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20 People Describe What It's Like to Be In Love When You Have a Chronic Illness

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When you’re chronically ill and in a relationship, there are some things you deal with that healthy couples may not — things like having to go to doctor’s appointments instead of dinner with friends, deciding who will do household chores and discovering how to have fun together without spending too much energy. It isn’t always easy, to say the least.

We asked our Mighty community what it’s like to be in love when you have a chronic illness. As their answers reveal, the ups and downs of having a chronic health condition can transform the experience of being in love in both challenging and beautiful ways.

Here’s what the community told us:

1. “It’s scary. I’m always scared that I’m a burden to my partner. I feel like I hold him back and that he’s not living how he’d like to. He’s my biggest support system and cheering section. I try my hardest to be his. We work well together but I’m always afraid that at some point it’s going to be too much and I’ll lose my Love because of my illnesses.”

2. “It’s bittersweet. Bitter because he takes care of me and all of my dogs without even second-guessing me. I feel like it’s unfair that I cannot do the same for him. He cooks, cleans, helps me get up when I can’t do it myself, and is always telling me how beautiful I am while doing everything. I feel useless. It’s sweet because of almost all the same reasons.”

3. “Exactly the same as when you don’t have a chronic illness. You are still a person with the right to love and be loved. I’m sure if it was the other way around and my partner got sick it wouldn’t make me feel any different.”

4. “Most people don’t usually understand. But once in a while you find a person who does. Two years ago I found my one. My significant other accepts me. He makes sure I get to my doctor appointments, makes sure I take my medications, makes sure I don’t just stay home and lie about. He makes me move, live, be free. Being in love while having a chronic illness is different but achievable.”

5. “Love when you have a chronic illness is a test. It’s a test of strength, a test of wills, a test of courage. Every hospital visit, every infusion, every flare, every tear, every test, every new specialists, every new medication, my fiance is there or supporting. He’s been there when the crash carts where wheeled in, he’s been there when I have had to have repeat surgeries because the first one failed, he’s held me when I was at my most sick and cheered me on when I was at my healthiest. Loving with a chronic illness is beautiful, even when my health is not.”

6.It’s choosing between the hormone therapy that manages my invisible illness or having a sex drive. It’s choosing between medical bills or romantic getaways. It’s choosing doctor’s appointments and surgeries or date nights. But, in the end, still choosing each other.”

7. “It’s a blessing and a curse. My husband and I met and married before I became ill. We were married for two weeks shy of three years when I received my diagnosis of myasthenia gravis. As much as I loved/love my husband I would have understood if he left. It’s a blessing having him by my side being supportive and concerned for me. He’s always there to help me when I need it. Then on the other hand it’s a curse. It’s a curse when I see the pain and helplessness on his face when I’m so sick that I can barely breathe. It’s a curse when I see him working so hard when he isn’t feeling well.”

8. “No better and no worse then being in love without one. But it brings its own problems. Sometimes you need someone to see beyond the mask. Even the person you love can forget how things really are… Other times it’s being the complete mess that I need to be. Letting everything out and being comforted by the man I love. Being secure enough to let my barriers down and just crumble and let him be there for me and help me get back on track again. It’s having to trust yourself to trust that they love you.”

9. “Scary, but amazing. I always feel like I’m a burden on my husband, and that he will get sick of me being sick. Then he shows up for me when I need it most, and it feels good to know that he really meant ‘in sickness and health’ and ’till death do us part.’”

10.It’s the most comforting thing I’ve ever experienced, though I do get awful feelings of guilt every now and then… I didn’t choose to be sick, but he chose to be with me, and while there is a warm security in that, I sometimes feel I’ve made him waste the prime of his life tending to me.”

11. “To be in love with a chronic illness, you have to truly love yourself and to an extent, love (or at least learned to graciously accept) that illness. You have to be able to look into the future without just blanket fear of the unknown and know that no matter what happens you will face it and find a partner who feels that way, too.”

12. “Used to be guilt and feelings of worthless and useless until I met the perfect guy for me who makes me feel the complete opposite… He knows I’ll kick ass when I can and when I’m doing that I’ll do well, but the days it’s the opposite, he does all he can to help!”

13. “It’s always having someone to fight your battles with, even if they don’t completely understand. It means never having to fight alone again.”

14. “Love is real when you have a chronic illness. You know for sure pretty quickly if it’s true love when they need to take a bottle of your urine to the doctor or put a suppository into your back passage.”

15. “Love with a chronic illness isn’t the same as without… Don’t think it is all sunshine and butterflies. It’s not. Love isn’t, but like I said, it’s real and is better.”

16. “A roller coaster. Some days they understand and everything is fine. They take care of you and love you illness and all. Then some days they are just as tired of competing with your illness as you are.”

17. “It’s incredibly hard. I have a constant battle with my body and trying to not feel like a burden due to my condition. My fiance has to reassure me. But it’s never easy and hard to not feel inadequate when you’re so limited. But he is my rock and my strength. He keeps me going and I do my best to return the love, support and patience he has shown me.”

18. “I think my illness was one of the reasons my last relationship fell apart, more specifically the way he reacted to my illness. Constantly tried to fix me when I’m not fixable, which just left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough. Tried to force ‘help’ on me that I didn’t want. Wouldn’t listen or respect my boundaries. I took one good thing away though, I learned what I will not tolerate in a relationship — romantic or platonic! No one gets to decide what happens to my body or that they know better than I do.”

19. “You love them all the more because you can recognize the sacrifices they make because of your condition.”

20. “Being in love with a chronic illness is a lot like sky diving. You jump and at first it’s terrifying, but then you learn to enjoy the ride. And if you’re with the right person, it’s having someone that fights the chronic battle with you every day.”

 20 People Describe What It's Like to Be In Love When You Have a Chronic Illness
Originally published: January 5, 2017
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