I recall what it was like to date in residency. I had just moved to Washington, DC for residency and was single. I was in my mid-20’s wanting to meet my future husband (of course not knowing who or where in the world he could be). Dating can be hard when you don’t have a lot of time. The 100-hour work week had just been implemented and we felt lucky to have that. With minimal time to socialize and no established network of friends or family in the area to speak of, I wondered where would I meet my future life partner? In the hospital, online or by getting set-up? And furthermore, what characteristics was I even looking for?
I ended up meeting my husband in the most random of ways. One evening out in Georgetown, I was with a friend for cocktails and she saw my now husband from across the crowded wine bar with a group of his friends. She said, “I really think you should go talk to that guy over there.” For some reason, I didn’t hesitate, and I said yes and walked over to him to say hello. We had an immediate connection, I felt drawn to him, and we spent the rest of the night chatting with each other and one another’s friends. It felt as though we had known each other already. The following week we went out on our first date and we quickly knew we were meant to get married. (As did many of our friends, even in that first month of us dating.) We have now been happily married for 11 years!
In our Women in White Coats Facebook group, we have women doctors of all different ages and stages in life. And one of the members asked for dating advice from those of us who are married and in long term relationships. The advice started pouring in, and I realized I too had a lot to say about the topic, so I shared quite a few pieces of advice. Now, I’m not going to tell you which websites to go to or how to act on a date or how many people you should be talking to. The advice I share is more about your mindset to dating and the energy I exuded that I believe led me to meet my amazing husband. And also I’ll share some practical tips to make sure that once you do meet the right person, you get on the same page to ensure a successful relationship.
Here are six tips I shared with my fellow female doctors who are dating or looking for the right spouse:
Be open minded. You don’t have to marry another doctor. My husband is not a doctor and I’m so thankful for that because he keeps me grounded in all that goes on outside the world of medicine. When you are a doctor engrossed in your job, and you go home to a spouse who is also a doctor you can start to lose perspective. Also, my husband’s schedule is more regular (unlike mine where I work lots of evenings, nights and weekends) so it made it easier for us in raising our children.
Don’t get too hung up on his job, degrees, and income. He may sound good on paper, but you have to feel it in your heart. Focus on the chemistry and connection between you guys and decide if it feels right to your soul. Before meeting my husband, I remember meeting someone online who was extremely successful and wealthy, but when we met in person, I didn’t feel the chemistry at all. You can’t sustain a marriage without chemistry.
Be whole, be happy, live your life and pursue your passions. That energy is so attractive. Before I met my husband, I read the book, “If the Buddha Dated.” And this is exactly one of the pieces of advice it gives you. It also tells you to open your heart to the universe to receive love and to let the universe know that you are ready to meet your soulmate. And one month after doing so, I met my future husband. He had just moved to Washington, DC the day before, and it was as though my open heart was what drew him there and we were destined to meet.
Find a strong and confident person who likes an empowered woman; someone who will love and support you, not be intimidated by your greatness and who is okay if you are the one earning more income. Also check your own beliefs and make sure you are okay with that possibility too of earning more. This requires moving beyond the notion of our value being determined by our annual gross income.
Make sure he understands your lifestyle and that you won’t likely be a Martha Stewart or much of a homemaker for that matter. I told my husband a few months into dating that I wasn’t going to be the housewife type and that we both needed to be able to cook, clean, do laundry and help raise the kids. Make sure he knows that about you to avoid problems down the line. If that is a deal breaker for him then maybe you will need to part ways or you will have to accept that he expects that of you.
Be open to love and listen to your heart. Love may come in the most unexpected of ways, times and characteristics. I never would have imagined that my husband would be born and raised internationally nor work in a field so different than mine. But when it came to how I met my husband, our first dates and first year of dating, everything flowed so well and so naturally. It was as if it we were meant to be. I was listening to my heart and it all felt right. And when he asked me to marry him about a year after we had met (which I knew was coming the day he asked) it was resounding heartfelt YES!
Archana Shrestha, MD is a practicing emergency physician in Chicago. She is coauthor of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” and Cofounder of WomenInWhiteCoats.com. She is also an online health and fitness coach. Her healthy living lifestyle blog can be found at MightyMomMD.com and she can be followed on Instagram @MightyMomMD