Sign in or Register | Help | Contact Us

Advanced Search

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs
MFA & Relationships
You are not signed in. Click here to sign in.
If you are not a member, Register here!
142659 registered users
First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All


Jan 25, 2009, 10:43 AM

Post #51 of 74 (5788 views)
Re: [JarvisHTR] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Ah, the relationship game. Or endurance contest. Whatever it is.

I will not be applying till next year, but the SO and I have begun negotiations. He wants what I have been calling the easy way out (a town where his firm has an office) or the not-so-easy-but-easier-than-Montana way out (which is a place where he can get a job in his field). What I care most about is funding; because God hates fags, our criteria rarely go hand in hand.

We have been together for nearly nine years, so we are determined to make it work. Long distance is not an option. Hell to the no. I like a challenge, not a quagmire.

This process has already taught me quite a lot about myself, the SO, our relationship and expectations of one another.

The following is some of what I learned in list form:

1. If the SO equates the term "Iowa" with breaking up, do not say Iowa! It is the "Macbeth" of the MFA process.

2. Do not say, "You're thinking too much about your self in this process" unless the SO has already said that to you. If you want it to work at any cost, then every sentence has to use "we" as the pronoun. i.e. "We're not thinking enough about us in this process."

3. If the SO says, "I'll be upset if you do not apply to [school withheld]," you have the right to say, "I'll be upset if I have to go to [school withheld]," but have a list of reasons why you feel that way. Hell, make a list for everything--your excitement might make him excited.

4a. Say "Thank you" if the SO gives in. Say thank you every way you know how.

4b. But play it safe. Newborns are not easy to relocate. Nor are bow-legged grownups.

5. Change the SO's ring tone on your phone. My So's new tone is "Sexy Boy" by Air. It may buy me a school in the Southwest.

6. Talk about moving early and often. Get the SO used to the idea. If he says to tone it down, then by all means tone it down, but remind him how fast time has been going lately.

7. If the SO says, "I need to settle down! I'm almost thirty!" remind him that George W. Bush was still a hapless alcoholic when he was forty. On second thought, do not say that.

8. If the SO sneaks out and picks you up an egg Mcmuffin from McDonalds while you are soaking in the tub and writing on a message board about how you are going to make it work at any cost (as mine just did), MAKE IT WORK! Screw everything. Go to whatever town he sees fit, even if it has no MFA program or college of any sort. Just make sure it has a McDonalds.


P.S. Yes. Typing on my laptop while in the tub. I rock Churchill style!

Jennifer Brown

Jan 25, 2009, 11:07 AM

Post #52 of 74 (5780 views)
Re: [Wri-yan] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Gosh, I am lucky. My SO of 6 yrs has encouraged me to apply all over the country, even though it means we will be apart for 2-3 years (he has a job that he doesn't want to leave and I don't want him to leave). He has even promised to pay my living expenses if I don't get funded. I applied to a school here where we live and I'm hoping I get in there so I have the option of deciding whether I want to stay here or not. But he keeps saying "If you get in at Iowa, Texas or Irvine, you are going!!"

I really don't think I could have made the decision to leave a perfectly good career and get an MFA if I weren't so supported. I think that the bottom line is that if there is friction over where to go, you have to work it out together -- and then if you can't. . . you need to choose between giving up getting an MFA for now or giving up SO. I may be crazy but I really do think everyone should consider living apart as an option. I really believe it is going to work out fine for my SO and I.

Maybe its easier for us because we are old (he's 51 and I'm 38 and we have no children).

Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert


Jan 25, 2009, 4:51 PM

Post #53 of 74 (5695 views)
Re: [germericanqt] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Germericanqt wrote: "I'm struggling with ulcers and depression--not to be melodramatic, but each successive rejection this year will carry with it the possibility that I've grossly overestimated my talent and that I won't get in anywhere (again)--and this morning, in the midst of all of this angst, my SO told me (again) that he doesn't think our relationship will survive two or three years apart and that I'm making a decision if I go to grad school.

I'm so mad at him for saddling me with this on top of all of my other bad feelings right now. When I leave (if I leave) we will have been together for almost three years, living together for half of that time. I plan to come home summers and holidays (if possible) and I'm doing everything I can to reassure him that while I'm not willing to sacrifice my education, dreams, and potential career, I do love him very much and want to be with him for life. I hate that he's making me feel like a bad person for pursuing a lifelong dream, especially since he's known the whole time we've been together that this was coming.

I just had to vent. Is anyone else's SO trying to make them feel guilty for wanting to go away?

I was once engaged to a guy who pulled something that. Our relationship ended because I left to complete the second year of my MFA instead of staying where he was. I am SO SO SO glad that relationship ended!!! I am now very, very happily married to a wonderful man who is completely supportive of me in pursuing my dreams.

Germericanqt wrote: It's not my fault he suddenly decided to go back to school and pursue a medical degree, making it impractical for him to come with me.

Wow. That really takes the cake. So what rules is he trying to impose on this relationship--that it's okay for him to pursue his dreams, but not okay for you to pursue yours?!?! That's a bad sign. It seems like a bad way to live your life.

I think what will happen here if you go do your MFA is one of two things: either
(1) the relationship will change in a good way--he will adapt, and he will accept that YES, it is ok for you to pursue your dreams; or
(2) the relationship will end, and that will be a good thing--because a relationship where the partner makes you choose between the relationship and your dreams is not a good relationship to spend your life in!

Daleth Demented (Blog)

(This post was edited by daleth on Jan 25, 2009, 4:52 PM)


Jan 25, 2009, 4:57 PM

Post #54 of 74 (5690 views)
Re: [alamana] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I hope it's not rude of me to jump in with my two cents here (I'm afraid I'm usually just a shameless lurker). I agree with sicofelephants, knixxery, Sugah, alamana and others who think that it's important for each partner to follow their own dreams. I really feel for everyone though, when it comes to this matter what you do, somebody thinks you're making the wrong choice. We both just graduated with our BAs, and now I'm applying to MFAs and he's applying to PhD Classics programs. We're applying to a lot of the same schools, but there's no guarantee (or even likelihood) that we'll get into the same place. We've agreed that once we know what our options are, we'll make our decisions without letting geography put pressure on us. It's a little bit frustrating, because when people ask what we'll do if we don't get into the same school and we just say we'll work it out somehow, they look at us like we just admitted that we don't care at all about our relationship. I know it sounds selfish to some people, but I don't want to sacrifice my dreams for *anyone*, and I don't want that for him either.


Jan 25, 2009, 5:41 PM

Post #55 of 74 (5659 views)
Re: [found] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Med students aren't fully developed people yet. Like very young children, they are developmentally incapable of perceiving the larger world around them and their needs. Fortunately, med students eventually become somewhat more tolerable resident and then, when the larval stage is complete, fully functioning physicians capable of adult relationships.

At least that's my experience.

(This post was edited by bighark on Jan 25, 2009, 5:42 PM)


Jan 26, 2009, 1:16 AM

Post #56 of 74 (5570 views)
Re: [germericanqt] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I don't know if this will help, but...

One of the best things my MFA offered me was a sense of the writer's work ethic. It's a hell of an ethic. A six or seven-day per week, sometimes 18-hour per day ethic. My MFA, and now my Ph.D. program, taught me this: Being a writer means being in a long distance relationship. Always. Whether the SO is in another part of the house or whether he or she is on the other side of the country. If he doesn't think your relationship will survive two or three years' long distance, he's probably going to have some trouble putting up with the long haul, as well.

You're not a bad person. Stop letting him feel like you are.

And do not forget to consider this: Everyone who reads wants to sleep with brilliant writers. Everyone.


Jan 26, 2009, 9:55 AM

Post #57 of 74 (5522 views)
Re: [cantonioni] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

A big part of the problem is that he considers himself a "realist" and doesn't take my career aspirations seriously...which may be reasonable as far as statistics go, but as far as being supportive...let's just say he's in the doghouse right now.

(Let me emphasize that he is a caring, loving, excellent boyfriend in all other aspects. I think he's just finding it easy to justify selfishness under the umbrella of being romantic...i.e. he can't live without me).

Jeanne Lyet Gassman

Jan 26, 2009, 10:21 AM

Post #58 of 74 (5507 views)
Re: [cantonioni] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Definitely agree with the work ethic thing. I'm in the middle of finishing my MFA at Vermont, and yesterday, hubby (who has a PhD in math) said to me, "You know, I was thinking about going back to school and getting another degree, but after seeing how hard you work, I don't think I want to. I don't think I'd have the stamina to do what you're doing now."

Amen to that, brother!

To do justice to an MFA and to write well, you have to think of it as a job, not a nice diversion. And it's a job that doesn't give you weekends off (if your mind is whirling with new ideas or you're facing a deadline). Think about this: I finished a solid draft of my novel on Thanksgiving Day last year. Since I wasn't available, guess who cooked the dinner? Hubby and kids. I ate my share of turkey and goodies and promptly fell asleep, exhausted from all those hours at the computer.


Justin Bryant

Jan 26, 2009, 11:30 AM

Post #59 of 74 (5479 views)
Re: [jlgwriter] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I feel a bit guilty now, as I can't say I worked hard at all during my MFA. I wrote a couple of hours every night, which I did anyway for 15 years prior to the program, and I read my classmates work thoroughly, but it still added up to having a ton of free time.


Jan 26, 2009, 1:00 PM

Post #60 of 74 (5439 views)
Re: [germericanqt] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

In Reply To
A big part of the problem is that he considers himself a "realist" and doesn't take my career aspirations seriously...

Don't underestimate how problematic this is. In order to become a writer, you need to not only totally invest in your dream, but you also need to surround yourself with people who share the dream, hold it up in the sky with you. It takes many pillars to support such a massive dream. People who don't believe in you might also be many other things at the same time: perhaps loving, rational, kind, reliable, affectionate, good-natured, supportive in every other way. But no matter that they are all those things, -- anyone who is not believing with you is hurting you; they are a drag -- ballast on the dream rather than a buoy. Cast them off, or at least keep them at arms length, and only hold the fellow dreamers close.

Let me be clear: your SO's attitude does not make him a bad boyfriend or bad husband. It only makes him a bad writer's mate. But that is enough. Stick with him at peril of your work.


Jan 26, 2009, 1:51 PM

Post #61 of 74 (5404 views)
Re: [Wri-yan] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I loved your post; good luck. You remind me of a particularly lengthy and . . . well, Byzantine, I suppose. . . negotiation I had with my fiance (who was an economics Ph.D. candidate; English for myself) as we both finished our masters. It was fun. And it was agonizing. We finally found THE perfect answer: University of Michigan for me and Michigan State for him. Both great programs; and close enough we'd live exactly 1/2-way in between and be absolutely perfect in every way for ever after--having been so ingenious, we'd get our just desserts. Then he got an offer he "couldn't pass up" at Ohio State. It WAS a lotta moolah--but hey. I didn't like their program (then--now I probably would) and got so pissed off I took MY best offer, at Wisconsin, and never saw him again. *Poof*: GONE.

May you fare better!

These decisions can be tough, but. . .they're awfully educational.


Jan 28, 2009, 8:50 PM

Post #62 of 74 (5266 views)
Re: [libbyagain] MFA & Relationships Can't Post


SO's lack of support and guilt-trips were (as I somewhat suspected) a result of him indulging his insecurity and depression over the idea of me leaving. He has since reformed and is trying to be truly supportive and happy for me (though I expect at least one relapse ahead of us).

For some reason, Alabama called him before they called me (went to Emergency Contact number on accident? No idea) and he gave them my number and then had a good cry after getting off the phone. When he got home, he was anxious and pale but ready to congratulate me and told me honestly that he was happy because he knew how excited I would be. He remains scared and sad at the impending separation, but I know he's trying hard to understand. He's not such a bad guy, just prone to subtle tantrums. How I love him.


Oct 17, 2009, 6:45 PM

Post #63 of 74 (5012 views)
Re: MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I'm reviving this thread for the sake of those experiencing this dilemma during the Fall 2010 app. season.

I've been in a long term relationship with my boyfriend going on two years now. I'm graduating in December, giving me a semester off between undergrad and a prospective MFA program. I'm technically graduating "late" because I was a transfer student, so I'll be almost 23 when starting a potential program. Anyway, my dilemma is both related to age and the relationship. Of course, doing this is essentially a lifelong dream. But I worry both about maybe being too young to get the most out of it and about the effect it may have on my relationship. My boyfriend is still working on his BA in Bioengineering and wouldn't be able to move. I'm only applying to 3 or 4 schools, none of which are in the area because California is very limited in terms of strong, decently funded programs. I'm even more limited by applying in nonfiction. So anywhere I got in, we'd have to do at least an hour or two flight long distance. I'm applying to University of Arizona, University of Iowa (NWP), and University of New Mexico for sure.

My boyfriend is a very laid-back person and isn't really a writer (though, as a musician, has dreams of writing the ultimate book on guitarists and music history). He's supportive of me and my dream of being a writer, but he's also made it clear that he'd obviously prefer for me not to move away. He said he'd be willing to do long distance. I have a lot of concerns around that, of course, and wouldn't want a LDR to detract from this opportunity or the opportunity to potentially ruin a good relationship (although, as others have said here, that may mean it wasn't meant to be if it can't survive a couple years of distance). It looks like I will apply to schools this year and then just see where I get in. In theory, I could easily put off even applying for a year, which originally was my intention. But I sort of want to get the process started now and get a feel for how it works. That way, if I don't get into one of the few programs I've applied to (which seems likely, but nonfiction isn't quite as competitive, so it is possible), I'll have a better shot the next time around.

Anyway, just throwing my situation out there. Is anyone else in a long term relationship applying this year or anyone attending an MFA program that's in one now? How are those of you that posted here earlier this year faring?


Oct 17, 2009, 9:26 PM

Post #64 of 74 (4996 views)
Re: [greenpenquills] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

You're 23, for pete's sake!

Life is full of possibilities for you. Don't fret.


Oct 17, 2009, 11:43 PM

Post #65 of 74 (4977 views)
Re: [greenpenquills] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Repeating what Woon said: You're 23!

And with that said, I think you need to put yourself and your dreams first. If you think the relationship is worth it, try by all means to make it work, but statistically speaking, it's going to be tough whether or not you apply to MFA programs. You change A LOT in the years after graduating college, you change even more in graduate school. MY SO from undergrad and I broke up about a year after graduation. We were in different programs at different schoosl (I was getting an MA in anthro and she was getting a phd in linguistics). We tried to make it work, but its tough. You're going to be meeting people that have the same interests as you, people that are just going to be more attractive because they are coming from someplace new with completely different experiences. We tried. But we both met other people very easily and ultimately had to face up to the cold, hard fact that it wasn't going to work. I'm now almost 29 and looking back on the past few years, I think ending that relationship was probably one of the healthiest decisions I've made. Did it suck at the time? Sure. Do I have regrets? Who doesn't? But, I've met some great people that I would have never met otherwise and did a lot of growing up. I'm applying to MFA programs this year and plan to pursue other degrees after that (both writing related and otherwise). I'm dating someone now and she knows what my plans are. I know that we'll probably break up at some point . . . but maybe we won't . . . who knows? But I ask myself, would it be worth it for her, for myself? How much am I willing to sacrifice? I'm still young and can afford to be selfish but the days coming when I can't afford to put myself first if I want to settle down. *sigh*

(This post was edited by WanderingTree on Oct 17, 2009, 11:44 PM)


Oct 18, 2009, 12:10 AM

Post #66 of 74 (4971 views)
Re: [WanderingTree] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I married the girl I was dating at 23. We were in a long distance relationship. She was in grad school and I was working several hundred miles away. After she graduated, she got a job in my town and we dated for a few more years and then we got married and then she decided to support me while I went to grad school myself. In an hour, i can say we have been married for seven years.


Anyway, most long distance relationships don't work out, but the reason for that has nothing to do with age. If you're in love, you're in love. Just know that statistics are not on your side. Most people don't handle long distances well.

Good luck with your relationship and your writing.


Oct 18, 2009, 11:16 AM

Post #67 of 74 (4930 views)
Re: [bighark] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I would say to wait a year, so long as the relationship is worth it. You're only applying to a few schools and you are limiting yourself because of distance. It might be worth it to wait, get some more "real world" experience, improve your writing, see if this relationship is worth it, wait for him to graduate, and then make a serious attempt at applying, with him by your side :). Go for 12 schools in various locations and go together. This degree isn't like other degrees, where you want to get started on it ASAP and it doesn't matter if you go into it straight from undergrad. Waiting is only going to improve your writing and smooth this situation out. The post above me says "you're 23, follow your dream!" As a 25 year old who has been wanting to do this for a long time, I would say "you're 23, wait until the moment is right to follow your dream." You really don't have to leave it all behind to do what you want to do, it's doable!


Oct 18, 2009, 1:33 PM

Post #68 of 74 (4911 views)
Re: [kbritten] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I have to agree... this is just an MFA program... the whole "writing is a dream" and F everyone else attitude is silly. If you're going to write, you'll write wherever you are. Just take some more classes locally (take challenging classes on top of writing too... philosophy and such... you'll get better, and probably have a strong application when you do get around to applying.)


Oct 20, 2009, 4:27 PM

Post #69 of 74 (4818 views)
Re: [greenpenquills] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Just thought I'd chime in: I entered UF's MFA program in 2007, leaving my boyfriend of four years back home in New Jersey. Though everyone (EVERYONE) said we'd break up, because "that's what happens in graduate school," we've been living together for almost six months now and got married last week. Remember, the best relationships push you to be a better, happier version of yourself rather than forcing you to compromise on your goals. In my experience, being in a long distance relationship for graduate school was great; I didn't get involved in a lot of the dating-drama that distracted many of my friends, but I also didn't feel obligated to stay home and be domestic instead of, say, going to readings. I know that, for me, staying in NJ solely for my SO would have made me antsy and resentful. Now, we're incredibly happy, healthy, independent people, in part thanks to our time apart.

As for the other relationships my cohorts were in at the beginning of the MFA program, most ended--but that was true for both local and long distance relationships. Mid-twenties is an age of great tumult and transition anyway. Know that no matter how things work out, it's the best--and to just take everything one day at a time.



Oct 21, 2009, 12:43 PM

Post #70 of 74 (4752 views)
Re: [SweetJane] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

It's important to prioritize things in life, esp. when it comes to relationships and such. Family, friends, significant others -- they come and go. But experience at an MFA program? It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. HOO YA!


Oct 21, 2009, 1:32 PM

Post #71 of 74 (4737 views)
Re: [Woon] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Yeah, but it's a once in a lifetime opportunity that you can complete during pretty much any time in your life. You should prioritize an art degree over friends, family, and significant others? That's sad! I want to get my MFA too, but if my mother comes down with cancer and I need to be closer to her, the MFA will be the last thing on my mind. If the person I love, the person I want and need in my life, needs to finish a year of college while I work, I can wait a year to apply. Excuse my rant, but I'm fascinated by Americans and their fantasies. It's the Disney mentality: if you dream it, it will happen. This is why art sucks, everyone is so obsessed with being worshiped and glorified as a "writer" or an "actor" that they fail to create meaningful art; it's all about them. It's sooooo Tobias Funke! Getting an MFA is about procuring resources and time that will improve your writing, it's not about indulging a self-centered fantasy. C'mon people!


Oct 21, 2009, 1:57 PM

Post #72 of 74 (4726 views)
Re: [kbritten] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

Well, there are other reasons for going into an MFA--publishing and teaching experience come to mind. If you're planning on going into publishing, you might have to do some hard work, and make some hard decisions. It is like anything else. One has to find a balance.


Oct 25, 2009, 6:12 PM

Post #73 of 74 (4562 views)
Re: [kbritten] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

kbritten- i understand your point and agree that there's nothing wrong with prioritizing personal relationships over getting an art degree. in fact, in many cases that is the right thing to do. however, for some people it doesn't make sense to put off something they want to do and something that will open up doors for their creative and professional life because they're in a relationship. i'm not rushing to do this so i can be a famous writer and fulfill a fantasy. sure, that would be nice, but writing is very important to me and i really want to take the next step and devote a couple years to doing just that while getting a degree that will qualify me to do more things in the field, like teaching. if my relationship is meant to work out, we should be able to handle two years of long distance. putting it off for a year or two won't guarantee that we'll stay together in the long run. if he were going to graduate next year, i'd be more inclined to wait for him, but he has three more years in school. i'd have to put off applying for two years in order to relocate with him. as someone at university of arizona's mfa program told me when i visited, "if you have writing in you now, go for it."

anyway, all of this is really a matter of opinion and personal preference, and it's been interesting getting different perspectives on this issue. i had a talk with my boyfriend and he told me that he supports me doing this, and that, i feel, is a big factor in determining if a long distance relaitonship will work out. most likely, i will end up having to apply again next fall, and i'm fine with that. but i'm giving it a shot now and applying to my top choice schools so, even if i don't get in, i'll be better prepared next time around.


Oct 25, 2009, 7:11 PM

Post #74 of 74 (4546 views)
Re: [greenpenquills] MFA & Relationships Can't Post

I completely agree with you, I really do, and that post was not really directed at you. If a couple talks it out and wants to go through a long distance relationship, it is certainly not my place to judge. Sweetjane said that it worked out for her and I am very happy for her, and if that's something that you and your boyfriend decide to also do, I think that's wonderful. It's great that he is so supportive! I am also currently in relationship and my boyfriend is a non-traditional student trying to transfer into a school and finish his undergrad degree before getting his doctorate in physical therapy. I had to cross off some great schools because he wouldn't receive funding there or because there weren't any physical therapy schools in the area. At first I was kind of irritated by it, but it also helped me to cut a lot of schools off of my list. In the end, I would rather go to a reputable school/program that is funded, alongside my boyfriend, as opposed to going to my "dream school" without him. We might need to talk about the long distance thing if there is absolutely no way for us to be in the same city and go to school at the same time without going $200,000 in debt combined, but we'll cross that road when we get there.

I guess what I'm saying is that we need to all be practical about this and not feel like if we died tomorrow our lives would be meaningless because we didn't get an MFA in creative writing. My family and friends are more important to me than a degree and if I need to make sacrifices to make sure that the people I love are also taken care of, then I will. It is not like you need to finish this degree at 25, in fact writing gets better with age, so you are more likely to get into a better program at an older age (read: mid-late twenties).

I will also say that I tell very few people that I like to write because I don't want to be labeled one of those people who thinks they are Ernest Hemingway because they wrote a story about Africa and have a beard. So many have these fantasies about being famous and remembered and idolized and I want to remain practical about my desire to write. I want to write seriously and credibly and express myself and my experience. If that means that I never get published but feel very confident in my work, then I will be happy with my life. If I can make a living off of writing, that would be even better! I would advise people to go for their MFA for the right reasons (even if they are different from mine), and not because they want people to like them.

Wow, long post, sorry for that.

First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs


P&W Newsletters

Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter to stay informed of the latest news, events and more.

Click to Sign Up

Subscribe to P&W Magazine | Donate Now | Advertise | Sign up for E-Newsletter | About Us | Contact Us

© Copyright Poets & Writers 2011. All Rights Reserved