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Background

I have been dating a Japanese woman in Japan for two months now. Until now we've regularly met each other on weekends and were talking during the week, mostly with instant messaging. I never said explicitly "I love you" to her but I told her that I really like to spend time with her. I planned to tell her on yet to be planned weekend together (which I asked her about already).

Last week I noticed a reduction of her communication with me. I asked her if she is being busy work or has some other problems. She shortly told me, yes she is busy with work and has some problems. I told her that she can tell me about her issues if she wants to.

Now at start of the weekend she told me that she's got a chance of doing a doctorate and therefore the PhD she's been dreaming of doing. But she also told me that she wants to put serious time and effort into her PhD and thus cannot spend time with me anymore. She said that she wants to focus on her career.

As I did a PhD myself I think I can understand the necessity to put much time and effort into this.

Question

How can I tell her that I believe that doing a PhD and dating/relationship are not two incompatible things? I want to tell her that, since I am a PostDoc researcher I perfectly understand the need to sometimes vanish from all other personal connections and just focus on research. I want to tell her that I want to try to support her with this decision and am really happy for her. But at the same time I want her to give us a chance to at least try and see if we can balance the work and our fledgling relationship.

I do not want to put more pressure onto her by now saying "I love you and that's why you have to stay with me". I just want her to feel like this is no problem but just something our relationship can grow on.

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    Hi there! Welcome on IPS. I allowed myself to edit your question a bit because we can't help you with how to convince someone to do something - we can't force people, which is why I rephrased it into "how to tell her that I believe its possible to date while being a researcher". Feel free to edit it if I got you wrong :) also, could you tell us why you think simply telling her what you said in your post wouldn't work? – avazula Jun 15 at 12:31
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    Thank you for the edit! I think if I use the wrong words it might backfire on my intention. As you said I cannot force her to do something. So I don't want to say it in a way that might seem as to presure her into one result. I just want to go over her concerns together, instead of getting told the results of her considerations. – schaedelkeks Jun 15 at 14:13
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    Is she trying to avoid you and use phd as an excuse? because this is just 2 months old relationship and you were not yet committed each other fully. – NiceGuy Jun 15 at 17:05
  • @NiceGuy Is she trying to avoid you and use phd as an excuse? I consider this as a possibilty. But she told me about this beeing a dream of her right when I meet her. And at least from my perspective in our last meetings we both seemed to have a good time and conversations. – schaedelkeks Jun 16 at 5:39
  • So the biggest problem now became that she just stopped responding any request from me to talk to her about this. – schaedelkeks Jun 19 at 0:55
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I want to tell her that, since I am a PostDoc researcher I perfectly unterstand the need to sometimes vanish from all other personal connections and just focus on research. I want to tell her that I want to try to support her with this decision and are really happy for her. But at the same time I want her to give us a chance to at least try and see if we can balance the work and our fledling relationship.

Being direct and honest seems like such a good approach already. :P

She seems to have decided already that she needs to focus, but you have some experience to bring to the table, as you have the doctorate yourself. Tell her how you understand that it is demanding and though you did focus at the time (it seems), you think it would be worth trying.

Ultimately, work/life balance is everything. I've mostly focused on my career from the very beginning and though I didn't let go of physical activities, I did let romance slip by most of the time. I'm a lot better now that I have someone to share the good and bad moments with and she might need that, when the research results take too long or are frustrating, or the interactions she is having there make her uneasy.

You just have to remove the "but" from this sentence:

I want to tell her that I want to try to support her with this decision and are really happy for her. But at the same time I want her to give us a chance to at least try and see if we can balance the work and our fledling relationship.

It ain't negative at all, just tell her you're happy, you want to continue together and support her through her dream.

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You say that she's stopped responding to requests to talk about this. Have you actually talked about it, or just made requests to talk about it?

I've found at multiple times in my life it's necessary to just send your message, as best as you can, and let it be. If she's already heard your message, and you just want to talk more about it because she hasn't accepted it, then I'd guess it's time to let it be.

If you've just talked about talking and she's not accepted that there should be a time for talking, you're almost certainly not going to get a time for talking without saying your piece. Her patience has probably worn thin, so while an elevator speech might work, I'd recommend for shorter. Can you condense it to a subject line? That could be all she'll ever see of it.

That said, if you are sending the message as an email, I'd suggest have a subject line that says everything if you can, and an elevator speech body, because if she sees the body of the message, you probably have those 30 seconds.

It's probably worth noting that if she's stressed out about her doctorate, she's liable to see some of the obstacles she envisions as more problematic than they'd be, and you're apparently one of them. So long as you're just requesting time to talk about things, that plays into her stress. If the entirety of what you want to talk about is two short sentences making up a single line subject, for example, and she sees that, then you're not playing into the stress-enhanced obstacle in her mind.

That doesn't mean she'll necessarily respond, nor does it mean she'll respond quickly if she does. But it does mean that her mental version of you will probably not play an increasingly large role in any internalized struggle she may have going on.


I've had times in my life when I needed to focus on things, and people who couldn't accept that had to be cut out. It doesn't particularly matter whether you can or can't accept that, what really matters is whether she's seen whether you can accept that.

I've known other people who shut me out of their lives when they needed to focus on things, and many of them continued to shut other people out of their lives afterwards, but I was usually welcomed back because I demonstrated that I understood their need for time to focus.

It doesn't always work like that. I've had people tell me they needed time to focus on something, and I gave it to them, and then they went away and I never saw them again. But it seems to me that it's more frequent that people I know value that I let them have their own time if they need it.

I'll admit that I haven't performed statistical analysis on my life experiences, and the one time it felt like the woman I wanted to date needed space, it didn't work like this. But there were a lot more issues going on in that situation, and it wasn't very comparable as she wasn't explicitly citing the need for study time.

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