How to Date The Best When You Have MS | MS Blog

Wow the topic of Relationships can be pretty loaded! 

I’m gonna break it down since this is something I could write about until the end of my days.  And hopefully I will!

Between my personal experiences and having a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, there’s a lot of wheels turning in my brain about relationships

Why are relationships such a hot topic?

I’m not so sure that it’s about the romance, the fireworks, the sensational drama of it all.  I think it’s because we are human.  We do not want to be alone, and we seek a partner.  Whether it be for companionship, growth, love, building a family, or just for fun, most of us prefer to accomplish this with a significant other rather than on our own.

As a patient advocate, I have worked with countless individuals over the years at some stage in their diagnosis and the relationship topic always comes up.  Without fail, I can bank on it happening.  And this happened even when I was just 15 years old and talking with newly diagnosed patients much older than I was.  I felt completely inadequate to be responding to these issues but as you will learn, I may have been the only clear headed person to provide a response because of my age.

Now of course when I was just a “tween” the important topic  of relationships didn’t cross my mind.  Not even a little bit.  Even through my teenage years I didn’t think that much about dating.  I mean, when was there time?!  I spent my weekends planning events and in Board Meetings with my incredible teenage board members.

As soon as there was time, this topic came to the forefront of mind in a big way.  But not in an unusual way.  See, I never knew relationships, romance, or intimacy in a context that didn’t include MS.  I was simply too young to have experienced relationships in any other context.  Since I didn’t know anything else, I approached each relationship with complete openness about my MS.  MS was part of my life from such a young age that I considered it a large part of who I am when I started dating and as a result just informed a potential partner right away.


I disclosed my MS on the first date 

So when I say that relationships came to the forefront of my mind it was because of the stage of life I was at, not because of any worries or anxieties around managing MS in a relationship.

Being so up front about having MS was, I realized later, actually an excellent tool.  There were definitely guys who were not interested in dating after they found out I had MS.  I was absolutely fine with that.  It didn’t bother me at all actually.  I was glad to know, and glad that I did not have to wait until I was a few months in and attached to someone for them to realize that being with someone with an illness wasn’t something they could handle.  The flip side of that meant that those who did want to keep dating after learning about MS, were pretty great guys.

I can do my best to explain MS but those of us who live with it know that there is no way to understand it until you see its impact.  Just because someone thinks they can handle it doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they are actually getting into.  I always tried to provide the most extreme scenarios so that if and when something did G-d forbid happen, like possibly waking up to a partner who can’t walk one day, he would not be completely stunned.

Let’s be honest – nothing can prepare anyone for that moment 

But someone who still wants to be in a relationship even with all of that information is pretty much the cream of the crop in my opinion.

So whenever I talk to a patient, whether as a 15 year old without any experience, or a 26 year old with plenty of both positive and negative experiences, I provide the same advice and try to share the above insight.  You can keep it from someone but they will eventually have to find out and you might learn only then that they do not want to be a part of it.

You don’t have a choice when it comes to dealing with your MS, or any illness for that matter.  You’re stuck with it.  But others do have a choice.  I believe it is entirely unfair to not inform them.  How would you feel if the tables were turned?  Letting someone in on this important part of your life, gives them a choice.  I know this can be scary for those of us with the diagnosis, but it also serves as an excellent Litmus test for a quality partner.  If you can embrace the fact that someone else has a choice whether or not to make MS a part of their life, then you can position yourself for even better partners in my opinion.

I have always said that I get to date the best men.  I have honestly found that to be true.  Even when relationships ended, it did not diminish the quality of the man, it just meant that the two of us may not have been completely compatible.  When most people stand on their wedding day and say “through sickness and in health” they have no idea what they are committing to.  They have no way of knowing what might come their way and how themselves or their partner will actually handle it.  In today’s society, it is a promise that, unfortunately, doesn’t hold much meaning.  You never know how someone will handle something if G-d forbid there is illness or disability down the line.  I will know before I even come to that day, which will make that promise much more meaningful.

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