Etiquette: Disease and Dating

by in Fibromyalgia, Guest Posts, Holistic Tips, Kitchen Sink, Life Coaching, Rheumatoid Arthritis May 6, 2009

No, no, no… this is not a nag about STD’s and dating today, people!
This is a guest post from my favorite Relationship Columnist, and dear friend, “Miss Matchmaker” herself.
She has worked as a social worker, therapist, and has been a professional Matchmaker for the largest Matchmaking company on the Gulf Coast for the past 13 years, and her advice is always spot on.
When I heard this story, I was baffled and asked her to share it at the kitchen table.
Frankly, your health condition is no one’s business but your own, and if you are privileged to be privy of someone’s health condition you should never gossip about it, nor scapegoat it.
Please respect confidentiality with the same professionalism that doctors, nurses and HCPs everywhere kindly maintain thanks to The Hippocratic Oath which I highly recommend everyone in need of a little inspiration reads. ~Dr. Nicole

“The Etiquette of Disease and Dating”

By Denise Paravate, Missmatchmaker
Disease is a very serious component in the life of anyone who must deal with it on a daily basis. We have doctors who dictate treatment and therapy, and sometimes there are people who step in to help with the emotional aspects of disease, but how often is there someone at your side explaining to you the social components of disease when it comes to dating?
Several months ago I was involved in a relationship in which I had kept my physical history private. I did so for several reasons. Number one, I don’t look sick. Number two, I didn’t want to scare him away. This being the most popular route for people in the same situation as myself, I felt it worthy of discussion.
After dating for 6 weeks and spending several nights under the same roof, the inevitable happened. We had been out with friends, and previous to our social engagement we had a bit of a tat, so to speak. After a few cocktails, he pipes up with “well at least I don’t have to drug myself down every night before bed.” In front of all of our mutual friends, I explained to him that I had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis as a child, Fibromyalgia in college, and Peri-Menopause at the age of 35.
I explained that my evening cocktail of medications helps me to function as a “normal” person and that I was the kid who saw Disney for the first time in a wheel chair. I then went on to explain that I may not be able to ever have another child and that without my hormone pills, I would be the psycho woman throwing chairs out windows between hot flashes as I attempt to stand up from my wheelchair (of which I would be in because I didn’t take my RA meds) and I didn’t think that was a person he would enjoy meeting.
Lesson learned, maybe I should have told him sooner. People have preconceived notions about medications and what “sick” really is. As a matchmaker, I preach to my clients to always be honest with their dates, but at what point is too much information just too much information…
When it comes to dating I believe that yes, honesty is the best way, but “TMI” (too much information) can sometimes scare the potential suitor away. So what is the best policy? From my own experiences I must say that it is probably best to keep things on a need to know basis. I don’t necessarily believe that it is something that should be shared on a first or second date. When it gets to the point where you are seeing someone on a regular basis and they are learning your daily routine, then it may be time to fill them in.
I don’t like the idea of keeping secrets and that is not what I am trying to imply. All I am saying is that if you live with chronic disease, life is hard enough and if you plan on sharing your life with someone, they have the right to know just how hard it is. I think now looking back that the best way to handle the situation would be to talk about it first and educate the other person about your particular issues.
Some people may be scared to do so because they would not want to discourage a blooming relationship, but understand that if you try to keep it a secret, chances are it will blow up in your face at some point later anyway. If that person chooses to not be with you because of the challenges you face, then that just means it was not the person for you and maybe it is best you move on.
Dating is hard enough. Disease is even harder. Combining the two can be a challenge!
~Denise Paravate

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