As per request from one of my readers, I’m going to discuss balancing a relationship with graduate school. I am by no means a relationship expert and relationships tend to be a topic I’d rather avoid since it’s so personal. Relationships are challenging enough as it is, so anything else sprinkled on top just makes it even more mind-boggling. This topic also becomes more complicated if graduate school involves a long distance relationship, learning about oneself and many other factors that play into this scenario. The opinions expressed are based on my own personal experience, so please take it with a grain of salt!
To be completely honest, I don’t think I have any major challenges or issues being in a relationship while in graduate school. There are times when sacrifices need to be made and sometimes we won’t see each other for weeks. I consider myself somewhat lucky that my boyfriend and I are in similar stages of our lives. We’re both currently pursuing higher education and we’ll be done around the same time. It definitely helps that our goals are similar and that we’re both “struggling” together! This helps us support, encourage and push each other in this journey. It also keeps us accountable to our goals. He is much more disciplined than me, so it’s mostly me feeling like “I should really be studying right now” when I see him studying like a madman.
I know this will sound super vague, but I think being able to face challenges in a relationship comes down to shared core values, similar goals, knowing oneself, healthy communication and a genuine love and understanding for each other. Whenever I need to take weeks to study for exams, my boyfriend respects my space and the time I need for myself to get things done. He understands when I’m feeling pressured or stressed and undeniably supports and encourages me, and I’d like to think I do the same for him. I’m a firm believer that relationships should be a positive attribute in our lives. There will always be times of turbulence, but if the overall dynamic of the relationship mainly causes stress and unhappiness, it might be something worth reviewing. Life is stressful enough as it is, and I personally think that any relationship I partake in should bring joy, happiness, and love. Not additional stress.
Understanding and support are especially important during graduate school. Graduate studies are stressful enough as it is, and it’s a time when you learn a lot about yourself. As we get older, we have a clearer understanding of what we want out of life, the type of person we are, and the kind of person we want to be. Graduate school has a tendency to push us to re-evaluate our goals and mindset. It’s important to have someone that understands this and provides the space and encouragement for your continued growth and self development. This might help your relationship bond more but it could also cause some people to grow apart. Everyone is entitled to live up to their fullest potential and to chase after their dreams.
We can never have full guarantee that our relationship will be perfectly intact every time we’re faced with a challenge. Going to graduate school is a personal decision, and although we may expect a level of understanding from our partner, it is also a two way street. It’s important to healthily communicate with our partners, relentlessly encourage and support them, have a genuine respect for their dreams and try to be as understanding as we can. With all the countless exams, essays, practicals, thesis papers, or whatever else, remember to make time for one another and show some appreciation.
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