I am a first year maths PhD student at a UK university, and I recently made a very long post about potentially quitting my PhD and I am severely lacking motivation (see here for much more details).
I am starting to wonder whether my disillusionment is partly caused by my supervisor. Don't get me wrong - my supervisor is lovely, we can talk about things fairly openly and she really knows her stuff when it comes to mathematical analysis and partial differential equations. Over the first few months of my PhD she was very supportive of everything I did, but only recently have I realised how that has essentially bitten me in the arse.
We had a couple of very long conversations recently about the fact that she is worried about my progress despite being only 6 months in - namely that she feels I have not been putting in the time required. This is definitely true I must admit, but the reason for that is my motivation has really plummeted recently and as a result I've been finding simple tasks very difficult (her main worry recently is that I've been spending 2 months trying to figure out a task which she says would take any analysis graduate student 2 hours - or moreover, I've had a lot of difficulty getting around to it due to other departmental commitments such as attending classes, doing teaching and marking, and taking lecture notes for special needs students) I do also feel that because my analysis background is probably a bit weak (and she was aware of this when I applied to the studentship) that my supervisor has been expecting that I'll just solve this problem myself rather than carefully structure the first few months to allow me to absorb the content and take my own time.
I feel as though my supervisor has been leading me into a false sense of security somewhat; towards the start of the PhD she was just politely agreeing with whatever it was that I was doing (even if there were some errors in the way I was doing things) in order to positively support me, bearing in mind I was a new student and she was still getting to know me, and this falsely led me to believe that I was somehow doing okay. I feel as though she has been insincere and hiding the truth from me, hoping that I'll pick up on her polite "hints" that certain things should be done, rather than just simply saying if there was something I wasn't doing right or saying "that's good, but you really need to do X". I would much prefer being supervised by someone who is much more direct about if there is something I have done wrong as this would allow me to correct things at an early stage, rather than let things slide and then only later on down the line realise that something really is wrong.
This is a repeat of the research project that happened during my MMath at my previous university. Once again, I have encountered an inexperienced supervisor (who is fairly new to supervising students and getting a lot out of them) who has not been actively engaging with me as much as they could have done, who has been overly nice up to this point in the hope that it will have made me more productive, only to say that "I have been very positive and encouraging, and even when I have been trying to make things a bit more difficult for you, that doesn't seem to have worked" as though they are trying to use their own politeness as grounds against me. WHY DON'T PEOPLE JUST TELL ME DIRECTLY IF SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT?
Anyway, this could be purely my own fault and this may just be the result of my own incompetence at research work or time management (hence the other post about me considering quitting), but is this something that would ring alarm bells for other PhD students or alternate supervisors? Would it be worth considering a much more assertive supervisor (my advisor is someone who seems like a genuinely nice guy but he is also incredibly knowledgeable about mathematics and he has supervised a lot of PhD students - the students I've spoken to who have him as a supervisor seem to be doing well) instead of quitting altogether? To put it simply, I feel as though my supervisor has just been a "yes woman" and only now do I feel that the indirect politeness has bitten me in the backside.