7 Relationship Tips for the Love-Starved Grad Student

This is a guest post by Adam Ruben, PhD—molecular biologist, television host on the Discovery Channel’s “Outrageous Acts of Science,” and author of the book “Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School.” You can read more of Adam Ruben’s work on the JoVE blog here.

So you want to have a relationship while in grad school.  Neat.  That always works out well.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but grad school does to relationships what a meat tenderizer does to a snail. 

Relationship Tips for Love Starved Grad Student

Still, if you’re committed to making this thing work (and you SAID you were, Jessica, you SAID it), here are some tips to ensure you’re as successful in your relationship as med students are at everything in their own minds.

  1. Relationships thrive on surprises, so surprise your significant other by promising to get married after you graduate. But you have no control over your graduation date.  Surprise!
  2. “A romantic dinner” is not the same thing as “Let’s sneak into the biophysics colloquium and steal pizza bagels.”
  3. Relationships between grad students and their thesis advisors are frowned upon.  This rule applies to romantic relationships, friendly relationships, and collegial relationships of mutual respect.
  4. Remember, postdoctoral fellows are incapable of experiencing love.
  5. Be sure to look your partner in the eyes every day and say, “I cherish you.”  If you need to stay late in the lab tonight, it’s okay to skip today.  But then tomorrow is your midterm, and you have all these problem sets to grade, so maybe say it next Tuesday.  Shoot, that’s lab meeting.  Just…geez.  I don’t know.
  6. Undergrads are nubile.  Just sayin’.
  7. If you truly love something, let it go.  So let go of the idea that you can have a normal relationship in grad school.

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