How many hours a day do physicists spend with their girlfrields?

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How many hours a day do physicists spend with their girlfriends

  • less than 1 hour a day

    Votes: 11 45.8%
  • 1-2 hours a day

    Votes: 3 12.5%
  • 2-3 hours a day

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3-4 hours a day

    Votes: 3 12.5%
  • 4-5 hours a day

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5-6 hours a day

    Votes: 1 4.2%
  • 6-7 hours a day

    Votes: 2 8.3%
  • 7-8 hours a day

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 8-9 hours a day

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 10 or more hours a day

    Votes: 4 16.7%

  • Total voters
    24
  • #1
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I am 29 years old. I have just completted my ph.d. in physics (my thesis was on a rather obscure approach to quantum gravity, called causal set theory). I am starting a post-doctoral position in India.

Anyway, I have recurrent fight with my girlfriend regarding the fact that I overfocus on physics and don't give her enough time. From her point of view, the working day is 8 hours, and she allows me to work a lot more than that: all she asks me is to give her 4 hours a day and at least one weekend. However, when I talked to my former thesis advisor about it, he said he barely spends any time with his wife at all. From his point of view, it is hard for people who are outside of physics to understand that you can do research outside of the lab (my girlfriend is in biochemistry), but it is normal for people in theoretical physics to work as much as I do. However, my girlfriend pointed it out to me that she knows two people who are also graduate students in physics department, and both of them spend far more time socializing than me. She also pointed out that when I went to one of the conferences, people socialized with each other. From her point of view, this indicates that in general they are more willing to socialize than me; I don't have evidence one way or the other.

So I would like to make an opinion poll and get objective evidence. How many hours a day do physicists on my level spend with their girlfriends?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
6,361
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It depends on how much they love them.
 
  • #3
3,042
16
4 hours a day? That's insane. I'd go crazy spending 4 hours a day with anyone - day in day out.
 
  • #4
Hurkyl
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This isn't a case of the mythical average physicist dating the mythical average physicist's girlfriend. This is a case of you dating your girlfriend. It's dangerous to oversimplify things in any analysis -- e.g. the classic "assume a spherical cow".
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
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This poll is also very sexist. It automatically assumes that physicists are either straight males, promiscuous straight males cheating on their wives, or lesbians!

:)

Zz.
 
  • #6
494
2
I am 29 years old. I have just completted my ph.d. in physics (my thesis was on a rather obscure approach to quantum gravity, called causal set theory). I am starting a post-doctoral position in India.

I'm in the same age range, currently working on my PhD in computer vision. My work is highly theoretical...so I know what you mean about not being able to stop at 6 pm. Actually, I think it's a lot worse being in computer science because a simple idea can often take hundreds of hours of programming to validate. I recently had a similar argument with my girlfriend. She didn't think we spent enough time together, whereas I was finding it difficult to get work done due to the amount of time I was spending with her.
 
  • #7
359
0
get rid of the gf and you can have all the time you want...

or...

If you want to keep her because you have fun together and she makes you happy, then rethink your life and decide which makes you happier.

You have about 10 years left of girlfriends and good party times. Then you'll be 40 and life will be very different. then you'll still have (depending on where you live) about another 30 years to do full time physics.

Time management!
 
  • #8
neu
225
3
It depends on our level of entanglement
 
  • #9
JasonRox
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2,323
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I never really counted time.

I don't know. I hate when people try to quantify "love" and feelings like that. That's ******** in my books.
 
  • #10
395
0
lets assume that the physicist actually has a girl friend,

now we take the second derivative of the hotness of the girl and find the sum of his

i don't bloody know

lol
 
  • #11
252
1
Find a partner in your field, with your exact interests. Work on the same project and the next poll will be, how much time is reasonable to take off for myself?
 
  • #12
395
0
Find a partner in your field, with your exact interests. Work on the same project and the next poll will be, how much time is reasonable to take off for myself?

There are
75 people in my physics lectures,
3 are girls

lol
 
  • #13
1,031
19
I spent a few hours with a physicist's girlfriend once. Don't tell my wife.
 
  • #14
BobG
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I think the actual amount of time is probably irrelevant (not to mention that 3-4 hours every day is really dreaming, even for people with normal jobs).

Maybe what really bugs her is your priority system. Is she always second priority? Any time you spend with her has to be scheduled around your physics work? If something comes up at work, you're always willing to cancel any plans you had with her? Or are there at least some instances where you'll spend time with her even though you know it will put you behind in your work, meaning you have to make up that time somewhere, etc?

If she does rank second and there is a huge gap between your first priority and second priority, then that's fine. I think she just wants to know exactly where she stands so she can decide whether or not that's how she wants to live her life.
 
  • #15
2,486
103
I spent a few hours with a physicist's girlfriend once. Don't tell my wife.

And whilst you was having your little fling jimmy your wife was having her little fling.It wasn't me honestly.I think it was the next person who answers this thread.
 
  • #16
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Just wondered how everything is going here.Whoops.....damm......oh what a giveaway.Time to put on my running shoes.
 
  • #17
73
0
I think the actual amount of time is probably irrelevant (not to mention that 3-4 hours every day is really dreaming, even for people with normal jobs).

Maybe what really bugs her is your priority system. Is she always second priority? Any time you spend with her has to be scheduled around your physics work? If something comes up at work, you're always willing to cancel any plans you had with her? Or are there at least some instances where you'll spend time with her even though you know it will put you behind in your work, meaning you have to make up that time somewhere, etc?

If she does rank second and there is a huge gap between your first priority and second priority, then that's fine. I think she just wants to know exactly where she stands so she can decide whether or not that's how she wants to live her life.

Actually, the statement that she "comes second" is exact complaint she says, in her own words! I try to tell her then that, in my heart, she is first, it is just the specific stressors that come at the times when I overfocus. Her response to that is that priority system should be judged by the actions. So, based on that latter statement, how can you say that "actual amount of time is probably irrelevant"? Also, you said "3-4 hours every day is really dreaming, even for people with normal jobs". If such was true, why would "my actions" show she is second if I refuse to do that?
 
  • #18
73
0
get rid of the gf and you can have all the time you want...

I am not doing that. I love my girlfriend and I want to be with her. I just want to find a way to be able to have my girlfriend, and not compromise physics either. There are other people who do it -- most professors in physics department have wifes. So may be there is some trick they can use

or...

If you want to keep her because you have fun together and she makes you happy, then rethink your life and decide which makes you happier.

You have about 10 years left of girlfriends and good party times. Then you'll be 40 and life will be very different. then you'll still have (depending on where you live) about another 30 years to do full time physics.

Time management!

Actually, I also think about the age thing, and that is the exact thing that makes me want to spend MORE time on physics. Even if I do spend my years before 40 partying, there are no positive consequences to it after I am 40. On the other hand, if I do research and have some publications, they will stay with me forever.

Also, I am not a big party person. My reasons to having a girlfriend can be fulfilled by a wife no matter how old I might be. On the other hand, as a physicist I would probably be less productive after I am 40. Even if I will be one of the fewer people who retain their productivity at the older age, and, as you put, still have 30 more years to go, I would have still lost 25% of my time, which is a lot.

This can not be said about a wife. When I am 70 I will be at the same place family-wise, whehter I had my wife since 30 or since 40. On the other hand, if I do the partying between 30 and 40, I will have less publications by the time I am 70. No matter how great my productivity might be after 40, I would still look back at 30-40 time and say I could have done even more.
 
  • #19
Kurdt
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She obviously doesn't understand the importance of your work to you. If she can't handle that then maybe you shouldn't be together. Its either that or get a less demanding job.
 
  • #20
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This isn't a case of the mythical average physicist dating the mythical average physicist's girlfriend. This is a case of you dating your girlfriend. It's dangerous to oversimplify things in any analysis -- e.g. the classic "assume a spherical cow".

The reason I presented it that way is because I had discussions with my gf of how much time she will require "on a long run" (including several years from now). This means that this has nothing to do with circumstances now and more to do with what she expects in general.
 
  • #21
Pengwuino
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This seems to have less to do with physics and is more of a relationship problem. Replace doing physics with managing a business or hanging out with friends and you have the same problem. It boils down to how much you love her and how much you love doing physics. Make no doubt about it, you can love someone enough to sacrifice from your career/pleasure for, but you can also not love them enough. Just because other people "seem" to have a trick doesn't mean that trick isn't 'I'm in a loveless marriage' or 'my spouse is addicted to prostitutes'.
 
  • #22
turbo
Gold Member
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This seems to have less to do with physics and is more of a relationship problem. Replace doing physics with managing a business or hanging out with friends and you have the same problem.
Yep! When I was developing custom programs for businesses and trying to grow my business, I was often on-site at the customers' businesses by 7-8 am, and generally (after eating supper and watching the news) I'd spend the whole evening coding, often until midnight or so. It's hard to stop once you have an "aha" moment when the coding is coming together well, and you don't want to take the time to comment the code so you can refresh your memory and pick it up quickly the next day.

My wife is a patient woman and she knew the pressures I put on myself to make my business a success, but every once in a while, she'd put her foot down so I would go to bed at a reasonable hour or take some time off on a weekend.
 
  • #23
BobG
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Pengwino's got a point. If your spouse/girlfriend/significant other will always come in a low second, then maybe you need a spouse/girlfriend/significant other that will always rank you a low second.

Or find a woman with serious self esteem problems that's so grateful for any kind of attention that ranking a low second seems like a good deal to her.

Or, some women would be perfectly happy as long as you graced her with your sperm for procreation so she can devote her life to raising a flock of kids.

The good trick is to find someone who meets your lifestyle. The bad trick is winding up with someone that can't possibly be happy with your type of relationship and resorts to drugs, alcohol, etc to pass the time.
 
  • #24
Moonbear
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It is completely irrelevant how much time other people spend with spouses or significant others. What is relevant is that you are not giving your girlfriend the time and attention she desires. When you DO spend time with her, do you actually pay attention to her, or are you just in the same room and still doing physics or talking about physics?

If you consider it a sacrifice to spend time with her instead of doing physics, why do you want to stay with her anyway? If you really loved her, you'd be asking the question the other way around, how do you manage to commit the time needed to do your research when you really desire to be with your girlfriend.
 
  • #25
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Or [...]
Or[...]
Or share your life with somebody who also has their own passion and ambition. :tongue2:

Anyway, my answer is : enough time so that I question whether it's worth. I have no shame admitting that. I do love her, and I also loved others before. I have always been clear with my priorities. I am lucky enough that working 12 or 15 hours per day feels good. Not everybody wakes up happy at 7am after 3 hours of sleep to get back to work.

First thing in the morning as well as last thing in the evening is checking the status of the experiment. Maybe when I'm old, I'll consider the possibility to switch to checking on the kids.
 
  • #26
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This seems to have less to do with physics and is more of a relationship problem. Replace doing physics with managing a business or hanging out with friends and you have the same problem. It boils down to how much you love her and how much you love doing physics. Make no doubt about it, you can love someone enough to sacrifice from your career/pleasure for, but you can also not love them enough. Just because other people "seem" to have a trick doesn't mean that trick isn't 'I'm in a loveless marriage' or 'my spouse is addicted to prostitutes'.

I see your point. The reason I view it as a physics problem, is that I would have been on her side of the table if it was anything else what-so-ever. For example, I found it very disrespectful when my first girlfriend was spending time with her friends, without including me; and, one of the things I like the most about my current girl friend is that she always puts me first to her friends -- for instance, in her birthday, I was the only one invited.

Now, it might sound like I am hypocritical since I say others should put me first but I should not return similar favor. Actually, that is not true. If my current girlfriend were to refuse to spend any time with me *because of her research*, I won't mind that at all. On the other hand, if she doesn't spend time with me because she has to watch a show, which lasts only an hour, that bothers me to some extend.

In other words, I have the same standards to myself and others, and the standards are the following:

1)Relationship should NOT go second to friends, movies, hobbies, or anything else

2)A big exception to the above is research

So the CONTRAST between 1 and 2 is NOT about attitude towards relationship; it is an attitude towards research. That is why I view it as a research issue, rather than relationship issue.

I suspect that the major sourse of my misunderstanding with my gf is that she doesn't see 1 and 2 as separate categories. For instance, she mentioned once or twise that when she was little her father was neglecting both her and her sister because of his preocupation with TV, and when I do physics all the time it feels the same. I tell her that physics is much more important than TV, and if you ignore someone for X, then the more important X is, the less it can be construed that a person doesn't care about you. Her response to that is that she doesn't care about the reason (whether it be physics or TV, or anything else), what she cares about is actions, and the actions are the same.

So, this leads to a general question. The question is NOT whether it is okay to ignore a gf for a hobby, or friends. Both me and her agree it is not okay. The quesiton is whether a career should be in a different category.
 
  • #27
Moonbear
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So, this leads to a general question. The question is NOT whether it is okay to ignore a gf for a hobby, or friends. Both me and her agree it is not okay. The quesiton is whether a career should be in a different category.

You should not ignore your significant other for the sake of a career if you wish them to remain your significant other. If your career is more important, let them go or find someone who is comfortable with a career coming first. Not everyone can handle being a "career widow." It doesn't matter what your career is, if the hours are long, expect it to be incompatible with most relationships.

On the other hand, if it's a more short-term thing, such as you need to work really hard for 5 years to get promoted to a certain level that will bring better stability and ability to support a family, then one would hope your significant other could understand and be supportive of that need in the short term as long as they know that the early sacrifice will get you long-term gain that will let you enjoy doing more things together.

If you instead plan to work those same long hours your entire career, expect it to be difficult to maintain relationships.

Basically, you need to decide your priorities. If career is more important than your relationships, your relationships will suffer. If your relationships are more important than your career, you may be slower to promotion but happier at home. Or, seek out someone who shares your goals. If you find another workaholic, you may get along well.
 
  • #28
Redbelly98
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... However, when I talked to my former thesis advisor about it, he said he barely spends any time with his wife at all.

But what was the story when they were still dating?
 
  • #29
Moonbear
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But what was the story when they were still dating?

More importantly, what does his wife think about the current situation? Maybe she is very unhappy and he's clueless about it.
 
  • #30
Pengwuino
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Now, it might sound like I am hypocritical since I say others should put me first but I should not return similar favor. Actually, that is not true. If my current girlfriend were to refuse to spend any time with me *because of her research*, I won't mind that at all. On the other hand, if she doesn't spend time with me because she has to watch a show, which lasts only an hour, that bothers me to some extend.

In other words, I have the same standards to myself and others, and the standards are the following:

1)Relationship should NOT go second to friends, movies, hobbies, or anything else

2)A big exception to the above is research

So the CONTRAST between 1 and 2 is NOT about attitude towards relationship; it is an attitude towards research. That is why I view it as a research issue, rather than relationship issue.

A lot of people seem to have this line of reasoning. "MY interest should always come first because it's somehow special". It's not. What if your girlfriends main interest was her friends? or working out? You say that if she had research, you'd be fine with it, but really, what if every moment you had time free for her she said "sorry, i need to study", how would you feel?
 

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