I was recently diagnosed with chronic lyme disease. While it’s a relief to have an answer to the health problems I’ve been suffering….. brain fog, aching, mood disorders, memory problems, etc …. I am kind of afraid of dating. My symptoms can flare up where one day I’m fine and the next I need to rest. I’ve been chatting with a few women online and one wants to meet, and I’m afraid of blowing it if I need to cancel the date because my lyme is acting up. Yet realistically, I know I’ll be sick for a long time and I need to live a full life during recovery. I know the right woman will understand. So how do I get my head and heart on the same page?
Sorry for your health woes. Chronic Lyme is no joke, and I understand why you would be reluctant to date with a chronic illness.
I know it can feel scary to tell a stranger something serious about you, like that you have a chronic health condition. But I do think it will help you reduce your overall stress levels — something that’s also beneficial to your treatment.
Yes, there may be times when you need to change a plan because you aren’t feeling well. Yes, you may not be able to go for that hike that you would have loved to do pre-Lyme and it sucks to confront these limitations. Yes, the mood swings are real and they do suck and editing your feelings so you don’t offend a new boo is tiring.
That said, you will have to do all these things and more if you don’t tell your dates what is going on. So you can either keep your secrets and add to your stress or lighten the load and maybe get support in coping with your condition.
You know that any woman worth dating will be supportive. She may not understand what it feels like, but she won’t take a cancellation personally or be offended.
I’m always of the opinion it’s best to disclose things like this early, often, and more than once, which in your case would mean putting it in your online dating profile. Mention it in a message or, if you prefer, wait until you are face to face.
When you bring it up, don’t let the chronic illness define you. Tell her you’ve got chronic Lyme, but don’t spend half an hour talking about your symptoms. Don’t make excuses for why you can’t do whatever it is. Don’t complain about it — not because it’s not something you should gripe about but because you’re on a date and you want to present yourself in the best light and complaining about anything is often a turn-off on first dates.
Remember that your condition is treatable and you are in treatment. Yes, you have symptoms that suck. Yes, treatment is expensed and often not covered by insurance and a damn long road. But you can get past this. It will get better.
Being open and honest with the women you meet will help you separate out the good ones from the bad. Someone who can’t handle your needing to leave a date early cause you don’t feel well isn’t long-term relationship material. Someone who responds to your vulnerability with empathy, honesty, and acceptance of where you are right now is a keeper.
Above all, take your health on your schedule. If you think it might be best to delay dating for a few months so you can get a better handle on your symptoms, triggers, and flare-ups, there is nothing wrong with that.
Take it one day at a time, one date at a time. Center your needs, don’t beat yourself up for how you are feeling, and try to be in the present – even when the present is a pretty shitty place. How you get your mind and body on the same page is to honor your body’s needs and limitations and keep the mind in the now – not dwelling on your pre-Lyme life and not awfulizing about future scenarios.
Do you need Lindsey’s advice? Don’t be shy! Write to the editor: [email protected] with “Q for Lindsey” in the subject line.