When it comes to dating, there are many rules. Let him call you first. Play hard to get. Ignore late night texts. Don’t give away the milk for free. The list goes on… But, when it comes to dating with MS, there are no real rules. I suppose you could say that all the same rules apply, and in some sense they do, but you’re also playing in a whole other league. At some point, you’re going to have to tell the person you’re seeing that you have multiple sclerosis and it’s not always the easiest thing to do. I know this first-hand.
When I was told I had multiple sclerosis, I was twenty-seven years old. My friends and I were in the throes of dating life. While we all talked about our relationships, no one could really relate to what I was going through, so I was left to my own devices. And my devices? Trial and error. My approach to dating with MS was the Goldilocks method. I had to find out what was too hot, too cold, too big, too small, before I could find the ‘just right.’
I remember chatting with a guy at a local bar. We hit it off and he asked me what I did. I told him I was a writer and he was curious what I was working on. At the time, I was still working on my memoir about living and dating with MS. Normally, I would just tell people I was writing a book and keep the diagnosis secret, but he pried and I decided to tell him it was about my MS. He was sympathetic and told me that his father had MS. Yes, HAD. Apparently, his father had had the disease, but somehow cured himself. I immediately thought we were a match made in heaven and that his dad would welcome me into the family with open arms and cure all my ails. An hour later when the guy kissed me, my heart fluttered with the hopes of the future. But then he pulled away and apologized. He had a girlfriend, he couldn’t take this further. He was too cold, too small, not right for me.
Then there was another man I dated. He had a sexy accent and made me feel like I was Carrie Bradshaw dating Mikhail Baryshnikov in Sex and the City. He came on heavy, made it seem that he could handle anything thrown at him. We’d been dating for a month when I told him about the MS. To him it was no big deal. But three weeks later, we had some differences and I realized I had to end our relationship. I did, and he was pissed. He sent me an irate text thanking me for ending the relationship because now he could go out and find a woman that was healthy who wouldn’t die before their kids grew older. He also wished me luck because no one would ever want to love me because I had MS. He came on too hot and he was too big for me to not get crushed by his words. I was devastated.
I took a break from dating and re-thought my ways. That’s when I met a new man. Our relationship progressed slowly, he treated me with respect. We laughed together and had fun. Then three months into dating we were out to dinner and I felt that it was time to tell him about the MS. He said okay, then I excused myself and went to the bathroom. My palms were sweaty with fear– what more would he say? Would he leave? But when I returned to the table he had his phone out. He was researching MS – looking up the latest news, trials, and advice. “We’ll get through this together,” he said. That’s when I knew he was and still is my ‘just right.’
As much as I wish I could tell you what to do, there is no tried and true way to date with MS, or any other disease for that matter, there is just your own way. You will go through the ups, the downs, the too colds, too hots, but when you find your just right it will all be worth it. I promise.
Do you have any dating with MS stories to share?
Cory Martin is the author of the award-winning memoir Love Sick which chronicles her dating journeys with MS. She is also the author of the best-selling Yoga for Beginners and has written for TV. Her work has appeared online with Psychology Today, XOJane, Everyday Health, and other outlets. You can find out more about Cory at corymartinwrites.com or follow her on Instagram @corymartinwrites.
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