We’re here to share our dating tips because dating in general can be hard and confusing – add in dating with a chronic illness (or in our case several) and it becomes a whole different ballgame.
There’s no “right way” to meet someone these days, and with a zillion dating apps/websites out there the dating pool is bigger than ever, but that doesn’t mean it becomes any easier to find a true connection. Everyone has a different approach when it comes to finding a relationship and how to go about the delicacy of love.
We get a LOT of questions when it comes to the topic of dating and, although we don’t consider ourselves experts by any means, we thought we’d share our approaches to dating with chronic and invisible illnesses. Here are our top five most asked questions/concerns and our answers/dating tips that go along with them. (Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to watch our YouTube video for our more in-depth answers!)
When do you bring up your condition(s)?
This is a question that has no across the board answer. It really depends on the situation and how comfortable you feel with the person you’re getting to know. While we personally wouldn’t write about our chronic conditions on a dating site, we are strong proponents of not hiding that part of our life. We like to test the waters early(ish) into dating – maybe by saying “I have a few autoimmune issues” and seeing how the other person responds before we go into all the complex details. Figuring out the “right time” to bring up this part of life is something that we’ve struggled with in the past. Just remember that he right time is when you feel comfortable.
2. Can you date with a chronic illness?
YES! Of course you can date and have a meaningful relationship while also having a chronic illness – one does not prevent the other. We’re all about adapting to our new normal (which for us means life with POTS, Lupus and EDS to name but a few of our conditions) and while our life might look different with chronic illness it doesn’t mean it stops. We just make the proper adjustments that work for us. While we might not be the best partners for hikes every weekend, there are plenty of spoonie friendly dates out there where both parties can enjoy themselves. We fully believe in putting ourselves out there ( even if not literally) and not letting our circumstances become our limitations.
3. My significant other doesn’t understand ___, how do I make him/her get it?
This situation has happened to each of us many times before. Trying to explain a chronic condition to anyone close to you, be it a friend, family member or partner, can be very difficult. For us personally, when having to explain our health situation and especially when having to defend it, an instant emotional trigger is set off ( cue the waterworks).
We get why it’s hard to understand – because nothing is clear cut, our health situation is unpredictable and always changing. We have to remind ourselves that it was hard for us (and still is at times) to understand what our bodies are doing and that those around us aren’t mind readers. While we might be feeling sick and perhaps are putting on a brave face and pushing through the pain, those around us don’t know what we’re feeling or thinking.
We’ve found it very helpful to show videos and to give simple literature (that isn’t too medically confusing or stuffy) of the illness we’re trying explain. Also, if you happen to have a friend or family member who truly gets what you’re dealing with, it’s really helpful to have this person with an outside perspective speak on your behalf.
4. I feel like a burden to my significant other/I’m scared of being a burden.
Those thoughts of self doubt go through our heads at times too. We’re human, we all have insecurities and having a chronic illness plays right into those worries. We just remind ourselves that everyone comes with baggage, a background and a history. Everyone faces hardships in life and those who haven’t yet, one day will.
5. I’m worried about seeming flaky. What do I do?
Unfortunately having to cancel plans comes with the territory of having a chronic illness. We’ve had to cancel so many things throughout the years due to not feeling well. We hate the fact that we may seem unreliable, but those who take the time to really get to know us, know that’s not the case – it’s our health that is not reliable. Some changing or rescheduling of plans is inevitable but that doesn’t lessen our character. If you need to cancel a date that’s fine, just be very clear that you DO want to go but are unable to. Then, if the other person is not understanding or is not willing to believe your reasons then aren’t worth your time!