I don’t post very often but your story and updates are making me so angry. I am an attending, and have been through medical school, surgical residency, and fellowship in a competitive field, so I have some perspective on what your fiance is currently facing.
First, let me tell you this: people who use medical school and the level of stress they experience as an excuse to not be a legit human to their significant other are not worth your time. The PPs are right – medical school IS a tough time, for some the toughest in their lives. Residency is worse. Being an attending – ENDLESSLY more stressful (med school students and residents just don’t necessarily realize that yet). Pay and hours are better, but the level of angst skyrockets. Constant studying, lack of sleep, stress, uncertainty about future, yes those all suck. But having someone in your life that you love and care about makes it EASIER to get through all that. You love and cherish this person, not tell them you don’t have time for them.
I started medical school while in a relationship with a man who was very sweet and intelligent but not very well equipped to deal with life. He was intermittently out of work, and not bringing in a reliable income. I had worked during college and some of med school and was the one paying the rent and the bills, as well as managing the household. It didn’t bother me that I was the one making sure that everything ran smoothly in our lives, because I figured well he loves me and it’s not that onerous for me to take on this role, so why not. In his past, he was heavily into cocaine, but he quit cold turkey for me and started to attend regular NA meetings. I realized at some point in the first few months of us moving in together however that the relationship had run its course. I was no longer able to juggle the household AND school, but I still loved him, and also felt responsible for him staying sober. Surely, the emotional trauma of me breaking up with him would cause him to go back to his ways I thought. I eventually did break up with him, and later found out he had been dishonest with me essentially the entire duration of our relationship, had never really quit the drugs, and instead of goign to NA meetings he would go off somewhere and get high. I was too busy with school to notice the (in retrospect) obvious behavior changes. That experience taught me that addicts cannot quit “for you”. Only when they want to do it themselves. No matter how much they love you, say they love you, want to make you happy – that step needs to come from them and you can only offer support and understanding (to a degree).
Shortly thereafter, in medical school, I started dating a classmate. He was perfect on paper, was going to be a doctor like me, and surely this was the love story I was looking for. For him, however, school always came first. Tests stressed him out, studying made him anxious, and he considered time we spent together a detraction from our mutual educational and professional responsibilities and committments. So I made sure to stay out of his way when he was stressed but be available if he found a moment to hang out. I tried very hard not to overtask him with my feelings and needs. I didn’t burden him with my own worries and struggles about the future, or the difficulties of whatever I was going through at the time. Here’s the thing: he graduated at a top of our class, he scored nearly a perfect score on every test, and he still was deeply unhappy about his place in this life and this profession. No amount of professional success was going to fix that. We did end up in the same city for residency, and engaged – that seemed like the reasonable next step. I matched in a highly competitive highly busy residency in general surgery, and he in internal medicine. We broke up not even a year later. The relationship issues we had in medical school only became intensified with the stresses of residency. It wasn’t the hours or the workload though that killed it – it was, for both of us, the knowledge, that we would rather be spending time at work than with each other.
The following 5-6 years I spent variably single or in short-term relationships that went nowhere. I was trying to figure out how to express and communicate what *I* wanted and needed in a partnership, not simply be there to make a cushy existence for my significant other. A few months before I was going to leave to yet another city for a 2 year fellowship, I met another man. He is in a completely different field, which however happens to be equally stressful and time-intensive as mine.
He made time for us to have quick chats or meals between my surgeries. He carved out time for us to meet by moving around his meetings to fit my crazy schedule. He never stopped telling me how much happier hearing my voice makes him in the midst of the craziness that is his day. He couldn’t move with me when I left for fellowship, but for the next 2 years we did not spend more than 10 days apart from each other. We were 400 miles apart, and we each took every opportunity to fly, train, or drive to see each other. He would spend HOURS on the greyhound bus in the cold dead of winter to come even for a weekend. Though logistically we were in a LDR, it did not feel like we skipped a beat. I am back in our home city now, and we are married.
The point I’m trying to make, bee, with this long (and possibly rambling) story, is that you deserve better. You deserve a man who is an equal partner in life’s ups and its downs. You deserve someone who is excited and happy at the thought of you, not emotionally burdened by your presence. I know you don’t want to let go of 5 years of what seemed a great relationship with a great person. But this man doesn’t have the emotional reserve to be a good partner FOR YOU. You sound like an incredibly intellinent, kind, considerate human. Please don’t let this person leech that out of you and continue to take advantage of your kindness.
Take care of yourself, and good luck. PM me if you have any questions.