Health · Lifestyle

Trying to Date with a Chronic Disease

With Valentine’s right around the corner, I thought I’d offer you a sneak-peak into one of the most terrifying things in the world of being chronically ill – DATING.

I’m a very affectionate person. It doesn’t matter whether I’m sober or pissed – you are getting a cuddle from me. I like holding hands, I like giving gifts, I like kisses. To me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s platonic or romantic, I simply see these actions as a sign that I care. This is just my love language. I’m lucky enough to be blessed with a bunch of friends I care deeply for who also care for me. What I’m lacking though is a romantic connection.

My first and last proper serious relationship ended about three years ago. Since then, I have been on exactly 3.5 dates (the .5 is because I didn’t realise it was a date until it was over), the last one over a year ago, and I have kissed exactly two people in this time in a non-platonic way. I won’t even mention my sex life. As you can see, I’m clearly having a blast and embracing the single life with open arms…

I’m an only child, so I’m very used to being on my own and being able to keep myself entertained and occupied. I also have no problem being alone. I enjoy my own company enough that if I don’t have plans on a Friday night or over a weekend, I’m not particularly phased. But I do get lonely. I’m missing having that romantic relationship with someone, having someone that’s just for me.

You, dear reader, also know by now if you’ve read my previous posts, that I have a few complications. If not, hi! I have a chronic skin disease (HS), as well as hypothyroidism, asthma, and non-allergenic rhinitis. Each of them have their own set of challenges, but all together? Well, you can imagine what my anxiety levels are like.

With my skin, I can’t exactly hide it. Sure, you wouldn’t notice it at first, but that’s because my “hotspots” are in private and covered areas. I don’t go wandering around the smoking area in The Rose with my arms up in the air at all times, showing off my scarred armpits, do I? But, at some point or another in the relationship I would like to have, the clothes are going to come off and there’ll be nowhere to hide. So, I’m left with a dilemma – do I wait until I’m in a relationship and things start to get intimate before I let them know about what’s going on, or do I just let them know right off the bat and hope I don’t jeopardise my chances?

I feel like I’m a walking disclaimer, and it’s not a pleasant thing. Before past dates, I’ve literally rehearsed how I’d bring it up in conversation down to the letter, or what I’ll say exactly if they ask me about it that doesn’t make it sound as nasty it is. In either case, I’m comforted by the fact that if whoever I’m with / interested in backs off because of it, then good fucking riddance. But, then again, I’m back to square one and have to go through it all over again.

One of the things about hidradenitis suppurativa is that it isn’t a common disease, and isn’t well known. Hell, even dermatologists can’t even tell me and other sufferers what causes it! That lack of knowledge and exposure doesn’t lay a steady foundation for an open mind in others. Humans fear what we don’t know, and that’s something I’m scared of – a person seeing me only for that and deciding that I’m not worth the hassle on their end. I had this disease well before my previous relationship, but my journey into actually trying to find out what the hell was going on started while I was in it, and so I had that initial support. I think he understood what was going on to some degree, and supported me. Now, I don’t have that. I am well and truly on my own in that regard.

The hypothyroidism and its symptoms is much more manageable. Example – one side effect of hypothyroidism is heightened sensitivity to the cold. What do I do? Sit as close to the radiator as possible and wear layers, no problem. The one side effect I feel can really let me down in a relationship is that hypothyrodism reduces my libido. Ideal, right? Not to mention I also have the contraceptive injection to stop my periods so I can manage my skin with less pain, which also reduces my libido. I know, the thing that you take to have safer sex and avoid unwanted pregnancies makes you want to not have sex – I can’t tell if that makes it super effective or really counterintuitive? Put the injection and the hypothyroidism together and my libido is basically embedded in the bedrock.

I like sex; I’m a very sex positive person. You wanna have sex with whoever? Go ahead! I won’t judge! Just make sure you go about it safely, okay? Sex isn’t the biggest part of a relationship, I know that, but it’s an expected and very personal part of a relationship. I don’t want to disappoint a partner by saying no when they’re really in the mood, but I also don’t want to force myself to go along with it when I’m not really into it – that’s not fair on me.

To me, dating is like trying to sell someone a car that looks alright but has some issues under the hood, and you’ve been trying to sell it for ages. Someone shows up who appears to want to buy, and you’re so eager to make the sale that you don’t really mention the broken suspension, or the lumpy seats, or the fact that you have to start up the engine a few times before it really gets going. It’s me; I’m the car. You just hope that once they’ve bought the car, they don’t try to return it and learn to live with a little discomfort.

I’m kinda glad that we’re in a lockdown with Valentine’s. Not for others who had lovely plans, but personally. There’s no expectation for me to be going on dates, no pressure to be talking to someone or hooking up. It kinda feels like a breather. Not to mention, I wasn’t planning on doing anything other than ordering a Chinese and watching To All The Boys I Loved Before: Part. 3. I’m just vicariously living through my friends who’re doing virtual drink dates – it’s working for me. It makes me happy to see them happy. That’s also not to say I haven’t been talking to people. I just discovered Hinge which, by the way, is in a whole other league than Bumble or Tinder, but the people I’ve been matching with either just stop talking to me halfway through the conversation, or just never bother messaging me back in the first place, so…

This is the thing. I’m happy being single, I’m happy doing my own thing and only answering to myself, but I know I’d be happy – potentially happier – if I had someone who is just for me, and me for them. That person I could instinctively turn to without question. I don’t know when that’ll happen next, and I don’t know what they’ll be like, but I do know two things – they’re not worthy of me if they see my issues as problems, and they’re gonna be taller than me.

Talk to you later,

Boo x

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