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The Ultimate Pickup Line: “I Have MS”

The Ultimate Pickup Line: “I Have MS”

“Yum! This pizza is delicious! Oh, by the way I have multiple sclerosis. Can you pass the Parmesan cheese?”

“I had a lot of fun tonight, thanks for taking me to the movies. Did I mention I have an incurable disease where my autoimmune system attacks my central nervous system?”

“Why am I wearing an eye-patch you ask? Arghhhh you not interested in dating a pirate? Bad joke- I actually have a disease that I will live with for the rest of my life that attacks my central nervous system and sometimes gives me skewed vision for weeks at a time. I’m actually seeing three of you right now.”

As you can see above, there’s not really an opportune time to tell someone that you’re dating about your MS. This has been something I’ve struggled with not only when telling guys I’m interested in, but friends as well. I want them to know how serious the disease is and understand what MS is but, at the same time I don’t want to scare them.

There isn’t really a way to explain multiple sclerosis that doesn’t sound scary. There’s no sugar coating an incurable disease that leaves some people unable to move. Unfortunately, a lot of people my age have no clue what MS is so they do what everyone does when trying to learn about something: Google it. For all the good that it can be used for, the world wide web can be our biggest enemy as individuals with a disease. When you google multiple sclerosis, Wikipedia defines it as:

“disseminated sclerosis or encephalomyelitis disseminata, is a demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a wide range of signs and symptoms, including physical, mental, and sometimes psychiatric problems.”

Regardless of whether someone can actually understand what the heck that means, I’ll tell you one thing, it sounds terrifying. I want to teach those in my life about it while somehow convincing them they can treat me the same as everyone else my age. This is a challenge because MS is such a debilitating disease both physically and emotionally. I have learned through much trial and tribulation that the best way to deal with this issue is with honesty.

A few months ago, I started dating someone that I really clicked with. I had an internal battle when it came to telling him about my MS. I had two choices:

  1. I could keep MS a secret from him for a few months. This would allow him to get to know me as the 25 year old young woman who works two jobs, hangs out with fun friends, and participates in the same activities as most others in their twenties (drinking, working out, going to concerts, etc.)
  1. I could be honest and upfront with him about it and swallow my pride while hoping he wouldn’t assume that I was on my deathbed and run away scared to death.

The latter being scarier because it would put me in a vulnerable place. I would have to explain to someone I was trying to impress about this part of me that isn’t “okay.” I was comfortable showing him the parts of me that I could control–carefully thought out witty text messages and outfits to wear on dates carefully handpicked by my best girl friends. But being honest meant showing him, a part of me that isn’t necessarily desirable or attractive. I was scared he wouldn’t like me knowing that I have this disease that I have to deal with on a daily basis; something that in the future, if we’re still together, he would have to deal with on a daily basis too. Option one allowed me more time to keep my wall up, because once he knew about my MS, he would know the part of me that I’m most self conscious about. Option two forced me to open myself up and be honest with him about the thing that I’m shamefully embarrassed of.

After a few long nights of stressing about this decision and a couple heart to hearts with my friends Bailey and Lauck, I knew going with the second option, though the harder one, was what I had to do. I realized that I would only want to be with a guy who could accept this part of me and like me with this disease just as much as he would like me if I didn’t have it. When I realized we were becoming close I knew it was time to tell him and I had all my fingers and toes crossed when I did.

I started it off with something like– “So I have something I have to tell you and I really hope you don’t see me differently because I really am okay and I don’t want you to be scared or treat me differently. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about two years ago and hid it at first because I was embarrassed and scared people would treat me like I was sick. The first year I was a total mess and kind of in denial, partying a lot, but this past year I have really worked on myself and realized who and what I need in my life, and I’m doing really well both emotionally and physically. I know you probably have a lot of questions and I don’t want you to feel awkward about asking me anything. It took three medicines and several MRIs but my last MRI in November was stable, and I really am okay.”

I probably stopped breathing until I heard his response, for fear that he wouldn’t want to be with a girl who carried such a burden. I mean after all, he is an attractive, funny, smart, 24 year old and there are plenty of fish in the sea who didn’t come with such weight. I sighed with relief when he responded “Meghan, you must be really strong to deal with something like this and I respect you more than I already did now that I know this. I will always be here for you and this is something that both of us will deal with together.” My fears of him taking off running went out the window and I could finally open up to him about this huge part of my life. MS is a hard thing to hide especially when I take Tecfidera twice a day and get flushing all over my body (which I had mastered at timing so it didn’t happen when I was around him or during meetings at work, etc.) It was also hard to hide my blogging since it has become my outlet. I was nervous every day before telling him that he would somehow find my blog and wonder why I hadn’t told him.

I revealed to him all about my blogs and how I was writing with hope that my experiences with MS would help others deal with theirs. I sent him the links anxiously hoping he wouldn’t be weirded out by my story and the fact that the whole world could read it. I couldn’t help the tears rolling down my face when he told me that I was the coolest girl he had ever met and thought it was awesome that I was taking a bad situation and trying to help others while healing myself by writing my journey. I explained that I was lucky to get diagnosed young because I could start treatment and hopefully live a close to normal life.

I told him that the point of my blogs are to reach the other newly diagnosed young adults who may not be able to connect as well with those who tragically are in wheelchairs or constant pain, those of us who are fortunate enough to live almost regular lives. I shared my desire to help individuals who live “regular” lives day to day but are haunted by what could happen in the future. I can confidently tell you that the way he handled it was perfect. He couldn’t have said or reacted in any better way. He made me feel like the part of me that I found embarrassing and undesirable, was attractive, special, and something that he looked up to me for.

If you have read my other posts you know that I haven’t always had this response. I’ve had a range of reactions from confusion, to anger, to denial, so I’m not telling you it is always going to be positive when you have this conversation. What I will tell you is that there are people in the world who will love you for who you are, even this part of you. I couldn’t be luckier in the support I received when I told him. I will also tell you that you don’t have to surround yourself with people who don’t accept it or put you down for it. I have lost a few good friends over this diagnosis because they weren’t willing to accept it.

I took the harder choice when it came to telling Jim at the beginning of our relationship or wait until we had an established relationship. I told him right when we were becoming close instead of waiting a few months until we had an established relationship, to drop the MS bomb. I realized that the longer I waited the more I would have to hide from him and I ran the risk of him losing his trust in me.

I don’t think multiple sclerosis is the factor that makes an individual unappealing, but instead the way an individual deals with it. If I had waited until I felt it was a good time to tell him, he probably still wouldn’t know. There isn’t a perfect time or way to tell someone about this disease, the only advice I have is to be honest. I felt myself really caring about Jim after a few short weeks, and I knew he felt the same way, so it was time to tell him. There are so many people out there who will look past your MS and see you for the amazing person that you are. If you’re currently dating someone who isn’t willing to accept you and support you the way you deserve, I encourage you to be brave and stand up for yourself!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • chrissy13
    3 years ago

    Good job.

  • Carol
    3 years ago

    I am in a serious relationship. I kinda bristle whenever my husband says that he is a caregiver. I’m too feisty for that crap. I have quite a few people that I have never told. I don’t want to hear their comments or have anybody feel sorry for me.

  • teddy s.
    3 years ago

    I met my now fiancee online 10 years ago. She was diagnosed in 1994, and has been in a wheelchair since 1996. She was upfront in her online post about MS, her confinement to a chair, and her incontinence. Her post was angry, as if she was daring men to reply to her. My initial reply was quite long, responding to her points and asking a lot of questions. I learned so much about her over the next few weeks, and she turned out to be very sweet and honest about everything. When we finally met in person, I was quite taken with her, and she with me.

    We had a wedding date set in 2011, when she developed four stage 4 pressure ulcers. The MS took a back seat to her wound care, from which she is still recovering. I am now a full time caregiver, and wouldn’t have it any other way. We are both very happy together and still have a lot of fun, despite all of the medical issues.

    To those with MS, or any other chronic disability, I would advise you to be upfront and honest from the beginning if you are seeking a serious relationship. You’re not just looking to meet someone, you’re looking to meet the right one.

  • Erin Rush moderator
    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this with the community, teddy s! It sounds like you and your wife have a wonderfully strong and honest relationship. Thank you for sharing your wisdom gleaned from personal experience with us. Wishing you and your wife a good day, Erin, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member.

  • Tonya Carter
    3 years ago

    I have been asking friends and family “how do I tell someone who wants to date me I have MS”. Most agreed with option 2. Thanks for sharing your story. Since most people are meeting online I wonder if their is a dating site for people living with chronic illness

  • Meghan Pcsolyar author
    3 years ago

    That’s a really good question! I just googled it and it looks like there is one website called “Prescription 4 Love” that might be more geared towards online dating for those living with health conditions.

  • slammed
    3 years ago

    As a CFS patient, then an ME patient, what happens to us who are not treated: is we get MS. Thanks for no help for the last 35 years to the US Govt.

    Now take your CBT and put it ‘you know where’.

  • bebek4
    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story! 🙂 You sure are an inspiration. Stay strong! 🙂

  • Meghan Pcsolyar author
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much. That means a lot!

  • jackie5275
    3 years ago

    I’m glad to hear your boyfriend is supportive of you in this MS crap we all deal with. Fortunately, for me, I was already married when diagnosed. I suppose my husband could’ve walked too, but happily he just accepted it.

    We do have a couple of friends, however, who had this struggle. He was diagnosed in the early 1990s with MS. His wife freaked with his diagnosis and divorced him within a few years. Several years after his divorce, he was dating a lady who seemed to be “the one”. However, SHE got diagnosed with MS herself. This time he was the one who freaked out and broke up the relationship. About 6 yrs later, he happened to find her by chance as she was working for a company he hired to do some work on his house. They reconnected and ended up getting married. This was over 5 yrs ago. While his condition has continued to deteriorate, hers has not & she’s been able to take care of him. While they both have no love lost for MS, they recognize that with both of them having it, it’s the best way for them to understand each other.

  • Elaine Quinones
    3 years ago

    Good for you and kudos for a great article!

    I’m 56, have had MS for 8 years and have a long time boyfriend who tries to understand, but just doesn’t get it. He’s not much of a reader, so I send him short articles, usually from the various MS sites posted on social media. He often asks me why I sleep so much and then when I explain it to him he says, “I know, you’re sick”. He tries to be sympathetic and means it in a kind way to prove to me that he understands, but he doesn’t get it and is obviously frustrated that we’re not on the same timeline. He doesn’t always feel so supportive. There are so many different symptoms to MS, how do you explain it all? Today I’m dizzy, tomorrow I’m exhausted, next week I’ll be walking slow and this week I’m zipping around. I do my best and try to tailor my explanation to my audience, but it’s not easy.

    I’ve often wondered what I would do if I started dating again. I walk with a cane, so my feeling is, be up front and honest before you get too involved and both your hearts get broken. It’s a little scarey, but I’m an open person and tell anyone who asks. I believe that is the healthiest approach, being honest and not trying to scare anyone away.

    Keep the conversation going.

  • Meghan Pcsolyar author
    3 years ago

    I’m sure it can be hard for people who don’t know much about MS to understand what people with MS are going through. I’m glad you’ve found that being honest is the best way to approach this subject. Stay strong!

  • New to me
    3 years ago

    Kudos for your great strength, outlook and attitude!!! I am only a couple years into the MS “quest” being in my 50s cannot imagine conjuring up the strength to go thru the date/relationship process again I still work 40hrs a week (down from 80) but I need my time off to recharge these days.. I find myself unwilling to make long range plans incase I am having a “bad day” some people noticed some didn’t.,, take care and kudos

  • Meghan Pcsolyar author
    3 years ago

    Thank you for your kind words! Good luck with your quest and stay strong!

  • giraffe516
    3 years ago

    Great story something I am dealing with right now. My last boyfriend left after I was diagnosed. It was a 12 yr relationship but he Couldn’t deal with my disability. I unfortunately have two strikes working against me…age…I am 52 and my ms is visible. I walk with two canes. I am not able to do most things one would do on dates so men that might be interested see that and keep walking. They see my mobility and take a pass. I try to stay upbeat but the thought of a life alone at my age is scary for sure!

  • Meghan Pcsolyar author
    3 years ago

    I’m so sorry to hear this! Stay strong!

  • Holly
    3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing that,It is a very scary thought being alone&it flashes thru my mind&I can’t bare the thought&shove it back down,we just have to keep being strong everyday with an unknown future it takes a lot of courage most days to keep pushing thru,I wish you happiness xx

  • Dogtooths886601
    3 years ago

    I am genuinely sorry you have found difficulties in this area. You can only be positive (and we clearly both are).

    Good luck and stick to it xx

  • Dogtooths886601
    3 years ago

    Haha.

    I can totally relate to this. Like yourself, I feel that I am lucky that my condition is only mild and am only finding slightly more difficult challenges that the average 30 odd year old has with the effects of ‘ageing’ (sorry to use this term to anyone older or having greater difficulties).

    My point is, I am newly diagnosed and learning to accept the fatigue and cognitive issues that I defined as ‘lazy’ are now due to the ms, and are so diagnosable conditions. Almost overnight, I’ve gone from a ‘lazy’ teacher to an ‘inspirational’ one.

    Anyway, my point (I’ll get there), is that I am commencing dating with this new attitude and, like yourself, am more confident and proud of my life. “Yes, I sleep when I’m not working or seeing friends… What of it?”.

    Lovely piece for us mild sufferers. Thank you,
    John

  • Meghan Pcsolyar author
    3 years ago

    I totally relate to your sentence “almost overnight, I’ve gone from a ‘lazy’ teacher to an ‘inspirational’ one.” I remember before my diagnosis or during my CIS stage, my friends were getting on my case about being too tired to go to bars, and now it’s almost like they pat me on my back if I go out with them!

    Glad you enjoyed it! Keep in touch!

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