If only finding "the one" was as easy as meeting someone and falling in love. However, to get from point A to B, you have to go through this thing called dating.
Dating can bring about many questions and some anxiety. Thoughts like, “Where can I meet people?” and “How much should I say on a first date?” may come to mind. As a person living with multiple sclerosis (MS), I often think about that and so much more when dating.
I was diagnosed with MS on New Year's Eve 2002. I had trouble walking. Simple tasks like holding a cup or buttoning my clothes were hard. As the months went by, I began to regain much of what was difficult. But I still had some challenges. On the outside, I looked well. People would often say, “But you don't look like you have MS” (as if MS has a look). Everyone’s MS is different, but my days consisted of "invisible issues" as well as constant pain and fatigue. These are things that can become awkwardly obvious and can play with your mind, especially when dating. Here are some tips that I’ve developed while dating.
Dating as a whole can bring about some anxiety. For example, what I will wear, what I should say or do. Now add a diagnosis of MS! At first, I thought it was easier to just not date. However, I knew I wanted to find “the one.” I was determined to put myself out there to find him. Things like confidence, strength, and trust had to be redefined in me in order to move forward with dating. I knew it’s what I wanted, and I wasn't going to let my MS stand in the way.
There are a lot of different ways to meet people nowadays. Things like common interest groups, social sites, and dating sites can help you meet people with similar interests. Online dating may be a way to get to know someone and feel comfortable with them before meeting in person. However, you should always be careful, especially when giving out personal information like your phone number and address. Remember, you should only do what makes you feel comfortable.
Meeting someone for the first time can bring about some jitters with or without a disease. Try to relax and enjoy the moment as best you can. Proper planning may be needed, but it can go a long way toward making sure you have a great time.
In my case, I may have to limit my beverages so I'm not running back and forth to the bathroom. If there's food involved, I may order something that doesn’t involve too much work with my hands. I also prefer time-sensitive first dates, like an afternoon movie, since my fatigue often kicks in during the evening. By planning beforehand, I am able to take away some of the constant thinking about MS and put the focus on the date. This way, I can hear that story of him back in high school without interrupting to address my symptoms.
There is no right or wrong time to talk about your MS. It's when you feel comfortable and when you are ready to talk about personal things with your partner. After all, do you talk about your credit score on a first date? You will know when that time comes. Today, I find it easier to talk about it, especially since I've educated myself on what living with MS means for me. Educating yourself about MS can build confidence, and that can make having the conversation much easier.