I’m no relationship expert. I’ve done my fair share of dating, but have been in few exclusive relationships.
When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, I used to think to myself “ok…that’s it. I’m destined to be single forever”.
There are so many things out there that cause stress in a relationship. Now imagine throwing a chronic illness into the mix…how is THAT going to work out? I used to think to myself that I had 2 options: I either had to “settle” for someone I wasn’t 100% happy with, or I was going to be alone.
I was diagnosed at 14 years old, so I never had a real relationship prior to diagnosis. When I did date people after that, I never told them of my illness. On the night before a date, I’d pray that I’d be able to walk properly and without pain from my avascular necrosis. I made sure to take my prescribed medication on date days to keep my pain at bay.
I didn’t want people to judge me based on my illness. Sometimes I felt like I was being deceitful in that I’d date people and not tell them right away what I was dealing with. There was one fellow that I had dated on and off for a little while. We met at a club. We weren’t best friends, but we were friendly enough to call each other on the phone just to chat. During one of our conversations, I told him about my illness. The silence that followed was deafening. I felt like such an idiot….why did I even bother telling him? I eventually told him that I had to go because my mother was calling me. I wanted to get out of that situation ASAP and I was sure he did too.
A week had passed and I hadn’t heard from him. It wasn’t uncommon for me to not speak to him after a week, but this week seemed especially painful. It wasn’t because I was head over heels in love with him or anything….but I honestly felt that he didn’t want to have anything to do with me, be it a friendship or something more, because now he knew I had a chronic illness. What guy would want to deal with that?
3 days after that, he sent me a text message. “I’m thinking of you. Let’s grab a coffee. xo”. I sighed a sigh of relief. We went out for coffee and we chatted about a lot of stuff like we usually did. We also talked about my illness. He told me that I could call him if I needed someone to listen.
We lost contact for a while, but reconnected as of last year. And since he came along, I’ve dated other guys too. While I don’t spit out the fact that I have Lupus on the first date, I’m also not afraid to discuss it with the guy I’m dating if our relationship is beginning to get serious. The point is, if everything else between myself and a guy is going well, and I tell him I have Lupus and he leaves me high and dry…..then obviously he wasn’t worth my time anyways! I mean, it’ll still hurt, but if someone who otherwise really digs you runs away when they hear the word Lupus, then there’s no saying what else they’d run away at if I didn’t have an illness.
I haven’t dated much in the last few years. There are a number of reasons for this, one of them being the fact that I have Lupus. The past few years have been the most difficult for me in dealing with my illness. The last thing I wanted to do was get into a relationship and make someone feel obligated to be with me just because I’m ill, and guilty for leaving me because of my illness. It’s inevidable though. As much as I try to stay away from relationships and boys in general, the more they come.
When is the right time to tell your significant other that you’re dealing with an illness? It’s always been a question that has crossed my mind. I’m not in a committed relationship right now, but it’s still important to know. When that time comes that we’re exclusive, do I say “umm….there’s something you should know about me…”? That sounds like what Michael Jackson said to that poor girl in the thriller video!
Honesty is always the BEST policy, but where does that honesty begin? It’s certainly not something I’m going to discuss on the first couple of dates.
So let’s say I meet prince charming, we get engaged, and we set a wedding date. I’ve had so many fears about a wedding. What if I’m too exhausted to stand at my own wedding? What if I can’t wear cute high heeled shoes because my hip/knee hurt? What if all the stress of planning a wedding causes me to have a Lupus flare one week before my wedding? I don’t want to look like stay-puft marshmellow man in my wedding pictures!
What I can say is this. I’ve given the men i’ve dated and the men in my life in general way too little credit. The boys in my life have been great. I used to always think that people would shy away from me, wouldn’t want to hug me, wouldn’t want to kiss me…wouldn’t want to get close to me in general. I can’t say that my early high school days helped. I lost more than my fair share of friendships because of my newly diagnosed illness. But now that I’m older, and the people I hang around with are older, I’ve come to realize that people, in general, are good people. I haven’t been deprived of friendships, hugs, kisses…I don’t feel deprived at all.
Love and Lupus….trust me, when/if the right guy comes along…it DEFINITELY isn’t impossible.