How Star Trek is helping save my relationship

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Oct 3, 2017

My boyfriend introduced me to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He slipped in a few Trekkie references on our first "non-date" (that date that didn’t start as a date but turned into one) that went over my head, but I didn’t hold it against him.

I'd never been a big Trekkie, but after about seven months of watching an episode of Deep Space Nine almost every night, well, now I’m a fan. I've fallen in love with Quark, what can I say? It seemed to be written in the stars: Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was from Texas, as am I.

Now that I'm in London for a 10-month postgrad program — and my boyfriend remains in New York City — DS9 has helped prevent homesickness. I continue to watch the show nightly and discuss episodes with him over video messenger.

I’ve carried on this tradition of watching DS9 while eating dinner, but instead of a home-cooked meal, I stuff myself with protein bars; instead of falling asleep on his lap on the couch halfway through an episode, I leave my laptop on the dining room table.

Credit: Jordan Gass-Poore

Each episode of DS9 that I watch hunched over my laptop on my dining room table more 3,000 miles away from New York City reminds me of the time I first went to my boyfriend's apartment — a prelude to our fourth date — and saw Star Trek paraphernalia scattered about his living and bedroom. Looking back, I'm not sure why this didn't scare me away. Now I find it endearing.

Some psychologists might say watching DS9 together, albeit remotely, creates a sense of shared identity, which helps us feel like we're connected. We go on a virtual journey together, and when the conversation stalls we can chat about our favorite character on the show and I can predict what will happen next while he, having seen the entire series, remains mum.

These exchanges have become a jumping-off point for debates and opportunities to discuss values and ethics. Discussion about DS9 was the easiest way I could glean information about my boyfriend's childhood and his opinion on Israel. He watched the show with his parents and sister as a child; it was their way of family bonding.

I can see the influence DS9 has had on my boyfriend's leadership style. He argues like Captain Sisko: he's diplomatic, even when he doesn't want to be, like when I came home angry from work and gave him the silent treatment.

He picks his battles and trusts people when they've earned his trust. I, on the other hand, am more like Kira Nerys. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I am a natural born leader -- my astrological sign and handedness are proof.

Credit: CBS

Kira was a leader of one of the Bajoran terrorist cells. I've given in to the fact that I'm probably a future Marxist revolutionary. Kira and I are both stubborn, sometimes to a fault. We also get emotionally attached to our colleagues; that's why I'm a fan of the Irish goodbye. I also spent several years with short hair.

My attachment to these fictional characters makes me feel more secure in my decision to move to London, to leave my boyfriend and the home-cooked meals, and the clothes dryer that actually works, and the flat screen TV…

I miss the walks we had down New York City streets at night, discussing how DS9 is the best model for how humans could be -- whether or not we're moving in the right direction is debatable.