Dating & Chronic Illness: Is it possible to be in a relationship when you are chronically ill?

9 years ago

As a person living with chronic illness, I was intrigued to read a post on dating with fibromyalgia. I can totally understand how complicated relationships can be - especially when you are living with an illness that isn't easily recognizable to the average person (an invisible chronic illness). It seems to me that "dating" isn't the real problem, it's trying to have a "relationship" that can become complicated.

I can totally relate to this post and how in the beginning of a relationship people may see us differently than who we really are. And let's face it, we want to be that person they think they see. In many ways we truly are that person, but chronic illness steals are ability to stay that person.  That is where the trouble begins.

Here is an excerpt from Dating with Fibromyalgia...

Eventually, they are going to notice that there is something different. In my case, they really did think I was lazy. Remember fibromyalgia has a great way of making people look perfectly healthy when they are in a great amount of pain. And I did, I looked perfectly healthy besides the fact that I always took naps and I didn’t get out that much.

In the beginning, I would come off as the high spirited, energetic being…. that loved to laugh and socialize. I was only able to do this with several naps and rest. I could only get away with it for so long.

. . .

There are fears that come with Fibro and dating. I have always been concerned that there will never be anyone that is strong enough for it. Sometimes I have had pity parties because I feel damaged to a degree, I can’t help this feeling. Woe is me. I sometimes feel that I am bringing nothing to the table but brokenness but I know this much, my spirit isn’t broken and neither is my heart, Fibro has never stopped me from loving unconditionally. It has never stopped me from having the ability to care. It hasn’t kept me from being an affectionate person. It hasn’t weakened but only strengthened my personality and who I am.

Here are a few more posts on dating with chronic illness.

From Pens and Needles - On Dating...

Of course I wondered what the surgery would be like, how the ICD would look, what it might feel like to be defibrillated. But foremost in my mind was a fear that the ICD would make me hideously unattractive to men. "Come on," I thought. "I haven't even figured out how to tell guys I have arthritis!"

A year later, I have yet to really put that fear to the test. I took a break from dating for some months after the surgery, and although I'm gradually getting back in the game, I haven't been on a second date in quite a long time. On one hand, I've become a lot pickier over the years, but the truth is I'm also quite terrified of having to explain my health issues to someone I might really like.

From Duana at Love Science - Absence and Illness...

Although there’s not much research that directly addresses illness and finding a lifemate, I want to prepare you for some good news for a change. Because research on other External Barriers to relationships—obstacles that make it difficult to be together, or that threaten to take away the option—does exist. And barriers tend to create a strong desire (in men, especially, some research shows) to get what they can’t easily have. Think of barriers as an externally imposed Hard To Get, and you’ve got the idea.

From Life With Pouch - Repairing the Soul After Chronic Illness...

I have a fear of commitment, but I didn’t used to, not before Crohn’s disease began to chip away at the collection of traits I call Me. It’s difficult when you realize that your disease has changed you, and for the worse. It was only after having ileostomy surgery and beginning to recover from a life of Crohn’s disease that I became aware that I’d developed this fear of commitment. Before Crohn’s, commitment was not one of my issues. Case in point: I got engaged after dating my then-boyfriend for two and a half months, at the age of twenty, and we’re still married twelve years later. But when you have a chronic illness, you learn that you can’t count on tomorrow. Every time you make plans and your body betrays you so that you can’t follow through, you feel disappointed. When those plans involve others, you feel like a flake. I hated that feeling. I stopped making plans with people, or when I did they were fraught with caveats and contingencies. I stopped making plans for myself; it was easier to be pleased if I had a good day and could do things than to be upset that I was having a bad day and couldn’t do things.

You would probably be surprised to know how many people are suffering in silence with chronic illness. It might even be someone you know. Here are a few of them that are blogging about their struggles.

This is from the first post on Sarah Granger's new site Pain In The Mom. Sarah is Living with Chronic Pain...

Now I’m battling falling back into a depressed state, I want more than anything to be enjoying the summer moments with my daughter, who at 3 1/2 is growing up so fast. I can’t believe I’m here again with this pain. (And this is the abridged version of the story.) Sitting has again become intolerable, the pain itself has shifted since the tests so I’m not accustomed to how to manage it, standing for very long has become a problem, and I have professional commitments that I don’t know how to meet, in terms of physical meetings and conferences. I’m back to taking my life one day at a time, and all I wanted to do was have a consultation.

Homeschooling with Chronic Illness...

I've been out of work for two years now because of my chronic headaches and frequent migraines. During that time, I've taken over the homeschooling responsibilities for our children. I've learned quite a bit during the last couple of years, so I thought I'd share it with some other homeschooling parents. I have realized that these tips are really appropriate for life, parenting, and homeschooling.

Kelli is living with chronic kidney failure and she blogs at Living with Grace - this is from a guest post she did for Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer...

Some background …. I was raised with chronic kidney disease. Undiagnosed with renal reflux in the 7th grade, surgery proved too late to save my left kidney. Years later, after a marriage and 5 miscarriages, I had it removed. Two healthy pregnancies followed, and for the next 15 years I was kidney problem free.

In 2006, I visited the doctor for a routine checkup. And found out my right kidney was failing. After consultation with a specialist, I was put on home peritoneal dialysis in May 2006.

Living with chronic illness is hard. There is not one aspect of your life that remains untouched in some way. There is no more “routine”, “normal”. Everything has a thought, a reason, a purpose.

Ann from MS Maze wrote a post for Care2 Healthy & Green about living with MS - 5 Steps Toward Empowerment...

I’m not one of those people who will tell you that you can cure your multiple sclerosis (MS) with a positive attitude. But I will tell you that your attitude — that is, how you choose to deal with MS in your life — is crucial, not only emotionally, but physically.

It may seem so at first, but a life with MS is not necessarily a life out-of-control. As unpredictable and as debilitating as MS can be, there are some very basic things you can do to take control over this unwelcome intruder in your life.

Bamagal from from Back Across The Line wrote this about chronic illness...

When you first meet someone with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) you likely have no idea that person is sick. Same goes for people with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, eating disorders, depression, endometriosis, diverticulitis ... the list goes on and on.

When someone has the flu, or a cold, or an injury, it's generally pretty obvious by looking at them. We can also see when someone is in a wheelchair or uses a cane, or if they're hauling around an oxygen tank. Those are the images that come to most people's minds when they think of "chronic illness" or "disability." Here are some staggering facts:

  • According to the U.S Census Bureau, 96% of chronic illness is invisible.
  • Nearly half of Americans are living with some sort of chronic illness.
  • 70% of people who commit suicide have uncontrolled pain.

Pain, along with fatigue and brain fog, are invisible symptoms of our invisible illnesses, but that doesn't make them any less debilitating than visible symptoms.

It's not easy living with a chronic illness, and it's even harder to be in a relationship when you're living with a chronic illness. Do you have a dating with chronic illness story? If so, please share it with us in comments.

Also See:

Invisible Chronic Illness Week

Living and Blogging With Chronic Illness

Chronic Illness: Claims of Cures are often Scams

My personal story One Lesson From A Decade of Fighting Chronic Illness

Somebody Heal Me...the musing of a chronic migraineur

Getting Closer To Myself

Oh My Aches and Pains - My Life With Chronic Illness

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
at and Women4Hope

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