A couple weeks ago I was catching up with a dear friend and fellow paramedic. As most girl-girl conversations go, we quickly got on to relationships as she was filling me in on the newest love in her life. Living in a smaller town can wreak havoc on the single person in the dating scene. The one degree of separation in a small town narrows when you live in the EMS/Fire/LE world, not to mention the rumor mill is more efficient than any social media.
We discussed how difficult it can be dating in the EMS/Fire world. An outsider would think, ‘Hey, you’re around all of these hot guys all the time, it must be easy to find someone.” Well, the answer is yes and no.
When you think about the dynamic of the female first responder you can start to see how complex dating for her could be. Now, sure, there are women who have met their perfect match, dated flawlessly, gotten married, made several babies and lived happily ever after. It happens, it really does. But for the other 75% (generously speaking) who it doesn’t work out for, this is for you.
1. You have to be “manlier” than she is – This can be complicated. Tread lightly. We work in a man’s world and she has had to adapt accordingly. You remember the tom-boy you loved as a kid? We are HER all grown up.
2. She can carry her own gear – though we do love chivalry and make no mistake, we will teach our sons to hold the door for a lady, be polite and treat every girl like he would his mama, but let’s make something perfectly clear. We spend every day proving how tough, how competent, how determined, how capable and how in control we can be. The sheer thought of doing something perceived as a “man task” for us can quickly get you thrown in the proverbial dog house – which if challenged she can also build.
3. We have guy friends – LOTS of them – We live with them, eat with them, sleep in the same house as them, we have their back and they have ours. We are a team and a family. They are our brothers, partners, fathers and best friends. We laugh, cry and experience mind blowing things together. You’re gonna have to be secure and trusting or the relationship isn’t going to make it past the next 24 hour shift.
4. You’ve hit the JACKPOT! – You’ve heard the terms, Type A, Controlling and OCD? Well congrats! We’re one big tri-pack. Should you at any point make an attempt to tell her “this is how it’s going to be” – peace be with you.
5. You got a boo-boo and want your mommy? – She’ll dial Mommy up for you. Unless you are blue, snoring, grossly angulated or have hemorrhaged out more than 1 liter of blood (and trust me, we’re calculating the volume loss), you’re not going to see us get too excited. However, If you do fit any of the above criteria, they you’ve found the right gal.
6. Want the ‘needy girl?’ – You know, the one who calls, texts, snapchats, FB updates her every move, thought and breath? The girl who will answer your text, call or IM the moment you send it? Sorry, wrong chica. You might not get a reply for hours or an entire day. If the calls are coming back to back, there is a priority system we have in place – Pee, Eat, Chart, Pee again then maybe you’ll get a short response. Don’t read into it, it will only work against you. Don’t question it as she will see you as needy. Quick turn-off.
7. You’re gonna need an iron stomach – If you want to be the rock that she can lean on, you’ll have to be able to listen to the details of her calls as she mentally re-lives those moments, playing them back, checking herself, questioning herself, critiquing herself. Don’t interject, don’t try to fix anything, just listen – and don’t vomit.
8. Don’t try to change her – We often hear men talk about women trying to change them. Well, this is a big issue with the female first responder. Men are very attracted to the strong, confident, independent women of this field, until they get deeper into the relationship. It seems there is this pivotal point in most relationships where suddenly the guy wants the girl to become well, more of a “girl.” If at some point you anticipate she will transition to the submissive/subservient type, you’re in for an uphill battle – again, peace be with you!
9. “One time at band camp” – When in our “pack” whether around a camp fire or at your favorite 5-star restaurant be prepared to witness “The medic story challenge.” You may feel as though you’ve heard one of the most awful stories ever, only to have the next medic pipe in and one-up the last. Now be prepared to challenge your cardiac sphincter’s ability to contain your food as you listen to stories most would consider inappropriate at the table… “One time I had this call…”, “we responded to a guy who was drunk and….”, “I took care of this gal who….” You may find yourself, and other patrons around you wondering how a group can be so twisted that they can (in much detail) describe unthinkable traumas, oozing body fluids and unimaginable situations while indulging in a heaping plate of pasta with extra cheese and thick chunky sauce – some even associating the look of their food to something they’ve had to clean up.
10. Partners for life – As the saying goes: Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend. We live in a world where partners and crews – much like pack animals will die to protect each other. There is a deep loyalty and bond derived from the unique situations and challenges we share with our partners and crew. A day at the office for us has no rules. At any point in our day we have a decent chance of being in a life altering situation, a good chance we will be assaulted, a very good chance we will look in the eyes of someone as they take their last breath. We understand life is short and take a very close and personal bond to those we allow in our emotional circle.
Consider yourself forewarned and blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy the company of one of the wonder women. We can’t guarantee you a life of a headache free relationship, but we promise you will never be bored.
~Written by Dannie Myers, EMT-P/RN of many years and a many relationships to back up #’s 1-10.