Postgrad Love Gone Wrong

Yet another horror story.

I’ve mentioned the strange postgraduate love thingy here before. Quick summary- shell-shocked AnnaLivia falls for Slightly-Twitchy PhD candidate in her field. A Joycean and a Beckettian. What fun- the foreplay is riviting, surreal and frequently needs a dictionary.

Said man is a wee bit older, and has come out of a bad relationship. AnnaLivia isn’t dissuaded by this, as she has her own bad stories. He has an eight-year relationship that ended when the girl left after they had just bought a house together. They shared said house for a while, her new guys moving in as well. AnnaLivia sympathizes and tells her own rotten story of some sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her stepfather. Both damaged, both have a lot in common. We spend more an more time together. But in between those long nights, we don’t talk to each other.

When we do get to bed together, nothing more than kissing happens. AnnaLivia is then told following the Christmas party that they are no good as a couple because the ex-girlfriend thinks Anna is too neurotic, he needs someone who cares more and neither of us had an orgasm, anyway. Besides, I’m ‘damaged’ and that makes him feel bad. He can’t look at me without thinking about it.

Yes, handsome, brilliant and twitchy PhD student, you are right. I was hurt when I was vulnerable. That means I cannot be touched and loved like an ordinary human being. Yes, you being a whole seven years more grown up than me, you know that much better. I was silly to think that we both deserved a chance at some happiness. I promise I’ll never ask for human companionship again. I have seen the errors of my ways.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t the only guy who I’ve actually wanted to touch me since. For the first time it didn’t feel like I was being skinned alive.



Sweetie, I wish there was something I could do to help you feel better. I know it hurts. It probably feels like it will never get better, but it will. Just know that I’m thinking about you.

It sounds like your guy was still carrying emotional baggage from the previous bad relationship, especially if he was letting his ex-girlfriend give him relationship advice about you two. If he really wanted to be with you, I doubt he would have used the “damaged” line with you. He would have worked that out with you. But…

…this is never a good thing. Communication may have averted your breakup.

I hope you won’t let this guy open any wounds that have healed over for you since your abuse. It’s not worth it to you and your mental health to let this get to you. There’s someone out there that knows how to go about physical relations with you and deal maturely with their own views about what happened to you. They might be hiding, you may need to look hard. Good luck to you AnnaLivia. I know you haven’t come this far to give up yet.

Please, please, tell me you are in therapy.

Those damned Beckettians … er, um, Joyceans … uh, whichever one you aren’t!!!

Oh, yes…I have been through lots of therapy. One of them even had an honest-to-goodness leather couch.

That’s how I’ve gotten to this point. If I hadn’t gone, there’s no way I’d be where I am now. I certainly wouldn’t be doing postgrad work, applying to do a PhD myself or be living across the Atlantic (I’ve abandoned the Philly-area for Scotland). I would not have even considered being alone in a room with a guy.

I just had to express what reads to me as the deepest kind of…well, I’m not sure what. Irony? Hypocrisy? Someone who keeps bringing up age difference and maturity and how people his age need stability acting like he’s twelve.

Plus, he’s got my Tom Waits CDs. I can’t even mope properly.


*Since you’ve been gone I feel so much better
Cause I saw how mean you could be
I used to want some explanation
Now all I want is my Patsy Cline CD

How I’ve waited for today
When I could finally say

You jerk
You jerk
You are such a jerk
There are other words
But they just don’t work…*
–Kim Stockwood

I’d say that as a general rule, it’s not a good idea to get emotionally involved with someone in your own field. Grad school politics is ugly enough as it is, without further mining the field like that.

When I was in grad school, I had a half-frivolous, half-serious relationship with a guy in a completely different field of study, and it was downright refreshing! We both agreed that it would’ve been a complete disaster to try to hook up with anybody in our own departments – and besides, after a while we couldn’t stand hanging out with any of them any more than necessary, anyway. We were friends first, and after a couple of months, we became lovers. We never used the “L word,” but we were always there for each other, supportive, sympathetic and willing to listen to the other’s doubts and rants. But mainly, we just screwed around. “Grad-school sex,” we called it.

IMHO, you need to be in a sexual relationship, at least once in a while. It doesn’t have to be true love, it doesn’t have to lead to marriage, but most people in grad school need to blow off steam and learn to relax with a solid, 100%-trustworthy friend that they enjoy having sex with – to put it very crudely, a “fuck buddy” – and you’re not likely to find that level of trust and support with an insecure, neurotic, self-absorbed miserable little s*&# in your own department.

And get your Tom Waits CDs back! No man is worth that kind of loss! :wink:

Good luck to you.

Sad thing is, I know this. I just don’t know anyone else outside the programme. Side effect of being half a world away. I tend to be on the shy side, so finding someone else shy seemed like a godsend. I suppose it’s good we really are on opposite ends of research…no direct competition that will be made nastier because of this.

The funny thing was, I did offer the “sex for the hell of it” option. I did the “look, we get along okay, we’re not getting married, we’ve both had a long dry spell” which upset him and I backed off that angle. Until he found it convient to say that I could have been anybody. Well, for fuck’s sake. I gave up the opportunity for a threesome after that Christmas party for him. A fucking threesome!

I wonder if part of it is that I might not be around past September. I mean, the leaving might be a factor- as in, “every girl I like leaves”. But I’m trying not to put too much emotional energy into this anymore…otherwise I’ll have nothing left if I do get into the PhD programme.

Sorry for the language,

Aaaaand, we’ve just run into each other upstairs. Ten words exchanged. Maybe it’s that we both made independent moves to stop drinking. Hell, we used to go on for almost twenty-four hours.

AL, replying to her own post, from the office, on a Sunday. :rolleyes:

The guy was a complete, total jerk. Using his discomfort with what someone did to you is completely foulball in relationships. “I’m sorry you were hurt in the past, but I’m going to use it to hurt you even more now.” What a complete wanker. Save yourself for someone human, Anna.

(ps - I think he was lying to you about why he broke up with you, anyway. He probably broke up with you because he is incredibly insecure about his micropenis. Just my opinion, of course.)

It may depend on the department. All I can say is, when I started my Ph.D. coursework about fifteen years back, I got involved with a woman in my department who was in the second year of her Masters’ program. Did it work? Let’s just say she’s typing away at the computer next to me as I write this.

Three other couples I know who met each other in the same grad program wound up married as well. So my wife and I weren’t a fluke.

mmmmaybe the fact that you didn’t feel skinned alive has to do with your own emotional progress and not much to do with the guy. Or if it had to do with he was a transitional thing that will lead to better things. As far as the comfort with sex stuff is concerned.

…I have my own damage and also had a couple of guys along the way who served that role very nicely. :slight_smile:

Definitely keep hands off of anyone in your field. At all. They have a nasty way of coming back at you, at awful times, like at the MLA conference while you are waiting to go up to an interview you have three ex-s who all saw you at the same time, standing around, looking awkwardly at each other, or–god forbid–you find out you are interviewing with one of them who is on your hiring committee.

Also for similar reasons, never eat irreplaceable ice cream out of the freezer of someone in your field whose flat you have been allowed to borrow–because later you might have to interview with them.

Or share a panel.

Or something.

Or review their book.

It’s a smallllllll world out there.

When I was in grad school, I joined this university grad student caucus thing. Which of itself had weaknesses but it got me out of my department and I met people in every other field, plus their apartment mates, at parties I got invited to. A nice thing and wasn’t very hard to do.

Also looked good on the resume, and you didn’t have to do a lot of work if you didn’t want to.

Also, Beckettians are real good for a drink and lots and lots of cigarettes, but I only know one who got the relationship stuff right. And that was his second marriage. And he was 65.

Geez, I know another Beckettian who has that twitch, broke up with gf after buying house together…only he has tenure.

There is something really attractive about the needy male. Till they screw with your mind.

Maybe it’s that anyone who attempts (let alone earns) a Ph.D. in English Lit is by definition completely neurotic.

Haven’t seen anything like that in the math world. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but as a group, I think we might be considerably saner than you littcher types.

In my previous post, I was specifically talking about the whole ‘don’t get involved with someone in the same department because there will be dire consequences’ bit. That, and only that.

My post was in no way intended as a comment on the OP’s love life, inner life, or what have you.

Anna, he doesn’t sound worthy of you. I think it would have ended worse had it gone on longer. Sending warm thoughts your way.

Good God…they’re all twitchy! :eek:
Amusing, because he is a chain smoker, as well. Us Joyce people do the booze, but not the cigarettes so much.

No, I am starting to feel more normal, because I just got my own application in. As it is, I don’t think we’ll have too much trouble if we meet at any kind of seminar. I was sober, he was drunk. He actually doesn’t remember anything he said about me, just that it wasn’t very nice.

Right now, I’m treating it as we were friends, we kissed, I’ve kissed quite a few of my friends (male and female) and it hasn’t wrecked any friendships. I’d like to be friends because of my application. I mean, who wants to spend another two years in an office with someone who can’t look at you. Plus, he still has my Tom Waits cds. I am really going to have to ask him about that.

So, advice for meeting someone outside my department? As a shy girl, who is no longer drinking and cannot play any sports, I am limited in my options. The creative writing society (which I belong to) is all neurotic literature types.


Well you got a few options:

  1. start studying in the biology lab
  2. Start walking down hallways of lab buildings and walk into labs asking where the ladies room is and make admiring chatter about the lab equipment and plants (really, this does work!)
  3. Look around for university lectures and go to the ones that aren’t in your area.
  4. There has GOT to be a trekking group. Trekking is not a sport. It’s an opportunity to walk briskly with people and stare at nature while conversations naturally spring up and long silences are totally acceptable.

Yeah, it’s funny about Beckett. You find the meaning of life in him and think that a Beckettian would just…understand…but remember Beckett was pretty screwed up till near the end of his life, relationship wise.

Grad students in lit are generally twitchy until they get real paying jobs. Then they are some of the best people in the world!!! :slight_smile:

Actually, that would be a blast from the past…my first BA is in Bio.

And don’t think the “Beckett had crap relationships” thing didn’t come up. Oh, yeah. “Don’t worry, Anna…you know, Beckett wasn’t capable of anything in bed”

I was a lot more weirded out by getting the “men and women can’t be friends” speech from ‘A Painful Case’.

yes, dear, I’m a Joycean. I know she starts drinking and falls on the train tracks. Does this mean you want me to kill myself? It’s not going to happen…

Maybe I will go join the trekking people. As long as there are no funny ears involved. :slight_smile: