Sunday, February 18, 2007

Love and the single PhD student







One topic that came up briefly this weekend was the large number of married people in our department. Of course, in one sense it doesn't matter if they are married or not, since intra-department dating among PhD students is mostly verboten. That is to say, my advisor would kill me if I tried it, but I wouldn't anyway. After it goes sour, that's bad karma in a small space. Imagine farting in an elevator, except you're stuck on the elevator for four years. ... In another sense, though, the high married rate means fewer single person sort of events where one is likely to meet potential dates. And since my world is somewhat confined to Vanderbilt, my dating life is somewhat cramped. (I can't, of course, date any professors I meet, since they are likely to be grading me; seriously dating any PhD student is likely to lead to a complicated two-body problem. If you don't know what that is, rest assured that it makes string theory look simple.) By "somewhat cramped," let's just say that I haven't been on a date in a very long time, and on a remotely successful one in even longer. It's gotten so that ocularly noticing two attractive men in a week, as I did this past weekend, is noteworthy.

I can only think of one person at Peabody who has had an active dating life since starting the PhD, and she has a network of non-academic friends eager to help out. The rest of us, male and female, seem to be stuck in whatever situation we were in when we arrived. A few have converted significant others to joint filers, but no one has met and sustained any kind of new relationship.

But who needs a date when you have Max Weber to keep you warm at night? That's not an entirely cynical remark. There is something so all-consuming, so monastic, about the PhD, that any time spent dating would probably induce guilt. I should be thinking of a dissertation topic right now instead of making out! Not, mind you, that I've tested that proposition.

7 comments:

Lisa said...

How can you not date other people in your program?? When I was in grad school, thats pretty much all that happened. Its hard not to when you don't meet any other people.

turducken said...

How would we? I've never seen anyone do it here. Your culture may vary. Perhaps it is because our program is small; 2 third years, 8 second years, 7 second years. Then there is the fact that the majority of folks are married, plus a few others are in serious non-marital relationships.

Or to put it another way, I'm the only single, truly available woman ... so if I don't date within my program, no one does. And if I do, then I would also by default be the Program Slut.

turducken said...

To clarify, I'm the only S, TA W currently in coursework. There have been others before me.

lutheranchick said...

Ha. They certainly don't mind people dating within my masters program (as long as we keep it clean). I almost think they hope we'll all pair off and spare them the awkwardness of having to explain the dating restrictions we'll be under once we graduate. (Sigh) Now if only I dated . . .

Lisa said...

i guess not having anyone to date within your program could make it easy to not date anyone within your program. hee.

i guess when i was in grad school, people dated other grad students and also postdocs or technicians who also worked in our department. so our pool was much larger.

Alcina said...

Hit the nail on the head, you have, turducken! Being a PhD woman in Computer Science doesn't help either! ugh!

Dean said...

I'm a little late on this, but I wanted to say that I find myself in almost the same situation you are (at least when you wrote this). My program is filled with those who are married or in long-term relationships. The pool is indeed small.