What It's Like Dating With Diabetes

The most important relationship in my life is with a piece of technology. It’s attached to my body 24/7 and I can not live without it. No, it’s not my cell phone – it’s my insulin pump. The hustle and bustle of Valentine’s Day has me wondering, will this relationship be my only one?

I feel like diabetes is my boyfriend at this point. My testing kit is always accompanying me to dinner, it tends to hangout around my pillow at night, and I can get pretty mad at what it says…Which is the same thing as a boyfriend, right?

I usually don’t stress too much over diabetes, as we all know that just causes more problems than it solves. But, I do wonder if diabetes is hindering my dating life. I was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 21, right in the middle of college. Adding insulin shots (eventually a pump), carb counting, and finger pricking to an already self-confidence depleting dating environment was probably not the best idea, but it’s not like I did it to myself.

Here I am trying to dress and act in ways that will attract my male peers, and now I have to do so while wearing a pump. Carrying it feels like a whole grocery bag worth of stuff with me at all times. I’ll admit, I often left my glucometer at home when I went out since I didn’t usually carry a purse. There was nothing more awkward than meeting up with a guy, or even friends, at the bar and then rerouting the walk home to my house so I could check my blood sugar. Talk about a buzz kill. I’m sure it wasn’t a big deal to the other person – but I felt like such an inconvenience.

As I became more comfortable with my shots and carrying my supplies, I thought all of the issues would subside, but of course, I was wrong.

Next awkward situation? Waking up in someone else’s house with low blood sugar and coming to the realization that normal humans don’t keep juice boxes and fruit snacks on their bedside table…and the little food I had with me wouldn’t do the trick.

“Hey, I have to go home, my blood sugar is low,” or, “Um…Hi, do you happen to have a Gatorade or Coke nearby?” Again, buzz kill.

Although, I’ll always appreciate one response which involved the guy reaching off his bed and grabbing two juice boxes, one for me, and one for him – because, why not? This didn’t happen often, but still enough to where I tend put lots of thought into sleeping in beds that aren’t mine.

Sleeping in beds that aren’t yours can cause more issues than that though. The unanswered question of, “What the heck do I do with my pump during intimacy?” I Googled that, just in case the opportunity presented itself. I decided I would just take it off as long as my sugar is okay, but the initial, “Sorry if that thing beeps, it’s just my insulin pump.” or, “Yeah, that’s my continuous glucose monitoring.” warning would still be pretty freaking awkward. Again, I felt like an inconvenience.

I quickly learned that being diabetic is in no way an inconvenience in these circumstances, but it is still something I tend to worry about a little more than I should. Most importantly, when is the time in a relationship to tell the person your diabetic? Is it a fun fact, or do you wait until you’re on a date and have to give insulin? Or do you wait until you experience a high or low with them? I don’t want, “Hey, I’m Jillian, I enjoy country music and tacos, and I’m diabetic.” to be my opening line when meeting people, but I think it is important for a person you’re in a relationship with to know.

These are all questions and experiences I’m waiting to figure out, but until then, Happy Valentine’s to the single (and not) diabetics in the world. Don’t forget to bolus for your chocolates and candy hearts!

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