Dating on any level in this modern time can be a battle field. How does this differ between the typical person and a person with a chronic illness? The value of meeting people online versus the more traditional networking manner is often questioned. The criticism of the quality of younger generations and how we perceive relationships and dating ‘should be’ is misunderstood between even the best of friends, let alone potential partners. How on earth are we meant to know who we want when we don’t even know what will be available in the next five years? More importantly how are we then meant to sift through the potential candidates to find someone who is prepared to take use on, to deal with us and all our extra baggage?
Globally everything is a bit of a mess
Politics is mixed in with social media to a painful degree, there is an app for basically everything and transport companies are literally fighting for the right to take you places. Flights from Perth are cheaper to go overseas than to stay in the state, one university textbook costs as much as a week of rent and one of the most well-known contemporary visual artists nowadays is an anonymous graffiti artist. Social media tells me there are effective ways to meet people in my local area now, without having to leave my living room. It tells me which companies offer the best services for my desires, where I could go to successfully meet people and events where other people I know will be attending.
You would start to wonder if social media wants me to settle down. I sure have. Yet there is one thing missing from all of this turmoil, mess and opportunity: my opinion, what I want.
Which begs the question: what do I want? Well social media, you are about to find out that you cannot help me.
I do not want to settle down
This is not the story of a young woman who has fought for her independence and health and is now ready to take on life. Nor is it a stand against the bad choices of the past and an acknowledgement of allowing myself to become a victim of physical and psychological abuse. Blow away the ideas of my entry into womanhood and excitement at being able to marry whomever and have a family if I like or spend my years in career mode or jet setting.
We are selfish
A year ago I went to a wedding with my then partner. Five hours later (midnight) he wanted to go to a nightclub. The next day we had plans to go to a water theme park. I said no. He yelled at me, “We never get to do anything fun.” It’s because I have to be selfish.
We, in the chronic illness communal bubble, must be selfish. We must put ourselves first. It takes a strong will to say no to someone you love often. The heart must tread lightly and delicately around itself so we don’t inflict harm to ourselves. How do you think it feels when we have a panic and scream hysterically at someone we care about? They are only trying to help, but we feel we must push them aside. Time is spent mostly idle conserving our energy, it is not time we are necessarily willing to share. So we say no, and refuse to go or do ‘fun things’. What we really need is someone who accepts us as we are; not lazy but also not a person who is always willing and able to do things.
We can be divas
Imagine just how hard it is dating and living with someone who is high maintenance. Who needs care, supervision, help with mobility and is forever in and out of appointments. It is a burden. It is tiresome. Add on to this that they are selfish and a self-enforced recluse? This is the average persona of someone living with chronic illness. These are the people we (chronic illness sufferers) have to live with each day. See, we have to cope with ourselves. Selfish little us.
It can be difficult with all our whining, sulking, angry outbursts and silent withdrawals. A brief moment of happiness is all one can sometimes hope for when dating us. Dating is hard at the best of times but anyone able to withstand the ups and downs of loving one as sick as us need not only refrain from jealousy at the inadvertent attention we attract. They must also be patient enough to handle the times when we need care and assistance with the most menial of tasks, as well as the times we insist we feel well enough and push for independence whilst trying to take stupid risks. If you try to stop us then, you may not like the reaction.
Give us space
It sounds counter-intuitive, yet when you spend so much time fighting for the strength to just exist, the moment that your body becomes well again the instinct to push ourselves is massive. Back to the comment before about yelling at loved ones hysterically, this would most likely come about from all too common instances of someone telling us what to do. I am often told what to do, or rather what not to do. Not because everyone wants to control me, but because everyone has an invested interest in making sure I stay well. My seemingly careless behaviour is only as thoughtless as the next person’s yet it is more obvious given my condition and life circumstances. So we need someone to love us and recognise that, yes we will hurt ourselves doing a seemingly trivial action, but we still need to try it. We don’t need to be held back.
If I wanted to date my mother I would
A wise partner will see our downs and give us space as we do what we need to get through them. They will also step back as we rise gloriously on the odd occasion, attempting to do everything we’ve missed on our most recent relapse. Aware this will inevitably bring on another relapse, partners should bide their time, gently caring for us rather than berating us for ‘overdoing it yet again’. The One will know how to hold themselves back from being our live-in-hover-parent-partner. At the same time they will keep an eye out for when we are ready to admit our faults.
Basically, what I am trying to say is the type of person who suits being in a relationship with someone like me, someone with a chronic disease is as follows:
- Aware they won’t always come first
- Not jealous of lack of attention
- Can handle being treated badly
- Prepared to be patient
In the end we just want to be loved. The difficulty with dating someone with disease is that the person with the illness is already in a relationship. That selfish, life-consuming, soul crushing Other will never leave. We know that. We live with it, have for a long time to the point it is somewhat acceptable. To enter into that relationship a person must be prepared to share themselves, their love and their time. As the sick person, you will know on some level you will never be able to commit fully to this other person.
YOU are your number one priority, no matter how hard you deny it
No. This girl is just picky. And that makes me so happy. Or is it the other way around? Yes, the other way around. I am happy with my life and through this I have come to learn that me, and people like me deserve nothing less than to be treated like royalty. Allow me to justify myself, and I’m sure you’ll agree.
Leisure time should be spent relaxing. To another person it may look like this is what we do the majority of the time. Yet all that time we are lying around or sitting down, it is not resting but recuperating. It is far from relaxing, whatever it looks like.