Diabetes Blogs

Dating Advice: What's Love Got to Do with Diabetes?

Hands holding the word foreverToday, I don't hide my diabetes from my dates. I'd rather know from the start if he has an issue with my health issue. That way I don't waste time with someone who isn't compassionate. (Photo: Unsplash, Abby Orcutt)

Last week, a post from a type 1 diabetes Facebook group popped into my feed. A mother had posted that her 7thgrade daughter would soon be attending her first school semi-formal and this prompted a conversation about dating. The teenager told her mom she wasn’t planning on dating when she’s older.

When the mother pressed her to explain the daughter replied, “Seriously, mom, who am I going to date? If I go out with another T1D, we’ll burn each other out talking about blood sugars, insulin, stupid random stuff that happens. On the other hand, I don’t want to date someone who knows nothing about type 1 diabetes because I’d have to train them about all the stuff that could go wrong and if something DOES go wrong it might freak them out. And, after all that, they still might not get that diabetes is something I can’t just ignore because I’m with them. It’s just so depressing.” 

As I read this, it reminded me of when I was 13 and recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I felt like a black sheep. I was convinced that no guy would want to date me because I’d be such a burden to him. I  struggled with this idea throughout my teens and my young adult years.

But today, I’m in my early 30s and my thinking has changed.

How Diabetes Can Lead You to Love

I have some advice for this teenager, as well as my 13-year-old self. Here's what I've learned over the years:

  1. Your broken-down pancreas won’t protect you from guys that are jerks. They’re out there whether you have diabetes or not. Trust me, your girlfriends that don’t have diabetes will have just as much heartbreak in their lives. It’s just part of the dating process. I can’t say for sure but I think because we have type 1 diabetes, we take rejection very, very personally. Be rest assured, you won’t be the only one at the “bad relationship” party or the only one who goes through a few duds. 
  2. I used to debate the timing of when to reveal my diabetes to someone I was dating. Not anymore. Early on it seemed like something I should hide. But as I got older—and wiser—my opinion changed. Now, I’m more direct: “So, my pancreas shutdown for some unknown reason, what’s your issue?” is how I broach the subject, typically on the first dateEveryone struggles with something. Today, I’m upfront with the men I date. If they take issue with my health issue, I’d prefer to know that at the start, so I don’t waste my time with an uncompassionate man. It’s just not worth it.
  3. Having diabetes won't necessarily send a man running away. Yes, yes, yes alarms, devices, needles, blood and unpredictability often accompany diabetes—I get it. But I’ve gotta say, I’ve never been rejected because of these things. Generally, I find men to be more fascinated by my diabetes then turned off by it.  Many are curious to learn about that part of my life.  It turns out that diabetes can be interesting and intriguing to people who don’t live with it I guess. And never forget this: when someone loves you, they love all of you.     

Last year I fell for man named BobbyHe didn’t have much knowledge of the disease before we dated, but he’s been a quick learner. He understands that diabetes is certainly a challenge on some days for me, but that the disease has also shaped me into the person that he loves today. 

I’ll never forget after one of our very first dates, I was telling him about how passionate I was about the issue of insulin affordability. The next day during his lunch break at work, he did a bunch of research on the issue and sent me articles to assist with my advocacy work.  My heart swooned! 

As for if he cares about my devices and alarms? He’s seen me wince when I do site changes for my pump, so if he’s around he plays the song “Pump it Up” to take my mind off of it which always gets him a smile. 

I remember feeling worried that my CGM and pump alarms would drive him crazy at night, but he tells me he enjoys guessing what the various alarms are telling me. 

Bobby cares that I’m okay. After a couple months of dating when he noticed that I would sometimes get low at night he’d wander into his kitchen to find food for me. The last time I was at his place he showed me he had purchased my favorite flavor of Capri Sun—strawberry—and put out cookies at night in case I dropped low. 

We went ice fishing together for the first-time last month. (We live in Minnesota where nothing says winter better than outdoor fishing in the subzero weather!) As we were planning for the day, he asked me what our plan should be for my diabetes and asked what he could do to help me. It’s this thoughtfulness and caring that made me fall in love with him. He doesn’t view my illness as a burden. He recognizes he has his own challenges and shortcomings, too just as I have mine.

Looking back nearly 20 years to when I was diagnosed and scared of what my future would hold, I wish I could’ve reassured myself that everything was going to work out. 

People with type 1 diabetes have their hurdles, but everyone else does, too. Finding someone to be your partner in life is what it’s all about.  Bobby doesn’t love part of me, he loves allof me. 

To the 7thgrader who told her Mom she’ll never date, I hope she will reconsider. You may have to kiss a couple of frogs to find your prince, but the wait will be worth it. Living with diabetes isn’t easy but having someone to turn to when you feel burdened by it, can be the motivator that keeps you going and gets you through the tough days.

 

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