Dating / Mary Carmichael

Best before: May 2017

Dear diary,

I’ve been on average dates, bad dates, and really bad dates, but recently I’ve been experiencing something more unusual: pretty decent—maybe even great—dates.

Only, there’s a catch. He’s moving in a couple weeks. And it’s not one of those chill ten minutes away move; it’s a life move. When we went out last week we talked about how the next time we’d see each other would be our last date, and probably the last time we ever saw each other. We laughed, not sure how to comprehend such a surreal thought.

I always think the biggest challenge of dating is finding someone great. Finding someone who understands you, who complements you, who could be your best friend. Unfortunately, achieving that impossible task is inconsequential if timing and distance don’t line up, too. For once I did find someone pretty great, but our short-term relationship is colored with a big fat “expiring soon” stamp.

My college boyfriend and I had an expiration date. He was a grade above me and I knew since the beginning that he was going to med school after he graduated, most likely in a different state. We both knew we’d break up when he left.

As spring semester rolled around that year, our eminent breakup hovered over us like an ominous rain cloud. It instigated fights, tears, and even short-term breakups. He thought staying together for the semester would make it harder when we were going to break up anyway. My smitten and emotionally-driven self knew I’d be heartbroken at the end either way, why not enjoy each other as much as we could in the time we had left.

Needless to say, it was one of the most emotionally draining years of my life. I sobbed the night he left for senior beach week, unsure when I would see him again and wishing we had more time together. But that’s the worst part of a distance breakup, isn’t it? You don’t want to avoid the person or take time apart, you’re forced to. You don’t break up because of a lack of feelings or compatibility.

Luckily I’ve been in a much better place about my current situation. The guy is interesting, smart, and kind. We’ve had a few really great dates and we get along well. But on our first date we talked about how he’s graduating med school at the end of the month and signed a seven-year contract (holy shit, right?) to complete his neurosurgery residency in a city halfway across the country. Ironically, the same city my ex moved to when he went to med school.

And so, for the better, I’m really not attached. He was a breath of fresh air—a nice reminder that cool guys are out there. Nothing more, nothing less. He and I had fun, enjoyed each other’s company, and we didn’t get too attached. It was the best “same page” situation I had ever been in.

But then this week he texted me to say he likes me enough to “see where this goes despite the circumstances” and started talking about when we could see each other again. I’m not sure what he hopes can happen, but I’m not feeling things nearly enough to buy plane tickets anytime soon, much less date long distance for seven years or move across the country for the boy I just met.

You win again, bad timing. Here’s to hoping you stay out of my love life someday soon.


Mary C

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