So, You’re Dating with Diabetes – Diabetes Daily

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If you’re a Millennial or younger, you probably don’t go out on something as old-fashioned and esoteric as a “date.” You swipe left a lot and then maybe eventually right and voila! Someone else you like swipes right and you hang out or have coffee or “Netflix and chill.” 

However, dating is something many romantic relics still do–going out to dinner, opening a bottle of wine or sparkling water, and having face-to-face conversations in the hopes that we might find someone we want to spend more time and energy with. 

So, how does a person go about the delicate two-step of disclosing that you have diabetes while dating?  

Discussing one’s health condition is a highly personal decision that will be influenced by many variables, from your comfort level to what you’re looking for in a relationship; however, whatever your approach to sharing one important aspect of your life with another person, we have you covered in contemplating the reasons for revealing your health status. 

  1. Ultimately, disclosing that you have diabetes is your call. Anyone who has diabetes knows that our diagnosis is not our identity. Yet, if you are in the market for a long-term relationship versus a lustful dalliance, being succinct and upfront about your health status can be an empowering and important conversation to have at the beginning of a relationship. You needn’t go into your entire health history or make a big deal of your diagnosis when you first share your health status; yet, by owning your health status you begin to build a new relationship from a foundation of trust and honesty. Not only that, having such a personal conversation sooner than later allows you to weed out those who can hang from those who are fairweather fans. It’s kind of like all of those John Hughes’ coming-of-age comedies of the ‘80s: If you’re only interested in the homecoming queen, you’re going to miss out on the loveliness that is Molly Ringwald.
  2. Sooner or later, the cat is coming out of the bag. Timing is everything, especially when getting to know someone in a romantic context. Maybe you don’t want to disclose that you have diabetes on the first date. There IS wisdom in taking a wait-and-see approach if you’d like to get a better sense of the person before disclosing your health status. Some people give it a few interactions before sharing that they have diabetes. Others wait several weeks or more to see if what is developing is becoming something more serious. Others still think the idea of hiding medically necessary diabetes management (injecting insulin, wearing a pump, taking medication, eating mindfully, drinking moderately, and much more) from someone who would potentially stigmatize them for a health condition ridiculous. Eventually, especially if you enjoy each other’s company, they’re going to find out you have diabetes. So, ask yourself this: Is it more important for you to see if the person is a “keeper” before disclosing that you have diabetes? Or, is it essential to you to live authentically right now, in the moment? There are many points in between these two questions, but do some soul-searching before interacting with a romantic interest about what your values are as a person living and thriving with diabetes. 
  3. The sex talk. It often makes sense for many to share a diabetes diagnosis prior to intimacy. Diabetes can influence our sex lives in a myriad of ways, from figuring out what to do with an insulin pump before, during, and after sex to how diabetes may affect erections to vaginal lubrication. Testing blood sugar before and after sex is a smart rule of thumb, and it is equally important for your sexual partner to know what to do in case of an emergency. But more than preparing for a worst-case scenario, it is helpful to share what will specifically help you enjoy sex with a new partner, from using lubrication to being patient and taking it slowly. Having diabetes and a fulfilling sex life needn’t be mutually exclusive. The more you and your partner understand your health status, hopefully, the better the intimacy and connection. 

Ultimately, when we risk being vulnerable with a new person, we all have to consider what we share about ourselves and when. Having diabetes, regardless of type, needn’t have a negative impact on your dating life. For many, owning our health status front and center allows us to separate the winners from the losers.

And ultimately, isn’t that part of what we’re all looking for? To find someone who appreciates and loves us for who we already are?

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Please share your stories below of how you disclosed your health status while dating. And if someone shared their diabetes diagnosis with you, how did he or she do it? We want to hear your personal stories on this topic!

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