10 Things to Know If You're Dating Someone With a Chronic Illness
From the many non-fulfilling relationships as a chronically ill person, I have noticed that they were all flawed in the same ways. Even throughout social media, people with chronic illness are misrepresented in the dating world. Also, a rise in articles such as “My Dear Future Husband,”or “Chronic Illness and Dating” have depicted these flaws and ideals. With these experiences, I have compiled 10 main ideas that are misconceptions, and ways and ideas that a non-chronically ill person can do to support their partner with a chronic illness.
1. Do not romanticize my illness. One of my biggest pet peeves is that I do not want someone who will find my illness “attractive,” or find it romantic that I have a chronic illness. There is nothing that a person with a chronic illness that makes them “more attractive” because of their illness. A big misconception, even in social media, such as “The Fault in Our Stars” or “Everything, Everything” is when they make chronic illness something to be romantic and saved from. However it is not the case. There is nothing romantic about being sick, or two teens dying from cancer. So from a person with chronic illness – do not date a chronically ill person because it is “romantic” or found as a “fetish.” There is nothing about chronic illness that makes a person “more sexy” or “romantic.”
2. Get to know my illness. One of the biggest ways you can support your your lover is to get to know their illness, how it affects them, and even their medications. This is a major way to support someone in a relationship with chronic illness because it is something that will be there forever.
Learning about my illness supports me because I know I can depend on you. I know if you put the effort into learning about my illness, you will be able to stand the complications that come later with it. If you put the effort into getting to know about my illness, it means the world to me because you are learning about a major part of my life – and me.
3. I am not fragile. One way in which a non-ill person tries to support a chronically ill person in a relationship is that they try to over compensate the “boyfriend/girlfriend” role. For example, many always wait to open doors, or go do basic tasks. Just because I’m sick does not mean I can not do these things. So please, do not baby your partner because they are ill. Many people with chronic illnesses are just as capable to do basic tasks just like any healthy person.
I want someone who will help push me to do what I can, and not treat me like a glass doll. For the reason that I can do whatever I want, and this being another way of support from a non-chronically ill person. By them giving your partner the independence where your can helps give them confidence and support. This is greatly appreciated by someone with a chronic illness because the world often views us as being fragile. If you’re dating someone with a chronic illness, they will look to you to help support them, and treat them as an equal.
4. I will ask for help when I need it. Yes, there will be times when I do need help with an assortment of things from basic tasks to injections, but let me ask for your help.
By letting me ask for your help, that allows me to keep my independence and gives you the right opportunities to help me. Even down the line when you know your chronically ill partner very well, you will learn when they need help with out asking for it, which will be appreciated because I know you have learned and studied my personal illness so well that you know my body langue and when I need help.
Also, there is a misconception that a chronically ill person will not ask for help. Even though we trust you, we will ask for help even if it comes to the most basic tasks. For the reason that you have earned my trust as an ill person, I’m being vulnerable because of me needing help with something possibly most healthy people can do.
5. Dealing with the side effects. Dating a chronically ill person does not just come with an illness and set parameters. There will be side effects mentally, physically, and even from the medications. So when dating a chronically ill person, there will be more than just the illness at hand. Such as with me, where my physical illness has given me mental illness side effects such as depression and anxiety. To a non-chronically ill person these can be normal, but if they are a side effect from from a chronic illness they will manifest in a different light. So please, partners, do not downgrade our side effects, and be ready for them because they can affect us as much as our original diagnosis at hand.
6. The bad days. When dating someone with chronic illness, there will likely be bad days that will test your relationship. The bad days can be bad for me with such a extreme amounts of pain, needing help with everything, or a bad diagnosis. All of these bad days can make me snap, say, or do things I wish I did not do. So as a partner, do not let these affect the relationship because the bad will pass. With these bad days it can make our relationship stronger, so I know if you can sit through this and be strong for me, then I know I can trust you.
7. Be there. One of the biggest ways you can be there for me is by being there for doctor’s appointments, tests, surgeries, when it gets worst, or even at 3 in the morning when I get a flare. By being there when I get sick you can experience what it is like with my illness, and can help me through it. This is a basic way to support someone with a chronic illness.
While helping support me, it can be easy and hard at the same time. Especially with doctor’s appointments, when getting test results and because the future is unknown. A million ideas can be running through my head. Due to having the prior bad test result, or even because I know so much about the medical field, sometimes our knowledge can be our enemy. So even having you there just to sit with me can help me, make me feel more at home, or take some of my pain.
8. Don’t be afraid. I’ll need you to be the strong one at times. For a non-chronically ill person dating someone with chronic illness things can become really scary. However, at times I will need you to be the strong one. Such as when I have a medical emergency, or have an upcoming surgery, I will need you support and you to be the strong one, because again – millions of things can be going through my mind. Also, by you being the strong one, it gives me the confidence to know things will be OK.
9. The simple things. Some of the questions that makes my day are things such as:
“How are you feeling”
“Did you take your meds?”
“How did your appointment go?”
“Did you give yourself a break today?”
All of these simple questions can make my day because my partner is keeping my illness in mind, but also my over all well-being, and not just the illness itself. Sometimes I will need little pick-me-ups, which a partner should bring to my life. Even little things such as getting my pills out for me when I wake up, or bringing a nice dinner home instead of going out, are little things a partner can do for someone with me. By doing this, you are helping with my illness, or making it so my illness is not limiting our relationship.
10. Don’t take advantage of the good days. This is one of the most important ideas I can suggest. I never know when my chronic illness will spike, or take a turn for the worst. So please, on the days when I feel energized, or can do anything, do not take them for granted. I do not know how many of those days I will have. With these days, let’s go out, go to a movie, dinner, or even an amusement park. I ask you value our times together because I do not know how many of these good days I will have.
These are a collective of points I have found throughout the chronically ill community about dating someone with a chronic illness, as these are ways that can alter our relationships.
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