Dating While Sick!

I get asked for relationship advice a lot. I guess that’s par for the course, as my husband and I were the first couple in our group to get engaged, move in together, and get married.

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Interestingly, I also get asked a lot for dating and relationship advice by other spoonies. I guess that makes sense, too, since I managed to snag my adorable husband while being blatantly, unhideably sick.

It didn’t just happen, though. It took a lot of work and self confidence to get to the point where I was able to date as a sick person. One mistake I had made in earlier relationships, before a virus made my illnesses unable to be disguised, was not disclosing my illness at the beginning of the relationship.

I know, you’re thinking, “but if I tell them I’m sick, it will scare them off!” But really, if it does, is that the kind of person- male or female- that you want to be with? When I didn’t disclose that I was ill, I spent a lot of time trying to hide my symptoms. “Faking well” put a lot of strain on my relationship, and on my body as well. As the stress of faking well got to me, my symptoms got worse. I started making excuses for not being able to talk or hang out, and they took the excuses to mean that I was bored of them.

In the end, I had to break off several relationships because people couldn’t accommodate my “sudden” illness or thought I was faking. It wasn’t healthy for me or for the poor boys I was dating!

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Other than disclosure, I think it’s especially important for spoonies not to throw everything they have into a relationship. It was always tempting for me, having lost so many friends and hobbies, to become too into a relationship and lose my sense of self.

In illness, it’s important to maintain your sense of self. Because your body has betrayed you, you might feel- like I did- that you’re unattractive, unworthy of love, and uninteresting. Thanks to these misconceptions about myself, I found myself clinging to any scraps of attention someone would throw to me. That’s not a healthy way to have a relationship, and clinging to scraps of love and affection can make you feel even worse about yourself.

Once I started going to counseling, accepting my illness and my body, and finding things I could still do that I was interested in, my relationships thrived. I made friends online and in person who were understanding, and I met my now husband. Because I had a life separate from my husband, our relationship didn’t feel rushed or forced.

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Of course, your mileage may vary. Everyone is different in their relationships and their personalities. However, these were important things for me when I was dating!

Now, I’m determined to make our marriage last. The statistics for marriages where one partner is chronically ill are grim, but they’re just that: statistics. Although they may show a trend, they’re not a death sentence for my own marriage. After all, this may seem impossible, but so did dating!

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