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Netflix and Chronically Ill?

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Dating is hard enough, those awkward first dates, those heart-wrenching break ups. Now add a chronic illness, and poof! Dating seems like a wild idea. Sometimes we can’t fully take care of ourselves, feel stable, or even go out for a night on the town. How could we possibly meet a new love interest? The places we hang are on the couch, in the waiting room, at the pharmacy. Places where we identify as sick. Being chronically ill forces us to have emotional armor, deeply confusing vulnerabilities, unpredictable traumatic events, and to bear the weight of this difficult experience often alone.

But we are still deserving of love, fun, being pursued, having a crush, and all the other romance that comes along with dating. We have to keep faith that we have gifts to offer those around us. Specifically unique traits only we possess. That brave magic that makes us each sparkle. There’s no reason to give up on yourself, meeting new people, and having another adventure.

Online dating is not new and is extremely diverse in sites. Starting online may help you reflect on who you are and what you really want. You can take your time messaging someone, see if they’ll last more than two days. Let them get to know you, with healthy boundaries set in place. Remember the other person online is a stranger so there is an element of risk. Also remember that person you are talking to is also a human with struggles of their own, things you’d never guess about them. Keep an open mind, but choose how you spend your energy wisely. Give some space for a nice connection before meeting face to face

So you’ve hit it off, and it’s time for the first date. This can feel scary, stressful, and downright absurd. Here are some helpful tips:

  • ​Meet in a public place where you feel comfortable. Maybe your favorite coffee shop, park, book store, or cafe. A place you feel at home in, safe and secure.
  • Allow for some fluidity on the date’s day and time, in case of a bad flare.
  • You can reveal as much about yourself as you are comfortable with, but without being dishonest about your condition. This is scary, but it’s that golden rule – treat others how you want to be treated. If the illness is a deal-breaker for them, now you know and can move on to someone more suited for you!
  • Wear something that makes you feel confident (yet comfortable). We may feel awful on the inside, but a few touches on the outside go a long way with confidence. This is a date after all!
  • Have a solid plan on how to politely leave if you start to feel bad or the date has gone south.
  • Most importantly, have fun! There’s no point in doing this if it isn’t bringing you happiness.

So now after the date, it is up to you what to do. What kind of relationship do you see, if any? Casual, fun, monogamous? Take it one step at a time, really observe how that person treats you and others. Dating is a long road but worth it if it is what you really want. Don’t let your chronic illness, fear or self-doubt stand in your way of finding happiness.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: September 14, 2016
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