Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chronic Illness and Dating

Since I became ill at a young age, I never had the chance to date before I was ill. While I cannot actually compare how these things may be differ from when a person is healthy, I think it is safe to say that illness complicates dating and relationships.

Becoming ill before my first date was tough. Breaking the awkward silence of a first date is especially difficult when you are completely lost in fibro fog.

I often wondered if I would ever be able to get married. Who would want to spend the rest of his life with someone who was sick? Not to mention dating itself was energy intensive. And how was I supposed to meet anyone when I barely had time for a social life?

I didn’t date much, and I’ll spare you the details of my unsuccessful attempts. Let’s just say that fibro fog and leaving my dates to carry all the weight were the biggest problems.

Ready for the story with the happy ending? 

I met my husband through mutual friends at college. For awhile, we were just friends. With chronic illness, friends are hard to come by and even harder to keep, so I was just happy to have another friend.

We remained good friends for a couple of years. He was laid back and didn’t mind just hanging out and watching an old movie. He found out about my illness and was actually interested in learning more. He thought I was amazing for sticking it out; I thought he was amazing for believing me and showing interest.

I think having mutual friends and knowing each other for awhile made things easier. We trusted each other and he knew that I made the most of the energy I had. As we got to know each other he realized that I wasn’t the type of person who was lazy or would try and get attention.

He finally asked me out after we had been friends for almost two years. Since we had been friends for awhile, there wasn’t an issue with awkward silence. He already knew about my illness and was used to the fog. Of course it wasn’t a perfect relationship--it is always going to be hard when one person is never feeling well, is always out of it, and can become crabby at times (that person being me of course, in case that wasn’t clear…I admit it--I am not always a bowl of sunshine). It took some effort to make things work and I had to learn to communicate better (still learning, actually). With a little work, things turned out well. 

He proposed after I graduated college and we have been married three years now.

So, it is possible to meet the one even after becoming ill with such a debilitating illness. I won’t lie--it’s not easy. Meeting someone, having the energy to date, and being able to make it work can take a lot of effort. It can be hard for both people.

I know it is hard for my husband, especially since I have become sicker since we got married. He now has to take care of me, and I honestly didn’t think my symptoms would ever get as bad as they have. 

Sometimes I feel terrible, thinking I ruined his life. I wish I had known more about this illness before. But I try to remember that marriage is for better or worse. This is the worse, and if we can get through this, we can get through anything.

Do you think it is harder to be single or in a relationship when living with chronic illness? Do you have any tips for others in either situation?


  1. Thanks for the encouragement. I always thought I'd be married and homeschooling several children by now, and instead I'm barely able to take care of myself. Both my sister and a close friend of mine have found wonderful men willing to not only put up with their illnesses, but willing to jump in and do much of the childrearing and housekeeping.

    I definitely think dating will be harder, if I ever get to that point. There will be a huge third element and how does one ever really know if they are ready to take on a life with a spouse with a chronic illness?

    But I trust that God will bring the right person along if I'm meant to get married, and if not, I'm content to enjoy the bit of writing and interpreting I can do between rests.

  2. I'm also lucky to have an understanding husband and have to say being in a relationship is great when you have someone who understands and isn't afraid to do the dishes. He also gives a really nice massage or maybe I should say back rub without causing me more pain. Just found your blog tonight thanks to the Fibromyalgia HealthWatch newsletter I get and truly enjoy it. Thanks for all the positives.