This article is written by Anabel Cooper.
Dating can be hard enough at the best of times. The question of what to share, what to keep to yourself, and how to broach difficult matters is never easy. But for someone with a chronic illness, things are even harder. Many people have a hard time getting to grips with the effects of a life changing illness, and are unsure how to approach the matter, even when they’ve reached a high level of intimacy. We’ve got a few tips from people suffering from chronic illnesses, sharing their experience and providing a rough guide for how to navigate things.
Communication Is the Key to Progress
As with any relationship, the getting to know you stage for someone with a chronic illness can be one of the most difficult. Communication and honesty are the key to getting through things. It’s best if you’re as up front with your partner as you can be. This doesn’t mean you need to define yourself by your illness, and make it the focal point of your relationships. But nor can you try and ignore the elephant in the room. Once you’re comfortable enough with someone else, and they’ve shown a willingness to understand as much as they can, it’s worthwhile letting them know exactly how things work with your illness. If they have a better level of understanding, they’ll be able to support you far better.
Like any part of a relationship, there’s going to need to be some middle ground established between you telling them, and them asking. The initial stages will be most difficult. Many people have never experienced a chronic illness first or second hand, and may feel that it’s a touchy subject that they should avoid. But if they can understand the matter of fact aspects of illness, they will realise that it can be talked about, and often it should be.
They Need to Understand Where the Limitations End
Along with this comes the understanding of just how much a chronic illness affects you. That means understanding the burden it can be, but also realising that it doesn’t mean you are fragile and unable to look after yourself. After all, you’re the one that is living with it, and you know the best ways of maintaining a normal life. Some partners may feel that you’re living under a cloud every minute of every day, and may try and offer support even when it’s not needed.
Again, communication and honesty can put your partner in a place where they understand just how much support you need. More importantly, they will understand that if you need it, you will ask for it. Trust is a key part of every relationship, and a major element of it is the understanding that if there’s something that needs to be said, it will be.
Ultimately, there’s no easy path towards an open and supportive relationship, no matter who you are. There may be a certain amount of awkward conversations, and no two people will ever be the same. That said, if you can take things one step at a time, and both maintain the clarity and honesty needed, with any luck you can both look forward to a long and happy relationship.
My name is Anabel Cooper and I’m an editor and blogger from Harlow, the UK. I’ve collected some tips for my readers who are going on their first date. Hope you can find a useful info and look more confident. Enjoy!