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Do other PhD students find it difficult to meet a partner?


User: fredrhatt - 18 January 2010 00:47

I'm really enjoying my PhD but I feel a little lonely. I have many friends and I socialise a fair amount but I am getting frustrated in my attempts to meet somebody of the opposite sex. I'm a member of a few university societies but those are dominated by undergraduates. I do sometimes meet girls I think I would like in the department, or in another department, at seminars and so on, but I find they are always with a friend and so already in a conversation (or alternatively I'm already in a conversation with someone).

There's a girl I pass in the corridor maybe once every couple of weeks. Once she wasn't with people so I said "hi" and gave her a nice smile, but that's all... what am I supposed to do stop her and talk to her?

What do PhD students actually do to try and meet partners?

User: badgerspy - 18 January 2010 10:20

======= Date Modified 18 Jan 2010 10:22:02 =======
Hey Fred, I feel your pain! I'm more than a little lonely myself and finding it hard to meet people. I moved here from overseas, and it's hard starting from scratch to build up a network of friends. Like you I joined a few uni societies to meet people but mostly they are undergrads. The postgrad potentials are invariably already attached.
I'm torn though because my last relationship was actually pretty disastrous and I've lost a lot of my confidence, so I feel like maybe I am better off being single in order to focus on PhD stuff and not boys. My studies were part of the reason for the relationship being disastrous because he found it hard to understand what I was dealing with. But that doesn't stop me from missing having someone to snuggle up to.... while in the back of my mind hearing the quiet ticking of my biological clock reminding me that I'm going to be THIRTY by the time I finish up here.
And I'll tell you what else sucks about being single, aside from the lack of emotional support- the lack of practical support! How nice it would be to have someone cook dinner for me sometimes, help with the washing up, do a share of the cleaning...

But back to your dilemma, Fred- I would urge you to go for it with the girl in the corridor! If you're already brave enough to smile and say hi, then please go that little bit further and strike up a conversation, ask her for a coffee, whatever. I always feel grateful if I guy I like makes the first move. Confidence is sexy. I am so tired of falling for shy guys and having to do the running, because I'm shy too and I hate all the agonising over whether they really do like me or are just being friendly. Did she smile back? If you get the slightest sense she likes you too then just put yourself out there. I've been wishing I could do this. I'm almost thinking of resorting to internet dating. I actually filled out a profile for eHarmony, only to be told I was unmatchable! I don't know whether to be outraged or entirely depressed about that.

User: Keep_Calm - 18 January 2010 11:06

======= Date Modified 18 Jan 2010 11:07:00 =======
Hi Fred,

I agree with what Badgerspy said about the girl- go for it! There's nothing at all unusual about going for a coffee with someone in your institution, it's her problem if she assumes otherwise! I've been asked out by two guys after conferences. Scarily similiar tactics actually... After the post-conference drink they both asked to walk me to my train and then came straight out and asked if I'd like to do something another time. Something developed with both of them (separately... I'm really starting to sound like a complete floozy...), I was flattered and it was fun. I like to think that if I spy someone in the future I like I'd do the same thing, although I'm not saying it's easy. If they're at your university or studying for a PhD you've already got something in common which helps to strike up a conversation. Good luck Fred and *Cilla* 'Let us know how you get on'.

User: walminskipeasucker - 18 January 2010 13:59

Hmm, this is the kind of question that needs to be answered after a beer or two (but it's only around 2 pm and I've got work to do). I can perhaps after offer you some hard-earned words of wisdom after my 28 years on planet Earth. Watch this space Fredrhatt. As Swartzenegger says: "I'll be back".

User: Slizor - 18 January 2010 16:30

What's wrong with undergrads (excluding Freshers....who are just nuts)?

User: sneaks - 18 January 2010 16:33

undergrads seem like children to me! I'm only 25, but they all look about 12 - so fresh faced! I could't imagine dating one (even if I wasn't married)

User: eska - 18 January 2010 17:53

I agree with Sneaks, they look like nursery school to me and they're soooo, I don't know, wet behind the ears. I teach them and it really does feel like I'm dealing with a bunch of school kids a lot of the time. But then again, I'm 40, so that's probably why too. I can't imagine going out wiwth any student though, it's just that I relate to them so differently to other people, I have a responsibilty towards them which does fel a bit like parenting.
I find it hard to meet people, I think lots of people do past the undergraduate stage of life. I'm not good at flirtng or looking interested either, so that probably doesn't help much.

I think it would be great if you spoke to your corridor girl, I bet she'd be really flattered and happy if you did. Let us know what happens.

User: walminskipeasucker - 18 January 2010 23:48

Right, here's my two pence-worth on the matter, since I've got a bit of time to think about it now. Doing a PhD is quite possibly the worst circumstance to be in if you want to develop a relationship with someone. It's like being a monk living in a monastery that is, in turn, enveloped by an impenetrable soap bubble. It's the academic equivalent of Guantanamo Bay. It's a solitary and demanding world, which occupies much of your time and thoughts. It's not like having a normal job because you take it everywhere with you and, if you're like me, it can be difficult to switch off. Normal people (or civilians) can't always appreciate this (that's if you encounter any because of all the time you spend at a computer writing), and in a way it removes you from them both physically and emotionally.
Depending on your personality, the demands of the work you do can also affect your attitude and personality around people as well. Since starting my PhD and having my own ups and downs (embarrassingly well documented), I've become very quiet and reserved, almost locked away. I went out on New Year's Eve and it was remarked how quiet I am and how I didn't have very much to say. All those friendly people and I was mute. It's like my ability to socially interact with the ladies has been retarded a bit. This is what I hate most about my PhD - although it has developed me in some ways, it has hurt me and regressed me in other ways. Grr! And I also seem to have developed a level of anxiety with respect to meeting new people anyway - what on earth do I talk about? What if I say something stupid and come across like a weirdo?
So I don't do anything to try and meet partners (or rather a partner - I'm not greedy!) as a PhD student. I think, what's the point? I can't give her as much attention as she would want or deserve because my commitments will always get in the way whilst I'm studying. That's what happened the last time and it was soul destroying. Besides, I'm not even particularly good company for such a person at the moment. I must admit, however petulant it sounds, I'm very envious of those that do have an understanding and supportive partner - it must be brill to have someone to talk to, who understands you and is there for you through the ups and downs (it's all you need really). But then, I think it is all dependent upon your personality and social network, so it could be very different for others. And please bear in mind, these are just my thoughts (I'm terrified of turning into Roy Cropper or the mad scientist out of The Simpsons), so take them with a pinch of salt.
Well, this girl you pass in the corridor. Break the ice by asking her about her PhD and what she does. Suggest a coffee, get talking, make friends and find out about her. If there's something there and she likes you as much as you like her, it'll happen ;-)

User: phdbug - 19 January 2010 06:41

Exactly what Wally said and yesterday a (girl) friend of mine told me at the pub that one reason might be because I come across as "extremely confident (to the extent of seeming intimidating), very articulate (To the extent of scaring people), very focused (To the point of being demanding))

And she explained nicely with instances and body language explanations and I thought she was verrry correct! But she told me (and I agreed) that I shouldn't necessarily change this above and try a more vulnerable/quiet/'sweet' mode for that just isn't me...

Plus... also.... I kind of (deep down) have a clinical acknowledgement that relationships are good and it's nice to have a spectacular career and a spectacular family and it's possible etc (but that's digressing) but deep (deep) down, I don't think I am too bothered with relationships just yet and make no extra attempt at all...

Would like to be with someone by 30.... but that's 5 years away and maybe I'll be less intimidating then :-) To cut a long story (not very) short, in answer to the last sentence in the OP's post - I do nothing to actually try and meet partners!!

User: sneaks - 19 January 2010 07:26

I'm married to another PhD student, which sounds dandy, but he doesn't really do any work, so he doesn't understand why I TRY and do work everyday, which can be problematic. Maybe I can start a Postgradforum matchmaking thread. :-x :-x

User: Slizor - 19 January 2010 09:41

If undergrads are no good....How about trawling for some Master's action? Who knows, you could even inspire them to follow you down the road to Doctordum.

User: J_T - 23 February 2012 22:41

im facing a similar situation fredharrt. Im lonely but im trying very hard to getting used to it.

User: Lughna - 24 February 2012 19:35

[quote]Quote From phdbug:
Exactly what Wally said and yesterday a (girl) friend of mine told me at the pub that one reason might be because I come across as "extremely confident (to the extent of seeming intimidating), very articulate (To the extent of scaring people), very focused (To the point of being demanding))

And she explained nicely with instances and body language explanations and I thought she was verrry correct! But she told me (and I agreed) that I shouldn't necessarily change this above and try a more vulnerable/quiet/'sweet' mode for that just isn't me...

Plus... also.... I kind of (deep down) have a clinical acknowledgement that relationships are good and it's nice to have a spectacular career and a spectacular family and it's possible etc (but that's digressing) but deep (deep) down, I don't think I am too bothered with relationships just yet and make no extra attempt at all...

Would like to be with someone by 30.... but that's 5 years away and maybe I'll be less intimidating then :-) To cut a long story (not very) short, in answer to the last sentence in the OP's post - I do nothing to actually try and meet partners!![/quote][old post I know], but basically this all applies to me. I've been told that my zero-tolerance for bullshit [or chat up lines] and academic success make me too intimidating. Also, I'm very introverted and slow to open up to people. I will happily debate and discuss, but not personal issues. For those familiar with Myers Briggs Personality Typing, I'm an INTJ - which is meant to be 1 in 200 women and 1 in 50 men. Basically, I have a personality that people associate with men [rational, non-emotional, little expression of feelings - despite having them!] and this seems to be disconcerting for men. At least the ones I tend to meet, who get seem to be surprised/confused because I dress very femininely and they have a preconceived notion of how I will behave. I am very independent, but I am at the point in my life where a relationship would be nice. I'm not going to force it though.

User: Dalmation - 24 February 2012 21:58

At first, I was very naive and thought academic conferences were all about networking with people doing similar research, but no...it has a lot to do with err - I believe the term is "hooking up" with sapiosexuals. Must confess, I've vicariously enjoyed all the post-conference stories.

User: Lughna - 25 February 2012 00:10

[quote]Quote From Dalmation:
At first, I was very naive and thought academic conferences were all about networking with people doing similar research, but no...it has a lot to do with err - I believe the term is "hooking up" with sapiosexuals. Must confess, I've vicariously enjoyed all the post-conference stories.

[/quote]This is also news to me! I suppose it does make sense... an intellectual compatibility is probably more important to me than anything else. With a twisted sense of humour coming in a close second.
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