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Why Dating Is Hard When You're Chronically Ill

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I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships — and especially the difficulties of dating while being chronically ill. In my experience, being chronically ill makes dating, or really any kind of relationship, 10 times harder.

It’s hard to plan dates when I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow. It’s hard to go on dates when I’m tired or hurting or struggling with anxiety. It’s hard to get and give gifts when I’m homebound and exhausted to the bone. It’s hard to fully be there for another person while I’m focusing on trying to save my own life and just survive through the day.

Attempting to date while being chronically ill was a nightmare for me. Since I was homebound, online dating was my only option for a long time, and it did not work out for me at all. Usually, once I told a person I was sick they would give a quick, “That’s awful. I’m so sorry.” Then shortly after that they would “ghost” and stop replying.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has done that to me I would be one rich “sick chick.”

Eventually, every once in a blue moon, I started going out with friends and one time I unknowingly was set up on a blind date! Thankfully, that went very well. Three and a half years later, we’re still together and so very happy.

Although I am in remission and a solid 80% healthy, my life and health can still be unpredictable, and I continue to face many of the same frustrations about wishing I could give more.

As a perfectionist, I want to give 110%, but I’m only at 80% and need a lot of those “spoons” just for myself and continuing to heal!

Six plus years of chronic illness and one-third of my life, and I’m still working on finding peace with accepting just doing my best is enough.

With all of this, I really just want to say a few things to a few people…

To anyone out there who is chronically ill and struggling with dating, or struggling with feeling like they’re falling short in their relationship: I’ve been there and I know how you feel. With time it will get better. I promise. Just keep doing your best and surrounding yourself with people who make you feel like you are enough, exactly as you are, no matter if you’re having a good or bad day.

To the people out there who are dating someone chronically ill: Please make them feel loved and accepted and appreciated for exactly who they are. If you can do this, you are a gem, a true diamond in the rough, and you are so deeply appreciated. Thank you for giving unconditional love.

To the people who “can’t handle” dating someone who’s chronically ill: If you leave them, all I ask is that you do it in a way that they know they should never feel guilty, worthless, ashamed or like they aren’t enough. Us chronically ill folks have so many people leave us in utterly heartbreaking ways. Please don’t be another one of those people.

It may be uncomfortable to have a real conversation before leaving them, it may be much easier to “ghost,” and you may think it’s best for both of you if you just disappear. But you have no idea the amount of scars that might leave on them. Please remember you can leave someone’s life in a positive and kind way. Give them the compassionate closure they deserve and are rarely given.

To the people who have been left without any closure: I feel your pain. I know these scars all too well. Please be patient with your healing and never doubt your worth. You are loved, you deserve love and you will find love. Don’t let cruel people ruin the hopes you have for love. Have hope that healing is possible and that someday you will find “your people” who love you just as you are.

To any chronically ill people out there who don’t have a significant other right now: Hi, I’ll be your Valentine. You are enough. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are a warrior, and a survivor who is incredible for continuing to fight and so worthy of love. I’m proud of you. I see you. I appreciate you. You will forever have my love and respect.

Follow this journey on Welcome To The Life of an Insomniac.

Getty image via halfbottle

Originally published: August 6, 2019
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