Dating as a Student Nurse

Sunday, 30 November 2014

This week I've felt forced to end my second relationship in as many years, and it's led me to one conclusion: dating as a student nurse does not work.

For me, anyway.

I don't think anything can prepare you for how much training as a nurse takes over your life. You're told, relentlessly, in the first weeks of the course that it will change you, that you will no longer be the person you presently are when you qualify. That the three years are rough, emotional, and will dominate your time. That you'll have time for little else and your family and friends will grow frustrated with you. That you'll go months without seeing friends, that the good ones will understand, and the bad ones will blame you. I've lived all of this in the two-and-a-bit years I've been training.

But it's unfair to blame the course entirely. A much larger part of my problem with relationship-management is my job, and it's a bit of a vicious circle. Any student can testify that the NHS bursary is meagre at best, and to manage to survive, you need to work. I've ended up in a job that I've considered quitting nursing for on numerous occasions, simply because I love it so much. Because I love it, I take on more hours than I really need, and end up with less time for everything else as a result. Last year, in an argument with my then-girlfriend, she accused me of preferring my job to her. It was actually true (though this may say more about my feelings for her than about my job).

Third year is heavy, and is awesome. My university attendance was... patchy at best, particularly through second year, but so far this year I've only missed two lectures because I genuinely look forward to attending. Our law and ethics module is fascinating, and complex care issues makes me feel like I could actually be a real nurse. I get home motivated to work on assignments and learn more. This motivation is usually interrupted by a few calls at work, and I find that enough of a struggle. Add trying to see a girlfriend into the mix? Nigh on impossible.

I knew things were going wrong weeks before I gave up the ghost. She sat on my bed while I hunched over my laptop, downloading papers about the care needs of the LGBT population. I was excited, trying to explain how interesting it all was and how it was going to fit into my essay. She didn't get it, she couldn't get it, and she complained that I was neglecting her. Other visits were just as distracted -- while we were watching TV, I'd be mentally planning essays, thinking about things that weren't her. It isn't fair on anyone.

So I'm trying to give up on dating until after I qualify, or if I do get tempted, keeping things casual. It's hard for outsiders to understand how nursing and care work dominates who you are, not just select chunks of time. I have friends who have found the right balance, met the love of their life in the course of the past few years, so it isn't impossible. I just know that for now, it isn't for me.


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