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How and when do I tell someone about my chronic illness?


Traveler27

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Complicated situation. I'm getting involved with a new guy after a long term relationship ended 8 months ago. I have a chronic health condition (not contagious & not life threatening) and I am not sure when to share this information with my new potential partner. I am so afraid of being rejected based upon the fact that I am not in "perfect" health, yet I don't want to be deceitful and withhold this very important part of my life.

 

I think I really like this guy, and am hoping for a possible relationship to develop, but I don't want to scare him off by disclosing my health problems too early. How do you know when it's a good time to have such a discussion? Would other people be turned off from dating someone with a chronic health condition? I don't want to overwhelm this new guy with my personal baggage and am afraid of being rejected. Everything else is going great.

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I'm currently seeing someone who has a chronic health condition. She informed me immediately, and I've since been reading up a bit on it and discussed it with her a few times.

 

I feel that honesty was key here in the fact that she told me outright, and now I know what I'm getting into as I continue to see her, rather than be blindsided several dates/months down the line.

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I would tell him at the time when it would start affecting the relationship or when health comes up as a discussion topic whichever comes first.

 

The thing is, the topic actually already came up during one of our dates (we've been on about 5 or 6) and I quickly changed the subject. He obviously knows I am suffering from some kind of health complication, but I just didn't have the guts to reveal my situation at that point. At the time, I also didn't know if there was potential for us to see each other again in the future, so I figured why bother delving into such complicated matters if it turns out to be just a fling.

 

Now, however, things are moving at an accelerated pace to say the least, and I feel I should probably confide in him at some point. It's just that I have a very rare condition that not many people have heard of, so it's always a challenge trying to explain it to people without startling them and whatnot.

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The thing is, the topic actually already came up during one of our dates (we've been on about 5 or 6) and I quickly changed the subject. He obviously knows I am suffering from some kind of health complication, but I just didn't have the guts to reveal my situation at that point. At the time, I also didn't know if there was potential for us to see each other again in the future, so I figured why bother delving into such complicated matters if it turns out to be just a fling.

 

Now, however, things are moving at an accelerated pace to say the least, and I feel I should probably confide in him at some point. It's just that I have a very rare condition that not many people have heard of, so it's always a challenge trying to explain it to people without startling them and whatnot.

 

No time like the present. Take a deep breath and just spit it out. It doesn't have to be eloquent and it should include an apology and an explanation why you didn't tell him sooner. It's part of who you are and if the relationship ends as a result then it wasn't meant to be.

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Boy, do I want to see how this thread develops, because I am in the exact same predicament, minus the having someone right now I'm dating.

 

I have had an invisible condition as well for many years, and now am single again, which brings me back to square one with the very fears that you have. Particularly the being turned off part. I see lots of gals who seem to be able to offer as much as I can, only they are healthy, and so once again I am in this fear of the dating market again. You'd have thought by now it'd be easier, being more comfortable with my body and having had a few relationships even with the condition, but it never seems to get any easier once I'm back out and single. It's really warped my motivation to get out there and seek someone, stick my neck out...

 

How did you break the news to the guy in your last long term relationship? Or did you have the condition then?

 

What I've found is that if you build the courtship up in other ways so that the guy is interested in you and cares about your wellbeing, and you've become FRIENDS who can talk about your imperfections and flaws and idiosyncrasies, then it's much easier to transition into telling them that this is one of the things you deal with. I've found that sometimes I think worse of myself for the condition than others do -- we can be our worst, harshest judges. Feeling compromised is part and parcel of having a chronic condition, and I by no means have this mastered...how not to compare myself negatively to other women. I think it's good to wait a little while to let the interest build, so that it's woven into the way he sees you in your stronger light. Let him see the parts that attract him first, and then when you break the news, do so with a down-to-earth demeanor that isn't too casual, but also not as though this is a dirty secret that's so serious. Say it as though it is just a fact of life you deal with.

 

The fear of putting myself out there and rejection is great though, and I will be interested in other posts.

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The thing is, the topic actually already came up during one of our dates (we've been on about 5 or 6) and I quickly changed the subject. He obviously knows I am suffering from some kind of health complication, but I just didn't have the guts to reveal my situation at that point. At the time, I also didn't know if there was potential for us to see each other again in the future, so I figured why bother delving into such complicated matters if it turns out to be just a fling.

 

Now, however, things are moving at an accelerated pace to say the least, and I feel I should probably confide in him at some point. It's just that I have a very rare condition that not many people have heard of, so it's always a challenge trying to explain it to people without startling them and whatnot.

 

A health condition is not something you must disclose after a date or two, but you've been on 5 or 6 & it since it seems that you two will continue seeing each other, now or anytime in the near future is not too soon. He might surprise you with how understanding he might be & you might be relieved to see how well he reacts. And if not, at least you know now & not after investing a lot of time. But I don't think he would react like that.

 

You've got me curious as to what this condition is!!

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He obviously knows I am suffering from some kind of health complication

 

Usually, when it becomes apparent that I'm dealing with some health problem, and I can't cover it up, I know it's time to break the news. It's dancing around the inevitable. But I totally relate to your experience!

 

Interesting, how posts so far are in the direction of stating it up front right at the beginning. That's kind of encouraging. True, that the older I get the faster I've come around to mention it because I hate beating around the bush...

 

Though how do you blurt it out when it takes trust to, and you don't have trust automatically at the beginning?

 

By 5-6 dates though, yeah, it's past just the very beginning of meeting them.

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I also have chronic health problems...and struggled with the same thing...I alluded to it near the beginning and now 6 months in he knows the full extent of it and is mostly patient with me...

best wishes and luck to you...

the thing to keep in mind is what's best for you...is it hurting you not telling him? would you want to be with someone who can't accept all of you? Do what is best for you and if he is as good as you think he is right now hopefully he will stay around...

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I hope some posters will weigh in on this one...

 

??

 

I haven't been turned off at all. Her condition doesn't necessarily affect her sexually, but could lead to some very difficult times later in life (Again, non sexually).

 

Knowing this hasn't made me think any less of her. In fact, I hold her in higher regard for being up front with me and "telling it like it is" instead of beating around the bush and letting me believe one thing while another is reality.

 

Today was our second date. I have to say that I really liked holding her hand and the kiss... well, lets just say that when I left, I couldn't wait to see her again.

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I haven't been turned off at all. Her condition doesn't necessarily affect her sexually, but could lead to some very difficult times later in life (Again, non sexually).

 

What if it did affect her sexually (even if it wasn't contagious and she liked sex.) For instance, limited ability to be limber, or pain, or times when she was too tired, etc.? (I know this is not your situation, but since you are kind enough to post further, and mentioned sexuality, I'm wondering now.)

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I don't think I'd mention it before the 4th date. I think first dates should be kept light and fun, and it's not a subject that goes hand in hand with that attitude.

You can at least get to know the person for a few dates before sharing personal information about you in that sense. I think anywhere between 4-6th date is probably best, so the person can really judge whether they can "handle" it or not. If they haven't even noticed it, probably not that big of a deal?

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What if it did affect her sexually (even if it wasn't contagious and she liked sex.) For instance, limited ability to be limber, or pain, or times when she was too tired, etc.? (I know this is not your situation, but since you are kind enough to post further, and mentioned sexuality, I'm wondering now.)

 

I'm a firm believer in sexuality and expressing it. If her condition did limit her in ways but she was still expressive of her feelings and sexuality in other ways, I'd be fine with it.

 

However, if she was limited in ways and chose to repress herself and NOT express feelings or sexuality even when being able to in other ways... I would not be OK with that. I am a very sexual person (what 21 year old guy isn't, right?) and I don't believe in repression/oppression.

 

Now, going further, and hypothesizing that her condition limited her sexually to the point of being completely unable to have sex or express herself sexually in any way... well, that would be tough, honestly. If she and I clicked very well and I was just happy being with her, I'd have no qualms. If I found myself in a situation where sex just wasn't possible and it was impossible to find myself happy in that situation, I'd break it off and find myself a better situation.

 

The way that written sounds completely horrible, I know. But we live life but once, and I want to live mine to the fullest. (Family, house, career, etc.) I understand that things can change, or circumstances will place us outside of situations we once found ideal, but now find more than 'acceptable', and that's why I said that if I just was completely happy with that person, I could be OK without sex.

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I don't think your post was mean at all. It is upfront and honest. I think it's also better to give the other person a relationship where the partner is fully satisfied and not grudging the hindrance the condition causes. This way the, the person can find a new partner and they both can be satisfied =)

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I have chronic asthma and I take meds for it. Sometimes my asthma will act up and I will have to use an inhaler. So, it is usually pretty quickly that an potential SO will find out. My first ex, the day after our first date, I went into the hospital for asthmatic complications and our mutual friends told him and he came to visit me in the hospital. Turns out, he had a mild form of asthma so he understood. My last ex was a smoker and I had to tell him rather quickly so he wouldn't smoke around me.

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I don't think I would be turned off if someone has diabetes, asthma, etc. That is nothing people can control. I have heard diabetes can effect men sexually from friends, so i guess that would be an obstacle to think about... but if the guy was a great person... why should i hold something against him that he never had a chance to control? thats just kinda shallow.

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A good post, thank you. I don't think anything you said sounds "horrible", to the contrary. I think you sound very flexible. I already rep'd you so I can't again.

 

I don't think your post was mean at all. It is upfront and honest. I think it's also better to give the other person a relationship where the partner is fully satisfied and not grudging the hindrance the condition causes. This way the, the person can find a new partner and they both can be satisfied =)

 

Thank you both for your kind words. I felt kind of bad for writing them, but I realized after reading your posts that it's not a bad thing to look after me first when not in something long-term (and occasionally, even in a long term relationship).

 

And thank you TOV for the rep =)

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Thanks everyone for all of your interesting replies. It seems that most people feel it is something that should be disclosed fairly quickly, however, I am approaching this subject very cautiously with this new guy. As I mentioned, he is already aware that something is wrong, but he doesn't know the extent to which my illness effects my life.

 

I want to see if he actually cares about me, and if there is potential for this to become a real relationship before I go through the difficulties of explaining my condition. It's not like having asthma or diabetes where everyone has heard of these illness' and is familiar with how they would effect someone. I have a very rare neurological condition (when I tell people what it is they look at me like I'm crazy), so it makes things a LOT more complicated when I actually have to tell someone what it is and how it effects me. For the most part, I do not display any visible symptoms (or I've just gotten very good at concealing/controlling it). It's so hard!!

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I agree with the other people...maybe he will be ok with it, it's better to do it now and not later and him asking why did you not say anything before...If it's not life threatning and not contagious then Im sure he will be ok...if you don't try you will never know...Im curious as to how you told your last bf and how did he take it?

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I think a lack of full disclosure about certain things is NEVER a good policy.

 

I think there are some things you HAVE to be honest and up front about from the get-go. These are the issues that would affect someone's immediate decision to be with you. A child, marital status, health issues, employment situation...all these things require honesty from the BEGINNING.

 

I'd be really pissed if someone kept something like this from me.

 

It's not for YOU to decide when and if I should know critical details. I don't need a potential partner making the call FOR me, and filtering information to me.

 

Honestly, even if they revealed something that I was pretty nonplussed about (say, you have Crone's Disease or something), I would want to be shown the respect of making my OWN choice about whether I want to be with you or not, rather than you trying to suck me in first, and then hitting me with a big reveal.

 

It would make me fear what else you would lie about and keep from me down the road, and I would dump the guy SOLELY for omitting facts and NOT necessarily for the fact itself.

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I agree with the other people...maybe he will be ok with it, it's better to do it now and not later and him asking why did you not say anything before...If it's not life threatning and not contagious then Im sure he will be ok...if you don't try you will never know...Im curious as to how you told your last bf and how did he take it?

 

Well, my last boyfriend and I were close friends before we started seeing each other romantically, so he already knew about my condition and was fully supportive.

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