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Finding Love as a Chronically Ill Person

By Jaqueline } @J_Child | June 6, 2018

Finding Love as a Chronically Ill Person

“Did you tell him about your illnesses?”  That’s the question I get asked after meeting someone or going out on a date.  The answer to that question is usually “No.”     Dating as a chronically ill person is complicated. The world has a specific perception of disabled people—there is a negative connotation, which includes unattractiveness and weakness. I get anxious thinking about dating. I wonder when the right time is to disclose my health, I think about a person’s reaction to hearing I don’t work, I contemplate how long I can go pretending I am a healthy “normal” 24- year-old.     For a while, I thought that if I didn’t tell a person about my health right away that I was hiding something.  Through talking with my therapist, I realized that I am not hiding anything; rather, by waiting until it becomes relevant, I am not defining myself by my disability. Of course, I am who I am because I am sick; I have a unique perspective on life due to being chronically ill, but in reality, no one has to tell his or her “secrets” on a first date.  A person would probably not disclose that they have bipolar disorder on a first date.  A person would probably not talk about being sexually abused on a first date.  So why do I feel the need to tell someone that I am chronically ill on the first date?   Things do not necessarily get easier once the relationship picks up and things become more serious.  It can be hard to admit the pain I am, cancel plans because I am stuck in bed, or divulge my limitations.  It is difficult to open up about my body’s malfunctions. Sometimes, the “healthy” person in the relationship assumes that their partner needs help and requires care.  We can take care of ourselves, and if we do need help, we will ask. I worry that I do not explain my conditions or articulate my feelings well enough and that my partner doesn’t understand how sick I am.  At the same time, I worry that if I do explicitly explain my illness, I will scare him away.     Despite what the stigma of chronic illness says, dating someone with a disability is not that different than dating a physically healthy person. Most people have their “baggage,” whether that is family issues, mental illness, or trauma—chronic illness is just more obvious. Everyone wants someone to support them and love them unconditionally. No one expects a person to understand everything they go through, but trying to understand is what is really important.   I still struggle with dating as a chronically ill person. If he doesn’t call, I wonder if it is because of my illness.  I wonder if he thinks chronic illness is too much to handle. I fear he will think I am lazy because I am unable to have a job, exercise, or do basic things. But what I realized is that when the right person comes along, I won’t have to question how my health affects our relationship. I won’t have to be embarrassed to talk about my illnesses. I won’t have to fear admitting my limitations. Most importantly, I won’t have to fight my chronic illness alone. 

Jacqueline is a 24-year-old suffering from UCTD and other illnesses while living in Colorado with her service dog. She spends her time playing guitar, painting, and hanging out with friends and family.

By Jaqueline

Instagram: @j_child

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