Long Term Health Conditions & Love – Dating with Arthritis
Suffering from a long term health condition such as Arthritis make daily tasks more difficult and often tiresome. Other aspects of life can be affected too, such as dating and relationships for example.
Porscha Siouville, an Arthritis sufferer and awareness advocate has recently published a blog post on Huffpost that discusses their experiences with dating and how their long term health condition has impacted that. Their advice; If you have a long-term condition, is to be upfront about it.
Dating is often an inevitable part of our maturity. As we grow, we look to find partners to grow with. Whilst this doesn’t always have to be romantic, having a long term health condition can make dating and relationship building very difficult due to insecurity, uncertainty and often lacking the confidence to talk about your condition with your new friend or partner. Porscha admits that when they first started dating, they would avoid telling dates about their condition to avoid being accused of attention seeking, or to avoid having them worry that should they pursue a relationship in the future – they would become some sort of long term carer.
When Porscha was 19, they were diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis which had previously left them housebound and in too much pain to walk up the stairs. Porscha talks about some really interesting points with regards to their previous experiences whilst dating:
“Not too long ago I got into a relationship with a friend, who knew me when I got the diagnosis. He knew about my condition when we got together and was really understanding about it. Or so I thought. Eventually my condition started to take its toll on us. I’ve since read that two thirds of young people with arthritis have also said their condition put a strain on their relationship.”
“If I had a flare up, it would cause tension between us. It affected our social life because I couldn’t always go out, it also affected our sex life. When I was in a flare up even moving was too painful, so it put a real strain on us as a couple. I ended up feeling rejected and started to shut myself away, which ultimately lead to us deciding to end the relationship. That was really hard to deal with, and something which, alarmingly, 53% of young people with arthritis have also gone through in their relationship, according to the charity Versus Arthritis.”
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a long term health condition that can develop at any age, though this is more common in older people, as Porscha’s testimony suggests, this can happen at a young age too. According to the NHS website:
“Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. The symptoms usually affect the hands, feet and wrists. There may be periods where symptoms become worse, known as flare-ups or flares. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis also experience problems in other parts of the body, or more general symptoms such as tiredness and weight loss.”
For further advice, please take a look at the NHS website, or refer to Versus Arthritis, an independent charity that provides support and advice to people with Arthritis. If you have any concerns of your own, please contact your doctor or a health professional.
This doesn’t have to ruin your relationships!
The important thing to note here is that long term health conditions such as Arthritis do not have to ruin your relationships or your dating experience, as Porscha found. Porscha admits that it was difficult to get back out and get dating again, though she found that when she became more open about their condition and more willing to discuss it, positive things started to happen:
“My advice, if you have a long-term condition like me, is to be upfront about it. Allow people to ask as many questions as they need, so that they can understand what you’re going through. And be open about how it’s affecting you day to day. That way, the other person understands why you can’t do something, and you can make things better together.”
“Now, I’m dating someone new and she’s incredibly supportive. I was honest from the start about my condition and what that means for me, and it’s made things a lot easier. If we’re out and I’m in pain, it’s not an issue for us to go home early, or change our plans depending on my mood, and it’s ok with her. She’s always asking how I’m doing, and notices if I’m pushing myself too much.”
By being open, honest and transparent about your long term health condition, your future partner (or current partner) has the opportunity to be sensitive and understanding and most importantly, will be given the opportunity to learn more about your condition and what you need to do to cope with it. Don’t shy away, by being confident, your love life does not have to be impacted by your health!