>  Blog   >  How my dentist became my relationship therapist in one day

I was here for one thing, and one thing only — a checkup.

Examine teeth. Clean. Polish. Floss. Swipe credit card. Schedule next appointment. Leave.

That’s how all of my previous appointments went, and that’s what should have happened today.

But instead, I was completely caught off-guard when my dentist asked me the one question I’ve been avoiding for the past 3 1/2 years.

Nice to see you again, Tiffany! How are you and your boyfriend doing?

Oh boy, not this again. It pains me every time I answer this, because it always brings me back to my biggest life regret.

Oh, we’re not together anymore. It’s been more than 3 years since we’ve gone our separate ways, but I’m dating this really nice guy now. I’m not promising anything permanent, but I do see him as a potential.

The moment “dating” slipped off my tongue and went through her ear, she immediately dropped her professional guard and started to beam like a young schoolgirl in love.

Ah, dating. I remember how fun that was back in college — being able to meet all kinds of guys, get a new crush every week, and just explore different personalities. But now, I’m married to a wonderful husband for the past 12 years and have two kids I absolutely love to death. Even though my husband and I don’t see each other as often as we both wish (2 hours a day), I’m still very happy with my life.

2 hours a day?! That’s the same amount of time I spend eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner (maybe a few snacks too). How could a 12+ year relationship hold up given that little time of investment?

Wouldn’t you start drifting apart if you didn’t see each other often? I mean, I can’t imagine how my relationships would turn out if I only spent 2 hours a day with my partner.

She gently placed her hand on my shoulder.

Surprisingly no. We’ve actually grown closer to each other now than ever before. And I think it’s because we both respect and encourage each other to do our own thing. That is to learn new skills. Discover hidden passions. Make new friends. Find out something incredible about the world. But of them all, the greatest thing you can do is build upon yourself.

Nothing makes you more attractive than living your life to the fullest. So when your partner sees how actively involved you are, he’ll be more curious to know what you’ve learned and done.

Yes, it is nice to see each other as much as possible, but one thing I’ve learned is that you should never make him your whole world. Because the moment you start getting bored of each other is the moment your relationship drifts apart.

So if you want to build a healthy relationship for a long, long time, you need to take control of your own life and do the things you want to do first. Only then will you start to realize how much more you cherish those moments together.

I know a lot of people say you grow closer when you’re together, but honestly you can grow even closer when you grow apart.

My heart stopped as my mouth fell open. Never have I gotten a stroke of insight about relationships at this level. Not from my mom. Not from my best friend. Not from anyone, except my dentist.

And it took me awhile until my mind digested the words she had just said. But that explained everything — why my 9 1/2 relationship fell apart. It’s because I’d always invested more time being together with my ex than discovering who I am and what I want. I’d rarely stepped away from my comfort zone and my house, mainly because I preferred companionship and security over new ventures and freedom. I was comfortable where I was. Too comfortable…

But never will I be again.

Because now I realize you only have one life, and if you don’t spend it on enjoying your passions, meeting new friends, or working towards your goals, you won’t be as happy with where you are. And that can easily deteriorate what would have been a great relationship.


For a dental checkup + the one advice that’d save me from ever experiencing a stale, unbalanced relationship?

Worth every penny.

I’m rebuilding my life by discovering who I am, learning what I’m capable of after a 9 year heartbreak that left me stranded in China.