I have been online dating for several years now, and it works well enough for me except for one thing―being a nurse I find that it is difficult to talk about my work to people who aren’t in the medical profession. Do you have any suggestions on how I might bridge that divide?
That’s easy, Mandy. Don’t create that divide. Let’s face it: usually when people talk about their work, they are simply trying to process their day. They need someone with whom to commiserate ―ideally someone who will ratify their thoughts and actions. That, of course, is normal healthy behavior … well, to a point at least. It’s nice to have a sounding board to let you know that you haven’t gone off the deep end. It’sone of the huge benefits of being in a relationship. You pretty much have a captive audience. However, it is a benefit that can be easily abused.
For instance, hearing about what a huge idiot someone’s boss/co-worker is can certainly be entertaining on occasion, but hearing a variation on that same theme every day can be tiresome―and that’s being generous. Yes, storytelling always benefits from the addition of a certain amount of drama, but when drama becomes routine, it ceases to be drama.
The irony in your case is that being a nurse, much of your routine is fraught with actual drama―trauma even. The things you deal with on a day-to-day basis are hardly routine for your patients. Instead, you get to deal with people in physical and often emotional crisis. Oh, the stories you can tell, right? But to tell them to the average non-medical professional, there is a lot of terminology and procedure that needs to be explained―a tiresome amount.
I remember once being at cocktail party and meeting a Russian gentleman who was a visiting university professor engaged in the study of theoretical mathematics. He spoke English well enough, but when I asked him what kind of math he was working on, he looked at me as compassionately as he could and said, “The mere fact that you’re asking that question means that there is no way I can possibly explain it to you.” He was right of course. My mathematical training doesn’t extend much past a C in college algebra. I was just trying to make small talk. He honestly didn’t have the time and energy.
Similarly, I imagine that for those in the medical profession, it can probably feel like you don’t share much in common with other people―certainly if you are a working parent. In fact, that’s why specialized dating sites like LoveStat exist. However, to be a healthy person, you need to develop and nurture interests that connect you to people outside your profession, not just for dating, but for friendships as well. Maybe take a yoga class or join a softball team or become a Juggalo—it doesn’t really matter. The point is to get out of your comfort zone. Yes, it takes time and effort, but so does anything worthwhile. My guess is that pretty soon you’ll have plenty of stuff to talk about on dates that has nothing to do with your job.
And if you still feel the need to swap gory stories about manning the scrub brush in the burn unit, you can always do that at your 9am mimosa breakfast postwork happy hour.