I’ve told Sally to be brave and write this blog. She has just read this Chronic illness blog post and I want her to tell her story of dating with M.E. So here goes….
I never dreamed that I would be nearly 40 and still single. Like much of the single population, I have to resort to internet dating. My friends don’t have any single friends they can introduce me to. I am now finding that a lot of people my age are newly separated and come with baggage in the form of children, fraught divorce proceedings or horrible ex’s that just like to cause trouble (women can be nasty can’t they?!). Men are usually flabbergasted when I say I am single, never been married and don’t have/want children. I have my own baggage…it’s called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Unfortunately, I was single when I was first diagnosed. I didn’t have someone who was already in love with me who would be there through thick and thin (I know this isn’t always the case but there is an added sense of security).
Like the woman in the blog mentioned above, I am always upfront about my M.E on a first date. I don’t go into minute detail but I go into just enough for them to realise it is a major part of my life. I usually get ‘oh, that’s being tired isn’t it?’ I expect that, that’s the common misconception. I usually just say it affects my energy levels and restricts my daily activity. Just so they understand why I may have to cancel dates or go home early. Every man I meet says they ‘don’t have a problem with it’ and aren’t put off. In my experience, they take my lead. I take my advocacy hat off on dates and don’t like to ram facts down their throats! They digest the little bits of information I dole out when situations crop up and try to fit in with my life as best they can. M.E. has never been the reason for a relationship to end but it has been a factor in the failure of a relationship. Lack of energy is a hindrance when trying to build a lasting relationship.
I have recently ended a 7 month ‘thing’ with a lovely guy I met on the internet. We dated for a while and then it was on/off/on/off. There were a number of issues that we had to deal with, one of which was the fact he lived an hour away. We compromised and met half way when we met up but even a half hour drive to see him meant I wasn’t at my gorgeous and eloquent best! I started to notice that he wasn’t asking questions about my health. I liked that he didn’t just see me as a poorly person but was getting increasingly frustrated that he took little interest in that part of my life. I am a M.E advocate and yet I couldn’t get ‘my man’ to take an interest in M.E! He wasn’t even remotely interested in Foggy (*Foggy* sob hic). He was the person I did the essay for over Easter weekend (see previous blog post). I pushed myself and subsequently made myself incredibly unwell for someone who said he ‘didn’t get’ my illness. He was puzzled a few weeks later when I said I still had the ear infection. ‘Oh, it’s THAT bad?’ was the response I got when I said I was still dizzy and it was having a knock on effect on my M.E. He couldn’t get his head around how his essay could have caused my ill health.
I am still poorly with Labyrinthitis now 7 weeks on and I am no longer in touch with him. I realised that I need someone who has compassion and a willingness to learn. I don’t want to only be known as someone who has M.E as my illness does not define me as a person. However, any future ‘Sally’s other half’ has to realise that adjustments need to be made and my symptoms will affect our lives together. I find I am incredibly judgemental on internet dating. I steer clear of anyone who seems to have little or no compassion. I don’t want to have to explain my every action and risk being judged.
I am a hopeless romantic but have never had much luck in the romance department. As time goes on, I am starting to hope that I don’t become the old spinster who lives down the lane with lots of cats and gin. Having M.E is an obstacle that needs to be overcome in the dating game. Not having energy for a social life is definitely a hindrance, how can single men see me for the catch that I am when I am hidden away in my bedroom resting?
Massive shout out and lots of love to those husbands/wives/partners of M.E sufferers who show compassion and understanding to their other halves. I hope to find my own special someone one of these days!