Dealing with an illness is scary enough, but then to have to figure out the dating scene alongside your illness is a whole other ball game. When I found out about my condition, I had been a relationship. He was there with me while I was figuring out my new normal.
We have since ended our relationship, but as I go through the dating process, there is one question that eats at me.
Question: When is the right time to bring up my invisible illness?
I believe that it’s better to bring it out in the open from the beginning. I don’t mean saying, “Hi, I am Alexa, and I have chronic pain.” But in my opinion earlier on the better, especially before you start to like them and are disappointed by their reaction.
Having an invisible illness or even a visible illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. With the lack of knowledge out there, people can look at you differently once the words are out there.
I have had people say, “oh, is your boyfriend still with you?” Or “wow, you are so lucky to have them in your life.”
The truth is that it hurts because it is only a part of who I am and not who I am. Unfortunately, there are great people out there who will embrace you, but there are many others like the people above who don’t understand.
How to Bring Up Your Illness?
Because of my blog and my podcast on invisible illness, it’s an easier Segway for me to talk about my illness when first meeting someone new. That doesn’t mean it can’t be as simple as just saying it in conversation.
Maybe if your date asks you what you do, you can bring it up if it affects your work.
Maybe there is a movie you just watched on the topic, and you can bring that up as your favorite movie.
Another idea is when talking about passions that can be yours as you want to help others going through similar situations.
There are so many options, and most times, it comes naturally as that is a part of who you are. I am not writing this article to scare anyone or to make you feel the pressure. It is more of a guide from my experiences alone.
Red Flags When it Comes to Sharing
Unfortunately, as many amazing people there are out there, we can’t forget there are quite a few bad ones.
There are quite a few people out there who will use your condition as a way to touch you under the pretense of seeing if this hurts.
I met someone who kept asking about my pain and continuously bringing it up. He would put his hand on my knee or leg, asking if that hurt, and if I said no, he moved it somewhere else. At the time, it seemed like he cared, but it was his way of touching me from other actions.
The worst thing he did was call me a cripple when I told him I wasn’t interested.
The Most Important Lesson is to Just Be You
It can be scary knowing what to do and when to do it. The truth is to do what makes YOU comfortable and at ease. While this isn’t who you are, it is still essential to be honest with your potential partner because we can’t always do everything we want to. You want to know the person you are giving your heart to will-fully love you 100%.