Finding love in this world can be difficult. Most people end up in a few wrong relationships before they find their true prince charming. When you do find that special someone, though, the beginning always seem to be filled with magic. You stay up the whole night talking on the phone or laying under the stars. You go out on dates to the movies or exploring museums in the city. You may even get away for a weekend trip somewhere to spend quality time together and get to know each other on a deeper level. Unfortunately, when you are dating somebody with chronic health problems, things tend to be a little bit more complicated. This does not mean that we deserve love less than anyone else, but there are some things that we would like for you to know about us.
1. Our schedules are busy.
Many people who have chronic health problems end up working from home or not being able to work at all for periods of time. While this may make it seem like we have a lot more free time on our hands, the opposite is actually true. We have certain routines that we must follow for our health. Whether that is taking our medication on time, going in for weekly lab work, or going to an abundance of doctor’s appointments, there are certain parts of our life and schedule that must take priority for the sake of our health. This does not mean that we won’t have time for. It simply means that we are a little less flexible with our schedules than others.
2. We may ask for a rain check more than once.
Another aspect in our lives is getting worn down easily. While we still love going out and having fun like the rest of the people in this world, we get tired easier. Sure, there are days when we go out and feel like we could conquer the world and raise a little hell. There also happen to be days when getting out of bed seems nearly impossible. This is not us being lazy or being a couch potato. Our bodies just need more rest and sometimes a nap can be our best friend. There will be days when we feel great during the day and by the time dinner comes around we are purely exhausted. So, if we cancel plans, please don’t take it personally. We would much rather go out with you and have fun, but our bodies have other plans for us.
3. Being honest is a non-negotiable.
We fully understand that being sick is not only a challenge for us, but also to our loved ones. We might not always get the errands ran that you asked us to or we might order takeout food too often, because cooking can be straining some days. We understand that our situation can be frustrating for other people, as well as, ourselves. It is important that you be honest with us. If the situation scares you or you aren’t sure about how to handle particular circumstances with us, tell us! Don’t be mean about it, but we would much rather you be honest so that we can do our best to make things work and help you with whatever concerns you may have.
4. You need to be knowledgeable about what’s going on.
If you are dating someone who is chronically ill, it is important that you do your research. Obviously, you should check your sources to make sure it is reliable and not written by a quack selling something out of his basement. We are happy to answer any questions you have, too. We actually like when you ask questions, because this tells us that you care and want to help if you can. Keep in mind, though, that while we like that you are wanting to be informed, we have enough doctors in our lives and do not want someone telling us that they heard about some brand new medical spa that is supposed to cure all our problems.
5. We feel really guilty, all of the time.
One of the hardest parts of living with a chronic illness is the guilt. We know that it is not our fault we are sick and we would change it in a heartbeat if we could, but it does not mean we do not feel guilty. As much as we care about you, it feels unfair to us that you have to live with the consequences of us being sick. Not only do we have to be extra cautious in certain aspects of our daily lives, but in turn so do you. For example, if you catch the flu at work, you will likely just need to sleep it off for a few days and let it run its course. If we catch the flu from you, there is a good chance we will end up being hospitalized, so simple things like washing hands more frequently and keeping things clean are important.
6. We also grieve for our health.
It is very common for people to go through the stages of grief when they or a loved one is diagnosed with a chronic illness. For the person diagnosed, they have to learn how to readjust to their own lives. Often, they will face new limitations and obstacles to overcome, leading to feelings of frustration. This does not mean they cannot return to living a mostly normal life. It simply means having to learn a new way of doing things. As for the loved ones, what I have heard most often is that it is difficult watching someone they love struggle to do things they used to do without even having to think about it. Many wish that they could switch places with their loved one who has been diagnosed, because it is tough watching the person they love in pain without being able to fix the problem. Just know that we are not looking for you to fix us, simple understand that some days will be harder than others, and in return we will keep in mind the same for you.
7. We truly appreciate you.
While there are parts of our lives that are more complicated with being sick, there are some good things that have come out of it, as well. We value the little things in life. We notice all of the effort you put in and we definitely do not take any of it for granted. We love that when we are feeling run down you are happy to lay in bed, eat Chinese food with us, and have a movie marathon with us. We love that you enjoy cuddling in bed under a blanket and twinkle lights when we are too tired to walk outside to gaze at the real stars. We are grateful for the fact that on these days you make us laugh a little more, smile extra, and still see the real person underneath all that is going on.
There are so many reasons why dating someone with a chronic illness can be more complicated, but there are also so many reasons why it is worth it. We appreciate more, love harder, and fight to keep the things in life that are important to us. We understand that life can be short, testing, and even scary at times. Just remember that when push comes to shove, we will stand by those in our lives who need us, because our situations have trained us to become a warrior.