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Why Dating Can Be Difficult When You're Chronically Ill

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I’m 28 and have been sick with one thing or another since I was a kid. Things got worse in middle school and worse still in high school. Prime dating time was not spent with boys, I can tell you that!

Now that I’m older it’s becoming more and more apparent that I don’t have a
partner. My counselor has supportively brought up dating. At her suggestion I looked into online dating and was quickly scared away. I brought it up with a
couple of family members. I thought they would laugh at the idea with me, but they kept nudging me into it, because they love me and want me to have with someone what they have with their spouses.

I don’t mean to say that people who are chronically ill can’t or shouldn’t date, as I absolutely don’t believe that. I’m just saying the idea is very nerve-racking to me. And it is for a number of reasons I think others can relate to.

First, it’s very hard meeting people when you’re sick. I’m at home or hanging with family. Socially speaking, I’m not around singles or in places where I could meet someone. They would literally have to knock on my door or be at the bookstore on the rare occasions I make it to my favorite place.

This brings me to the stress of online dating. I looked at half a dozen sites. Most were too expensive to use. I’m not working so spending $20-$30 dollars a month to use an online dating site just isn’t practical. It definitely isn’t a
necessary expense, so I can’t warrant coming up with the money. I went through several free trials on several sites. One site had no one in my area. One site wouldn’t let me see my matches unless I paid to see them.

The rest were an array of being matched with men way outside my age range. 60-year-olds seemed to really like me, or men that were too young for me. If I entered into a serious relationship it would be monogamous, which I answered as part of their questionnaire. Yet, I still got “liked” and “matched” with polygamists.

I also found the idea of saying no to people’s profiles rude. I wish you couldn’t tell how many people said no to your profile or viewed your profile without saying yes. Ok Cupid does a good job with this, and the site was way cheaper than any other I found, but it’s still an expense I can’t wrap my head around.

There’s also a safety concern. It felt odd having random men know my first name (last names aren’t posted) and what city I lived in. That made me feel unsafe. Once I weeded out men who were too young or old or said they drank a lot or experimented with drugs, those that were left didn’t seem to match with me. On their profiles they said they didn’t want anyone who was unemployed. That’s kind of defeating since that is one of my fears.

Secondly, it’s one thing to be rejected because you aren’t compatible. It’s another to be rejected because of things that aren’t in your control. I’ve lost enough due to health issues. I don’t need to lose anything more. I’m not sure I can handle that.

There were free online dating sites, but they were essentially hookup sites. One seemed to be a mix of people looking for long-term relationships and those just interested in one-night stands. The reviews on the site said if you’re looking for love you can find it there, but it takes a lot of work and weeding people out. To that I said, “Ummmmm… no.” I don’t have the energy for that. With the few sites I tired, it took hours out of my day, and that was with free trials that gave you limited access. I can’t imagine the barrage of nonsense that would come with full access.

I’d love to find a site that allowed for friendships and dating. Most say they do, but there’s no way to find women for friendships while simultaneously looking for men to date or whatever sex meets your friendship and romantic needs.

My third reason involves very simple practical steps to dating that are hard. Let’s say I do go on a date. The date would have to take place close by as I don’t drive long distances and would never get in a car with someone I just met online.

I’d have to have money for dinner or a movie or both, which I could swing but not regularly. I’d also have to have clothes worthy of a date. Trust me, with my
wardrobe, finding a decent top and jeans would be a struggle! Clothing also isn’t a priority when you’re sick. I would love to love fashion, but I don’t have the energy for it! I always say, “One day I will be well dressed, but today is not
that day.”

The fourth reason has to do with knowing what you want (which I don’t) and finding someone who wants the same things. It’s the tricky aspect of mutual attraction coupled with mutual goals.

I’m not going to have kids. I always wanted them, but it isn’t practical on my end. I can’t afford them and likely never will unless certain goals of mine come true. There’s some evidence to suggest I won’t be able to get pregnant even if by some miracle I could afford them. A few doctors have told me this is unlikely or impossible, but I don’t have the need or money to go and do the tests to see if this is true. Even if I could conceive, I don’t know I’d risk carrying a baby and giving birth. I’ve also always loved the idea of adoption, but I don’t have the means to do that either.

Most people want a partner, and I would want to be that. I wouldn’t want to be someone that someone else has to take care of. I would want to be an equal partner in all things. But I can’t be. Even if I found someone who was OK with me just as I am (which seems like a fairytale) I don’t know that I would be OK with it.

I’m a loner by nature; however, I’m also a romantic. I think that’s why I like to
write. Sure I wish I had someone that was always on my side. Someone to laugh with and enjoy what a healthy relationship can give, but I’m not sure it’s in the cards for me.

Most sick people I know who are in relationships were in them before they got sick. I don’t mean to generalize this as I know there are exceptions, and I really hope I get dozens of comments saying they found a partner who loves them for them.

It’s just that in the online world, face-value isn’t deep enough no matter how many questions a site asks. As much as I would love to find a partner, it doesn’t seem feasible. I have enough obstacles in my day-to-day life. I don’t want to add even more just so I can be “normal” and have a partner.

If I’m being brutally honest, it also feels like something else I could fail at. I don’t want to disappoint my family or friends. I don’t want to have my heart broken over and over because people don’t want to sign up for a sick girlfriend. I think a lot of people don’t get how hard that would be on top of everything else. My self-esteem is low enough at times. I won’t risk adding to it.

I think those in my life see me in a loving way, because they care about me and assume someone else will see what they see. In my experience so far, that just isn’t the case. I don’t say this with sadness or bitterness. My loner nature is OK with being a loner. I’m not sure I’d drag someone into the mess of chronic illness if I don’t have to. And you know what? I don’t have to.

I don’t know what the future holds. Maybe I will run into Mr. Wonderful at the bookstore, or maybe he will knock on my door someday for some reason. I
definitely won’t shut the idea out, but I don’t see how I can seek it out either.

That’s my take on my personal view of ME dating. It keeps coming up, and it feels like those around me don’t understand. In a way, I feel like I’m disappointing them by not trying to date too! I thought I’d write it out and get it off my chest!

Getty Image by MissTuni

Originally published: May 2, 2018
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