Can Your Relationship Survive an MBA?
Published: Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 18:10
Whether you're consulting, banking, marketing, or do-goodering, I think there's one thing on which we can all agree. The stress levels are already rising dangerously high, and relationship stress is the last thing you need piled on top of everything else. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you came into school with any relationship short of "omgsuperserious," then it's going to be a bumpy ride. Not to worry – this can actually prove to be more beneficial than it sounds by teaching us all a bit about being successful in relationships while we simultaneously plan our world domination.
We are rapidly approaching "Black Monday" (Monday after Thanksgiving, by which many of our pre-school relationships will be teetering precariously on the edge of destruction. Or dead). With this, my guess is that lots of you couples out there are starting to question your relationship's longevity. To be fair, if your bond can't handle this stress then it's probably better to let it go now then by trying to see if it can handle marriage or baby strain. Really, the MBA can do you a favor by helping you shed a partner that may not have been the best thing in the first place. So, if there are any doubts budding in your mind and you would like some assistance in making the big decision, I suggest beginning with these three questions:
The first question you need to ask yourself is how supportive is your partner being about you working on your MBA, and what is their attitude towards what you are struggling to accomplish? Of course, this is a key question to answer for any relationship, but there is simply no way it can survive this program without huge amounts of understanding and encouragement. This may not appear in a blatant or obvious way, but in smaller, more subtle ways. Week after week of late night corporate presentations, projects, club meetings, and recruiting events will start to get to even the most accommodating partner. Complaints are normal, and should be fairly easily handled without causing lasting damage to a relationship. It all boils down to how sympathetic your partner is. Are they being understanding about your crazy schedule or are they bitching about never seeing you? Are they helping you research companies and discuss options for your future or are they sabotaging your efforts by trying to get you to go out and stay out late when you have a very early and very busy day the next day? Most importantly, when you talk about school and recruiting are they excited to hear what you have to say or do they roll their eyes and tune you out? If this is going to last, your partner has to be as invested in and enthusiastic about it as you are.
The second problem to look for and question to answer is whether your partner starts to show any signs of possessiveness or jealousy. Many close friendships develop quickly here at Stern. Not only are we working together on casing, networking, and assignments, but we also feel each other's pain about how ridiculous our workloads and obligations are. A significant other (especially a relatively new one) could start to feel left out and insecure about your brand new social circle. This problem can be exacerbated if you moved for school and are trying to maintain a long distance relationship. It's hard to find time for calls with any sort of frequency, not to mention regular visits since your weekends are probably already booked solid through December. It won't work unless your boyfriend or girlfriend is secure and confident enough in your relationship to have their own life and not constantly suspect you're out flirting with classmates and/or strangers. If your partner has any jealous tendencies or even the slightest possessive streak, you want to know. And then you want to break up with them, trust me. This program will bring that out of them if it's there, and that's a good thing to find out now before you get any more attached.
Finally, let's talk about stress relief. And of course, sex. Putting it bluntly, are you getting enough? The stress and pressure piled on everyday has to be released somehow. If not, it could potentially get really ugly, like nervous breakdown ugly. Let's try to avoid that. Lucky single students among us have it a bit easier in dealing with all the pressure, as random hookups work wonders for this. If you happen to have a significant other though, you both need to make sure you take advantage of regular bedtime recreation. Unfortunately, it's much too easy to let this component of your relationship become neglected. Late nights make it harder to fit it in the schedule, and feeling stressed out does not aid in putting anyone in the mood. Sexual compatibility is crucial to any healthy relationship, and this is another problem that may become more apparent under the flattering fluorescent lights of b-school. If you aren't getting what you need physically from the boyfriend or girlfriend, it's time to either find a new one or fix your problem now.
None of these issues are necessarily dealbreakers, but they absolutely need to be taken seriously and dealt with early if your relationship stands a chance. First decide if you want the relationship to have a chance, then get to work on your problems. Or break it off and start having some fun. Then tell me all about it. With pictures, if possible.
I've been seeing lots of good questions come in. Or, at least entertaining ones. Feel free to keep them coming, and I'll keep trying not to laugh at you (maybe). Send any burning sex or dating questions to me at email@example.com, subject "Business Relations" and I'll take a stab at pretending I know what I'm talking about.