Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have any secrets for figuring out a long distance relationship in med school. So much depends on the wants and needs of the individual people! It wouldn’t make sense for what works for me day to day to would work for each of you. However, I have been in a few long distance relationships that haven’t worked, and am currently in a blissfully happy one during my busiest year of med school, so I think I can add my few cents to the conversation. I asked my boyfriend his input on this topic, too! We both agreed that there are a few key things that make our relationship work.
The first is that our work ethics and lifestyles are very similar. Aka – we are both workaholics. We always have a lot of projects going on at once, so it’s totally normal to get home from one job to start working on another. We are usually so busy each day that neither of us is left just sitting around wishing the other person could be there. Usually just texts and a quick phone call before bed is all we have time for during the week. Our lifestyles also mean that when we are together, we’re okay just sitting next to each other getting work done. He does business-y things that I don’t understand, and I study or write blog posts. We always make time for a date night, but it’s actually stress-relieving that we can still be productive together. If one of us worked 9-5 without other projects there would probably be more frustration.
Supporting Each Other
Though we do very different things, we support each other’s careers. We both find each other’s passion and hard work really attractive, and so would never want to get in the way of that. He is so willing to learn all about med school, which means so much to me. He also listens to me vent or nerd-out about school, even though most of what I tell him grosses him out. The different specialty options I have to choose from could mean very different lifestyles and career paths, but he just wants me to be happy. As for him, I love how good he is at what he does and how he doesn’t shy away from big challenges. He is working on a career change, and watching him pursue it makes me so proud.
Given that both of our careers are nearing transitions, we’ve had to have discussions about how things will work. He will likely be moving once or twice for his career change, and I of course will go through The Match process next year. While the unknowns are a bit stressful and we can’t guarantee it will work out in our favor, we are both willing to figure it out together. We know there is nothing we can do about it right now, so we’ve agreed to not let our anxiety get the best of us. We will make decisions together when the time comes. Communicating and being on the same page about the future about this keeps me calm (er.)
Finally, I think our age has a lot to do with it. Being thirty, we’ve had lots of years to figure out who we are and what we want. I am the first to admit that I had a lot of growing up to do in my twenties. Between eating disorder recovery and my career change, it took me a while to really settle into who I am as an adult. I don’t know that I would have been ready for med school, much less managing a successful relationship during it, when I was younger. Obviously not everyone is me, and nothing about turning thirty made me some life expert! But I so feel for the younger people in my class that are upset about relationships and their future. I just want to hug them and say, “Oh my goodness, you have so much time!So many breakups to go through and frogs to kiss before you meet the right one. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!”
The Hard Parts
There are parts that are really hard. I miss him tons. When I have a bad day or some down time, I want nothing more than to be with him. I want to just live normal life together instead of a few days here and there. And traveling gets expensive! (I am very grateful for his airline points and status through his current job.) The unknowns about the future can be stressful. But he is absolutely worth it. We’ve both dated enough to know when something is good, and we aren’t about to give that up.