I’ve been meaning to write this one for quite some time. As a qualified relationship and psychosexual therapist who is oiling point also chronically ill who better to write about it! This is mainly based on my experiences with dating whilst stuck to living in one room/mostly lounging on the bed!
Dating and having relationships while this ill and stuck to mostly one room you’d think would be impossible. Who on earth in their right mind would want to take on someone like that? You’d be surprised… read on!
The internet has been a godsend in every way for me. I have no idea how I would manage being this ill without a computer and the ‘net. From being creative, to having online businesses, writing and publishing a book/articles, shopping researching, making friends, you name it, I’ve done it. I’ve also dated thanks to the internet.
Far from being a horrifying thought, internet dating has now quickly become the norm for those who are healthy as well as us chronic chicks (not forgetting the chronically ill men either!). It’s so much more acceptable and lets face it, you can take all the time in the world joining forums that are based on your interests always a top way to meet someone by chance and in my book way better than dating sites. You can take your time chatting away by IM, email and even voice and webcam on skype to really get to know someone before even making any decision on whether to meet and form a relationship with them. Lets face it, when you’re chronically ill, dating can be limited or non-existent. Anyone you meet is going to be thrown into the deep end into a full on relationship and experience things they rarely will with a partner who is healthy. This is why the internet is so advantageous to those who can slowly get to know someone before meeting. Of course it’s no good if you meet someone who likes to be active constantly and travels the world (unless you can manage to do some of this with them) so be sensible in who you get attached to and want things to go further.
First up though, say you’ve found someone you seem to get on well with. When do you tell them about your illnesses? In my experience, DON’T put it out there on a dating profile or say it the first time you speak/email. Trust me, that’s a sure fire way of never hearing from them again (or even in the first place!) or in politeness they say they don’t mind then contact becomes less and less before they disappear. It’s happened to me so many times.
You need to show them who you are, your personality, your humour, your interests, accomplishments and ambitions. A potential partner needs to see YOU, not the illness first. You also need to see who they are too. I have found this is the best way. However, at the same time, don’t leave it too long otherwise they will think you’re the type of person who hides things, never a good personality trait to get across whether its true or not! I have found within 2-4 weeks of fairly intensive chats online and phone when they get a sense of who you are and start to really like you for YOU, now’s the time to start dropping things into conversation.Of course there are no guarantees but I have found personally this strategy works the best.
So how do you go about it? Always try and put the most positive light on your situation. You can slowly introduce more information to them getting into deeper details about your condition(s) and the limitations it has on you and your life.Don’t forget to always try and keep a positive outlook if you can, this helps enormously. Say how much you’ve learnt about yourself because of it in between telling them details of your illness and lifestyle, how you see and appreciate things that others don’t seem to. How you’ve managed to achieve whatever goals you have set yourself etc etc.
Doing it this way has helped me to have 2 long-term relationships with men who were completely healthy. I also got engaged to one of them (until I found out his dragon of a mother thought no one could be good enough for her precious ‘boy’ and caused havoc until we ended up splitting up. Nothing to do with my illness though!). As mentioned in previous posts, I have been talking to someone online and the phone for sometime now who has absolutely no problem with my illnesses or lifestyle because of it. As he lives quite a way away it’s taking time to get to know him online and by phone so we’re both sure we’re right for each other as we can be before meeting and hopefully soon we shall meet. We both want and hope a long-term relationship comes out of it.