Just because our bodies may not behave the same way or do as we would like them to do does not mean that we don’t still have a heart and feelings. Far from it. We use and value them a lot more. My change in my health meant that my hubby and I had to look very closely at our relationship and the way we show and express love for each other. Some things have most definitely changed for the better and somethings have been made quite difficult and challenging. Trust and Respect are the pillars on which our new life has been made possible and I cant imagine it would be any different for someone who finds themselves single and looking for a partner.
I read a lot of posts from people who are single and having difficulty looking for love, this makes me ache with empathy and has also made me ask some very real questions. Is it any harder to find a loving, caring partner if you have a chronic illness or autoimmune disease? If I were single tomorrow how would I handle this question?
First of all, I remember it wasn’t easy finding a good ‘match’ when I was healthy. It didn’t just fall in my lap and so if I was to face the prospect again I don’t think I would go in with expectation that it is ‘easy’ but I would also not think its impossible because I was ill. We underestimate ourselves when we sell ourselves short. I am still a LOT of good things AS WELL as having a chronic illness. You have to believe in the product don’t you? I don’t think I deserve anything less just because I come with a health condition. Many other people have ‘baggage’ so I am pretty sure that a if I had to look for a partner I would want to find someone mature enough to understand that life is not perfect and people are more than the exterior. It might take a emotionally mature person to recognize all this but I don’t believe I would want anything less. My illness has matured me A LOT so I would also want that in a partner.
My health has also opened my eyes to finding that friends and connections come in many different places and packages. Looks are deceiving! I would probably want to keep an open mind to where I would look for a partner. Online dating? Maybe. Fellow fighters? Maybe. Someone with a history of empathy and selflessness? Possibly. Put simply… I spent years reading and researching my Autoimmune illness and trying every possible ‘get cured’ diet and medicine under the sun, I left no stone unturned…so why wouldn’t I put that energy and commitment into finding someone to share my life with; especially when I value my time and energy so much more.
Years ago I based a lot of my own self worth on who I could find as a partner, now I think I would start with the opposite view. I know what I have to offer and I would want those things acknowledged. I know what I value in others. I would look for those things still. My current husband has wonderful qualities that I admire and that have nothing to do with my illness, but I probably appreciate more since my illness, and I think those things are important if I had to start again.
These days we tend to ‘label and stereotype’ men and relationships but I think we don’t help our cause. If we think that ALL men are shallow and only looking for one thing, then we wont really be giving them a chance. If we expect the worse then we tend to always find facts to back our beliefs. The men I have met since getting sick have been some of the most sincere and ‘real’ men and there are some wonderful men out there looking for respect, honesty and love just like anyone else. I don’t expect every man will be lining up for me, but I would like to assume that it wont be because I am sick. There are many reasons people don’t connect as a couple. There were many reasons my previous relationships didn’t last when I was healthier. I would try to remember this if it took longer to meet someone right for my current circumstances.
Because my challenges are very real I would be very clear about how much honesty and respect is to me. If it is important to someone else then I hope they would treasure that about me too. If it meant waiting for the right person, I would have to wait and trust that after all I have been through and all that I have fought for, someone would treasure my spirit and character as much as I do. It may seem like this is easy to say because I am married, but I did offer my husband the opportunity to leave when I got sick and I DID face all of this, and I am well aware that there are no guarantees in this life so I didn’t write this lightheartedly or unrealistically.
My ‘list’ of requirements I had has changed. I don’t need a long list of things anymore, just a handful of essentials. Looks don’t matter. Money doesn’t matter. Age doesn’t matter… Character matters the most now. I am also much more open minded about how I define a relationship and how it has to ‘look’. It isn’t important to me how it ‘looks’ anymore but how it feels to the parties involved. At a certain place in my life I realized I can write my own rules and still have a healthy relationship, as long as it suits me and my partner and meets our needs then it is OK. I think I would take this into a prospective relationship and focus on how it felt, not what it looked like to everyone else. Very few peoples opinion matters to me now; you find out what is important when you live with a health condition.
I think that while there are many hurdles to being ill and dating, the biggest battle would be to remember what I am truly worth. Remembering to respect myself and don’t sell myself short because I got ill. Remaining open minded. Believing in myself will always be the biggest challenge, sick or well, but as my mother once said…”You don’t have to believe in a god, you don’t have to believe in Santa, you don’t have to believe in miracles. You don’t even have to believe in what I tell you… But in this life, if you want to survive, you DO have to believe in yourself!”
I have learnt a lot about believing in myself since then, and I still believe in love. It is the reason I am here today.