Dating when you have multiple sclerosis is like your first day on the job, do you tell or don’t you tell? Do you bring it up in casual conversation?
“Oh hey, I bet you didn’t know this but I have multiple sclerosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. If this date progresses into something serious you might get the pleasure of being my personal caregiver someday and I may never be able to give birth to your children. Isn’t that exciting?!”
It’s like a PSA for dating. It also opens the conversation for all sorts of questions like, “aren’t most people with MS in a wheelchair?” “Well you look fine to me!” “You have MS?? You look fantastic!” The last two always get my goat, as if you can actually visually see the lesions on my brain or spine. I may seem fine on the outside but on the inside my body is taking a beating.
This is my first time dealing with this since I was diagnosed. At the time I received my initial diagnosis I was already married and the phrase “in sickness and in health” was tossed around quite a bit. I think it’s important that your significant other knows exactly what they are getting into and give them a way out. If the person is a decent human being, then you’re lucky, because chances are they’ll stand by you and offer you support. If they are anything like my ex, run, run far-far away. Their anger, guilt and frustration will come back on you and that’s an altogether unhealthy situation to be in.
So now I’m an MSer and PCOser on the prowl. Sort of. I’m actually currently seeing someone who is fabulous. We’ve already had “the talk” and it went pretty well. I was fortunate because we’ve been friends for a little bit of time and he knew prior to our dating, how I’ve struggled with my MS and PCOs. Although he knows about me and my future full of struggles, it doesn’t make it easier. How do you ask someone if they are willing to date you and if all goes well, ultimately take care of you physically, emotionally, financially? How do you tell them that there may come a time where difficult decisions will be made and if they would be able to handle it? You obviously don’t bring this up on the first date, unless you want that person to run away, screaming. But I think it’s important after maybe the third or fourth, when you’re getting quite cozy to be honest about your diagnosis. You don’t have to tell them that you may never get pregnant but you might want to tell them, hey, now that things are going so well, I have MS and PCOs, would you like to ask me questions? Be prepared. Know your stuff. It’s your responsibility to be able to answer with honesty and knowledge about all things MS/PCOs.
For the more serious conversation, I believe it’s safe to save it for when you both exchange those three special words, “I love you.” This is when it becomes important to lay it all out on the table. You both have the right to know, if the relationship proceeds, how things will go down. Once you’ve invested real feelings into it, it’s important to know where and how you stand in regards to them and your disease.
I got lucky with Steven. He’s a super nice guy and is completely willing to do whatever it takes if it comes down to it. I’m pretty sure he’d say it’s because he loves me, but really I think his sense of duty and doing the decent thing outweighs love in this situation. We’ll see how it goes.
I want to hear from you? How and when did you tell your significant other about your diagnosis? What was their response?