Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Med school is tough
But so are you!
Considering that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, the Wellness & Student Life committee wanted to share advice on maintaining healthy relationships with significant others in medical school. Fair warning: This post is long, but I wanted to gather as much advice from people at different points in the dating scene!
*The following names have been changed
Relationship Status: In a relationship, local
I’m an MS2 dating a second-year law student (2L). We met at a Med-Law Malpractice Bowl Flag Football game and our relationship has been all touchdowns and no penalty flags (please laugh).
I wanted to share advice on how to stay true to yourself while dating in medical school! Here are some ABC’s 🙂
A) Academics is a top priority (it’s your dream to be a doctor, isn’t it? And you’ve worked your butt off to get here). Make sure your SO understands this in the beginning of the relationship, otherwise they will feel like you are cheating on them with Med School, and that is just a weird concept to wrap your head around. Since he and I are both students, we frequently study together. Though we may be silent for hours at a time, just having someone you love be physically near you is a great source of stress relief.
B) Busy. We all say that word at least once a day. Well, with us both being busy during the day, we decided to take an MMA workout class together in order to hang out and stay on top of our health. Though sometimes we throw physical punches at each other in that class, it helps relieve our stress with school. And it helps us to be silly yet competitive with each other!
C) Communicate – Let your significant other KNOW when you have an exam coming up, let them KNOW if something is bothering you (even if it might seem irrelevant), let them KNOW how upset it actually made you that they ate the last of the salsa in the fridge. Otherwise you might implode – and no one wants to see that, not even your Momma.
- D) D is for delightful kisses and hugs! Isn’t there some research showing that a hug a day keeps the crazy away? Snuggles are awesome, especially when you’re watching Sketchy micro videos! But seriously, my older sister (also a physician), told me when I was an incoming lonely MS1 to either get a dog or a boyfriend for snuggles. The dog didn’t happen, but the boyfriend crashed into me (literally, we were playing flag football).
E) Every 4 months or so he and I find ourselves with a bit of downtime, and we ask each other this question: “What have I done these last few months that you feel has made this relationship better? How can I be a better SO?”. Yes, it’s cheesy and sounds like it is a line from the self-help book you got in a discount bin a few years ago. But it has helped our relationship grow. Just try it, maybe not on the first date though.
F) Feelings? Don’t put them in a box under your bed. Like someone? Ask them out! Be gutsy and bold, like asking the cute law school football player for his number.
G) Gut feeling that something is wrong? If you aren’t feeling the relationship after 6 months – break up. Your time is limited and don’t just have a placeholder in your life. See above note about dog.
Relationship Status: In a relationship, local
“Having a relationship in Medical School is probably the hardest thing to do! You want to spend time with your significant other, your family, and your friends, but you also have tons of studying to do, or are working long hours when doing rotations. The most helpful thing for me to do was plan ahead and prioritize. The months I knew I’d have more free time because it was a lighter rotation or subject matter is when I tried to be the most social. If it was going to be a busier time, I let everyone know ahead of time that I wouldn’t be as available. Giving people the heads up about my schedule really helped!! My boyfriend would also go out of his way to be extra supportive and tried making things easier for me during my “rough patches” because he knew how stressed out I would be.
But honestly, most of Medical School is time consuming, so when my “rough patches” went on for months, I’d try to make sure I didn’t miss things that were important to my boyfriend and my family and friends. Also, I tried to include them in my life by telling them about the type of patients I was seeing, or what I was learning, what was fun, and what wasn’t fun. Just having them understand what I was doing on a regular basis made it feel like we were in this together.”
Relationship Status: Engaged
Making sure your relationship is successful comes down to time management and making sure your SO is a top priority. We plan time for us. We schedule dates and I refuse to reschedule them. When she has nothing to do but I have to study, she will come study with me but she will watch a movie or something on her computer. I stop studying by 9 pm every night and never study during dinner. When it comes to communication, verbal communication is very important. For me, that communication can be small things like checking in to see how she is, how her day was, and what she is looking forward to.
We will be doing long-distance while she does a long internship for the program she’s in. We are planning official dates to visit each other. For me, I like knowing specific dates so it doesn’t sound so hypothetical. It gives us something to be constantly looking forward to. Also, ensuring that we talk to each other very day is very important. If anything, at least a 2 minute phone call can and should be done! Also, when we’re apart, I like to mail her random things, like a new type of chocolate or a flower I found.
One big thing for any serious couple is to always be open to couples’ counseling. If we struggle, it is always in the back pocket. Remember, relationships require work from both ends. But also, remember to treat yourself on occasion. If your SO is 100 years away and you figure you won’t get any chocolate for Valentine’s Day, buy yourself some! Or else you’ll get resentful.
Another major factor in the success of a romantic relationship is R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Like, I love Béyonce and she doesn’t…but I respect that because she has no taste in music 😛 Also, I recommend taking a love language test so you can learn how to better communicate and respect each other!”
Relationship Status: Long-distance
“Long distance dating during medical school is definitely hard, for sure, but if you really love that person, then don’t be afraid! Yes, you lose the luxury of being in each other’s presence, so you need to make up for it somehow. Communication is key – I like texting and sending him Snapchats of my day, so he more or less knows what I’m going through.
One thing I’ve struggled with is dealing with people who don’t respect my relationship status and get pushy. I’ve learned that the best way to make people be more respectful is to call people out on it – be blunt, be direct. Also, when you’re in a committed relationship and you’re doing long-distance, it’s important to always put your SO in your mind first when you’re in social situations. Conduct yourself with grace, respect the people around you, and demand the same respect. Also, if you’re going out with friends, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your night and letting your SO know that you’re out, but safe, from time to time. Open communication is key!
Wherever you are at when it comes to relationships as a medical student, the most important thing to take away is to be true to yourself! From there, you will find all kinds of success! Now didn’t that sound like a fortune cookie?
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
AMSA Wellness & Student Life Committee, Advocacy Coordinator
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, M.D. Candidate