Online dating is always something of an adventure. For every person who met their life partner on an app, you will hear ten horror stories of unsuitable, awkward or downright odd experiences.
It’s a gamble, really. But the game is made more complicated when you have a bombshell to drop like MS. When is the right moment to share that you have a potentially-debilitating medical condition with a prospective life partner? And how much detail is right?
I’ve been online dating for a few years now and don’t seem to have got the answers to these two questions correct…yet. But rather than wallow in self-pity, I will use my bad experiences to guide others on having better ones! Here’s my hard-won advice:
1. Don’t tell them on the first date
Getting the news out the way immediately only results in your date viewing you as a medical condition, not as a person. They need a chance to get to know you first. We are more than our MS.
2. Don’t try to make a joke out of it
I scared off one guy by testing walking sticks in an antiques shop “ready for when I need one” after our lovely Sunday lunch. Needless to say, there wasn’t another date.
3. When it comes to details, consider your audience
Some people like to understand the detail and others don’t. For some, hearing all the facts makes MS less scary – others get more scared. Judge your audience carefully and weigh your words.
4. Please no Googling
Poring over online content about MS can be a terrifying experience. Didn’t we all do that during our diagnosis? Remind your date that each MS journey is unique so what they find on Google is not necessarily what will happen.
5. Don’t offload your own anxieties
Once you’ve shared, remember they have to get their head around this new piece of information about you before they can be the supportive/caring person you want (hopefully). Don’t offload your fears and anxieties onto them too soon or you will overwhelm them.
6. You don’t have an obligation to share immediately
I used to feel guilty if I didn’t ‘admit’ to having MS straightaway, fearing I would be misleading them by concealing it. It’s not true. It’s your information to share when you’re ready.
7. Everyone has skeletons in the closet
We all have aspects of ourselves that we feel cautious about sharing with new people. It might be worth waiting until your date opens up to you about something sensitive before you do the same – it’s a sign that trust and respect is building.
8. Don’t regret the ones that run away
The people that can’t handle the fact you have MS are not worth a second thought. You deserve someone who is open-minded, supportive, caring and courageous. Don’t settle for anything less.
Online dating is challenging, slow and frustrating at times, regardless of whether you have MS or not. But it’s also a great way to meet some interesting people and ‘get out there’ without having to leave the sofa – ideal for those moments when fatigue strikes!
Don’t let your medical condition stop you giving it a go or make you feel any less worthy of love. And you never know, the next person you swipe right could turn out to be The One…