A Lid for Every Pot: Dating with Cystic Fibrosis
Last updated: February 2023
Navigating the dating scene is hard. It was hard when our parents dated and when their parents dated. And it is still hard today. Now add in cystic fibrosis (CF)? Well, now things are even more complicated.
There are an immense amount of people in America who live with at least one chronic illness. And sadly, the stigma around being chronically ill can make dating even more challenging. Figuring out how to date when you have a chronic illness can feel overwhelming. But it isn’t impossible. In this short series, I will be talking about dating when you have CF.
Part of dating when you have CF is figuring out how to balance information. What does this mean? You naturally share information as you date people and you want to be honest. But being honest doesn’t involve divulging all your health all at once.
In a previous article I wrote about setting boundaries for your health. Boundaries can look different for each person. And they are different for each circumstance. For example, a boundary you would have on a date is not the same boundary you would have for you best friend.
When setting boundaries while dating it is important to remember why boundaries exist. Boundaries can help relationships thrive. They can help people gain perspective. And they can help people manage expectations.
This is applicable in dating. When choosing to go on a date with someone determine which boundaries you are comfortable with. For example, one person may have the boundary of being more private about CF on their first date. While another person may tell their date all about it and be open to questions.
A good filter
One thing about living with CF has taught me is that it is a good filter. What does that mean? When I think of a filter, I always think of a water filter. It is there to filter out the particles or minerals that aren’t healthy for you. I applied this way of thinking to dating with CF.
For example, a few years before I met my husband, I was on first a date with someone new. And with that first date, all the usual jitters were there. As I got ready, I made the decision that I would tell him that I had CF on the first date. It was important to me that he know from the start, but I wanted the topic to come up organically.
At some point in our conversation, we began talking about illnesses. I don’t know how it came up, but it did so I asked him if he had ever heard about CF. To put it simply, his response was honest, which I appreciate. But it lacked respect. From that moment in the date, I knew we weren’t going to go on a second date.
I hadn’t revealed to him that I had CF like I had planned to do. But his response to my question ended up filtering him. Without investing too much of each other’s time, I knew we were not a good match. That is how I ended up viewing CF as a filter in the dating scene.
It is okay to say no
My dating experiences were not worse because of having CF. But they were different. Dating with CF meant that some dates were good dates. A good date after mentioning I had CF looked like conversations about healthcare, accessibility, and what life looks like for me. It looked like honesty and mutual respect. And then there were some not so good dates. But those dates taught me a lot.
It taught me that people are allowed to not want to date someone who has a chronic illness. That is their right. Not only is it their right to say, “No,” but it is also mine.
I was allowed to say, “No,” to someone who didn’t respect how vigilant I must be with my health. And if they didn’t take CF seriously? Well, I was allowed to say, “No,” to them, too. This applies to you, too. When dating, you do not have to stay with someone because they tolerate CF. You are allowed to walk away. Their response to CF is just as important as when you are telling them you have CF.
Dating can be hard. And dating with CF can feel like you are in a storm. Figuring out which way is up and which way is down. Remember that setting boundaries is good for dating. Decide what you are comfortable with and recall that you are allowed to say, “No.” Most importantly, know that you are more than your diagnosis and that you want someone who will not tolerate your illness, but will embrace it, support you, and stand along side you as you live with CF.
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