Whether you view dating as an enticing, fun experience or there’s nothing more you’d rather run and hide from, diabetes may be one extra thing to consider (and it’s important that you do)! As a young adult who has lived with type one her whole life, albeit minus 4 years, there are many questions I ask myself when it comes to dating:
- When/How do I tell them about my diabetes?
- What if there’s an emergency and they don’t know I have diabetes?
- Will they be scared of needles/blood?
- What happens if they decide diabetes is a huge turn off?
Let me take some of your concerns off the back-burner and tell you what I’ve learned thus far in life.
What is important?
- Honesty – Your main concern should be your own personal safety. I find honesty is the best policy, the sooner you tell your partner you have diabetes, the elephant in the room disappears. Eights times out of ten you’ll find diabetes makes absolutely no difference to how that person feels about you. If I’m honest, talking about diabetes is a good way to see if it’s a deterrent for your partner, and whether they really care about you. I often have to explain diabetes on the first date as I hypo due to adrenaline, hormones and all that fun stuff. I have a diabetes tattoo which means ‘I am greater than my highs and lows’ this allows me to gently ‘confess’, if you will.
- Know Your Limits – This goes for both the PWD and their partner. As a T1D, it’s important to remember that every day up to this point has been off your back, and you’re the one with diabetes. However much your partner can help you, nothing can take that responsibility away from you. If you find yourself dating a PWD, it’s important they’re aware of your limits. If the details about cannula changes, injection bruises and eye screenings is too much for you, tell them! They won’t be offended, and trust me, if we had a choice in the daily details about diabetes we wouldn’t want to hear them either!
- Trust & Distance – I believe trust is a huge element in any relationship I’ve had. I need my partner to trust if I cancel plans or am moody due to my fluctuating blood glucose levels, and not because I can’t be bothered or not interested. With high BGs, I need distance and think it’s important your partner knows what’s going on.
- Be Safe – You might not want to burden your partner with your diabetes, and that’s fine too, but you need to be sure you’re safe. Ensuring your other half knows what to do in an emergency is essential. They need to understand how to treat a hypo and/or call an ambulance should you not be responsive. It may be worthwhile to explain the symptoms of low and high BG levels because they may be able to help detect them. My #1 tip = Leave hypo goodies in the nightstand, so neither of you have to worry.
Here is what people have said about dating a person with type one diabetes.
“It was hard being in a relationship with a T1D because when their sugars were not behaving, there was nothing I could do, and that really bothered me..”
“I worry about my T1 partner, especially when they drink alcohol. I think good communication is important. Ensuring the partner takes time to learn about certain aspects of diabetes.”
“It’s challenging. You are constantly needing to keep an eye for any obvious signs that your partner is too high/low. Also the worry if they are going to hypo overnight.”
“It’s a life changing experience, it’s opened my eyes to what diabetes really is – I feel like I’m behind the scenes! I go through every night time hypo and hyper with them and experience their exhaustion, frustration and hard work that goes with it. Their diabetes is my diabetes.”