By Lorien Menhennett
ating in medical school is hard. When your 3:30 a.m. alarm heralds a 15-hour workday, you have little time left for yourself, much less a partner.
Dating as an older medical student is even harder. When most of your classmates are a decade younger than you, your dating pool automatically shrinks. Dating apps make the whole thing almost impossible. When Cupid's main criteria is pixelated faces there's little room for meaningful romance.
I tend to post on sites that allow a more freeform profile, minus images. I want responses to my words alone. So far, I've had mixed results. I've dated two men seriously; one for a few months, the other for a few weeks. I was comforted to know there were people out there who shared my mindset. I've also gone on a number of dates with like-minded people who weren't the keeping kind. There was either no physical chemistry or political differences of opinion too deep to overcome. I can't date someone who doesn't believe in the importance of social welfare programs, for example.
My online profile says I'm an intelligent, attractive, ambitious woman. I mention I'm a writer who wants to be wooed by words. I say I want more than a laundry list of hobbies. I ask for a photo or two, clothed please, promising to return the favor.
I put replies in folders so I can keep track of my suitors. My folders are labeled: "reply!," "maybe," "nope," "compliments," and "LOL." The most interesting responses usually don't lead to dates. Many say a lot about the people I can't say men, since until you meet the person it's impossible to know who wrote them and society at large. I'm part-lover and part social anthropologist. Human behavior intrigues me.
The messages in the "nope," "LOL," and "compliments" folders have taught me a lot.
But let me break it down. The "nope" e-mails are usually one- or two-liners like this:
Hi, I'm interested in you, hope to read back from you.
Good evening, how are you? I hope all is well. I am reaching out regarding your post. I am in my early-30's, 5-10, and looking to meet someone new outside of my social circle. Hobbies and interests?
I hope we have a chance to chat soon. Take care and enjoy your weekend!
If you're looking for a wordsmith, you skip past these.
The "LOL" responses exist to remind me there are still plenty of misogynistic men who feel threatened by confident and capable women. Some believe a bad marriage is better than divorce. Many can't imagine they might be the source of a divorce. I try not to respond to such messages. Here are a few examples, as well as my potential responses. I've made some minor grammatical changes for the sake of clarity, and have removed identifying details.
Im white, live in [NYC borough], and [am] looking for a relationship hopefully leading to marriage and raising a family. Ive never been married, no kids, dont smoke or do drugs, rarely drink, no pets, not a vegetarian, and am Catholic. And you? You seem like a nice person. Why did you divorce?
The most interesting thing about [your profile] is the part where it notes you're divorced and that you chose not to offer an explanation re: same. Thoughts?
I might reply this way:
Just because I posted an online profile with some vague details about my personal life does not mean that I owe you someone I have never met, and know nothing about an explanation. To be honest, I mentioned that I'm divorced for one purpose and one purpose only to screen out people who have a problem with dating divorced women. Looks like my strategy is working.
For a doctor, how much about a white coat is a just a costume and how much is in fact a uniform?
In youth, we ask ourselves what we want to be when we grow up. As adults, the choices turn more specific.
When beds are everywhere around you but none exists for your comfort, Coleridge can come to mind.
Medical school can sometimes mean pushing hard to find out just what it is you're expected to do.
An Objective Structured Clinical Examination is medical school lingo for a very special kind of stress test.