As a twentysomething who lives with type 1 diabetes, I can tell you that one of the first things a significant other may tell you about dating, or marrying or just plain loving someone who lives with diabetes is this: we don’t want to be treated differently. Just give us your heart and your trust and we’re good.
But there’s a little secret behind that, and it’s really not so different than caring about someone you love without diabetes: We actually like when you treat us special, think with our needs in mind and surprise us with your ability to weave romance into taking good care of our diabetes.
With that in mind and Valentine’s Day around the corner, here are some date ideas that I think are simple, fun, interesting and say in an understated way I get it and I care.
Cook for your loved one
Cooking an at-home dinner for a loved one is always a romantic move. After all, you’re putting yourself into the effort. A table set with candles and a playlist built with your loved one in mind sets the mood, too. But here’s a way to surprise them even more: research and then print out the carbohydrate count of each part of the meal on fancy place cards. Don’t do it for just your loved one with diabetes, do it for yourself, too. He or she will love that you took the responsibility of calculating carb counts, which makes the meal one step easier. Oh, and for dessert? It doesn’t have to be sugar free. Just know the carbs. Everyone needs a treat sometimes!
Go for a walk in nature
Not only is hiking or a walk outside good exercise, but it can also be an opportunity to see a beautiful place. Planning a romantic walk for you and your loved one with diabetes may give them a boost in activity and, by adding some special touches, show them you care. Here’s the plan: Ahead of time, select a special spot along the way. Be sure to check the weather to make sure you both dress accordingly – and don’t forget proper footwear! Prepare a picnic or snacks for both of you, and choose the time your significant other with diabetes usually eats (you may notice these things by now) and then suggest you stop for a quick bite. Your loved one won’t feel “different” for having to stop and eat, and picnics are always romantic. Then, take a double selfie at some of the particularly pretty spots and gift them, printed the old fashioned way and in a frame, as a “Thank you for the wonderful date.”
Strap on ice skates
Ice-skating is one of those old-fashioned dates that never gets old. If you and your partner are up for it, it can be a fun, active and super romantic outing. You can hold hands, request a song if the rink has tunes (or bring along some wireless speakers and a playlist if you’re doing it outside) and laugh with each other should you tumble. Make a thermos of sugar-free cocoa (it tastes just as good – trust me!). Even warm climate places have rinks. Don’t forget to bring new mittens and ear muffs for your loved one. They’ll look cute and feel silly in a good way, and think of how much you care as they stay warm while skating.
Take the opportunity for you both to learn a new activity together. Cycling, roller-skating, dance lessons, a cooking class or anything at all; pick something you both would probably like and take that first lesson together. (But a hint: Err toward the thing your loved one would like to do most, not you!) First of all, exposing yourself to being fallible is endearing. Second, the idea of a life together comes into play on most dates. As cool as it is to learn a hobby or sport your loved one loves already, it’s even cooler to discover something and learn it together. Imagine 30 years from now: You are experts at what you chose to learn on this date, remembering back to that first time. And discovering an active new hobby means that even if your relationship does not work out, you gave your loved one a wonderful gift for life, and one they’ll never, ever pawn.
The best thing about a date is being together. But when you helpfully keep diabetes in mind, it just makes us people with diabetes love you more.
Lauren Stanford was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1997 at the age of six. She became an advocate for diabetes research and awareness as a young child, testifying before Congress twice, serving as ChairKid of JDRF’s Children’s Congress and speaking as part of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She was awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for being the top school-aged volunteer in America. A graduate of George Mason University, Stanford lives in Washington DC where she helps health advocacy groups build and maintain advocacy programs. Stanford is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor and interviewees, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.
© 2015 The DX: The Diabetes Experience