Don’t date a surgeon…

29 Sep

…who is also a divorced dad, unless you  have infinite patience of saintly proportions.  Unless you are as flexible as a Russian gymnast. And unless you have a fulfilling life of your own to get on with for 98% of the time that you won’t see him.

It’s no great secret that surgeons, doctors (and the ones who are parents) are insanely busy.  I don’t think anyone who works in any other profession can ever truly understand just how hard these dudes work.  80 or 100 hours a week and only 2 days off a month is normal. Without getting too political, their dedication is massively exploited.  So your disappointment at not getting to spend a date with him or not even receiving a reply text pales into insignificance and you just have to accept that.  But if he does choose to spend his precious spare time with you, instead of, erm, sleeping, you also learn to appreciate that.

Because time is so scarce for him, you will end up doing a lot of the preparation work for your dates, be it you travelling to his, having all the ideas to carrying out all the organisation to perhaps even travelling home alone afterwards.  That doesn’t mean he won’t ever do those things, but don’t hold it against him when he simply can’t.

A surgeon’s work is fascinating.  I would go far as to say it turns me on. So listen, be a sounding board, a crutch.  If that is what he asks for.  Sometimes it’s good for him to switch off from work or even his anxieties over the kids and talk about something, anything, else.  After all, you are both multi-faceted human beings. That’s what drew you to one another, so keep that spark alive. Talk about your ambitions, dreams, politics, sport, TV. Discuss the differences between Superman and Batman. Yes, debate anything and everything that is going on in the world outside your bubble.

You won’t be a priority.  Not all the time anyway.  Deal with it.  Easier said than done, I can tell you.  In a world of well-meaning advice and comparison by your peers and their 9-5 partners, it is very hard to come to terms with the fact that you and your surgeon will never have a conventional relationship.  He cares for you of course, but his work  and kids come first and foremost.  If he’s on call or gets a call about his kids, he has to take that call or he will get into severe trouble.  His job involves saving lives, and that must come above all else. Can you see now just how important you are?  Yep, not very.  But it’s not by choice.  He’s often suffering too.

He has off days and bad moods, but it’s not about me. This is the hardest to come to terms with.  It’s perfectly natural to take a person’s mood as a reflection of what they feel about you.  That’s if you’re dealing with any other person.  But when you’re talking about a surgeon you notice the bad days repeating themselves time and time again.  But I had to realise that he can’t show his emotions at work so he will naturally share his problems with me in private.  Again, it’s not about me.

Another hard one – is constantly making excuses for his absence.  But proudly making the excuses because I am proud of his work.  Besides, I am good in my own company even in social gatherings. Everyone tells me I’m wasting my time or they think I’ve gone mad and have made him up, simply because of his invisibility.  This is partly what drove me to write this article.  To try to explain the unique nature of our ‘situationship’.  I am sure my friends still think I am a pathetic, delusional doormat. God knows,  I have had a hard time explaining it to myself let alone them!

Of course on top of all this, because my surgeon has two young children and an ex-wife I have to multiply what I have said by ten.  Naturally, when he is not working he wants to spend time with his family and so our window of opportunity becomes narrower still.  They will vie for the top spot of his attention just as much as his work.

However, don’t lose sight of what you want. It is absurdly easy for your whole relationship to revolve around his incredibly noble and stressful job, but there are two of you in this mix so don’t be afraid to tell him what you want and call him out on any behaviour you don’t like. Don’t whine or be indirect. Just say it. You’ll be surprised at the result. And respected all the more.

After all the soul-searching, research, empathy and advice, I will never truly understand his struggle, but I’ll know better than most.  There are aspects of his life I don’t get, situations and frustrations that I angrily fail to grasp.  Emotions that run away with me.  I can’t compare this relationship to any others. But I try to listen and I try to learn every day to keep a sense of perspective.

But the positives far outnumber the negatives and are the reasons I enjoy my ‘sort of’ life with my surgeon.  He is absurdly clever.  Not just book smarts – the guy has two degrees and has been described in professional circles as the best senior registrar in the country.  He has street smarts too because he deals every day with people from all walks of life – those with a huge sense of entitlement, criminals, in his words, “nut jobs”, violent drunks, truly sick people as well as those who are genuinely grateful for his care and attention they receive for free.

He is great company, extremely witty, sometimes silly, funny with a dark, dry sense of humour.  He is mature, sympathetic and compassionate.  He is a good man and a great dad. All this makes him sexy as hell and well worth the effort.  Long live life with my gorgeous, quirky, fantastic, elusive surgeon.


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