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What It's Like to Date Again After Becoming Chronically Ill

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When I first started really getting sick, I had been single for a few years. Although I wasn’t really looking to date again, I remember the thought going through my mind that any possibility of a relationship was over. I was exhausted and hurting all the time, and was so depressed. Who would want to date someone like that?

After about a year of living with chronic pain and fatigue and other symptoms, I finally realized I couldn’t keep living like that. Wallowing in the misery of it is not living. I began to try to push through the pain and fatigue. I had to learn how to pace myself with all these new limitations I kept finding.

After a while I got used to the pain enough that most people have no idea that I hurt all the time, unless it’s a really bad day (or days) when I can’t hide it. I refused to let pain and fatigue keep getting me down.

Most of the time I keep a positive attitude and I have a pretty good and fun personality. I’ve made some new friends and even started dating again. I started seeing that my illness doesn’t define me. I am so much more than my illness. Other people see that too, but I have seen how it adds frustrations and problems in a relationship. I also found that it would take a certain kind of person to be able and willing to be in a relationship with someone with a chronic illness.

I am in a pretty new relationship right now, and it happened unexpectedly. I believe God led us to each other for many reasons; some of those reasons I may not even know yet. My boyfriend already knew I have health problems. We’d known each other a while but we were not very close. He’d seen me on bad days using my cane, hurting, losing my balance, or exhausted. And he saw me at my worst when a bad pain flare hit, right at the beginning of our relationship. I had to start explaining how it is for me, how I push through it, what helps, and what doesn’t help.

With this relationship I am finding more challenges that I hadn’t faced before. He is such a compassionate person, and when I can see the love and concern on his face, and hear him say, “I just don’t want you to hurt,” and know he truly does care – I know that it hurts him to see me in pain or exhausted. It is an amazing thing to know someone cares about me that much, but it’s also a very scary thing.

In every relationship there comes that moment when I have to say, “I won’t ever get better. And over time I will get worse. Do you really want to deal with that?” And the fear rushes through me, knowing whatever answer I’m given could easily change later on, but I can’t help asking anyway.

“One day at a time,” is the most honest answer I’ve ever gotten. It scares me, but it reminds me that I have to stay in the here and now. No amount of fear or worry can change the future. And at least for today I know I am blessed beyond measure.

I am with a man who cares about me and shows he cares. He sees that there’s more to me than my illness, but he has also seen what I live with, more than I let most people see. He can’t truly understand it, but he tries to. I know he feels helpless at times because he can’t take my pain away and make me feel better, but he does help in ways that he can and he’s learning that even just getting me to laugh sometimes helps more than anything else.

It does scare me that one day it may be too much for him. I think that is always a fear for those of us with chronic illness, whether that’s about a significant other, friends, or family.

We have said from the start that we can only take this relationship one day at a time, and I have to remember that also applies to my chronic illness. I believe God put us together for a reason, and I ask Him to guide us each day. It is up to Him whether this is meant to last. I can’t help hoping that is His will, but all we can do is take each day as it comes.

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Thinkstock Image By: Khosrork

Originally published: July 26, 2017
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