Monday, April 16, 2007

High-Profile Survival

Over the weekend, yet another relationship split has been in the news. Prince William and Kate Middleton's break up has been a top story on several news websites. And of course, following any high-profile break up, there's loads upon loads of speculation as to "what went wrong."

London tabloids, often leading the pack in "reporting" celebrity splits, wasted no time jumping on the assumption train. It was pressure from the Queen, one says. Another says it was Prince Charles who urged William to break off the relationship if he could not "commit to marriage." Yet another says the fate of the relationship was neither influenced by family nor the two people actually in the relationship but rather, a royal summit.

None of these, in their ever scandalous tabloid nature of course, are suggesting that maybe they just broke up. Maybe it just didn’t work. And when there’s any suggestion of Kate, at the age of twenty-five, deciding that she didn’t want the lifestyle of a princess, well that’s just squashed immediately. Not that I claim to know anything more than I’m reading in the news (which equals basically nothing) but if that might be the reason, well I can certainly relate to that.

Just before I began this blog, I had made a decision to no longer be in a relationship that, though no crowns were being placed on any heads, certainly felt high-profile at times. I dated a man who was a very kind, intelligent person who also happened to already be married. To his career, that is. He was a physician, a surgeon in fact. Anyone who has ever been married, dated or otherwise in any relationship with a doctor knows this: It is not a job; it’s a lifestyle and a calling. It is first, last and best. I saw this from the beginning and it’s not at all something I ever held against him. In fact, I admired it about him. Up until we met, I had never witnessed anything like it. I never knew someone could dedicate their entire life to a career of helping people like he did.

In the time we dated, which I’ve heard since was a “record breaking” duration for most doctors in their residency, there were numerous instances in which I felt our relationship was under intense scrutiny. Looking back now, I can see it was mostly because, well, he was a catch. In addition to being in his residency, having graduated at the top of his class and giving his spare time to research and international medical outreach programs, he was also very popular. No one had to tell me this, it was one of the reasons I was attracted to him in the first place. He was friendly, and before I had any inkling as to what his work was, I was impressed at how easy to get along with he was. This, of course, translated into all of his life. People liked him and therefore, were very critical of who else did, too.

Any event we attended, any time we’d run into anyone somewhere in town, it was a little like a test. A pop quiz, really. When you go to a baseball game, in your shorts and tank top, the last thing you’re really planning for is to run into five nurses looking you up and down like you have arms growing where your ears should be. I was assured by my boyfriend that this wasn’t an issue but when it happens enough times, it stays on your mind.

There was also the issue of time. While I don’t claim to be the most available person in terms of time, dating this man was sort of like what I’d imagine scheduling the launching of a space shuttle would be.

6:04 – meet for dinner (not 6:00 because, well, the only thing that starts on time is surgery)
6:04:42- wait while cell phone is answered
6:05- order dinner to go, emergency call
6:06- say “bye and see ya later”
10:00- finally eat dinner, reheated
10:00:25- boyfriend passes out because he’s worked eighteen of the last twenty-four hours

The time we were able to spend together was, at best, erratic. This also made life challenging when it came time for those stages in a relationship where you meet each other’s friends and, when you meet the parents. In the end, it resulted in me meeting a few of his friends, which also happened to be fellow residents, (because yes, that part of hospital life really is like Grey’s Anatomy) and him meeting about as many of mine. We never did meet one another’s parents, either (and this had little if anything to do with my hesitation to bring people home). Yes, it was strange.

That wasn’t really what any of it came down to, though. The demanding schedule, the exhaustion, the scrutiny, those things can be overcome, I think. The real contributing factor, the one it took me months to be able to accept, is that it just wasn’t the right relationship. Toward the end, which also happened to be toward the end of his residency, I started talking about taking a trip together. He started talking about getting married and moving across the country. At first, I thought we were just on different pages. I thought if I’d give it time, I’d be ready. For the move, a marriage, a lifetime with this man. But I wasn’t, I never got there.

Eventually, we had to break up. Taking a step back and looking at our relationship, there were loose ends all over the place. There were parts of our lives, personalities, likes and dislikes, and life goals that just didn’t match up; that weren’t going to match up. Love was, as wonderful as it could be, not enough. It too would have faded. So we (yes, shockingly, WE) made the decision to break it off. To this day it remains one of the hardest yet least regrettable things I’ve had to do and I think that’s partially because things looked so right to everyone else; which I’d use to fool myself into thinking it was right for me, too. The question of “why did you break up?” could not have been answered by the standard replies. It just was.

That’s why it’s so odd to me that we’re fascinated by break ups in the media. Heaven forbid people in their twenties (or any age, for that matter) decide that things just aren’t going to work and they need to go their separate ways rather than spend any more time on something that’s not right. Maybe that’s what William and Kate think, too. I don’t know, of course, but let me assure you, it’s likely not nearly as interesting or scandalous a process as the tabloids might have us believe.


Bre said...

I think it's 10 times harder when relationships that look good on paper end. For all intents and purposes, my relationship with North Carolina Police Officer was absolutely perfect... but though we had fun, neither of us felt that... thing, you know?

Great post!

e.b. said...

I cannot even imagine living under a spot light like that and what it does to your relationship let alone the break up.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

As someone who works closely with a lot of physicians, I can attest to what you said about their careers also being their lives. And it's very admirable, selflessly being on service for two-week stretches, as well as on-call over weekends or at nights.

But it's not for everyone, certainly not for me.

I can certainly understand your decision, as well as that of the next-touted royal couple. Besides they are in their 20s; there's a lot of self-examination that needs to be done still at that age.

Joe said...

It sounds like you made a good decision to break up.

Personally, I couldn't be with someone whose work, no matter how noble, is the dominant and defining aspect of her life. I work to live. I don't live to work. I wouldn't want to be with someone who lived to work. To me, one of the keys to happiness is balance in all aspects of life.

justacoolcat said...

I heard her mom said 'toilet' and that seems like a reasonable cause for breakup to me.

As for your situation all that glitters is definantly not gold.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel. Before moving to Chicago I dated a neurosurgeon resident. We were great friends for 5 years before dating and I'm not even sure how we ended up dating but we did. It was the best and worst relationship for many of the same reasons you mentioned in your post. I still love Stephen but know that I made the right decision when I found Tom. In the end you have to follow your gut and you did the right thing.

Dawn said...

I totally agree with Bre, it doesn't matter what folks outside of the relationship always: go with your gut.

Justgivemepeace said...

And sometimes, it's just meant to be....
forever is never quite as long as we once hoped it would be and sometimes longer than we ever imagined....

GirlGoyle said...

"the hardest yet least regrettable things I’ve had to do and I think that’s partially because things looked so right to everyone else" this is the cliche so many of us fall into without noticing. Like trying to force a puzzle piece into a hole because it LOOKS like it's the right one despite it not BEING the right one. Your post was very insightful, very.

egan said...

Perhaps I'm needy with my time, but I liked to date or see someone who was available. Someone who would pick up the phone when I called. I dated a few women that were never available and it annoyed me. To me a relationship is built on communication and when you can't reach someone that makes conversing hard.

It had to be hard to get out of that relationship based on what you've shared. It's not like he was a bad guy or anything. Marriage is an accurate analogy.

skinnylittleblonde said...

My personal life would never take the scrutiny of media and I cannot imagine being quized & nit-picked by people just because of who I was dating. I'd have to leave too.

Danielle said...

It's like that episode of Sex and the City, the great on paper guy, but that doesn't mean everything can be forced to work right? There is that one other thing that needs to be there...that thing that just can't be described...that thing that I've never experienced so I can't really talk about in much detail, but I just know it's out there and I hope at some point I get to experience it. Good for you on making the right decision. And hey, now that Wills is free, leaves options for one of us to become a princess!! :)