Med Students in Love. Or Are They?

Hi Robin,

I’m a 27-year-old medical student. Nine months ago my boyfriend (26) of three years, also a med student, broke up with me and said he still loves me but needs time to figure out whether or not he wants to make things work.

Our attempts at getting back together have been frail, at best, because I want to know that he’s committing to me and to our relationship, and whenever I ask him where we are, he immediately shuts down and says that I’m pressuring him or not allowing him to be himself.

It’s very complicated – we both love each other and have great chemistry but he does not want to be in a relationship, and I want to get married. We are nearing the end of school, and it seems as though we don’t have the time for him to continue to figure it all out.

How can I think about this situation better? What am I missing? How do I get out of this vicious cycle?  

Thank you,

Dear Michelle:

Thank you for sharing your dilemma with me and for all the information you provided in your emails.  

You seem like a very sweet person with an terribly exciting future in front of you and yet I’m struggling to understand how you got into medical school when you are so clearly blind, deaf, and dumb.


You are blind because you can’t won’t see:

  • He doesn’t want to marry you.
  • He doesn’t want to commit to you.
  • He doesn’t even want to date you.

You are deaf because you won’t listen when he tells you

  • He doesn’t want to marry you.
  • He doesn’t want to commit to you.
  • He doesn’t even want to date you.

You are dumb because

  • You are chasing someone who may be giving you mixed messages but 97% of the message is: “go away, please” and you are focused on the 3% when he says “I could see us together some day.”
  • You are trying to land a husband (who’d rather not be landed, thank you) before you begin your residency: a time of great change and enormous work in a new city.  That’s hard on any couple but two doctors?  The divorce papers will be drawn up before you get the lasso and handcuffs off him at the wedding reception.
  • You are thinking about him more than you are thinking about yourself when he isn’t thinking about you at all.

Let me elaborate on that last point:

You explained to me that you both graduate next May but coming up this September is a deadline by which you must register with a “couples application” through the Match.  

No, Readers, not

The Medical School Match is an algorithm that determines where students end up for their residency.  Couples can apply together and be sent to the same city.  

Michelle has asked Dr. Love if they will be applying as a couple even though they have broken up.  Would you all like to guess what his response was?

Dr. Love says he “does not know” but that he sees this non-couple couple being together in the future as a “real possibility.”

There’s also a “real possibility” that I could win the lottery, but I’m sure not spending a lot of time planning my future around having Fuck You Money.

What about you, Michelle?  Where do you want to go?  

Are you even thinking about where you want to live and work?  Because as far as I can tell, your energy is solely directed towards what he wants, not in researching places you’d like to spend your residency and possibly the rest of your life.

Finally, there was something else you wrote to me that raised my eyebrows big time.  You said

Thank you for your help. I have a lot of trouble discussing these issues with friends/family because I perceive them as complicated. The same is true of my therapist — his job is to make me feel better, not necessarily to help me determine what is “right” and what is “wrong.”

There’s a few things going on there you need to be aware of.

First up: your use of the word “complicated.”  That word does not mean what you think it means, and since you used it twice I’m going to have to let you have it:

Your situation is not “complicated.”  In fact, it’s quite simple.  You want very much to be with this man but he does not feel the same way about you.  

Just because something is painful and hard to accept that does not make it complicated, and I fear your assigning it as such is a purposeful misrepresentation so you avoid dealing with your sorrow over how things truly are, as compared to how you want them to be.

Second, if you can’t discuss complicated matters with your friends and family, you need to either open up more or find people who are capable and willing to listen to and discuss with you life’s real issues which can be messy, confounding, heart-breaking, and yes, complicated.

Or maybe your friends and family are just really stupid.  I don’t know.

Third and most important: you think your therapist’s job is to “make you feel better,” not to give you any real advice.  

That’s bad.  How the hell will you feel better if you keep banging your pretty little head against this wall your ex has built between you?

Worse yet?  Your therapist seems to agree with you.  Unbelievable.

Michelle, that person is wasting your time and your money so quit them like a bad habit and get yourself together using the AskDesCamp ARF Method for Heart Repair®:

A: Accept that this relationship is over.  Maybe some day it will work out (I doubt it) but today it’s done.  

Dunzo.  Splitsville.  Finita.  Basta. Ya no estás en su vida. 

R: Reorder your life to prioritize yourself and your future without him and without such a drive to get married.

F: Fuck someone else.  Just for fun!  

Don’t go picking out your china pattern after he takes the condom off, honey, because you need some Michelle time. You could also use a therapist who can give you real direction and insight into your life because you said many things to me in email that demonstrate an unwillingness to see things as they are.  For example:

It has always been clear to me that he wanted a life with me, and it’s always been clear to me that I wanted a life with him.

Well, no.  Only half of that sentence is true.  

And then we had this:

In the months since the breakup, however, I have been having trouble wrapping my head around his need for time, especially given what I perceive as the severe time constraints on us.  It makes me feel as though I am not a priority in his life right now.

Yeah, I’m not a priority in George Clooney’s life right now either, so I know how you feel.  

Michelle, move on.  Chart your own course and when you are ready to explore love again be more grounded in reality and listening to what is being said to you, rather than hearing only what you want.  Best of luck and let me know what happens!


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Tamsen

    Wow. Good advice, but how in heck do you get to be 27 years old, smart enough to be finishing med school and not get it. Yes, she needs to move on, and for God’s sake, make SURE she gets her residency in a DIFFERENT city. You’re right, this isn’t complicated…..he’s just not that into her, but too much of a chicken shit to be brutally blunt about it. But the relationship is OVER. Then again, come to think of it, I know some really stupid doctors…….

  2. The Yetti

    Ah, youtes. So hopeful, so dumb. The thing is, she already knows in her head he’s moved on, but she has some sweet, romantic picture of how he’ll ‘wake up’ and come back to her. Preferably with a dramatic run through an airport and a passionate last-minute proposal. Maybe even the whole airport will be in on it and there will be a song and dance number! Grow up, darlin, that’s not happening.

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