The Challenges of Dating With Scleroderma
Dating in general is hard. You swipe right, swipe left, move up and down, or something like that. Maybe you even do the hokeypokey. And online dating? No way, no how.
Dating with a chronic illness like scleroderma is exponentially more challenging and terrifying. It’s like going to a carnival and getting stuck in the fun house. Everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves, but then there’s me, running up and down, and getting lost at every turn. How do I find my way out?
Those of us with chronic illness have to decide whether to disclose our condition early on. Some of us may not want to be forthcoming, for fear of rejection.
Being diagnosed when I was married was heartbreaking for me. I remember feeling insanely guilty and thinking that my husband hadn’t signed up for this new me. He had bought a brand-new, reliable car — not one that would fall under lemon laws.
As more diagnoses rolled in, my self-worth slipped away, and depression set in. How could I be the wife I had promised to be? My body betrayed me, and now I felt like I was betraying others.
My illness took a toll on my marriage. Many things can put pressure on a relationship, and health issues are certainly at the top of the list. I hated feeling like I wasn’t able to be a good spouse. My fatigue was just so overwhelming. I didn’t know how to articulate the guilt I felt.
This played a massive role in my depression and anxiety. I was angry at my body, so I tried to hide how bad I felt. Constantly putting on a happy face for everyone was exhausting. I was worried about being a burden, especially on those who loved me, as chronic illness not only affects us, but the people around us. So, I withdrew from everyone.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and I am now living a single life as a chronic illness patient. I never envisioned this, and it is terrifying.
Although I am technically back in the dating pool, I haven’t started seeing people. I’ve received invites, but can’t follow through. How do you tell someone who’s interested in you that you have multiple chronic illnesses? And when is the appropriate time to tell them? I want to be open and honest, but I don’t want to push people away, either. I worry that others won’t want to live with a partner who has a debilitating condition.
It’s hard for me to think about opening up to a potential partner, as I know these conversations won’t be easy.
I don’t want to live my life alone. I need to find a way to tell people about my health while letting them know it doesn’t define me. I miss cuddling and feeling safe with someone.
Dating with scleroderma is truly a whole new world.
Do you have any tips for dating with scleroderma? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.