Dating with a Disease - Part Two: Disclosing
In the first part of this series, I talked about those tough questions involved in deciding if we really want to date with our disease. In this chapter, I want to talk about another important consideration: when and how to disclose that you have a chronic illness. This is obviously something that will vary from person to person, but for someone with a disease like MS, it’s absolutely going to be a consideration. Do we tell them right away? Do we wait? There are pros and cons to both that I believe are worth exploring.
Why wouldn’t we tell them right away?
People meet potential dating partners in all sorts of ways. Maybe a friend sets you up, or you meet them randomly in a supermarket (hey, that happens right? A friend told me that would be a good idea) or a bar, or you use one of the many online or app based sites that are all the rage these days (get your swiping finger ready!). No matter how you meet someone, suddenly tossing out there that you have a disease is pretty scary. Particularly when the public knowledge of MS doesn’t seem to be very high. Not to mention the fact that no one wants to be known for their disease. You want them to think of you as you. For some of us though, our disease is a big part of our lives. I already have trouble just making small talk with people because of it. When I still worked and my symptoms hadn't progressed so much, I absolutely didn’t mention it first; it was a part of me, but I still had a lot of “normal” things to talk about. I admit, I was worried it would scare people off. I imagine that’s a pretty common concern for people. You tell them you have some disease they don’t know much about, why would they keep talking to you? Well, I guess I’d say, if they’d stop talking to you for that, maybe you don’t want to get to know them anyway. Even so, many people are not going to want to bring it up in the beginning of a relationship, let alone when you are first meeting someone.
Why would I tell them right away?
Now that I’m at a point where the disease impacts me every day, I’m much more likely to disclose. (OK, let’s face it, I don’t have much choice, I write about MS, a simple search of my name is going to show that I have MS, along with all of the fun experiences I’ve shared like depression, wetting myself, struggling to shower, etc. So for me, at this point in my life, I pretty much need to get out ahead of the subject, lest it seem like I’m covering something up.) To me, this disease has had such an impact on me, I want to get mentioning it out of the way. Although my perspective is a tad different because of my writing, I’m also at an age where I don’t want to waste any time. If having a disease is in any way a showstopper for someone, then let’s stop this show before it gets started. In some ways, that’s a big advantage we have when dating. Disclosing our condition early on can really help eliminate the undesirables pretty quickly without going through a lot of games and wasting time. That’s key to me, not wasting time, because I sure do feel like I have less of it these days.
Disclosing our condition early while trying to date is an individual decision that has plenty of pros and cons. Age and level of progression are key elements to making this decision. Like so many other aspects, this will vary from person to person. It’s something that I know many people who are attempting to date struggle with. Like many MS-related decisions, you have to stop and look at all of the aspects and then go with your gut. One thing is for certain, no matter when you disclose, don’t let your disease stop you from what you want to do.
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