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From Abby: Scared.

No intro needed on this one.  Abby shares her thoughts on diabetes, dating, and disclosure.

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This weekend as I was working through some of Kerri's "Generation D" columns on dLife, and reading a few here and there while watching a Whitney Houston Marathon on Lifetime (judge me all you want, folks), there was one post that literally made me stop what I was doing and say, "Hmph, I think it's time I talked about this."

I am so afraid of being silently discriminated against because I have diabetes. So afraid, and I don't talk about it with anyone.

Luckily the field of work that I've chosen saw my dead beta cells as a resume booster, and my family is full of medical professionals, so they accept me. I also have some really great best friends (one of whom also has type 1 diabetes) who embrace the awkwardness of my pump tubing and the test strip trail. But boyfriends? This is where my anxiety lies.

I don't really feel comfortable talking about my dating life online - just not at that point in internet comfort yet. But I think there's an aspect of it that needs to be talked about more ... namely, that fear that I will meet someone and when they find out my body is dysfunctional, they will delete my phone number.

If you don't have diabetes, or a some chronic illness, you might think this sounds crazy. Heck, even if you DO have a dead organ, you might think this is ridiculous. However, I think it's fair to say, that there are a lot of us out here living in the dating world who are scared to death that Prince or Princess Charming will have a phobia of needles.

As strong as I am in other areas of my life, I will never feel 100% confident with anything that I do because diabetes looms in the back of my mind. Diabetes effects everything that I do, everywhere I go, and everyone I encounter. This can be extremely intimidating, and I'm not sure I could blame a guy for running at mach 3 in the opposite direction of my glucose tabs. That is what scares the c-peptide out of me.

I know that I should just tell myself that "The One" will accept my diabetes and probably be like, an Endocrine Fellow or something. I know that diabetes probably isn't as scary to the general population as it is to me. I'm fully aware that this fear is partially ridiculous.

But for right now, I'm scared.

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My relationships in the past (and my marriage now) haven't ever been perfect, but diabetes wasn't ever an issue in finding love or being loved.  (I actually just submitted a vlog post to Animas about this topic - coming soon on their site.) But it can be an intimidating thing, bringing diabetes into relationships. It can impact sex and what you're comfortable sharing may vary depending on how you're viewing your health on a day-to-day basis. I've been where Abby is, and I know so many of us have been wary of how our health may impact our relationships. Any words of advice are welcome.

Comments

Oh Abby, I hear you. I used to be so afraid of that too. Oh my goodness, yes. I was terrified I would never find anyone because of my diabetes.

But if someone truly cares about you, then diabetes in and of itself will not make them run away. Like Kerri said, no relationship is perfect. But I know that when my husband looks at me, he sees all of me, which is so much more than diabetes.

You are a beautiful person, Abby, and worth loving just as you are.

Definitely understand that one. Damn diabetes seeps into everywhere. Having been single for far too long I end up thinking too much about it.
Nothing is ever perfect. Diabetes proves that so much. I just hate that it even gets into that aspect of life.

There are many a prince charming that are afraid if needles or blood, but if they're actually charming, they get over it for an awesome woman.

Abby, I'm so with you - I was really worried after I separated from my ex-husband that no one would want to date this broken-down body.

But I met somebody who doesn't care. He loves my body - and he's super-supportive of me. He's taking time to understand my needs, and he's a great ally in my continual quest to be as healthy as I can be in spite of illness.

Great partners for us sick chicks ARE out there! Anyone who can't handle it can buzz off. ;)

hugs hugs! xo jenni

Abby, I think this is totally a legit fear that a lot of people with D have. When I was diagnosed, I had just started seeing this really great guy, but we were nowhere near exclusive. In fact, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to work out. Then I got my dx and was positive he would be gone. I kept thinking, why would he want to stick around and deal with this, especially since he's not really invested and we aren't a couple or anything.

I'm happy to say that 6 months later, we are still together, officially a couple, and he just attended a JDRF Research Summit with me. He's involved in my D life and always interested in learning more.

Point is, you will definitely meet someone who will accept you, broken pancreas and all, for you. It will be when you are least expecting it and will surprise the insulin out of you!! Just stay positive!

xoxo

Unfortunately I have had experiences that you fear. A guy I dated for several years couldn't move forward because his family (and probably himself too) felt diabetes was a liability. The irony was that I was living a far healthier life than he was. We broke up and the next guy I dated seriously has been totally supportive since day 1. The diabetes issue just brought up something that we may not have discovered until much farther down the road...my partner's willingness to stick by me in sickness and in health. Who's to say his next girlfriend isn't diagnosed with t1 d the year they get married?

I married the next guy and am now so grateful for many reasons that the other relationship didn't work out.

I'm on the "other side" of this picture. My then-boyfriend now-husband's diabetes was and is just a part of him. I love all of him, completely and totally.

You will find the right person, and that person will love you. All of you.

been there, and it is scary. I completely know what you mean when you say you will never feel 100% confident because diabetes looms in the back of your mind. It's so true, even though it sounds awful.

i'm married, so it would be really easy for me to say "oh, don't worry, anyone who's worth marrying won't care about your diabetes," but that's probably not helpful and it also wasn't that simple.

I can just share what my experience was, which is that it took a LONG time for me to be fully, completely honest about diabetes with my now-husband. Personally, the "have it all out at the beginning" approach didn't really make sense to me - it seemed unfair to try to present the full picture of exactly what diabetes might mean for our life when we were only just starting to get to know each other.

So at the beginning I let him know that I had diabetes and had certain things I needed to do, and we took it from there. Over time as the relationship got more serious, so did conversations about diabetes, but by then at least we were better able to understand how diabetes would fit in our lives and what it might mean. I was (am) very lucky that he has always been supportive, even though he doesn't always understand everything.

I think it's important to keep in mind that it is also your job to make sure your partner understands what they need to understand - it's just not intuitive for someone without diabetes, even if they care more than anyone else in the world, and nobody can be a mind reader. I actually like it when my husband asks questions about diabetes, but I had to tell him that, as he used to assume that I never wanted to talk about it. I guess what I'm saying is that it's a work in progress, as is dealing with any other long term difficult issue in a relationship.

As far as being at the beginning of a relationship and worrying that someone will run in the other direction when they find out you have diabetes, I'd spend some time thinking about how you will approach the subject, and then try it and see how it works. You can always adjust your approach. While I think there is some truth to the idea that anyone worth staying with would at least give you a chance, there's probably some ways of introducing the subject and talking about it that are less scary to someone completely new to diabetes than others.

Maybe talk to some of your non-diabetic friends that you truest and ask how they think they'd react to certain information?

I have learned thru experience, that if they have issues with your diabetes, then that person is not the right person for you. My boyfriend of 3 years recently broke up with me because he resented my diabetes, and he didn't like the person he had become because of it. Well, sorry my chronic disease is such an inconvenience for him! LOL!
Now, I feel so much happier because I am not hiding my issues (such as low symptoms, or faking energy when all i really wanna do is sleep bc of a high). I have been dating, and I have not met one single person who has a problem with it.
Look at it this way - you can use diabetes to weed out the jerks :P

My husband (of course) and anyone I've ever dated have never had a problem with my diabetes. It's along for the ride. People get a kick out of dating a cyborg--well, maybe not everyone but I do love the nerds.

It can be a difficult negotiation in a relationship to determine what a partner can do to be helpful versus what a partner can do that feels intrusive. You will most likely have a lot of conversations about this. Don't expect attitudes on this to stay the same over time, either.

The person you choose as a partner for a lifetime should love you just the way you are (just like Billy Joel says). I mean, hey, everyone has their faults and their own difficulties. My husband and I get cranky at each other all the time, and that would happen regardless of diabetes.

All long-term relationships are gonna take some work. I think the best thing to look for is just the person who is best for you, the person you actually want to spend the rest of your life with. If someone loves you enough, they will understand that your diabetes is here to stay.

Abby, look at it this way. Diabetes will help you figure out of the one you think is "the one" is genuine.

A little over ten years ago, I was dating a particular girl. Twice, while I was at her place, I had a severe hypoglycemic reaction overnight -- the kind that triggers a 911 call and an ambulance ride to the hospital -- and both times she helped me through it. And both times, she stuck with me afterwards - though genuinely concerned and scared that it could happen again. (No, weren't living "in sin", but she lived in New York and I in Philadelphia, so our time together was limited to weekends when neither was stuck in traffic).

Her response made me know that she was OK and on-board with this part of my life. We got married in 2004 and have been living happily (mostly!) ever since.

The point is that diabetes can be a great test to see if the person you're dating is suited to be a life-partner. (It also forces the parents to meet each other, as ours did while I was lying in the hospital bed!)

I completely understand.

About six years ago, I felt this way. But now I'm married, with a 3 month old baby.

Your last paragraph really gets it right though. Honestly, if someone can't accept diabetes, they are not accepting the whole of you, and they're not worthy of your love. For this reason I always found it easier to disclose from the outset. If they did run a mile, at least I'd saved myself the hurt, and the time spent with someone who didn't deserve me.

I think it's totally normal to feel exactly this way. It may be too much for some people. But for the right person- the one you're meant to end up with- this won't matter at all.
I've been living with my fiance for the past nine months- we're getting married in June- and sometimes I'm still afraid that the drama and crazy and highs and lows and concern for future childbearing and length of life associated with diabetes might eventually be too much. But then he does something so sweet- like go get sprite zero when I'm high and cranky... or push the plunger on the dexcom when I'm feeling anxious about it. The right person is going to love you so much- every part of you. The right person won't be scared off. And that's the only person that matters :)

I understand your fear and remember it personally. I feared that I would never be good enough and no one would ever really love me once they knew my body was broken, but we all have issues and I was blessed to marry a man that really does love me. In fact, the broken pancreas thing kind of helps us get along well. He has a diagnosis from his childhood that made his parents think he needs a special woman, just like my parents were thinking she needs a special man. Also, some of his family has low blood sugar. Guess what, we PWDs can spot it and always have stuff on hand for that type of situation. It is definitely never perfect, but we accept each other as we are and it works. He is my biggest supporter in making everything possible and enjoying life.
When it comes time to share it with someone you will know how and it won't be sooo bad. If you end up having a low while out with someone who doesn't know all the details you will get a really good idea of if they really like you or not. I am not saying go low on purpose, but if it happens by mistake and the guy treats you right and does everything to make you safe and feel better you may have a winner.
Good luck and enjoy this time.

Your diabetes isn't who you are. Its just one of many things about you. While some guy might think your needles are gross, you might think the way he talks with food in his mouth is gross...but you may like him all the same.

Its what Dan Savage calls The Price of Admission...and its true:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ObrFwjesno

I hear you to! It can be frustrating but one of my d-gal friends and I actually used the question, "How does he respond to diabetes" as a determing factor in our decision as to whether or not one of us wanted to continue dating HIM! I'd go out on a date and then call her afterward with a full report including: reaction - scared? interested/asked a lot of good questions? didn't really care? Or if it continued on enough to go over to his house did he buy juice/sweets to treat lows, does he offer to go get me the juice instead of just telling me that he *might* have something in the fridge and I should go try to find something.
So use the diabetes card to your advantage to see whether a guy is good enough to date you!

Or you know, Prince Charming might have a defective pancreas too (that's my case haha!)

Oh Abby. I understand the anxiety. This actually happened to me! I am old now (59) but when I was in my late 20's I worked in a research lab in S. California. A young MD there took an interest, asked me out. AT dinner I mentioned my D... On the way home he said,"Well, Darwinianly speaking, I don't want a genetically inferior mother for my children, but if you want to have protected sex I'm game." Lucky me! I win the prize! A night under the world's biggest dick.

Right? Trust me, if D is an issue, he ain't your guy we can I pity the poor woman who did marry that jerk.

Well, if he deletes your phone number after finding out about Diabetes then truly he's not Prince Charming.

This is a real concern... I'm in my 30's, and single Mostly becasuse of my Type I. Women seem to date & love me, but when I tell them about my "D" - I can see the light in their eyes diminish for me in seconds, and they leave me. One recent woman told me that she could not be with me becsue her "Parents Would NOT Approve Me as a Diabetic." She could not Marry me. Then there was, "M" - She was a also a type I. We had a bond over Diabetes- the big D. We started dating and there was a great connection... we saw each other for almost a year... we went out had a few drinks, and I had a 911 low. This freaked her out. She told me that she does "NOT STRUGGLE with this Disease!" M told me that she could not be with me because "She is an Expensive Chick with her Diabetes, and my Diabetes would be too much money together" and she told me that we would not be able to make it! Can you believe it! I told her that as long as we Loved and Cared for each other Money was not a factor in terms of Marriage. This is a lesson I learned myself from a previous relationship, and I told M that she was making a mistake... She looked at Diabetes in terms of $$$MONEY$$$ - and she JUDGED ME over it, and left me!! WTF!!??!! My current GF also does not like my Diabetes for a multitude of clinical reasons... I am upset with women in general and how they all seem to let me down over having diabetes in the dating world... yeah, I'm irked at the level of non-humanistic love, understanding, and compassion from woman in my life! Oh, except my MOM - She is LOVING and Great!! Go MOM!!

If anything, my boyfriend has made my diabetes SO much better. My sister, also a type 1 diabetic says the exact same thing. It's not that I feel embarrassed that I have a dead organ, it's all the annoying scar tissue and scabs and scars from the 9 years of pump sites and injections that makes me self conscious. My boyfriend and I joke about my diabetes all the time which I think helps break the tension, he even has shirts with diabtetic sayings on them. One of them saying "I love my hot diabetic girl" which I laugh at all the time. Abby- no matter if you have diabetes or not, someone should love you for you and your dead useless organ. The way I see it, is because we live with a dead useless organ everyday and have to take on everything that deals with that makes us that much more special an unquie. He should love you and your diabetes.

When I first met my husband, I did not have diabetes. I was diagnosed about 9 months into our relationship. He had previously dated a girl with type 1 and she had a pump. But she was not well controlled and they ended up in the hospital more times than he can count. My MIL and the rest of his family had a lot of misconstrued beliefs about diabetes. Like the pump was a terrible device and would make me sicker. In time, they realized that I know what I am doing and I am healthy and doing what I need to do to remain healthy. Did we have our bumps along the way? of course! Like the first night when I struggled with giving myself a shot of Lantus and hubby (bf at the time) told me I was in the way of his view of the TV. HE was used to shots because of his ex. I was brand spanking new to it and it took some ironing out. Luckily we can laugh about it now.

Hey Abby,
My bf is a total needle phobic, but he's taken my diabetes in stride for almost two years now. He's been really supportive of me and does his best to learn what different numbers mean and grasps it pretty well. I'm looking forward to throwing him a curve ball by changing pumps in the near future (damn you Deltec). I think you'll find someone wonderful because I know you are

Been there, done that, didn't get the t-shirt.

I usually only disclose when it becomes obvious that I'm diabetic -- if we're at a meal, if I need to check, etc. I figure that calling attention to it out of the blue isn't what I want to do -- any more than I'd randomly say that I'm hypothyroid, that I have a crown in my mouth, or that I think blue nail polish is the bestest thing ever. For me, it's just *there*. I don't hide, but I don't wave the D flag. For me, personally, I just don't see the point. If I ever share a meal with the individual in question, they're going to find out that I'm diabetic. I don't feel the need to go out of my way to announce it before then. (And what dates don't involve food at some point?)

My most recent Ex was awesome. He was a biology professor, so it was wonderful that I didn't have to do the whole "this is a pancreas, this is what insulin is" routine. He just got it. One of my favorite early conversations was with him at dinner, where we were talking about alpha cells and beta cells, and figuring out how one of us could break into a research lab to get some -- and that no, he wasn't going to get to use me as a guinea pig to try to implant Synthroid and see how it would do, and certainly not without IRB approval.

He got to the point where he knew I was stubborn as all get out if I was low, and that asking me to check was like commanding my cat to tap dance. He knew that we couldn't have "activities" unless I was 100 or more, and he had no problem waiting until I came up, or just not doing it at all.

I came up with that personal rule thanks to the previous ex, who freaked out when I had a hypo during the fun. He knew I was diabetic, because we'd worked together, but I don't think he ever realized -- and it certainly hadn't occurred to me -- that that activity would trigger a problem.

I don't have words of advice but I can tell you that you are not alone.

I was in the same shoes that you are in now. It was then, that a friend of my moms said that I should meet her nephew because he had diabetes too & we would have something in common. That was over ten years ago. We are married with two non-D kids. I remember when we were just dating he said, "There is so much more to you than diabetes." I cherish those words and when I look at him I see the man that stole my heart and ignore the broken pancreas!

My experience is rather similar to that of Scott E's. While my boyfriend and I had been out together a couple of times, the first time he came to visit me, we ended up in the ER due to a seriously low BG. At that time we had only briefly discussed my diabetes, and certainly had not touched upon the more serious incidences of low BGs, so when I collapsed in his arms that night all he could do - and did - was to call for help. When I came around in the ER I had him by my side, but also met his dad for the first time - him saying "I hope we'll see you around when you're feeling better". My boyfriend stayed with me in the hospital, and we've been together ever since (9 years now). He's the main reason I decided to follow the advice of my fantastic D-nurse and try the pump 6 years ago, and while it has been challenging at times, I wouldn't be without it and the CGM now that we're going for the next generation :-)

All along the way both my bf and his family has been very supportive of any needs that may arise due to my diabetes, but they've also never failed to see me as person and not "just a diabetic" :-)

Abby, I'm sure the right guy is out there for you as well, and you'll know when you find him!

Someone else said this in another comment and I completely agree - diabetes can help you make sure the one you are with is a "good one" - a keeper. I dated a guy for a year and all signs pointed to yes EXCEPT that he took NO interest in learning about diabetes and what to do when I had a low, etc - he was very hands off. Eventually, I started thinking about what this meant about him long-term, and if I felt secure enough with him in the event of an emergency, and that answer became a resounding NO. It was hard to break up, but it was the right thing, and left me available for my current husband of four years who is AMAZING and even takes the time on his own to read and research and send ME articles and tech updates on diabetes. You will find that person - there are lots of great guys out there who know diabetes is important but also know it's now all you are, and will love you for all of it!

I HATE needles but I love my boyfriend. His diabetes is only a small part of the amazing person he is.

The right person accepts you for who you are, dead organs and all. Yes, I have dated people for whom my T1D was an issue. No doubt about that! And this led to my dating people and NOT telling them about my diabetes (you can hide anything if you put your mind to it). But then I met someone with whom I felt comfortable letting into this aspect of my life. I didn't hide it and I didn't act ashamed of it. I treated it as matter-of-factly as telling someone about anything else in my life. And you know what? This person who has a horrible fear of needles and blood and anything medical learned how to give me shots and call 911 for hypos and squirt juice down my throat in the middle of the night. And I do things to help my partner as well. Because we are together and we love one another and that's what people who love one another do.


I am going through the same thing.

I worried the same for my then boyfriend, now husband!

I have been Type I since I was 10 and always let it hold me back from dating when I got into my 20's. Then I met Jay & was TERRIFIED to tell him. But he listened as I poured my heart out & told me that it was just a glitch in my perfection(totally sounds silly now)...but made me feel at ease & helped with my insecurities!

Little did I know that his mother is the one with the problem when it comes to my diabetes....ha! She's just living the stereotypical mother-in-law's dream:)

Okay Abby and everyone else,

This is hard issue for us all! I suspect that many of you who have responded to this are fairly young, ie 20s and 30s, and looking for "the one". I'm 60, and have had type 1 for 42 years. I've worn a pump for 32 years and a sensor for the last six years. Thankfully, I have no complications of diabetes. After finding and marrying a great guy who I was married to for 26 years, I've been divorced for 5 years and am now back in the dating world. And I'm thinking about this whole disclosure thing, because if I say I have diabetes now, in the land of the old farts, guys assume it's type 2 diabetes, and they don't want to get anywhere near it.
Also, I don't want to rain on anyone's happiness, but my great guy, got worn down by my needing him to respond to lows, etc. My pregnancies were tough--pumping great but no sensing 20+ years ago, and I had a LOT of severe lows to which he had to respond. So is diabetes why we got divorced? No, but it did contribute. I do agree with many of you that diabetes helps us sort 'the mice from the men', but in the long term, it's a burden for our significant others, as it is for those of us living with it.

I ;oved reading your post and all the comments! It's so nice to feel like I am not alone in my thoughts and fears.

I don't really date a lot, but over the years have noticed that the guys I have dated that ask a lot of questions about diabetes and want to know more and ask about my pump and how everything works are expressing that they are actually interested in ME. All of me and not just my disease. I have had a few great boyfriends that remind me to "check my blood" or to "shoot up" (insulin, of course) and can recognize my lows before I can. Other relationships (and more short term) either shy away, almost seeming fearful (reasonably so, I think!)

All that being said, I am still waiting to find the Prince Charming to come to my rescue. Someone to love my dead beta cells and love my extra "sweet" self with diabetes lurking overhead. Until then, I am thankful for my freakish dog that sometimes wakes me up when I am low and the ever-annoying, ever-alarming CGM.

As I watch M enter the dating world, I have noticed that at this young age boys are kind of fascinated with diabetes. As a parent, I have not worried about M being able to find "the one". What I have feared is that his parents might not want her dead beta cells muddying up their gene pool.

I hope I am mistaken, and that all of the parents of M's boyfriends will be open-minded, loving and accepting.

Abby:

D and dating can be a blessing and a curse. I thought I should probably date someone in the heatlh field, so that if I had a low, he would be able to help and understand. Well, I was dating a dietician, who worked with older diabetics, in nursing homes, and he saw them die all the time supposedly of diabetic complications. He said he didn't want to take care of me and we broke up. The next guys I got serious (my husband) with knew nothing about diabetes, but ended up loving me for me and all my broken parts. He took a lot of interest in finding out about diabetes before we got engaged and we discussed how it would effect our life together. I am not going to say it has been easy, lots of lows during both pregnancies, and discussions of my not putting my health ahead of his or the girls...but he really loves me and wants me to be around to watch our girls grow up and us grow old together. Good luck and don't think you are alone in your fear. If it doesn't happen the first time, or the second, just wait, as it will finally happen (I was 30 when I met my husband...). You have so much to look forward to.

I had a guy use this against me. He told me no one would ever love me since I had diabetes and was a liability. It gave me even more of a complex than I started with.

At the risk of sounding like a total cyber-creeper, I would totally date you Abby (useless pancreas and all).

Seriously, you are so much more than a little physical fault. Don't let it bother you, and don't allow a guy in your life that can't see the you past the D.

And call me if you want.... ;)

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