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What It's Like to Date Someone With a Chronic Illness

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Dear Future Partner,

My journey experiencing chronic illness has taught me many valuable lessons over the years. Above all, I have learned about the healing power of unconditional love I have received from family and friends. While I’m looking forward to sharing a beautiful life with you in the future, I want you to be aware of some challenges that come with dating a person with chronic illness.

First, there are times when I will have to cancel plans at the last minute. This isn’t because I don’t want to see you or I am disrespectful of our important plans together. I just need you to know the nature of autoimmune disease sometimes means a flare-up at the most inconvenient times. The pain will be so debilitating, I will need to reschedule our plans.

I also need you to know staying out late is not always going to be a best option for me. In order for me to be able to function, I need at least eight to 10 hours of sleep at night. I love you and want to be with you, but I will need to go to bed at a decent hour in order to be the best version of myself, the version I want to bring to our relationship.

Future partner, as much as I used to love dining out, the nature of my adult-onset food allergies is such that eating out at restaurants is a rarity. I have to be extremely cautious about cross-contamination. On the bright side, I have become a really good cook and would love to have you over for dinner, all the time! I will learn to cook some of your favorite dishes.

On days when my autoimmune symptoms are more severe than others, I am likely to be quieter. I am typically a fantastic conversationalist who loves to listen and share; please don’t mistake my more reserved days as lack of interest in what you have to say. Truth be told, I will likely need a kiss on the forehead and a nap to recuperate. Then we can continue our conversation.

Lastly, you beautiful soul, stress is one of my biggest triggers for autoimmune symptoms. I understand some stress in relationships is inevitable; it is part of the human experience. However, I have learned from experience that regular, high levels of stress in relationships are extremely detrimental for my body. Let’s please prioritize strong communication skills in order to avoid too much misunderstanding.

Despite the challenges that go hand-in-hand with chronic illness, I believe if we work together, we can share a lovely, fulfilling life.

Originally published: July 19, 2016
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