On Being in a Long-Distance Relationship

Long-distance relationships can be tricky, especially when trying to balance them with medical school. Be assured, though, that you won’t be alone. When I started med school with a boyfriend working in California, I was surprised at how many of my classmates were in similar situations. One of the rewards of maintaining a long-distance relationship is that it can give you an outlet outside of school, i.e. someone you can talk to where the discussion won’t segue into cranial nerves or dermatomes, which can help you maintain balance and sanity when exams roll around. Additionally, planning visits is made a lot easier by the fact that all of the classes are recorded and the anatomy lab is open 24 hours, so it’s easy to catch up if you miss a day. Also, first year is Pass/Fail, easing some stress while still keeping you busy. This helps time pass between visits. Overall, the decision to stay long-distance (or not) is up to the individual, but it’s definitely a feasible option that many students pursue.

— Anna M., M1

It’s always stressful when your relationship becomes long-distance. For me, it happened after my freshman year of college, when my high school sweetheart decided to go up north to New Hampshire for school while I stayed in St. Louis. The little ups and downs of a relationship sometimes get enormously amplified and distorted over those thousand miles. I’ve learned that med school, even more than college, creates its own virtual distance with the myriad activities and opportunities, the seemingly endless studying, and all the other strong ties to what’s happening here at Wash U. If you’re coming to WUSM, you’re probably pretty committed to medicine … but if you’re considering long distance, you’re probably pretty committed to your relationship, too. Neither one is something you want to do without. Setting aside time for both separately is always a good option. Getting to know each other’s friends helps you feel connected. Physically being with each other whenever possible is obviously also a big plus. Just remember, it will be glorious when your relationship stops being long-distance, and it will be worth the challenges you might face now.

— Wilbur S., M1