In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 124.6 million Americans ages 16 years and older were single, or 50.2 percent of the population. Compare this to 37.4 percent of the population in 1976 and you can see how things have changed.
Although I was diagnosed when I was married, (six months to the day after my second child was born,) most of my friends were diagnosed before they ever settled down. They are now faced with the fact that they have multiple sclerosis and WANT to date.
As you can imagine, dating with MS is tricky on a number of levels. One thing that a lot of MS-ers struggle with is when to disclose their diagnosis with their partner. For some, the idea of disclosure comes with a fear of losing your job, your friends, or even your dignity.
So what do we do when we are dating? We could disclose at the beginning, assuming we are being open and honest, but it’s essentially like discussing your most personal truths with a stranger. What if we never see them again and they tell people? Do we want to put too much trust in someone we don’t know yet? But what if it does go somewhere? Then the person might feel betrayed that you chose to withhold such important information.
For all of the reasons listed above, one of my friends, William, who has been living with MS for 27 years says that he only wants to date women with multiple sclerosis. “I want to find a companion who understands and empathizes with it. I want us to be empathetic towards each other and live, not constantly having to explain a bad day or why we can’t go to four parties in a row during the holidays. I just want someone who understands me who I can understand as well. I’ve dated and married women without MS and it’s just never turned out well. I’m not going back. I will be patient. In the meantime, I have friends with MS, like you, and we hang out and understand each other and I find comfort and companionship in my friendships.”
I feel like there are so many things I can say about multiple sclerosis and dating, BUT I was married when I was diagnosed. Although I may not be qualified in the traditional sense, I can say this – divorce rates between people with MS (where one or both have MS) are either the same compare to their “two healthy partners” counterparts, or even lower. So, maybe I can give you a few tips. For starters, I think it’s important to find something that you love and immerse yourself in it. I realized the moment I stopped looking for love and immersed myself in what I loved, that love found me.
What about you? Do you have any MS dating tips – dos and don’ts? Please, help a brother or sister out and share! We learn from each other. That’s the point anyway. Remember, while you are out there in the dating world that you are always surrounded by a community that loves and supports you.