We’ve talked about long-term relationships, as well as the ups and downs of the newly married. But if you have diabetes, are newly single, and want to start dating again, how might you explain your life with diabetes to potential daters? When should you bring it up?
While writing my first book, The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes, I interviewed several individuals who dated people living with diabetes because I wanted to find out what it felt like to be on the receiving end of a life with diabetes disclosure. Their responses surprised me: the ones who felt most at ease with their date’s diabetes were often moved by his or her nonchalant demeanor.
One woman I spoke to told me:
“On our first date, we went to a lovely restaurant. When Nick’s meal arrived, he pulled out a pen-looking tool, pricked his finger, and then ran a quick blood test with his meter. He looked up at me, smiled and said, ‘Oh, I have diabetes.’ That was it. Then he resumed talking about the movie we had just seen. He wasn’t apologetic or nervous. It just wasn’t a big deal. His confidence relaxed me immediately. I thought, ‘If he’s okay with it, I’m okay with it, too.’”
So, what’s your attitude toward your diabetes? Is it a source of anger and anxiety, or do you readily accept it as a part of your life and just another piece of your personal story? If you feel upset, stressed, or troubled about living with diabetes, consider addressing these feelings with a qualified health care professional who can help you gain insight and potentially help you relate to your diabetes in a more positive way.
But what if the worst happens? Even with a positive attitude about diabetes, there is no guarantee that everyone you go on dates with will welcome it with open arms; it is hard to control what people think or how they respond. People have their own histories and experiences that affect how they view different issues.
A person living with diabetes told me this story:
“On our first date, I went to test myself, and Tim looked uncomfortable. I quickly explained what I was doing, but his attitude didn’t change. I knew, at that moment, we weren’t going to have a second date.”
Bring your best self to the relationship. If some of your dates reject you because of diabetes, remember that you are better off without them, end of story. My advice is to be honest about who you are and search for someone who wants to get to know the real you. Remember, you are more than your diabetes, it isn’t your entire life. You have other interests, desires, and talents. If you begin to develop a relationship with someone new and he or she asks questions about your life with diabetes, my advice is to answer them honestly. If your new acquaintance wishes to learn more, invite him or her to join you at a diabetes class.
Okay, but what about physical intimacy? Remember that being intimate with someone new can be tricky for anyone, whether living with diabetes or not. If you do want to move ahead with someone, I recommend keeping a rapid-acting snack nearby, and, if you have a diabetes-related sexual issue and need extra time to prepare for intimate contact, smile and mention it. This is who you are, whether you’re a woman or a man. Embrace it!
I tell people that the wonderful part of midlife dating is that people who have a lot of experiences have rich stories to tell. So try to relax and have fun getting to know new people. Whether you’re twenty or sixty-five, dating can be tough – but it can also be a fascinating adventure. Enjoy the ride.
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.
© 2014 The DX: The Diabetes Experience