scholarly (or not)…

When I host parties, I like to mix up old invitations between old and new acquaintances.  So whenever anyone new arrives at the door, I make them endure a round of introductions wherein I typically introduce my friends by their graduate school affiliations.  Over time, I’ve come to realize that intro-ing my friends by their scholarly identities is pretty snobby of me, because it tends to marginalize those of my friends who aren’t in academia.  So at my last party I attempted to make introductions in a new vein, and it was far harder for me to do.

The thing is, I don’t think my academically-inclined friends are any more brilliant or interesting than any of my other friends.  But I think I’ve moved in academic circles for so long, that I’ve fallen into this habit–we tend to define ourselves by our field and our institutional affiliation.  And perhaps most significantly, as someone who is a nontraditional student, I worked so hard to get me some academic credibility that I think I probably wear it too boldly on my sleeve.  I don’t do so to raise myself above anyone else, but to acknowledge my own journey from housewife to scholar.  It’s been a hard-earned path.

As I’ve considered the qualities I’d like to have in future romantic partners, I’m weighing the pros and cons of dating other academics.  While it’s nice to be with someone who can understand the tensions and pleasures of my research, I wonder if it makes more sense to pursue a relationship with someone outside the ivory tower?  Because it could allow for more balance in a life that’s already rather stress-filled with writing deadlines, grant applications, and teaching (not to mention the pressures of simply finding a job!). On a related note, I’ve found Kelly’s list about what she’s looking for to be rather helpful in my considerations, but it doesn’t mention career paths specifically.

What do you think, internets?  Is it best to choose a partner who follows a similar career path, or one who is different (but complementary)?

8 thoughts on “scholarly (or not)…

  1. christy

    I was married to a non-academic (in the music industry). On campus, I was often asked how I “managed”—as if he were another specie.

    Pros: I learned how to truly relax, not work around the clock, enjoy “normal” people free time at night and weekends (and have maintained these practices, and have felt all the healthier for it). It was nice to not debate the same shit I had all day. He had the capacity to understand what I did…we cannot presume degree holding is the only way to nurture that necessary element of relating to one another. One of the most fun things was analogizing a day’s work in terms of the other’s field.

    Cons: I soon realized that colloquia are less fun than concerts. While my ex-husband bragged on my accomplishments to his colleagues and our friends, in private there was an air of resentment that I had outdone him. It came out in comments like, “how much longer until you are done with college?” And the ingenious syllogisms about how college was fun, I wasn’t working hard, and should therefore undertake household duties. So there is a gender-tradition issue involved with this question, I suspect, and I have far too many women PhD friends with similar divorce tales to believe there isn’t something serious to be unpacked, however feminist husbands claim to be.

    Still, having been in relationships with academics, I recall tension when hanging out with homogeneous academic crowds, wherein I felt this fear of my saying something uncouth (dear god, crossing disciplinary divides!). Maybe it was a constant rivalry. And that blew in its way too.

    Aesop says: Partners ought to genuinely want each other to thrive. And each be confident enough in her/himself to appreciate the successes (and the failures) of the other.

    How did you introduce at your last party?

    1. janaremy Post author

      I was going to try to intro everyone with a funny anecdote rather than with their credentials. But it just didn’t work so well–especially because I know some people far better than others, so I just don’t have as many stories to tell about those who are new-ish friends.

  2. Isaac

    I think this is a false dichotomy. I think there are objective standards we can place, the so called “deal breakers,” e.g., smoker or not, drug user or not, and then the less tangible, e.g., communication style, hairstyle, whatever. I try to simplify the connections we have with people and dating to emotional, intellectual, and physical connections. Ideally, you have someone you connect with on all three levels. Having someone who understand the life of [insert your career here] is nice, but they don’t have to be someone in that career. Someone who listens, cares, and is interested will learn everything they need to learn to be supportive.

  3. Judy Jeute

    Don’t forget opposites attract…I am reminded of that on a daily basis with my marriage and have been for the last happy, adventurous, and crazy 20+ years. What about introducing people by how you met them? Or one of your favorite characteristics about them? Or maybe each person’s favorite something or other (color, memory, pet, etc.) to start conversations?

  4. Naked Girl in a Dress


    Thanks for providing a link to my site.

    What I have found in dating men in a variety of careers is that the career path he has chosen for himself is of little importance to me. Regardless of what they do professionally, I have enjoyed engaging in a conversation about their work. I find their passion for what they do is more important than the type of work.

  5. Stella

    I think it’s less what you actually *do* during the day and whether or not what you do enables a compatible lifestyle. What if one of you is nine to five and the other is a bartender? As long as your lifestyles enable enough quality time (and an agreed upon budget to fund what you do together) I’m not sure the actual job title plays a part.

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