As Hippocrates instructs, we have “special obligations to all fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.” But what happens when an oath to the medical profession interferes with the ability to have a successful personal life, including love and relationships?
To any wandering eyes, our first date would have appeared to be going well.Then one day, you’ll reactivate your profile or meet someone cool at a party and the whole damn thing will start again. Respect where you’re at in the circle of dating life and don’t try to fight it. When something’s right, there’s nothing you can do to screw it up. We are taught to honor a patient’s wishes, acknowledging that they have an equally powerful role to play in the management of their health.We work to form a partnership so that overtime a patient will be willing to put their life in our hands.To quote myself to myself (how meta), my main point was that I should be patient and do nothing: “In waiting, you’ve grown impatient at times and have tried to force things that weren’t meant to be, fought too hard for something that you knew was wrong, held on too tight to something that was already dead and gone, or pushed people away out of fear. Accept that it’s a mystery and sit down, shut up, enjoy your freaking life, and patiently wait your turn.”, because, like I said, I had lost faith, even in the truth of my own words. Exactly what I told myself to do — be patient and wait my turn — was precisely what led to me running smack into the love relationship I was waiting for. I ran into him on the subway one day and the rest was a wonderful mystery.
I look at him sometimes and say, “Why were we both on the same subway car that day? Even though I’m in love, I don’t have single amnesia in the least. I can’t remember who said it now, but a Buddhist philosopher talked about cultivating a lifelong, unconditional friendship with yourself. Sometimes, during my long ass single stretch, I would get jealous watching my friends get snapped up left and right.
While a patient won’t likely understand or want to know the process taken to arrive at his or her diagnosis, in personal relationships, each step matters. Thus, when it comes to love, I dare say we must defy Hippocrates and put aside our “special obligations.” We must remember to loosen the white coat and adopt the naivety of that first date when there was no simplifying and no diagnostic inquiries, just butterflies; even if that lasts just long enough to share an occasional glass of wine.
Only then can we hope to delineate the person from the patient.
Seriously, people said the most offensive shit to me — from commenting about how embarrassed I must be to attend my brother’s wedding alone to how I might have better luck if I straightened my hair on first dates. In order to stay sane through long stretches of singlehood, you’re going to have to drown out all that noise and remember that it doesn’t matter what other people think. Like the big one: when you’ll meet the right person for you. The sooner that you accept that you cannot control that, the easier your life will be. Then you’ll go through dating fatigue and erase your online profile and sit in a dark room for weeks. It allows you to go out on a series of horrible, mortifying dates or be rejected a stupid amount of times and shrug your shoulders and realize that it has nothing to do with you. Oh, I thought things were going great and then he told me that he had an allergic reaction before our date and then I never heard from him again. Comparing yourself to other people is always a waste of energy, but when I was single, I had this perception that being in love made your problems go away. So how do you cultivate the kind of patience that takes years?
It will allow you to focus on what’s really important: enjoying your life and being the best person you can be — singled or coupled. Then you’ll embrace your hiatus and do ME TIME to the extreme. This was a term coined by a college friend of mine. Oh, he’s a 37-year-old polyamorous intern with a child and wife in a mental institution and he didn’t feel the need to disclose this BEFORE we went on a date? Being in love is great, but if anything, I’ve found that it makes you have to face your problems more honestly because there is another person there staring you in the face. Be as happy for all those people as you’ll want them to be for you when it’s your turn. Stay focused on what you ultimately want and in the meantime, be the best person you can be.
When my date mentioned his appendix had been removed, I couldn’t help but bombard him with inquiries of my own: did he present with transient umbilical pain and subsequent tenderness at Mc Burney’s point, or was his presentation not so textbook? While it would be easy to attribute this date to little more than a social experiment, the experience revealed to me the person I had morphed into since starting medical school: a woman who had unconsciously reacted to her date as she would a patient.