Living Like You | Online Dating and MS

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MS Diet and Body Connection
Phone with red heart, kiss face, red heart emoji on screen

So, my story of online dating… After briefly dating for two weeks back in 2019, I came to enjoy my time being single, until my brother asked me if I would ever consider online dating. 

My brother’s two sisters-in-law had some success with online dating, and he was worried about me being on my own. As one of five, all my siblings are married, and my brother believes I should be out trying to find a partner. I listened to what he said and made the decision, there and then, to give it a go.

In June 2001, a few weeks shy of my 40th birthday, I immersed myself in the world of dating apps. It is pretty exhausting being on the hunt for love, but I made sure I stayed hydrated and was sure to take plenty of screen breaks. Also exfoliate and moisturize a little more! (This has nothing to do with computer time but it's no harm to have healthy looking skin when you match with a potential partner.)

I turned to my friends for advice. Amy’s experiences were not the greatest, all her previous dates had the maturity level of a 12-year-old! Adam is struggling to find his feet with online dating but hasn't given up on finding love. Debbie and Stephen met through online dating and are now getting married on New Year's Eve this year! That gave me great hope. If they found love, why couldn't I?

I must mention that none of them are people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I wondered what online dating would be like with MS, would it be harder? It’s safe to say that, as we are currently living in a world where the recent pandemic has changed dating in a profound way, it has become harder to meet people in the usual social ways because of lockdowns and restrictions, as well as trying to keep yourself as safe as possible. What I liked about one of the dating sites was that it would tell you if someone was vaccinated or not. As a person with an autoimmune disease, I think this is a great thing. I would have preferred to meet somebody organically but, as it isn't normal times, I am making the best of the situation! 

So, let’s fast forward and talk about Date no 2. Evan was quite the experience. He made it clear exactly what he wanted. I had never dated someone significantly younger than me before. He wanted to date an older woman, as he was looking to settle down and start a family. As this was not for me, we had a five-week fling instead. This gave me great confidence but, as I continued to date, I understood what I really wanted was a companion.

When I first set up a profile, I did not mention that I have MS but, over time, I realized being upfront about my MS took the awkwardness out of telling someone in the long run. Plus, why hide my condition now, when I have never hidden it in the whole time since being diagnosed? If someone reads my profile and sees my MS as a problem, let's face it, they wouldn't be for me anyway. Since I have been upfront, I have had a lot more dates. If I have had to cancel because I was too tired, they already knew that, as a person with MS, this could happen. Some of my friends living with MS, like Kim and Erica, decided not to tell people they had MS until a second or third date. People do what works for them.

In conclusion, dating can be hard whether you have MS or not! I regularly take breaks from online dating for several reasons; sometimes my cognitive function is not the greatest, or my fingers become stiff, making typing difficult.

Just before I leave you to go pick out an outfit for tomorrow (I have a date with Mike - such a character and so good looking), here are a few dating tips from me to hopefully see you on your way: 

  • Have a clear idea of what you want from online dating 
  • Learn to read between the lines. If a person messaging you seems too good to be true, there is a chance that they are 
  • I always video call a person before I agree to meet them, as sometimes the pictures on their profile are not even of them 
  • If you decide to meet a person, always do so in a public place and always let a friend or family member know where you are going, what time you will be back and any other important information
  • Grow a thick skin. Not everyone you meet will be 'the one' and rejection is part of online dating. Bounce back and move on
  • As people with MS, we have enough to worry about, so try to schedule a date around when your energy levels are best. If you are a midday type of person like me, try coffee dates or lunch dates. If you are more of an evening person, schedule a drink or a dinner date
  • Choose an activity or place that works for you. Bowling can also be a fun activity. When my body co-operates, I find it can also be a great ice breaker. When my body doesn't cooperate, there are aids to help me at the bowling alley. People with walking aids and/or wheelchairs are accommodated, which takes the stress out of it.
  • If you are worried about dietary requirements (for example, I am dairy free), have a sneaky peek at the restaurant menu online before your date. I also tend to pick places where I know have accessible toilets and accommodate all my needs as a person living with MS.
  • Most importantly, have fun! 

When dating, it may come a time when you feel ready to become more intimate with your partner. It’s important to maintain a healthy sex life with MS. To find out more, read here.

Names have been changed to protect people's privacy. 

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