He had her at…“I’d love to change your pump reservoir!”
When Josh and Kylee Walsh began dating, the fact that they were both living with type 1 diabetes turned out to be an unexpected plus. “We didn’t have to educate or teach each other about blood sugar and glucose monitoring the way we would if we were dating someone new to this disease,” says Kylee. The pair actually met as counselors at diabetes camp!
Kylee, who writes a blog on myglu.org, knows how to help Josh handle a low, and Josh watches for Kylee’s blood sugar swings. On the other hand, neither is able to hide diabetes issues from the other: “It can be very frustrating, when I’m in burnout mode, to hear that I need to check my blood sugar,” says Kylee.
When Kylee and Josh prepared for their wedding on October 6, 2012, they initially thought it would be fun to say, “I take you and your diabetes…” in their vows. But they decided against this because they refuse to let their diabetes define them:
“It is no more right for us to define our relationship by our diabetes than it is to define it by our mutual enjoyment of Adam Sandler movies. There are some realities about both of us having diabetes that are challenges and some that are comforts. Our love for each other, however, is the most comforting of all, and it is that love that really binds us.”
In my experience with clients, I’ve seen that if you’re living with diabetes, there are many roads to enjoying a meaningful relationship, whether the other person is living with diabetes or not. My advice is to just be respectful and honest as you get to know one another. Here are a few tips to help you as you look for love, while living with diabetes:
Be honest about your diabetes
Over the years, I have interviewed numerous couples about the role diabetes played in their courtships. Most said that being open and honest about their diabetes set the tone for the relationship. On their dates, they didn’t offer lengthy lectures about diabetes; they didn’t even bring up the topic. They simply responded to any questions their dates asked. On one date, one man quietly took out his glucose monitor at a restaurant and proceeded to check his blood. When his date asked what he was doing, he answered, “Just checking my blood. I have diabetes. Hey, did you decide what you want to order?” His nonchalant attitude put her at ease. The couple married two years later.
Years ago, few people knew much about diabetes. Today, many people know at least one person living with it. If you are relaxed about your diabetes needs, your date will pick up on your attitude and it may help them be more relaxed about it, too.
Plan fun and healthy outings
Invite your date to play tennis, go hiking, or take a yoga class. This will help you start a pattern of healthy, active living together. Being active together can also be an inexpensive way to have fun.
Don’t parent your partner
If you date someone who also is living with diabetes, don’t offer unsolicited advice. How would you feel if your date corrected your carb count or told you that you shouldn’t order a particular entrée? Relationships don’t thrive when one partner parents the other. If your date does something you don’t think is correct, keep an open mind. Remember, there are many possible ways to care for diabetes. As you get to know each other better, you can share your observations.
Take care of yourself
Dating can be stressful. The more care you take with your health, the more energy you may have, so bring snacks along in case any meals you were planning on the date get delayed and, if you choose to drink alcohol, check with your health care team. It may also be beneficial to read these tips if you do choose to consume alcohol.
Remember, you are more than just a person living with diabetes. While on your date, share other parts of your life – your hobbies, interests, goals, and dreams, all the parts that make up the whole you. And if your date is living with diabetes, you may come to learn that you share more than just a diabetes diagnosis!
Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE*, LD/N is the American Association of Diabetes Educators 2008-09 Diabetes Educator of the Year. She is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and marriage and family therapist. Her books include Sex and Diabetes and The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes. Roszler is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience