Putting Your Love to the Test with MS

In any relationship, you want to be honest and upfront from the get-go. But what do you do when your date doesn’t know you have multiple sclerosis? Do you wait until the relationship gets serious, or do you tell them right away?

There is only one right answer: do what you feel is right and makes you most comfortable, but don’t wait too long.

One day before I was admitted to the hospital with blinding eye and facial pain as well as relentless fatigue, I met someone who would eventually prove himself worthy of being a perfect partner to deal with the emotional upheaval around the time of my diagnosis.

My hospital admission turned into a two-week rollercoaster ride with CAT and MRI scans, X-rays, venous ultrasound screening, lumbar punctures and other tests. On day four, I was told that there was a very high probability I had MS, and later that evening, I told my new beau that I would not hold it against him if he wanted to walk away knowing my diagnosis would be a lot to handle.

“I am not going anywhere,” he said. The following ten days he was there when I needed him, and although the relationship did not stand the test of time, I will be forever grateful to him for being a sounding board during a challenging time in my life. When I started dating again my next date said: “I can’t handle your illness,” which was very hard to hear, but proved to be a good learning experience for me.

Since then, I believe that sharing your MS diagnosis with your dates early on is in the best interest of prospective partners, especially since MS symptoms can take over your daily schedule and can sometimes be very demanding.

Naturally, I wouldn’t tell all on the first few dates, but some of my friends (without MS) tell me not to ever disclose early on. They say that if or when someone gets to know me better as time goes on,-it might be easier for my new partner to accept my illness. On the other hand, MS does not define me so new partners should accept me for who I am.

There are a few things that you can control when it comes to dating with MS, which in turn will help your date see you as you are, and not see you as MS:

 Make sure there’s clear understanding and communication

 Using humor to describe symptoms always helps explain what you are feeling to someone who isn’t living with MS

 Allow your date to ask as many questions as he/she likes. Asking questions directly is better than Googling MS

 Give your date time to absorb everything. After all, there’s enough to worry about with dating so don’t get too detailed just yet and let them take their time learning about MS.

 As in all relationships, being honest and trustworthy are the two most important things. No matter how painful it is telling people about your illness, it will benefit you in the end

 If your love interest says after a while that it is not what they expected, or if he/she walks out, just keep Marilyn Monroe’s words in your mind ”If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”

As with everything in life, you learn how to manage communication strategies. It can be challenging to remain positive and hopeful when dating with MS. The important thing to remember is that behind the illness, you are still you are still attractive, and everyone deserves love, so don’t hold back on trying to find the perfect partner. If it’s meant to be, they won’t give your MS a second thought.

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