We can perceive potential barriers to opening ourselves up for love in “normal circumstances” but having a chronic illness can make finding love challenging for a warrior. Dating is difficult whether you have SLE or DLE; I’ve only 750 words, but could write a whole chapter.
At points in life, we look for companionship, intimacy, someone to love, someone we hope will love us back. When my flares became less severe, I started to seek those things for myself. I wasn’t going to meet someone at work, or at a nightclub, so I joined Bumble, Match.com etc, and paid the subscriptions because I wanted to approach it as I would do any other project – with purpose. Having SLE added a no-nonsense view to dating, serious candidates only.
As I swiped right or responded to messages, I was plagued with questions such as when is the right time to tell someone that you’re chronically ill? During the messaging stage, on the first date, once they’ve got to know you?
Their profile says, “looking for someone who I can explore the world with, who’s adventurous, and fun loving”, but honestly, since being diagnosed my responses should be “we can explore countries when the temperatures are 21 degrees or lower, but also, I don’t do cold. I give Goldilocks the Vampire with all the fun of Cinderella vibes – I’ve got to be home by midnight.
The Match “want’s children” and I do too, but I’m currently on methotrexate, over 40 and not eligible for fertility treatment on the NHS. Is it ethical to start a potential relationship knowing that there may be challenges to starting a family and not tell the other person?
Do you tell the truth when asked a simple question like “what were you up to today, how are you?” Do you respond with “I spent 3 hours receiving IV meds, I’m in pain”?
Then there are the date restrictions. If you’re asked on a walking date, do you explain that you’ve already done your quota for the week. They want to sit outside at a restaurant, but you need to be inside away from the window, do you explain the reason why you’re covered from head to toe all the time and always wearing hats , even at the beach?
It’s scary to fall for someone while you’re stable, you don’t know if you’ll be rejected when your skin can’t be touched or if they can handle the symptoms of your flares.
It’s always said that you can’t expect love from someone else if you can’t love yourself and I suppose that is the real answer to when is the right time to date if you’re single and chronically ill.
I had to really learn how to look at myself in the mirror on the days where I felt the ugliest and still believe that I was worthy. Sayings like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” didn’t work because these were my eyes and what I was beholding, I didn’t like. My faith and belief that I am always loved by God served to remind me that I had no business doubting whether I was worthy of love and no business denying my beauty – because beauty, like love, is not tangible, beauty is the essence of the soul. My potential partner would feel love for my soul.
I want to be honest and bear with the person I’ll potentially be bare with. I have to trust that the love of my life will find the beauty in me no matter what my skin looks like, what I’m wearing or whether I have hair today which will be gone tomorrow.
When I look at what I’ve been through and what I’ve achieved despite my illness, I recognise that I’m adventurous, and fun loving. I think about my skydive, becoming an author, returning to work and foster care. I still spend time with friends and family, I still love to dance, I go to the theatre, cinema, concerts, climb lighthouses, and have fun in ballparks. I’m resilient, able to make the best out of any situation and able to give love. I’ve grown into a person I can be proud of and so I have hope.
The right person will find their way to you. Finding love is possible and something that we all deserve.
Lupus and relationships – www.lupusuk.org.uk/lupus-and-relationships/
Need to talk? – www.lupusuk.org.uk/need-to-talk/