Living Like You | Telling your partner you have MS

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Two hands holding a heart

Relationships are about sharing your life with someone else.  Whether this means sharing information about past relationships, or bigger topics such as your medical history; sharing important topics with your partner can be nerve-wracking.

Although telling a partner about your condition can be extremely daunting, it is important to remember that there is no obligation to reveal this side of your life. It is personal and if and when you choose to share this information is totally up to you.

Whether you are dating or in a long-term relationship, you’ll need to think about how you tell your partner about your MS. You may feel nervous or scared when telling them, or you may think they will treat and look at you in a different way. To help with the nerves, perhaps practise what you want to say. Maybe even write down some talking points to help you stay focused. It can be helpful to have some reliable medical information available to provide to them.

How to tell your new partner

As you know, MS affects all areas of your life whether you like it or not. Not only this, but MS is a part of you, it makes you who you are. It makes you a stronger, more resilient person and you should not shy away from this side of your life. As mentioned earlier, relationships are about sharing, and if you feel comfortable enough, it would be a good idea to tell whomever you’re dating early on about your MS. There really is no “right time” to tell them, but use your intuition and do whatever feels right. A good benchmark is to put yourself in their shoes. If the positions were reversed, when and how would you like to be told?

How to tell your long-term partner

The route to an MS diagnosis typically takes a long time. If you are in a long-term relationship, it is likely that your partner would have noticed a few symptoms, been told you are not feeling well and might even have come to the appointments with you. Your partner cares about you and, therefore, will be worried on your behalf. Telling them will possibly aid as support for you too. 

Their reaction

It is important to take into consideration the feelings of your partner. People react to significant news in many different ways: they may have lots of questions, be shocked, go quiet or even release any number of emotions. If their reaction to your diagnosis is not how you imagined, that’s understandable. Give your partner some time and space to come to process the news, it may take them time to come to terms with it – just as you probably did.

You, yourself, may still be coming to terms with your diagnosis and, therefore, may not have thought about the full extent of the implications on your life. If you’re telling your partner after you have recently been diagnosed, or telling a new partner about your existing condition, think about how long it took you to accept or get over the initial shock and apply the same patience to them. Give them some time to accept the news and then begin a discussion.

The discussion and their questions

Be aware when entering this discussion that you probably won’t have all the answers. MS is a progressive condition, that’s different for everyone, and is always changing.

For any relationship, communication is key. It's good to keep the channels of communication open to discussion for any future questions and worries your partner may have. Don’t dismiss their questions and try to find answers together, if you do not know them yourself. Your MS team or online patient groups are great sources of information and comfort.

MS and relationships

There are a few ways in which MS can affect relationships and your partner may want to discuss these. These can include:

·        Sex

·        Pregnancy

·        Contraception

·        Raising a family

Remember that all relationships have their challenges and curve balls. If you are in a loving and supportive relationship, you and your partner will be able to overcome this obstacle together. If you are single and navigating the dating world with MS, the right partner will love and accept everything about you!

For personal stories about relationships and MS, check out the articles from our Living Like You bloggers here.

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