I want to finish last week's conversation. You came to my office for dating advice and strategies for staying focused in school. I will reiterate my points during our meeting and add some additional insights with this letter.
It depends. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to dating and doing well in school. The ability to handle a romantic partnership and academic studies varies between individuals.
I will say that there is something to having a partner who empathizes with your experiences. This unique relationship is especially true for students enrolled in medical school or other demanding disciplines that require a lot of hard work. Sharing the challenges with studying for countless hours, managing self-care obligations, and taking mind breaking exams can create a special bond.
On the other hand, if your partner is not serious about their studies or lives in another country, the relationship can serve as a source of stress and distraction. There are exceptions, but in many instances, the person who is not going through similar experiences will question why you spend more time with your books than with them.
You must find someone willing to be patient. This person must understand that your studies are a priority. There may be days when you are unable to sit on the phone for two hours. You may not be available to take them out every weekend. Honest, frequent, and open communication is critical to the longevity of your relationship.
When I was in grad school, I received some well-meaning advice that I ignored. Professors and more experienced graduate students told me not to date, get married, or have children. I did all three.
While I attended grad school in Chicago my girlfriend, now wife, was in a Master's program in LA. Somehow we made it work. We talked almost every day and visited each other as much as possible during breaks. Yes, we had some challenges. At one point during grad school, we broke up.
The Creator's will put us back together. Today we have three children and will celebrate ten years of marriage in December. I had two children while in grad school, and the third one arrived in the summer after my graduation. As I wrote in my first book, my family responsibilities during graduate school intensified my focus and propelled me to earn a Ph.D.
I am not suggesting that you begin a family to improve your level of focus in medical school. You have to be honest with yourself. Can you handle the responsibilities that come along with a relationship and school? Lasting romantic partnerships require time, energy, patience, and a desire to grow with each other beyond sexual chemistry.
This weekend, take some time alone and reflect on your goals before deciding to begin a relationship. Pick up this book, The 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman and Nan Silver. You may not be at the point of marriage, but their relationship advice is spot on!
I look forward to hearing your response during our next meeting.