Long distance relationships are never easy, but the added stress and time commitment of dental school can make them nearly impossible. My boyfriend and I met a few months prior to my move from Manhattan to Buffalo, New York, for dental school. We went from living 12 city blocks apart to a daunting 400 miles. Over the past year, we have learned a lot and I am here to share five secrets to LDR success.
- Set expectations. Let your significant other know that you are going to be very busy and in most cases, living off loans. When you have midterm week or several projects coming up, let them know ahead of time that you are going to be less available. Additionally, travel can be expensive and loans are finite. Share this information with your significant other, so that you can work out a realistic schedule for visiting each other. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can help assuage potential frustration.
- Prioritize your time. While it would be nice to plan visits, phone calls and Skype around your exam schedule, there are two people in a relationship. Your significant other has responsibilities and commitments that may even exceed your own and you will have to plan your time around both of your schedules. During busy times in the semester you will have to utilize your time management skills to stay organized and even get ahead on work before visits. Additionally, the enjoyment you have during your time together has an inverse relationship to your stress level.
- Be there for your significant other. Some professors have a way of making their classes or dental school in general seem like the most important thing in the world and biggest challenge you will ever have to overcome. You may be stressed, but just because dental school is arduous, does not mean that your significant other’s challenges are any less meaningful or stressful than your own. Whether your significant other has work responsibilities, is also in school or has a complicated personal life, there are going to be times when they need to lean on you for support. When this occurs, you will have to pull yourself out of the dental school bubble and prioritize their needs.
- See the light at the end of the tunnel. Whenever possible, try to end visits with a plan for the next visit. Whether the next time you see each other will be in two weeks or two months, knowing that you will eventually see each other has a way of making the time apart more bearable.
- Don’t forget about the positives! There are going to be dark times where practicals do not go your way and professors design exams filled with trick questions but do not forget to tell your significant other about your accomplishments and positive experiences. Whether it’s the great time you had at an ASDA conference, the wonderful experience you had doing outreach or the first time you nailed a crown prep – share the good things. Having someone to share your successes makes them that much sweeter!
Just as with any relationship, every long distance relationship is different and you will need to find out what works best for you. Take these as suggestions and hopefully you will find success in your LDR and your DDS!
~ Michelle Callahan, Buffalo ’18, legislative liaison-elect