Wednesday, April 3, 2013

REM Runner talks dating with a chronic illness

A friend, fellow author and blogger, Julie Flygare, wrote a great post recently on her blog, REM Runner. I thought I'd share, as she touches on so many great points about dating with a chronic illness - hers being narcolepsy. (And if you're looking for a good read this spring, check out her memoir, "Wide Awake and Dreaming", available here. It's fabulous!)

Here's a snippet of her blog post on dating with a chronic illness:

Disclosing narcolepsy on a date can be intimidating. Do you announce it right away? Wait until it comes up in conversation? Hold off for the second or third date? Avoid the topic altogether?

I’ve tried all the above and here’s what I’ve learned: presentation is everything. When I present my narcolepsy like “I have this terrible illness that I’m uncomfortable with” (either in my words or body-language), the recipient responds that yes, narcolepsy is terrible and uncomfortable to talk about.

Alternatively, when I present it like this, “I have narcolepsy, it’s a serious condition but I’m proud to have overcome so much adversity and now write a blog to help others…” Then the recipient generally agrees that it is something to be proud of.  I say “generally” because there are always outliers. 

She goes on to describe a recent date at a restaurant with one of the "outliers" - a guy who clearly didn't "get it":

We were only at the bread basket stage when the conversation led me to disclose my narcolepsy. We were discussing careers and I explained, “I work as an independent copywriter but I’m also a narcolepsy spokesperson and was actually in Marie Claire Magazine last month. I’m writing a memoir about my journey with narcolepsy – from the beginning symptoms to ultimately running the Boston Marathon.”

I stopped there – proudly knowing I’d presented my narcolepsy better than ever before. I felt like a car salesman on the verge of making a big sale.

My date stared blankly and asked, “Is there anything else wrong with you I should know about now?”

Speechless, I fidgeted with my napkin in my lap and finally responded, “Wrong with me? – I said I’m a spokesperson for narcolepsy, writing a book and recently ran the Boston Marathon.”

He went on to boast (at length) about not having read an entire book since high school. By the time our entrees arrived, I tuned out. Maybe I was quick to give him the boot, but living with narcolepsy, I must prioritize my time carefully. I knew I would’ve rather gone yoga or taken a nice long evening nap than go on a second date with him, so I trusted my gut and moved on.

***

You can read the entire post here. I so often hear lupus patients voice their concerns about how to broach the subject of their chronic illness with potential suitors. From what I hear, the dating scene and lupus can be a tough one to navigate - and it's a subject that I can't speak about. I was diagnosed with lupus only after I was married. My suitor didn't know what he was in for when he married me, but he soon found out!

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