The Fears I Have When It Comes to Dating Because of My Illness
Dating is an amazing, fun, confusing, scary, and complicated thing for everyone. But when you’re chronically ill, in additional to all of the normal stressors in a relationship, you have all of the inconveniences that come along with your health. When you begin dating someone you worry about them finding out the weird and quirky things about you, you worry that they won’t find them charming and will leave you. When you’re chronically ill, you have that same fear, but you also have to worry about when you also tell them that you have health issues.
Do I tell them right away so that it’s immediately disclosed?
Do I wait a little while and see where we’re going before telling them?
What if I wait to tell them until we’re already attached to each other, but then the condition of my health scares them away?
What exactly do I tell them?
How many details do I give?
How do I even begin the conversation?
Those are the questions that rush through my mind when I think about the person I’m dating finding out that I’m chronically ill and struggle with chronic pain. I normally get the conversation out of the way pretty quickly and that approach has worked well for me. We discuss what I’ve been diagnosed with and what it all means, then I let them know that they can always ask any questions that they have, because nothing is off limits, and I will provide them with a truthful answer. But even after they know everything and that open communication is established, you fear when they actually see you when you’re sick.
The first time that your significant other sees you during a bad flare day or in the middle of a health crisis is very anxiety inducing because you have no idea how they’re going to react. You’ll be wondering if you should let them see how much you are struggling or if you should hide it, if you should push yourself even though it may cause more damage, or if you should come up with some lame excuse. The fear that comes with the first time that you have to change or cancel plans because you’re having a challenging day is one that is very hard to explain.
Will they be mad, or think that I’m just being dramatic or weak?
Are they going to be supportive and helpful?
Are they going to pretend that it isn’t happening?
Are they going to downplay what is happening to me?
Is it going to be too much for them to handle and then they’ll be gone?
What if it hurts them too much to see how much pain I’m in?
In addition to all of those thoughts going through your head, you wonder if they will still be physically attracted to you after seeing you while sick. Because, let’s be honest, sometimes being sick can really take a toll on your physical appearance as well and we want our significant others to find us physically attractive. I worry that they’ll think my hands are too fat due to swelling from edema or that my eyes sinking back in my head when I have a migraine will completely throw them off. I run fevers daily, and when that happens I get flushed and look like a ghost. Sometimes I look at myself while in a flare and wonder how anyone could be attracted to me looking the way that I do. And who knows, they may get completely overwhelmed when they see me in a hospital gown attached to machines with tubes and wires coming out of my body – because that is something that they will see someday.
All of those fears and more are likely running through the head of someone who is chronically ill and dating, along with all of the normal fears. Some people decide that it’s to stressful because they will never find someone who will be accepting of them and their body that is struggling, so they don’t even try. But I will tell you – you do deserve love and if you’re willing to look, you will find it. There is a person out there who will think that you are magnificent, regardless of what is happening to you inside, and they’re who it’s worth taking the risk and facing our fears for. Our bodies are battling themselves and it is very scary and lonely, but one day we will find someone who is willing to stand by us and help us fight that war. There will be that one person who loves you and supports you for all that you are.