Love, Interrupted: When Should We Disclose MS on Dating Sites?
There has been a lot of discussion about when to disclose your MS to an employer. It’s a complicated, nerve-racking subject; the decision about when to disclose a medical condition is never clear-cut. It is stressful because the stakes are so high, involving the risk of losing a paycheck. But what about disclosing your MS on a dating site?
The risk of disclosure on a dating site isn’t a threat to our livelihood, but it can be a hurtful, frustrating process that might possibly erode the self-confidence we once had before venturing forth on the love quest. Having been on dating sites for over two years now, my quest for love in cyberspace has been discussed in two previous articles titled: Fractured Fairy Tales: Dating Disabled and Able-bodied Men and Why I Haven’t Yet Found My Prince and Meet the Monsters.
Initially, I made the decision not to disclose my MS in my profile. I feel that a profile narrative should reveal my personality, style, attitude, humor, interests, and hopes and dreams. It should be about who I am as a person. It has enough about me that a man can easily pick out some interest or turn of phrase and mention it in a first contact.
I do drop a hint about the MS, though. In the field titled PROFESSION, I put WRITER, MS PATIENT ADVOCATE. Some people know that a patient advocate often has the disease for which they are advocating, and they are the ones that usually bring up the MS in an email, and in a casual, accepting way. Those that don’t make the connection and who are surprised when I disclose it have been accepting and always want to see me again after the first date. It simply hasn’t been an issue.
There was one guy, however, that did not take kindly to my disclosure of MS in a series of emails we engaged in. We had made plans to meet at a jazz club, and I mentioned to him that I’d be easy to recognize since I’d be using a cane. When I told him why, he chastised me for leaving it out of my profile and asked why I did. I took his question very seriously and gave him a thoughtful answer.
I explained that I want my profile to be about who I am. If someone shows interest in who I am, I will tell them eventually, and each situation is different, so the time I choose is different in each case. I also told him that I’ve tried putting it in my profile and noticed no difference in the number of responses. Later I discovered why. A lot of men don’t read my profile, they just look at the photos. So it doesn’t seem to matter anyway. Still, I stand by my gut feeling that it just doesn’t belong in a profile.
I also posed what I thought was a very good question: How far do we go with disclosing medical information? I’m 57, so at my stage of life, many of us are taking medications for this and that. Should we all list our meds and what they’re for? Should we disclose our hypertension and high cholesterol, our Type II diabetes and prostate cancer? I say no to all of that. We are not our medical conditions. We are people who like to ski and see auto shows, go to comedy clubs and make our own furniture, read philosophy tracts and romance novels, eat ice cream and go to wine-tasting events. We should not be shopping around for a romantic partner based on what is in a person’s medical records. We are not obliged to disclose our health concerns to anyone, even if someone thinks they are entitled to the information just because they don’t like being surprised.
Needless to say, this guy didn’t cotton to any of that. He was dismissive of my thoughts and was relentlessly argumentative. I told him he seemed to be feeling deceived and that he didn’t have to meet me, after all. I didn’t like how he handled it, didn’t like his dismissiveness and lack of compassion. It didn’t end well. I didn’t care.
But, look, I’m just expressing my own view about the why and when of disclosing my MS. Now I’d like to hear your feedback about when you think the proper time and place is to reveal your MS to a prospective date. And feel free to completely disagree with me, I am well aware of the divisiveness about this within this very disease community. I’ve already been told off once by a guy with MS on this very site, and it’s totally okay! So, consider this my own little mini poll. Please, do tell!