The dating scene has changed drastically since I was a part of it. Now there is online dating, speed dating and even off-line matchmaking services. No matter how you’re meeting people to date, when you have diabetes, there are additional things to consider when taking someone out for the first time. To gain a deeper understanding of this topic, I spoke with Chris Stocker, who blogs at The Life of a Diabetic and has been dating his girlfriend, Amanda, for eight years. I was so delighted that he agreed to share his experiences when it comes to dating with diabetes.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a freshman in college, Chris said it changed his life. “I really had no idea what was going on,” Chris said. “The hardest part was not knowing what would happen next. I didn’t know if I was still going to be able to play football or if I would have to move back home and stay there for the rest of my life. It was frightening.”
After moving home and attending community college for a year, Chris realized that his blood sugar control was manageable and decided to move to Florida to finish his college career. Just three months after he started school at Florida Atlantic University, he met his future girlfriend Amanda, and they began dating not long after.
“I can actually remember the first time I told her about my diabetes because we still talk about it,” Chris said. “We were chatting on AOL (this was before Facebook chat) and it came up as a joke when sugar was brought up. I said, ‘Well, I have diabetes.’ She asked what it was and said, ‘You can’t eat sugar, right?’ That was the first conversation we had about it, and it made it easier that it wasn’t face-to-face.”
Soon after, Chris took Amanda to dinner on their first date. “I tested my blood sugar before I went because I was as nervous as could be,” Chris said. “At dinner, I ate a salad, or something like that, to seem like I was healthy and fit. I remember explaining what insulin does and how I have to take it when I eat. So it was a normal first date of getting to know each other, but since diabetes is such a big part of me, it began a ‘Diabetes 101’ for her.”
Chris said Amanda was extremely overwhelmed at first. “In the beginning she was definitely very nervous and every second she was always asking me if I felt okay or if my blood sugar was high or low,” Chris said. “If I didn’t call or text by a certain time in the morning she would be worried that something happened to me in the middle of the night.”
One thing Chris mentioned was that when he was by himself he didn’t mind testing or injecting himself in public, but when he met Amanda that changed. “When we first started dating I wouldn’t test in public so she didn’t have people looking over and freaking her out,” he said.
“Now, if I have to test my blood sugar, I do it wherever we’re at. She even has a special bag inside of her purse that has a smaller meter, back-up insulin and back-up infusion sets. So the way I handle my diabetes has definitely evolved since I started dating Amanda,” Chris said.
Fortunately, he says diabetes has not put a lot of additional stress on their relationship because Amanda was aware of his diabetes from the beginning. “She understands the risks, but I guess the benefits outweigh the risks, so I feel lucky,” he said.
Chris did have a hyperglycemic event that brought them closer together. “About two years into dating, Amanda had to take me to the emergency room because my blood sugar was way too high. That was the ultimate wake-up call and realization for her about how serious diabetes can be, but it didn’t put a strain on our relationship. If anything, it made us stronger.”
After eight years of dating, Chris thinks their relationship is stronger than ever and is glad he found someone who enjoys sports and the beach as much as he does.
“Our perfect dates are going to sporting events, the beach or the pool, which is a whole different thing with diabetes,” Chris said. “It involves making sure I have all of my supplies and she helps me make sure I am prepared for our dates. For instance, when we go to the beach I test my blood sugar more often than if we were just going to the mall. There are little things like that, that I adjust depending on what type of date we go on.”
Chris’s advice to other couples who are dating with diabetes is to tell your partner early in the relationship. “They need to know in case something happens to you,” he said. “They also have a right to know before things get too serious in the relationship.”
I truly appreciated hearing about the start of Chris and Amanda’s relationship and find myself in awe of their early “dating and diabetes” maturity. I don’t recall being that mature in my college years, but given how long ago mine were, who can really remember? Thanks to Chris for sharing his (and Amanda’s) experiences and for offering advice on dating with diabetes.
All the best,
Disclosure: Chris Stocker received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.