Saturday, 6 November 2010

Auntie Seraphic & Med School Girl

Dear Auntie Seraphic:

I am writing to you from [a small city in the prairies/outback]. I got your book
for my 3- birthday [recently]. I read the whole thing in a matter of a couple days, and I absolutely loved it.

I am also a practicing Catholic, and have recently been finding in myself a sense of peace. I have felt that: "I could never get married, even though
my heart desires this so much, and I would be perfectly happy. I just need to make sure I have someone to drive me to the airport when I need it, and other things like that. I guess that's what friends (and family when you're living in the same city) are for."

I read one reader's post on one of your blogs about the dangers of daydreaming about pretend relationships. I am *so* guilty of this. The reader quoted Wisdom to help illustrate what God does NOT want us to do.

My daydreaming was initiated once again after [a] trip [home]. I find myself in [small city a zillion miles from anywhere] because I am finishing my last year and a half of med school.

Anyways, why the daydreaming? My longtime friend invited me [to a family event at home]. I love her entire family. To make a long story short, I have held a flame for her older brother for quite some time. Yes, another thing I am great at: crushes. There has been a mutual attraction there, as we smooched after his sister's/my friend's wedding X summers ago.

Upon discussion, he admitted to having feelings for me but not wanting to date long distance, as X years at that time was an awfully long time to be living [many] hours away from each other. It's now only 1.5 years, and there's still "something there". He asked me how much longer I will be away for and when I said: "1.5 years", he responded with: "Still such a long time! Well, see you next time".

He's Catholic [and in the same way I am]. We have much in common, including similar families. As an aside, he was engaged to be married X years ago. She broke it off with him, and he was quite heartbroken. I'm not sure of the timeline of when she moved away, but she went on to [study far away]. Not sure if this prompted the split or simply followed it.

It could very well be that we wouldn't be well suited, despite all of my imaginings against the contrary. It doesn't help me to forget about this fantasy of us dating when his mom approaches my mom saying how all of his sisters were coaxing him to pursue me and date me.

Anyways, I guess I'm seeking advice on how not to:

- daydream about dating him when the situation is such that he's not interested in dating long distance (I realize that this may be a blessing in disguise given the busy nature of med school)

- keep my hopes up that things will work out "when the time is right" if I move back home

Thank you for your writings!

Med School Girl

Dear Med School Girl,

You're new to the blog, so I will explain again that I always write back as soon as I can, and then often write a slightly different letter for the blog. This is often because I have different ideas later, although it is also because I'm then writing to everyone, not just the letter-writer. And, of course, I have to hide some of the particulars so that your friends who read "Seraphic Singles" can't tell who you are! Fortunately, the great bulk of my letters come from Australia, Canada and the USA and, as far as readers know, you could be from any one of them.

The problem of long-distance romances is an interesting one, especially when one lives in a place where the population is relatively tiny and the distances huge.

Having had some time to ponder your question, my gut instinct remains that daydreaming about this one is okay. Usually I am very down on daydreaming, but the facts that you are (A) in medical school, (B) where you are, (C) great friends with his family tempers my customary brutal cynicism.

If you are in medical school, you have no time for dating anyway, am I right? Daydreaming is all you have time for, and as this guy is your pal's brother, you are probably not turning him into Prince Charmingly Charming in your head, which is to say someone completely different from the man he really is.

I have no crystal ball, but it sounds to me like the brother has dog-eared you in the Rolodex of his mind. (The image is inspired by Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally. She's got an index card with a guy's name on it, and when she finds out he's married, she dog-ears the card while saying, thoughtfully, "Married...", a funny-sad New York take on married men as only temporarily unavailable. But a single Nice Catholic Girl far away at school really is only temporarily unavailable.)

If he is still single in 1.5 years (a big if), I honestly think something may come of all this. It may not, of course. For all you know, you could date for six months and then you realize, to your horror, that he is so NOT the One that he more resembles that weird salt-sucking monster on Star Trek. But three things that your email makes clear is that (1) he's attracted to you, (2) his womenfolk love you, and (3) ain't nothing going to make him do long-distance again. This all adds up to a not unreasonable hope that romance may blossom in 1.5 years.

My sister-in-law is a doctor, and as far as I am concerned, a doctor-wife is a prize of inestimable value. Catholic and a doctor. Listen, if you weren't all the way out in [X], I'd want to introduce you to my own unmarried brother.

The one weenie super-moral suggestion I'm going to make is that you keep your daydreaming clean. Fade to black after Boy Next Door, whom you have rescued from orcs, takes you in his manly arms. This is because chastity is difficult--although possibly easier in situations (like med school) where you are tired and overworked--and sexy thoughts, novels, movies, etc., don't help. Also, you don't want to pounce on Boy Next Door like a sex-crazed gorilla when you go home. Tell his sisters you're home, and let him make the moves. (If he does. Sigh.)

Finally, your affections are not promised to your pal's brother in any way, so if in the next 1.5 years you are staring blearily in some acrid-smelling hallway at some red-eyed male classmate, and to your great surprise he blurts out, "How about dinner Friday?", go if you want to and can. Don't let dreams get in the way of right-now opportunities.

I do hope this is helpful.

Grace and peace,

P.S. To everyone else: Keep in mind I still think daydreaming about men prevents most women from being rooted in reality, which is what we must be. In a few cases, however, like in the case of an Antarctic explorer or (in this case) woman in an isolated medical school, real life so precludes romance, that daydreaming can't make things worse. And in this situation, I really do think, for once, that there may be somethin' doin' here. Am I getting soft, or what?


dark but fair said...

Thanks for this post, Seraphic. I think that daydreams depend on the kind, the person, the place and the circumstances, but I think that our tendency as women is to err on the side of emotional gluttony. So I am glad that your policy is to err on the side of safety, or rather not to err at all, and stay grounded in reality.

Jen D said...

The compliment to doctor-wives made me smile. I'm a doctor and would like to be a wife someday, God willing! :)

Happy 4-year anniversary! I love reading your blog.

healthily sanguine said...

I think you are getting soft, Seraphic. To me Med School Girl sounds simply fabulous, and the guy--not so much so. I wonder why he smooched her with no intention of pursuing a relationship, why he would stand on principle against LDRs when some red-eyed med student guy might snap her up in a heartbeat, and what the timeline of his engagement vs. the wedding smooching (X years vs. X summers) was and the meaning of that. It all looks to me like a recipe for a complicated situation, NOT a promising relationship. As more proof of that, she writes asking for advice on how not to daydream and how to kill hopes, which means that her gut instincts lie on the side of squelching the crush. I'd say the best way to do that is to try to find some time to do fun things with friends and enjoy that to the fullest. My two cents...

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for your comments! I am " med school girl". To answer some of dark but fair's questions, the timeline between his broken off engagement and kissing me was 4 years. We have known each other for 10 years or so. Knowing him and his family, I know that he's not a jerko. He did apologize later to me in an e-mail about the discrepancy between his actions and words, i.e.,kissing me but not pursuing a relationship with me. After the wedding, I would be living away for another 3 years, now it's 1.5. AND I have no 100% degree of certainty of knowing whether I will be able to move back to_____ for residency. I would have liked to have pursued a LDR but perhaps this has been a blessing to make my life simpler for studying. I posed the questions I did because I am notorious for having crushes and doing nothing about them. The last guy I liked was too shy/scared/who knows what to pursue anything but I foolishly pines away for WAY too long waiting for him to muster up the courage he doesn't even have.

Anonymous said...

Sorry-that last entry answered healthily sanguine's questions-not dark but fair's.
And I foolishly "pined" away, not "pines".
And I should be studying rather than correcting my own grammar! :)