You finally got asked out by the guy you’ve been flirting with for weeks—or maybe you got up the courage to ask him out! You know it’s soon, but you have a good feeling about this one. The new guy or gal is cute, smart, and gives you honest-to-goodness butterflies. Please let the first date go well!
For people with diabetes, a new relationship comes with all the usual flurry of fun and first-date jitters, plus a complete new set of unknowns: Will this person freak out when they learn you have diabetes? Should you tell them right away? Are they going to be chock-full of misconceptions like some previous dates (ones that didn’t make the cut)?
What and when you tell a partner about your diabetes is 100 percent up to you (there’s no rulebook), but it helps to have a few things clear in your own mind as you navigate the confusing world of dating. Here are six tips for telling the person your dating about diabetes:
1. Wait until the mood is right, but don’t wait too long
Some people are very open about their diabetes, so their dates will know about it from the get-go. But for others, when to tell someone about diabetes is as important as the timing of the first kiss. Some people want to wait and get to know a potential partner before sharing something that can be intimidating to a brand-new love interest. And others want to make sure the person in question is a top-shelf candidate before having the diabetes talk.
On the other hand, diabetes is part of your daily life, and if you’re looking to grow close to someone, you want to be honest and open sooner rather than later. Plus, the longer you wait, the tougher it will be to bring up. And you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you’re neglecting your care or hiding your supplies—that’s not fair to you.
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2. Manage perceptions and projections
If you’re apprehensive about telling the possible Mr. or Mrs. Right about your diabetes, take a moment to think about why that is. There are unfortunately a lot of obvious reasons: they may be intimidated, overwhelmed, or blame you for your disease. You may have had a bad experience in the past.
But part of your apprehension could come from your own negative views. Do you blame yourself for diabetes? Do you consider yourself unworthy because of your condition? If you find this to be the case, you’ll want to work through those issues, perhaps with a trusted friend or counselor. When you tell your date about diabetes, be mindful of the tendency to project your own negative thoughts. If you blame yourself for diabetes, you might assume your date will too. But in reality, only a small portion of people are going to be lame enough to let your diabetes scare them away—and those ones aren’t winners anyway.
3. Talk about Type
Even the brightest folks don’t always know the difference between type 1 or type 2 (and they almost certainly won’t know about some of the rarer forms), so save yourself a headache by telling your date up front about your type. “I have type __ diabetes. It is serious and it’s permanent, but I take care of myself and don’t let it hold me back.” Done.
You can tell your date the basic differences between the types or invite them to do their own research and let you know later if they have questions (but make it clear you’re not looking for their suggestions).