This article is written by Simone B.
Human connection and relationships are something that most individuals crave in life, especially those that are romantics. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin or how to try your hand at love after you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Dating is naturally hard for everyone, but those of you with chronic illness may face additional challenges, like bringing any medications you may need when you’re on a date or worrying if you’ll have any sudden symptoms or pain.
Everyone deserves to find someone who loves them unconditionally and will support them through the positives and negatives in life. Remember that finding the perfect partner takes time as well as trial and error. Keep reading to learn how you can get back into dating with a chronic illness and still keep your health a priority.
Talk with your doctor first
Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to consult with your doctor to discuss your health and any specific precautions you should take before you begin dating. For some, it might be preparing a checklist to make sure you have everything with you in case a date lasts longer than expected and you need to take medication at a certain time. Others may need a bit more preparation, like ensuring the person that you’re about to meet up with is in proper health and doesn’t put you at risk of exposure to something that can complicate your condition even more. Your doctor will be able to help you navigate the dating scene and warn you of anything to be cautious of specific to your condition.
Be proud of who you are
When you enter the dating scene, don’t lose sight of who you truly are. It’s important to stay true to your personal values and not change for anyone. If you’re unsure of who you are or need help discovering yourself, consider using a journal to get to know yourself better before going out on a date. This will give you a better sense of your personality and also your intentions when it comes to dating. Are you dating to marry? Are you dating for something more casual? Know what kind of relationship will work best for who you are and where you are right now in life and don’t change to fit anyone else’s standards or expectations.
Share what you’re comfortable with
Transparency is key when it comes to dating, especially if you plan to use any dating websites or mobile apps. You don’t want to give a false impression of who you are. Be open about your condition, but only if you’re comfortable sharing information. For conditions that aren’t as visible or noticeable, it’s common to mention it on the second date, if you feel comfortable.
Those that may have a more visible condition because you may either walk with a cane or have a noticeable symptom, it’s still up to you whether or not you want to share anything. You don’t owe anyone an explanation or have to disclose private information. But keeping open communication about your chronic illness will make it easier for you to speak up if you aren’t feeling well or if you aren’t feeling up for something. It also helps the person you’re dating know how they can help and support you. However, if someone isn’t accepting of your condition at the start, then it’s easier to weed out the people not worth your time.
Set boundaries and stick to them
For those with any kind of health complication, it’s important to set boundaries in your everyday life to keep yourself protected. This applies to your dating life, too. Depending on your health condition, it’s important to make sure you don’t move too fast or get yourself into a situation that could cause harm to your health. Make sure to verbalize any limitations you have and don’t go on any dates that could impact your health, like dates that require high amounts of energy or physical activity. If you have any dietary restrictions that make it difficult to find restaurants that can accommodate your diet, suggest a picnic date or cooking at home to ensure you’ll be able to eat something within your dietary guidelines. Compromising is usually a key component of any relationship, but when it comes down to your health don’t make any compromises that will cause you discomfort.
Present yourself with confidence
It’s quite common to lose some of your self-confidence when you are living with a chronic illness and are unsure of how others will treat you. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your condition does not define you and that you have so many other amazing qualities.
Before you start dating, remind yourself of how great you are and boost your ego with an appearance refresh. Treat yourself to a new outfit or two that provide comfort and make you feel confident for a date night. Also, don’t forget about your hair and skin as they are just as important when it comes to feeling confident in yourself. Living with a chronic illness can sometimes lead to issues such as hair loss, or cystic acne due to excessive stress. If that is the case, consider using a medication like finasteride, that promotes hair growth or a customizable acne treatment if you’re experiencing any insecurities when it comes to your hair or skin. Dating is an exciting thing and is a great excuse to get dolled up and feel great about yourself, so take advantage of this time!
Take a break if you need it
At the end of the day, your health is always the number one priority. If you find that getting back into dating is too draining or exhausting, allow yourself to take a break. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of dating, but remember that finding love takes time and it’s okay if you need to put it on pause for personal reasons. Don’t overdo it. And if you do happen to find a potential partner but need a break, let them know and if they’re the one for you they’ll understand. It’s also okay if you think you’re ready to start dating again and then realize you need more time. There’s no timeline for when you should start dating again, so listen to your gut and body, and do what’s best for you.
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