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mizrachi


Jan 7, 2005, 8:29 PM

Post #1 of 74 (6934 views)
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MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Generally speaking, would it be easier to attend an MFA program as a single person or as someone involved in a relationship? I am curious as my boyfriend and I have been living together for only a few months and I am afraid that the move out of state and the fact that I will be involved in a program while he will not could be the nail in the coffin. Also, should it be expected that MFA programs are frought with infidelity, sex, extramarital affairs, flirting, etc? Perhaps those with experience in this matter could assist!

Thank you,

Miz


Kelsie


Jan 7, 2005, 9:16 PM

Post #2 of 74 (6927 views)
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Re: [mizrachi] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I think the amount of expected debauchery depends on the program itself. From what I've seen in my undergraduate education, writing departments in general are the worst about drunkeness, infidelity, illicit affairs, and generally bad behavior...but I seem to fit right in. :)

As for your first question, I'm going through that "process" right now. Trouble is, my boyfriend applied to the same MFA program. We're both fretting over what will happen if one of us gets in and the other doesn't...or if we both get in and then we start to hate each other...or if neither of us get in and we're destitute for the rest of our lives (Well, we're going to be destitute anyway, but at least being in an MFA program would stave that off a bit for two or three years)...I guess the questions are
a). Do you love this guy enough to try and hold the relationship together?
b). Do you love him enough to avoid the temptation of a particularly debaucherous and intellectually/sexually stimulating academic situation?
c). Does he love you??
d). How far away are we talking here?

Sorry...I'm rather terrible with romantic advice. Sometimes I feel like the main purpose of my relationships are to provide more material for my writing!


roycampbell


Jan 7, 2005, 9:38 PM

Post #3 of 74 (6921 views)
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Re: [mizrachi] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

You should check out Steve Almond's title story, in his collection, My Life in Heavy Metal. I'm partially being cheeky, but also not. You should read it anyway.


pongo
Buy this book!


Jan 7, 2005, 9:54 PM

Post #4 of 74 (6915 views)
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Re: [roycampbell] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Well, let me look at a semi-random sample: me and some of my buddies from grad school. I got divorced shortly after graduating, but I'm pretty sure that the MFA wasn't a factor (unless my ex-wife resented my finishing the degree when she left her PhD incomplete). One of my buddies married the mother of his child shortly after graduating. One got sexual reassignment surgery. Another met the mother of his child in the program (they're now engaged). Oddly enough, I can't think of any drama among my female classmates, except for one who just recently got engaged, long after graduation.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


lillyl


Jan 7, 2005, 10:50 PM

Post #5 of 74 (6911 views)
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Re: [mizrachi] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I'm married & in an MFA program, and I'm not really feeling much of a problem in balancing the two. This might be because I don't really participate in social stuff with the other MFAers. I know that one fiction person and one poetry person are actually doing the long-distance marriage thing, which sounds very difficult. But, it seems like it can be done.

Maybe I'm just in a very tame program!


freeverses
James Hall

Jan 8, 2005, 2:58 PM

Post #6 of 74 (6881 views)
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Re: [mizrachi] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I began my stint at Houston single, and am now involved in a relationship (we've been together for nearly 2 years, and living together for a year). And though it's stressful, sometimes, to find enough energy for all the selves the world requires of you (the writer self, the teacher self, the romantic partner self, the student self, etc), I find that the energy I get back from this relationship is some of the most pure.

I have friends here who applied to the program and both got in. I also have friends who are partnered with someone who did not get in. Last year's entering class at Houston had many partnered people whose partners moved here to be with them. Some of those relationships have endured; I know one has not. I think you have to look at the city where you might end up living, and asking yourselves: "Can I be happy there?" When/if you visit schools, make sure you put some good foot-time into the city as well.....

Good luck to you!
-- James


sovietsleepover


Jan 10, 2005, 5:46 PM

Post #7 of 74 (6839 views)
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MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I'm still in the application process, but the school I did my undergrad at (University of Pittsburgh) seemed to definitely have its share of drunken debauchery, and drunken & debauched flings.. Grad programs encompass your whole life (maybe MFAs even moreso: how many sociology students go out for case-study readings after class at night? plus the programs are smaller, which may = more intensity in friendships & relationships with your classmates..), and sometimes it's a big balance. I certainly experienced this during undergrad, mostly because my then-partner didn't consider poetry as valid a form of literature as, say, oulipo experimental writing not using the letter e. (#%$&!).....


pongo
Buy this book!


Jan 11, 2005, 3:10 PM

Post #8 of 74 (6813 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Let me propose a general rule: An MFA program does put a lot of stress on a relationship, so relationships that are likely to suffer from stress are likely to suffer or disintegrate. I saw a lot of behavior that was destructive of relationships, but none of it was purely the result of being in an MFA program; much or it was the result of being in relationships (or those relationships) or of being unsuited to (or not mature enough for) relationships.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


ejdifili
Emily

Sep 30, 2007, 11:29 AM

Post #9 of 74 (6320 views)
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Re: [pongo] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Here's a note on dating people from your own program.

I had the experience of meeting a guy when I was doing my MA, dating for a year and a half, and even getting engaged. Then, it didn't work out, which was a total nightmare. Granted, we had a pretty tumultuous relationship anyway, but...

If you date someone from your program, you have the added pressure of seeing the person multiple days a week in class, and likely sharing the same group of friends. Then, I think it is difficult to avoid situations of competition, especially if one or both of you have inflated egos, which--let's face it--is common among grad students of any discipline. Finally, you have to face the fact that, if you have a fight or "problems" of any kind, then everyone else in your department is going to know about it, and people inevitably form opinions and often take sides.

Still, it's pretty rewarding to be in a relationship with someone who shares your interests and passion for writing and intellectual development. But it might be better to pick up somebody from a different department, I don't know.

And then, if you end up with someone from the "Suit world" that has no interest in writing and literature, that individual might have difficulty fitting in with your MFA friends. That could especially be a problem if this person moves with you to the place where you are studying, and doesn't have any friends of his or her own in that location. He or she might also come to resent the fact that you don't have to appear at work at 9am and sit in a cubicle until 5:00, and that you seem to have more fun than most Suits do.


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 1, 2007, 12:55 PM

Post #10 of 74 (6250 views)
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Re: [ejdifili] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I've mad the argument before on here that your fellow students are the biggest MFA asset. Being involved in a community of writers, sharing ideas, helping each other and building friends in the literary world for life is a great perk of the MFA programs. So on that level I do think there is something of a disadvantage to being in a serious relationship while attending an MFA program. The people I know who are in serious relationships outside of the program itself (or some other program nearby), such as the married people or people with kids, do not socialized very often. They miss out on the community building outside of class hours. They also seem to miss out on the readings and guest lectures and program parties and all the rest that takes place at night.

Of course, I would never suggest that anyone break up a serious relationship so that they can attend an MFA program. So perhaps the above is a moot point. Either you are in one or you aren't. Entering an MFA program won't change that (though it may add a lot of stress.)


Quote

If you date someone from your program, you have the added pressure of seeing the person multiple days a week in class, and likely sharing the same group of friends.


That's funny, because I'd view the above as an advantage. An MFA program sucks up a lot of your time. Not just class hours and work, but extra events and socializing. Being able to do all this with your SO seems like a good way to not drive you insane. If you had to write tons every day, go to class, TA or intern, go to readings, work on the journal, attend parties and social events AND have to schedule huge amounts of time for an SO and time to socialize with their friends, I don't know how you would do it. Dating in the program allows some overlap.

Of course, OTOH I imagine huge problems can arise if the relationship ends badly.



__________



Oct 1, 2007, 1:41 PM

Post #11 of 74 (6240 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

It's like Sam Lipsyte says in Venus Drive...You don't have to ask about her day. You've had the same day.

I'm kind of looking forward to that.


six five four three two one 0 ->


grumpyoldman53


Oct 2, 2007, 10:47 AM

Post #12 of 74 (6179 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

This is what I find amusing about this thread: My rock climbing buddies (all much younger than I am, mostly under 30) have this exact same discussion.

"Would you date a girl who climbs?"
"Dude! No way. If she climbs, then how do you ever get away from her."

Old guys like me know that if you find a woman who shares your passion--writing, climbing, or macrame--hang on to her with both hands.


toadvine


Oct 2, 2007, 8:13 PM

Post #13 of 74 (6130 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] MFA & Relationships Can't Post


In Reply To

That's funny, because I'd view the above as an advantage. An MFA program sucks up a lot of your time. Not just class hours and work, but extra events and socializing. Being able to do all this with your SO seems like a good way to not drive you insane. If you had to write tons every day, go to class, TA or intern, go to readings, work on the journal, attend parties and social events AND have to schedule huge amounts of time for an SO and time to socialize with their friends, I don't know how you would do it. Dating in the program allows some overlap.

Of course, OTOH I imagine huge problems can arise if the relationship ends badly.


When things are good, dating somebody in the same program can be just as great as Clench describes here. But to all you MFA casanovas out there, a word of warning: being in an MFA workshop with a recent ex was perhaps the most uncomfortable experience of my life. Avoid that situation at all costs.

Also, the long-distance relationships people bring into an MFA have a high attrition rate. It's possible, of course, but success seems to be the exception. Haven't done it personally, just what I've seen.

That said, happy hunting.


monarca


Nov 13, 2007, 3:43 PM

Post #14 of 74 (5963 views)
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Re: [mizrachi] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Related to this question- anyone know about working long distance relationships while working on an MFA? Unless I get into the MFA program at Cornell where my boyfriend will be going to Law School, chances are that we'll become long distance. We've known for a while that this was going to happen and we talk about it fairly often. We'll both be busy and pretty absorbed in our programs, which I like to think is a good thing. We both delayed starting grad programs a year longer than we originally planned in order to be with each other and give our relationship a more solid foundation and fighting chance. But I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts particular to making a long-distance relationship work in the environment of an MFA program. I'm not sure why it would be different than making any other long-distance relationship work, but then again, I've never been in an MFA program!

Advice or thoughts?


bennyprof


Nov 13, 2007, 4:22 PM

Post #15 of 74 (5956 views)
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Re: [monarca] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Cornell Law?! I don't know anything about long-distance relationships, but I'd do whatever you have to do to make that one work. ; )


bighark


Nov 13, 2007, 4:38 PM

Post #16 of 74 (5948 views)
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Re: [monarca] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I dunno. I feel like I've been in a long distance relationship ever since I started my program, and my wife and I live in the same house!


ptld


Nov 13, 2007, 5:34 PM

Post #17 of 74 (5931 views)
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Re: [monarca] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

about half of the people in my class are doing the long distance thing with distances ranging from 200 miles to 3,000. i think it's beneficial to be within driving distance. on the other hand, i opted to not take monday or friday classes so that i could several times this term fly cross-country and so-far-so-good.

it's my presumption that depending on your possible teaching load, you will probably have a more flexible schedule than he. besides having a student's schedule, i don't think anything is different than a regular long distance relationship.

Syracuse, by the way, is only 45 miles from Ithaca.


motet
Dana Davis / Moderator

Nov 13, 2007, 8:47 PM

Post #18 of 74 (5896 views)
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Re: [bighark] MFA & Relationships Can't Post


In Reply To
I feel like I've been in a long distance relationship ever since I started my program, and my wife and I live in the same house!

That got an *LOL*!


monarca


Nov 14, 2007, 12:16 PM

Post #19 of 74 (5846 views)
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Re: [ptld] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I thought it might not be uncommon and I'm glad to hear there are people making it work! Syracuse is also on my list. I think part of what I'm worried about is the difference in our programs. I think they are both demanding, but in different ways. I think that MFA programs might be more social, by nature. There are readings and events and workshops and small close communities. Even the bigger programs I'm applying for are still substantially smaller than his law school class will be. It might be problematic if it seems like I'm always out socializing when he's not. Of course, that is based on the assumption/stereotype of law school students always nose-deep in books or briefs.

Of course worrying about this is mostly a distraction from worrying about applications and acceptance.


ptld


Nov 14, 2007, 12:52 PM

Post #20 of 74 (5835 views)
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Re: [monarca] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

you're not wrong. learning about writing is (for lack of a better word) more mysterious than law school or even more typically academic programs. i mean within reason, you can sit and study for a quantitative amount of time and ingest a certain amount of information. on the other hand, my girlfriend is in a much different program. it has its problems, but it's easier than when she hadn't yet started her program and i had events/class all days and some nights. also, there's something balancing about talking to someone outside of the mfa. you'll have different kinds of days and meet different kinds of people...otherwise you'd only talk about writing all the time, which i'm sure you will see can be an obnoxious trait. it is, however, hard to communicate that readings and other social events are an important part of the learning process, but maybe that's just me...sometimes i only half believe it myself.


sara9870


Nov 17, 2007, 4:53 AM

Post #21 of 74 (5733 views)
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Re: [ptld] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I'm in the second year of my MFA right now and many of my classmates are in long distance relationships/marriages with no problems. The socializing that goes on is mostly drunken silliness and honestly there isn't much time for that anyway. It's hard to make time even for readings. My boyfriend moved with me here- he is not a writer. Our relationship is great. It's actually nice to come home to someone who isn't a writer too. Hold on to that soon to be lawyer! You will need someone to support you later on in life! Don't worry- everyone in my program who is in a long distance relationship/marriage is still with their significant other, and sees them as often as they can.


monarca


Nov 21, 2007, 4:26 PM

Post #22 of 74 (5591 views)
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Re: [sara9870] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

More encouraging news. Thanks!


auroraleigh


Feb 25, 2008, 11:31 AM

Post #23 of 74 (5366 views)
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Re: [monarca] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Blah. Anyone having trouble in this arena right now? I broke up with my boyfriend last night because I didn't want to do the long distance thing for the next three years. He took a job this fall in Ohio, a job he's committed to for the next 2 years. I am, potentially, if I decide to accept my offer, going to be studying in the southwest next year. I've also been waitlisted at Ohio State, but the thought of moving to Ohio just depresses the hell out of me. And if we tried to make it work, and it didn't work? I would be so mad at myself for making that decision.

The thought of cross-country dating, trying to buy $300+ plane tickets every other month, and balancing my school time with relationship time just doesn't appeal to me. I'd rather make this decision with a clear head, and finally follow through on this dream I've had for a long time. I thought I loved this guy but maybe I was wrong. I can't seem to stop day dreaming about school and making it my #1 priority. I feel awful, but I have to go with my gut instinct, right?


pongo
Buy this book!


Feb 25, 2008, 11:50 AM

Post #24 of 74 (5341 views)
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Re: [auroraleigh] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

It's quite possible to make a long-distance relationship work, but if you don't think this relationship is worth the effort, it probably isn't.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


chelbeewrites


Feb 25, 2008, 12:03 PM

Post #25 of 74 (5322 views)
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Re: [auroraleigh] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I agree. If school is your number one priority, pick a program where you will be the happiest. If your relationship is strong, it will last.

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