How to Date with a Chronic Illness
By Kassandra | @kshealthjourney | September 12, 2018
Dating can be hard whether chronic illness is in the picture or not. These are some of the things that helped me navigate dating with several chronic illnesses and ultimately led to an engagement.
Be as open and transparent as possible. When I met my now fiancée for the first time on a coffee date, I casually mentioned that I had recently had spine surgery. I wanted her to know since it might impact my ability to do certain things, and I also wanted to see how she responded. Luckily, she handled it well. It was a short conversation and we then moved on to other things. Then a few weeks later, I was totally honest with her about more of the details of other health issues I have. I explained that it ebbs and flows with intensity, so even though I seem great right now, it will not always be this way. I gave her the option to move on if she wanted to and right away she said she didn’t care and that would never stop her from wanting to be with me. We both agree that me bringing this up early on was part of why we worked out because she knew what was going on before I had any medical emergencies or flares.
Communicate, communicate, and communicate more. Being honest is really important, but so is communication. I needed to have a procedure about six weeks into dating my fiancée and we had already planned a date on that day, so once I found out that I was going to have the procedure, I told her right away what was going on. Even though it was set for Valentine’s Day, we tentatively planned a date night at my place with a quiet dinner at home. If I didn’t feel well, she’d pick something up and bring it over instead. Nearly five years into our relationship, communication is the most important thing we do.
Trust that you’re worth being with someone great. I had a really hard time believing that someone would want to be with me because their life would be fairly altered just by doing so. However, I went into online dating with the confidence that even though I was sick, I had lots to offer. It might not look the way it would have if I were healthy, but it has made our relationship even better because we appreciate the little things in each other.
FOMO is real. Because chronic illness makes for a life with a lot of unpredictability, I miss out simply because I’m unable to physically participate. My inability to go with my fiancée to things makes it hard for me, but it’s also really hard on her because she wants her partner with her, enjoying life. Our compromise is that I go with her to events and then take a Lyft home when I’ve hit my limit. It’s hard to leave something early, but it’s important for her to be able to have fun even when I can’t.
Sacrifice is key. There are periods that my health is really unstable and I’m stuck at home most of the time. Once I feel well enough, I do my best to make sure we do something fun that she wants to do. It’s so important to have some normalcy and do fun things together, especially with the intensity of my health. She makes sacrifices daily for me, so it’s the least I can do to try and return the favor. I also do little acts of kindness to make her feel special and acknowledge how challenging all of this is for her as well. I have sent her flowers at work after some of my spine surgeries, for example, because it takes a toll on her as well and I always want to make sure she knows how much I love and appreciate her.
Dating with chronic illness is hard to navigate, but it’s totally possible to date and ultimately end up in a healthy relationship where most of these same tips apply.