be the responsibility of a (hetero) man to ask a woman out, rather than the reverse.

As someone facing it, I'll also say that the prevalent social stigma seems to be against men marrying women who make more money (or, for that matter, women who have more public influence).  "Higher education" is all to easily disparaged: my blue-collar husband does all the "Real Work", you know (er... not according to my husband, just to clarify!).


Back to the OP: the future's really not any more fuzzy for you than for any other couple, in or out of academia... Job markets ebb and flow, interests and aspirations and opportunities change over time.  I really do think that the key to any successful relationship is, as cheesy as it may sound, communication.  If you regularly talk to your partner about what you and they want and expect from yourself and your partner, you'll quickly discover whether you're both willing and able to work around potential obstacles.  What is your ideal job/house/family/lifestyle?  What's the backup plan if one of you can't have that job/house/family/lifestyle?  Nothing unique to an academic couple there, though.

Your partner, depending on their field and how much/quickly they publish (and where...), likely won't get a permanent job in academia without doing at least one postdoc.  That's involves basically competing for a 1-3 year contract.  Then possibly having to compete for another 1-3 year contract in another lab.  But for practical purposes, again that's not unique to academia; it's not much different from anyone who works on a contract basis. 

Flexibility in at least one partner helps, of course... but yet again, that's hardly unique to academia.  In the end, it comes down to how how much you expect to compromise, how much you expect the other to compromise, and whether the two of you agree on that. 

Basically, don't get hung up on more/less educated, or academic/non-academic.  The important issues you'll face as a couple aren't unique to academia, and shouldn't be treated as such.  "Academics" really aren't some separate species from "people"  ;)


As for the 'academics pairing off' mystery - hardly unexpected, if you think about where most students spend, and choose to spend, most of their time... i.e. around other students and academics (medical folks please feel free to replace terms as appropriate ;)). The 'opposites attract' claim is notoriously overblown :P 

It's also worth noting that most grad students won't actually end up with a career "in academia"; there's simply not enough jobs available (although many *think* they will, that's hardly the same thing).  My bet is that most of those 'academic couples' the OP is seeing won't be 'academic couples' for long...

Offline ryan_haupt

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2012, 08:31:02 PM »
Sure, it's likely true that SOME women have a problem with it.  It's also likely true that SOME men have a problem dating women who are more educated than them.  I'd even go so far as to suggest that the latter is likely to be more prevalent than the former, particularly since it's still so often assumed to be the responsibility of a (hetero) man to ask a woman out, rather than the reverse.

I don't think it's off topic at all. You're absolutely right that I failed to point out the converse that could also explain the trend. Thanks for bringing it up, I appreciate the clarification. :-)
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Offline Psydotek

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2012, 08:32:57 AM »
I feel this article is mildly relevant to this thread:

http://www.elle.com/life-love/ask-e-jean/ask-e-jean-dumb-boyfriend

Offline Ed Lolington

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2012, 04:23:05 PM »
That's a great article and I couldn't agree more.

Offline i_am_spacey

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2012, 12:08:43 PM »
4. A boyfriend who likes life is better than a boyfriend who likes books.

This one always gets me! There are so few people who read books anymore and I am a crazy book woman....I love to spend a day in bed reading books with a beautiful brained man!

However, I think I do a good balance of loving books and life though!

Offline bn

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2012, 12:11:51 PM »
I think perhaps they should qualify things in terms of... say... television watching.
"a boyfriend who likes life more than television watching" sounds great
"a boyfriend who likes books more than watching television" also sounds great
"a boyfriend who likes television more than books" sounds like a bore.

I feel like the archetype of the consumptive, stick-thin bookworm who never gets out and enjoys "live" is a little... dated?
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Offline jfpohl

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2012, 05:04:47 PM »
I can't imagine watching TV for hours on end.  I wasn't raised that way. I read mostly and still go out a lot when I'm off work for skiing, hiking, running.
"Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals." Napoleon Bonaparte

Offline i_am_spacey

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2013, 11:22:37 AM »
I feel like the archetype of the consumptive, stick-thin bookworm who never gets out and enjoys "live" is a little... dated?

Yup. Some of the best conversations I've had about books were while rock climbing!

Offline Psydotek

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Re: Dating a PhD
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2013, 12:29:56 PM »
Yeah, it's not that books and learning is bad, i think in the article it's definitely about how it's bad to focus so much on one thing (no matter how good it is) and neglect going out and living life.