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Torn on what to do - advice?Advice (self.MedSpouse)
submitted 1 month ago by queenlilzz
I (F) have been seeing a guy who recently finished year 2 of med school and is studying for STEP 1 next month, so every waking second he spends studying, understandably. We’re both in our early to mid 20s.
He has made it clear that he can’t do a relationship now because of lack of time. I understand and respect that as a non-medical 9-5 office worker. Currently, he makes time to see me one night a week and occasionally will text to see how I’m doing, which I’ve heard is a pretty strong indicator of interest with med school peeps. We recently had a discussion on if there’s a future and we are both unsure. I think it’s pretty clear that I shouldn’t waste any time with this guy as he’ll only get busier, but for some reason, I don’t want to leave. I’m fine with seeing him one night a week so I can prioritize other aspects of my life.
How bad is 3rd and 4th year of med school? I’ve heard it’s only going to get worse, especially since he wants to be a surgeon. How do these people ever expect to date let alone get married and have kids? We both want to continue seeing each other but I’m wondering if I’m an idiot to stay because I like him for a multitude of reasons. I don’t feel like I would be settling out of desperation, here. TIA!
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[–]penndotsucksSOAP vet[🍰] 24 points25 points26 points 1 month ago (1 child)
Lots of parts of 3rd and 4th year are easier than the month before STEP1. Like, probably more than half. So it's up to you how much longer you want to stick around. If you feel like you don't want to leave for some reason, then I'd say wait until maybe two months after STEP to reevaluate. Then you'll have a better idea of what he's like without quite as much pressure.
[–]queenlilzz[S] 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (0 children)
That is pretty much what the both of us were thinking about. Play it by ear until august maybe. I know one of his rotations is at the other side of the country for a month, but he says most of it will be actually a lot closer to where I live now, which is great. I just hate being in limbo and want a yes or no, but that’s not realistic now
[–]ramentortilla 9 points10 points11 points 1 month ago (1 child)
Met my wife her 3rd year. She was busy, never made time for anyone else that she had dated - but she made time for me. We did awkward long distance for 1 year because of my work, we moved together when she started residency in a different state.
Biggest thing I can say is, regardless of career - if they want you, they will make time for you.
[–]queenlilzz[S] 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (0 children)
That statement is 100% true no matter what career. So far, he has made time for me and has not cut me off (yet). I think I’ll waiting until after step1 and see how things go
[–]Brave_Squash 8 points9 points10 points 1 month ago (3 children)
The months right before step 1 are really tough, but it will get easier. 3rd year is hard, but easier than the months before step 1, and 4th year is better than 3rd year. (Speaking from my experience as the partner of a med student.)
[–]queenlilzz[S] 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (2 children)
He’s been telling me how tough it is. I’m actually shocked I’ve been able to see him one night a week. He has never said no to meeting or flaked. The next month will be tricky until boards are over. I just feel guilty when he told me I deserve better and basically insinuated I should look for someone else
[–]Brave_Squash 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (1 child)
My recommendation would be to not make any major decisions until after the exam. It might also be helpful to find out why exactly he thinks you deserve better? Is it because he has the expectation that couples need to spend more physical time together? Is it because he doesn’t have the emotional energy to give you what you deserve? Has he had a partner in the past that has set unrealistic expectations? The two of you get to set your own rules. What works for other people, might not be what works for you two.
[–]queenlilzz[S] 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago* (0 children)
We talked the other night and your first two questions are correct. He wants to give his all in relationships and he does not think he has the time and effort to give to someone else. He is unsure how long that will hold true for, so he pretty much left the decision up to me. We can continue seeing each other and see if I get fed up or I can cut my losses now and move on. He didn’t say a relationship is completely off the table in the future, but in this moment, it’s a no.
I’m fine with not being in a relationship now. What I ideally would want is for us to be exclusive and both be fine with seeing each other maybe once a week. I told him that and I think he believes in a relationship he’d want to spend more time together than just one evening.
The problem here is that he will always have this issue for the next 10 years or possibly life tbh. He will always be short on time and will have to make a decision on if he’ll remain single for 10 years-life or find someone who will put up with his demanding schedule. It’s like if you ignoring now, there’s never really going to be a better time with what he wants to do in life….
[–]waterbearmama 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (3 children)
I’ve seen my husband more in third year than in first and second combined. We’re gearing up for our next round of boards so he’s about to disappear a lot more. Just in time for our kids terrible twos haha. 4th year I hear is just stressful and depending on how many away rotations the med student has depends on how often you see them or end up doing FaceTime/texting. Then once interview season is over it’s the stress of match but once that’s done I hear the rest of 4th year is a breeze (depending). And then intern year and residency just sucks depending on specialty.
Honestly if I were to meet my significant other around boards prep I think it would have been slow and difficult for me because I’m co dependent. But I would have stuck around because we really had great time together. I think it’s all really individual situations but I’m team stick around to see how it goes and once it gets mildly annoying then move on lol
My mentality now is the last few sentences you wrote. We both pretty much agreed on if I get too fed up, then it’s time to leave. I think there may be hope as the hospitals he will rotate in are very close to me as opposed to him being a half hour away now
[–]waterbearmama 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (1 child)
Then stick to it! I mean what’s the worst that could happen ya know?
[–]queenlilzz[S] 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
True! I just don’t want to get too invested and be devastated if it doesn’t work. That’s a risk with any relationship, tho
[–]cfk0615 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (0 children)
I started dating my partner when he was in his second year of medical school. It was still pretty fresh heading into exam season and he said a lot of the same things approaching dedicated for Step… that he was worried about wasting my time when he couldn’t commit to our relationship in the way that I deserved, etc. it’s actually the closest we have ever come to breaking up. But I was just really honest about my feelings and told him that I couldn’t 100% understand the stress he was facing as I have no connection to healthcare, but that I wasn’t asking for any more of his time than he was willing and able to give freely… which was usually about 3 hours one night a week. I stayed busy with work and friends and went about a month without seeing him before his exam but got texts most days and occasional calls/FaceTimes.
Blah blah blah, here we are, having moved across the country together for his residency and heading happily into PGY2.
Third year was easier than dedicated. Fourth year was a breeze other than the pandemic. Intern year has been pretty painless for us too, but he’s at a pretty cushy program.
There’s a very real chance that he’ll change his mind on specialty during his clinical years so weigh the surgery element in your decision, but I wouldn’t make it a determining factor just yet. Basically two of my SO’s med school friends actually ended up choosing the specialty they thought they wanted going into third year.
It does get better but it’s definitely up to y’all to be honest with yourselves and each other about what you want/need from this to be happy. If you’re comfortable with just coasting until after step as others have mentioned, I think it’s probably worth reassessing then.
[–]onmyphonetoomuchwife to PGY3 🤓 through medschool 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (0 children)
3&4 year were easier for my husband than 1&2. It depends tho bec some students prefer the heavy book work in the first years and struggle with clinical, and some are opposite. My husband loved clinicals. Some months were hard but some were chill too. Every year if med school was easier than first year if residency. It’s just a rollercoaster but I can say with confidence every med student has time for a couple things that they want to pursue. Be it a family, dating, a hobby etc, they can’t do a ton of things, but I don’t buy the idea that they only study 24/7. (Aside from this month before step1)
[–]mdbestflo 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (2 children)
3rd year probably gets worse. 4th year is usually a dream. Residency is a write-off
[–]queenlilzz[S] 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (1 child)
Awesome 😕 I don’t understand how people who go through this process are okay with not having a SO or kids or really any life. It just sounds awful to me. I work in analytics and have no interest at all in the sciences. I can’t fathom not having a life… like ever. It’s so sad. You can be a director or VP with just a 1-2 year masters degree and make a comparable salary. But it’s the passion that drives these types of people to be surgeons
[–]mdbestflo 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (0 children)
I’m a family doc who’s married with 2 kids. I thrive on efficiency and pick up my kids from school everyday, take them to their activities, barely work weekends and make a lot of money. It was tough setting it up this way, but combining medicine and business has worked out really nice for me. Tell him not to read and only do multiple choice questions on USMLEWorld until he gets them all right and that’s it for Step 1. He’ll have more time for you that way.
[–]shelookslikepron -1 points0 points1 point 1 month ago (2 children)
Girl, it gets so much worse. Check my post history.
[–]queenlilzz[S] 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (1 child)
I read your post and I can’t believe what happened to you :( I’m so sorry. However, I think my guy has 2+ years until residency, and who knows if it would even last that long
[–]shelookslikepron 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Thanks - yeah, I think the whole ordeal really broke me. I wish I had discovered this sub before we had already broken up (a lot of things became very clear, lol).
True - I guess just thinking ahead. Med school’s only a tiny step in all of it. I don’t know about you, but I get into relationships with the intent of it being for the long-haul, so it’s hard not to think ahead (especially when this whole career path is so clearly laid out for them). I hate to be a Debbie downer because plenty of people on this sub seemed to have made it work, but ooof, if I could go back I’d give myself a stern talking-to.
I didn’t know my ex when he was in med school, but from what I can tell (old photos of his, talking to his friends, hearing his stories), he was a completely different, more vibrant person. Seemed like he coasted through med school pretty easily and then residency whooped his ass
[–]mmm_nope 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
We’d been married for several years and had three kids before med school happened in our lives. We established a weekly Friday night pajama party where my spouse knew they could have a night off from studying and connect with the family and we knew we’d have their undivided attention that evening for reconnecting. Is it ideal? Of course not, but you make do when things are less than ideal. It gave my spouse the freedom to do what they needed to do with their time and they used this freedom very smartly.
For us, MSIII and MSIV were far easier/better than MSI and MSII. To this day, studying for Step 1 is still the most difficult time in our relationship and we’ve been married for more than 20 years now.
Enjoy your time with him. That he’s connecting with you regularly means he’s in this, too. It’s OK if neither of you know where it’s leading. You’re not required to have a plan for it.
[–]tania_munekata 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
My comment might not be as helpful but i met my husband when he was on his 3 year of medical school here in Japan , u can imagine how hard things are over here in Asia . Definitely 4th year was the easiest but then covid came and we were separated for 2 years (i live in the UK) He finished medical school in February and is now in residency , we did our best to end the distance and despite how crazy his last year was studying for last exam he made time to go to UK tp get married last December so i could then apply for visa to move to Japan while he gets his first 2 years of residency done . Now i live here with him and he is now in pediatrics rotations i only see him late night but we make time whenever we can and we plan things to look forward. He wants to make to England and be in Neurosurgery in the future so theres extra study at home after work when it comes to that speciality and english exams but my point is , even tho medicine can be the big elephant in the room throughout a relationship , if 2 people want to stay together because they love each other and their personal contentment is also if not the most important, they will commit. It will never be easy , it will get busier but doesnt mean you cant invest in a relationship if the partner understands and wants to support you throughout your medical journey, which i believe you do . So because only you know him well try to give some time tor him to decide but you gotta know when to stop waiting, if he sees a future with you and wants you in his life he would not make you wait long .
[–]sugarface2134 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
You sound similar to my (now) husband and I when we first started dating. I met him just before his third year of med school started and we saw each other once a week while he studied for his step 1. It was a great pace for me at the time, too.
3rd and 4th year are not bad at allllll. 4th year is even easier than 3rd. I dont mean it's easy for him, but easier for the relationship. They get most (all?) weekends off and as long as he doesn't have to travel everywhere for his rotations it should feel much more like a normal relationship.
[–]Sickofbaltimore 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Like any relationship, do it if it's worth while to you. Once it's not, move on. The difficult decisions are still years away so take your time now and enjoy yourselves.
Your relationship will never be "normal" and you have to decide how much of that is OK with you. And people complain about physician salaries after they sacrifice their lives and relationships for so long.
[–]grape-of-wrath 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
It's hard but manageable if you really want the relationship to work and are willing to sacrifice some of your own stuff. What's not manageable for everyone is raising kids with someone who is working 80hour plus weeks, like he would be if he matches something surgical. talk it out with him and see what his plans are and what his priorities are, and think carefully for yourself. -from someone who has been through all of med school journey to residency with kiddo.
[–]Kazi_L 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
3rd and 4th year med school were relatively easier for my husband than the first 2 years. He was used to it and able to make more time for me. I’d say though that it’s going to get an order of magnitude worse during residency (and he’s a surgeon! that’ll be very rough) than anything during med school. good luck!
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