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When I was diagnosed with Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID), I was a single 19-year-old and my future felt so uncertain. I faced so many medical issues and health scares, that I started to see myself as a burden. I didn’t want anyone to have to worry about me too much or feel the need to take care of me. Between my best friends and my family, I had a really good support system, so I didn’t feel like I needed a relationship in the beginning.
But, as time went on, I started to realize that having this disease changed my perception of dating and relationships in general. I knew that if someone was going to commit to me long-term, they had to accept that they would need to help me with this for the rest of my life.
It takes time to become comfortable dating with a chronic illness
It took some time to figure out how and when to share about my disease when I started to hang out with someone I was interested in. Sometimes, I would bring it up immediately to get it out of the way. Other times, I didn’t even feel like mentioning it at all unless I kept seeing them for a long time.
However, a couple years in, things started to get really tough. Because of an intense cancer scare and swollen lymph nodes all over my body, I was crumbling to pieces. That is when I started to think about how important it is to be with someone that truly understood my disease and was happy to care for me and be by my side throughout this crazy journey.
And, luckily, I did eventually start dating the perfect person. We have now been together for two years, and I have a relationship that I never thought was possible when I was first diagnosed. I have someone I can rely on, who doesn’t make me feel like a burden. He even learned how to do my SCIg treatment and can set it all up for me!
I have heard from some people in my CVID group that they are struggling with dating and the idea of finding someone who is right for them. Dating with a chronic illness can be really tough. For a while, I didn’t see myself getting married or having a family one day. But, many people in the group have shared about their spouses and children, and have shown that it is possible to have the future you want!
How and when do I talk about my chronic illness while dating?
This is a tough one. There is no magic answer here. Sharing about your disease can be a very fragile subject, and I have found that it is hard to put into words what my life is really like, and how someone would fit into it. There are some things that feel so hard to explain, especially to someone I don’t know very well.
My advice is that you have to feel it out before you start sharing, but it is important to share fairly early on. How someone reacts is a very telltale sign of who they are as a person and if they would be a good partner. One positive of chronic illness is that it helped me to set a certain standard for a future spouse.
Maybe you’re on a third date at dinner and you find a good time to bring it up and speak on it, maybe you start to get feelings for a friend and you choose to share with them. Every scenario is different.
In my case, I feel like I tried to hide my disease from many people that I knew. I was friends with my boyfriend for years before we dated, but I didn’t really share about my disease until there were feelings involved. I could feel that he cared very deeply and saw my pain.
Ultimately, it is up to you. You can wait as long as you want, or you can tell them immediately! Just know that you hold the power, and you decide how to share your story. You can’t control the other person’s reaction, so you have to prepare yourself for a vulnerable moment.
Trust your instincts!
You know yourself, and you have to trust yourself! You can feel if something is right for you. I am a very intuitive person, and I really believe in trusting your intuition when it comes to relationships.
It is not always going to be easy, and chronic illness adds another unexpected layer. But, it is possible to find a relationship that is right for you! It gets easier over time as you start to become more comfortable with your disease and learn how to navigate conversations about it.
CVID has made my life harder, but it hasn’t stopped me from pursuing the life that I want!