“A platform does not make you…it only reveals you.”
-Pastor John Gray
Absolute statements can be dangerous. Long distance relationships NEVER work. Once the haze of absence-made affection dissolves, the reality remains that the immediate needs of both partners are often left unmet. Many feel these couples become arrested in the so-called “honeymoon” phase. Always excited just to see each other, they don’t get to witness the full picture of the other person without the dopamine rush of infatuation. While most view long-distance relationships as unrealistic, some find them invigorating, intoxicating and worth the risk. Surprisingly, statistics show that only about forty percent of long-distance relationships fail. Evidence reveals that these couples often have better communication. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Communication* found that “[people] in long-distance relationships were more likely to share meaningful thoughts.” This, in turn, improves perceived intimacy between partners.
Now before I go any further, let me clarify. Dr. Dee is not a love doctor. However, it is my experience that “distance” in some relationships can be healthy and appropriate. Allow me to elaborate…American businessman Eli Broad stated, “I’d rather be respected than loved.” While most prefer both, the statement appropriately establishes respect as the priority. This has been a tough but lasting lesson for me. Naturally relatable, it is easy for younger staff members to both find me approachable but also take me for granted. Meanwhile, older staff may disregard my instruction, mistaking youth for inexperience.
On top of all the responsibilities a physician holds, managing interpersonal relations in the clinical setting is among the most challenging. This is because for a practice or system to run effectively, all members must work in concert. Sounds simple right? Well, pardon the colloquialism, it ain’t! Attitudes, preconceived notions, and personalities clash constantly, causing work not to be done. Here’s an example:
Staff person X (age 25; medical assistant for 3 years)
Staff person Y (age 54; registered nurse for 30 years)
Dr. Z (age 35; 9 years in practice)
Earlier, in my training, my approach was to be chummy with staff, which had its advantage. In general, they wanted to do their best for me. However, the burden of familiarity tends to tip the scale toward disrespect. As I evolved in my title, a healthy “distance” became necessary not only to establish and affirm the hierarchy, but also to improve communication and clearly set expectations. Boundaries can and should be maintained without the air of arrogance. If it is my true nature to be humble, the pulpit of doctoring should reflect so even more.
Dr. Dee is a board-certified neurologist with specialty training in clinical neurophysiology committed to educate the community on how to live more healthy lives.
1. L. Crystal Jiang, Jeffrey T. Hancock. “Absence Makes Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships.” Journal of Communication, 2013; 63 (3) 556-577.