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Dating With Fibromyalgia, the Unwanted Third Wheel

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I think we all know that dating is hard. TV romanticizes the concept of dating, but the reality is a lot more brutal, and may often leave us feeling embarrassed or irritated – or maybe that’s just me and my awful taste. When you actually find someone you click with, that you want to be in a relationship with, that’s a small victory in itself.

Now, imagine dating with a chronic illness. I thought dating was bad before I got sick. It was awkward, and I kissed a lot of frogs, who just turned out to be frogs. No princes in sight. I think the closest I came was the Court Jester. But, now? Jeez. I think sometimes I would settle for the frog.

Dating can be a minefield. Do I tell them upfront about my illness? Do I explain the ins and outs of fibromyalgia before we meet? Do I hide it and hope they don’t notice the extent of it until they’re madly in love with me (because, I mean, who wouldn’t be?)? Do I push myself to plan “fun” dates, knowing I’ll probably be stuck on bed-rest for days after? Or do I keep it simple, drinks and comfy seats? There are so many questions and so many unknowns, and the problem is there’s no right answer.

When you meet one person, what you tell them could go down perfectly well. But the next person, not so much. You just don’t know. You have to decide which way you want to go, feel comfortable in that decision and just stick with it throughout the whole process. As, at the end of the day, if you show someone your true self, if you let them all the way in, and they choose to walk out, then they didn’t deserve the invitation in the first place. You deserve better.

My route has always been to tell them everything. The good, the bad and the embarrassing. I make light of it, make jokes and just tell it like it is. Because, if they stick around for more than that first cup of coffee, they’re going to see a lot of it. And if they’re not prepared for that, let’s face it, I’m in no condition to mollycoddle them through it. I’m barely getting myself through it. This also means I can plan dates that are within my energy range and that are within my travel range. No need to exert myself more than I can manage. If they don’t fancy that, then no harm done and I haven’t even left my house. This is the what I’ve found works best for me, though there are so many other ways to make dating work for you.

When dating goes well and leads to a relationship, I think it’s important they know that there will always be a third wheel in our relationship. I will always have to give so much of me to my fibromyalgia. I don’t want to do this. But in order to survive, and to be a functioning human, I have to. Please know that this is so I have the strength to give you all of my good days. But on my bad days, I just have to fight to be alive. And that is time-consuming.

Don’t give your good days away to someone who doesn’t understand that fight.

Getty Image by LuckyBusiness

Originally published: September 15, 2018
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