When I returned to the West-coast from an overseas trip, I fell in love with a medical graduate who had just found out they had matched to another country. We knew we didn’t have a lot of time to see if things would work out so we saw each other everyday for about a month and a half before he had to pack his bags and move out to the Mid-west; a town that I had never heard of which had a population of about 11,000 serviced by a Target, Walmart and a handful of mom and pop shops.
We met through his older brother on “League of Legends” and had an intense connection through various activities and knew that we wanted to continue seeing each other even if we had to make-do with long-distance. I had never dated a resident before and it was hard to imagine what it would be like due to the intense working hours along with the time-zone difference. Though I was fortunate that he was only two hours ahead, it still had its hardships.
One of the things I learned was to have a good support group. It would have been crazy hard had I not found friends who were in a similar situation. We were able to keep each other sane and chat throughout the day when our significant others were busy on wards or had nightshifts. Thankfully, this small tight-knit group of friends could relate to the “radio silences”, long call-shifts, and super-tired S.O’s on date night who just want to stay in and sleep on their day offs.
Some things i’ve learned over the first half-year of residency that I found helpful.
S.O. and I share a calendar so that I know when he is expecting to come home to have Skype dinners. Dinners happen at all times of the day; be flexible. I could have dinner prepared by 6pm and he’s still stuck at the hospital admitting a last minute patient. Other days, I message for an ETA and if I don’t hear back for another hour, i’ll assume he’s attending to an emergency code. It’s helpful to have a system in place so that you can change dinner plans or eat first. It sucks to be on the waiting end, but I keep reminding myself that this is the life we’ve signed up for. Better get used to those solo dinners.
#2: Picking up the Slack
When I visit S.O., I find that I am generally doing about 80-90% of the chores plus cooking. THAT’S OK, because S.O., is busting his ass in the ER/CCU/ICU saving someones life and working those 80 hour weeks. It’s only fair we help make it easier at home for them so that we can actually spend time together on days off.
#3: Don’t Beat Around the Bush
It’s emotionally straining to come home after a long day dealing with 6 complicated patients and then having to deal with you beating around the bush. S.O. loves it when I just tell him exactly what’s wrong with me, or why i’m upset. Don’t make it harder for your S.O. when he can easily resolve something with you if you’re straight-forward. Trust me, less fights happen.
Although I can’t say that dating a medical resident is for everyone. It took a lot of patience for me to learn how to be more independent, to have my own friends and hobbies because let’s be honest, most of the time you’re attending events solo. However, one of the greatest things long-distance and dating a resident has taught me is that communication is the key to success; building a strong foundation through communication and problem solving is more important for the trying times down the road.
Good luck to all those who are entering or are already with a resident. Hit me up with suggestions if you have any. Would love to hear from you =)