I am an undergraduate student, intending to go to graduate school (physics) next year. I spoke with some of the graduate students I am currently taking courses with, and they mentioned that they were formally advised not to date each other, although informally it was acknowledged that this occurs regardless.

I can think of one obvious reason not to date someone you work closely with, namely, if you break up it can be extremely awkward. Are there other considerations?

  • 2
    Have you heard of "two body" problem ?
    – Nobody
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 5:06
  • 1
    What if the two have different postdoc jobs after graduation ? Or one finds a tenured assistant professorship at one school and the other got a postdoc 2000km away ?
    – Nobody
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 5:41
  • 4
    Point taken, although this is a general issue of dating someone in academia, regardless of whether you are in school together or in same research group. Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 5:44
  • 2
    Ideally, ask the students you heard this from what reasons were given for this advice. Or, if you yourself are "formally" advised in this way, ask about reasons. This may simply be tribal tradition that may have started ten years ago with an acrimonious breakup between two students and got perpetuated in a monkeys-ladder-banana-ice water way. Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 8:44
  • 3
    @Nobody: I'd say the two-body-problem is not such much a problem for "two phd students" (as most will not continue in academia) but rather for "a phd student who wants to stay in academia and any other person, student or not" :-)
    – user111388
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


The only reason I can think of for a formal warning (which makes me think this is a policy, rather than just mentoring advice) is that there's some concern-- and possibly some past scandal-- about one member of a couple being in some position of authority over another member of a couple.

A specific example would be one member taking a course, and the other being the TA/grader for the course: Obvious conflict of interest.

Different universities have different rules about this, from the draconian ("grad students don't date other students") to the relaxed ("be grownups about this and disclose the conflict of interest when and if it arises.")

  • 3
    Do you know of a place with "grad students don't date other students" and the consequences, if not followed? For me (European), this seems absolutely horrible and out-of-place, on a same level as "grad students are not allowed to speak non-academic people"
    – user111388
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 16:46
  • @user111388 I even heard about something that is more ridiculous than dating restriction. In my school going to local nightclubs as a graduate student is frowned upon because there are always undergrad students. Even if I dance just with a fellow grad student.
    – Mihail
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 16:52
  • @user111388 can I name a specific institute off the top of my head? No. But I am sure I have seen universities here in the States with that policy... at least on paper. I don't think it's very common, and I have no way of knowing if it was the result of a recent problem, or some rule that's been on the books since 1950 and never updated.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 17:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .