How to tell someone you're dating

Apologies if this isn’t the right forum for this, but I’d love some advice.

I’ve typically been very secretive about having diabetes and would hide it from people I’m dating for as long as I could get away with it. I totally get the benefits of sharing it early on, etc. but it just wasn’t something I felt comfortable with.

Once I got a dexcom, I’d usually rip it off if I felt like I was going to be in a situation where someone was going to see it. (Which wasn’t a big deal with the G5, but the G6 transmitters are 10 days so it’s worse to do it with them)

Finally, I became comfortable enough to wear it around someone I was seeing. They asked about it, I answered, and it wasn’t a big deal at all. Then the next time they saw me wearing it, they felt honored that I felt comfortable enough to wear it around them (I told them how I use to be self-conscious.) It gave me bravery for the next time.

Anyways, tonight I mentioned it to someone new I was dating. It was in context of another conversation, not at a mealtime and not a general blurt of “I have diabetes”. The reply? “Oh, that’s SERIOUS” I replied with, yeah, well, it’s not that bad since I felt like they thought I was going to die… Again, the reply “It’s serious”. I said it’s a pain, but it is what it is. Then they mentioned “well, as long as you take your medicine.”

I know everyone has different replies, but this one felt weird to me and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. It played on all my worst fears that diabetes made me less desirable and lovable since I was flawed. It could have been my imagination, but I felt like they cooled off a little after I told them. It might have been in my head.

Has anyone experienced something similar? Any tricks for telling someone new, especially if you aren’t super obvious about having diabetes in general?

I’m looking at getting a pump, which I know isn’t something I can hide the way I did by ripping off the dexcom, so I need to get better at this.

And any tips for dealing with a situation like I explained above? Or not feeling bummed by the reply?

This is a subject that comes up with most disabilities and I personally got over anyone knowing I had diabetes when I was toddler. It’s usually one of the first things someone will learn about me and peoples responses often affect my feelings about them. I’ve gotten every response you can imagine but the kind that annoys me the most is “oh, you poor thing”.

There is a subtle difference between empathy and pity and some people just do not know how to distinguish one from the other and some people think that as soon as they hear you have a disability that it’s their duty to tell you how you should think or take care of yourself. Those are the kind of people that usually only remain surface friends although if they themselves have some experience with my condition or have close family I am happy to discuss or even try new things that could help. Your dates response doesn’t sound too odd but if his responses were making you annoyed then there isn’t any reason you need to stick around if you can’t or don’t feel like educating them.

I think of telling someone I have diabetes as an educational opportunity since so many people have misconceptions about what it’s like to have diabetes nowadays and that if you take good care of yourself that most PWD will live as long and as healthily as their peers. I like when people ask me questions about my diabetes treatments and devices. I have one friend that regularly asks me if the insulin prices are going down yet.

It almost sounds like your date had a little bit of bad experience with diabetes maybe a relative when they were little got complications or something. My response to “it’s serious” would have been “yes it is, but I manage it well.”

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It sounds to me like your date doesn’t really understand diabetes, but who knows? Maybe he or she won’t want to get involved with you because you have diabetes. That is their loss and it is good to know that from the beginning.

If you are looking for a long term relationship I think that you need to try to become more comfortable with having diabetes yourself. It just is what it is and it is ok. It is just one small part you.

With excellent care, you can live a very long life, but it is a more complicated life that your loved one will have to be more than happy to share with you. He or she needs
to love you for who you are diabetes and all.

Some perspective partners won’t have it in themselves to live with someone who has extra needs. It is good to know that before you get too invested in the relationship.

You deserve the best.

I have had type 1 since I was 8 and I have never hidden it from anybody. My husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in June. Most of the time my diabetes isn’t at all difficult to control and at other times, like now, it is a bit of a nightmare. You need a partner who adores you for who you are even when less than perfect at times. Never settle for less.

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Thank you so much. I’m really working on self-acceptance with it, and this was one of the first times I’ve told someone early on, so I think that’s why I’m reacting. I’ve had it since I was 18 (42 now), so I think it was pretty easy to hide in college vs. having it as a kid. Then, that became my way of dealing with it.

I’m actually using this as an opportunity to vet people who wouldn’t be good partners; if someone is turned off by me having diabetes, something I can’t control, then they aren’t the right person for me regardless. Maybe finding out this way can help save me down the road.

It’s just hard not to resent the having to tell people, but I guess that’s one of the challenges we all face.

Thank you.

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I have been married for 42 years so my memories of this are a bit hazy. So my advice may mot be welcome. However, my advice is this. If the person you are dating does not like you with diabetes, then they will not like you.

I cannot separate myself from diabetes, but I can find someone who values me, all of me. Including the diabetes part that I cannot change. I did 43 years ago and 15 months later we got married.

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Hmm, so that is admittedly nothing like how I handle my diabetes. I can’t imagine not telling someone on the first date, but then I tell most people in my life. I find people’s reactions tend to mirror how I tell them about it. If I tell them in a very casual way (“by the way, I’m a T1 diabetic, which means I take insulin before I eat and sometimes at other times, so if you see me stabbing myself, don’t worry, I’m fine, it’s not an epi-pen ha”), most people are like oh ok, and not that many even have immediate follow-up questions. Some ask how long I’ve had it, if it’s a big deal, or other things, and I’ll tell them I’ve had it since I was a kid, it’s sort of a big deal in that I have to do things every day for it, but it’s also just a normal part of life at this point for me, and I can eat most things I want except I usually don’t drink sugary drinks or super sugary food unless I’m low. That’s usually about it—when I’m getting intimate with someone, I let them know “oh this is my Dexcom, it’s taped on securely, don’t worry if you bump it, it’s fine” and that’s also not a big thing.

Basically, my guess is that the way you are handling it, your date might be picking up that you’re acting like it’s a big deal or something to hide and then unload as you would something serious or as a potential deal-breaker. So of course they will then think it’s serious—you’re acting like it! Treat it like a matter of fact part of life, and most people will follow suit.

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I am T2 using diet and exercise only and since most dates include eating, pretty hard to hide it. So not much impact on my dating life. The worst experience was meeting another T2, and he begged off. Since I was controlling my T2 much better than he was. Scared him away. Oh well.

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I think that I am the only avenue through which many people interact with diabetes. How people react to it ranges from pretty intense and hyper-vigilant about it to totally disinterested in it. Some people have really good motives and some people have really bad motives in their relationship with my diabetes. Its good to see the range.

How people react says more about their relationship with things that are beyond their control than it does about you. That can be kinda complicated, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with who you are as a person.

In the defense of this (and future) dates, have you ever had a friend or coworker with a chronic illness other than the 'betes? You might not have known much about their illness the first time you met them. You probably learned about that illness through your relationship with them. Its a process.

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Very true, and that’s a good point about spinning it to see how I’d view other people who told me I had a chronic condition. I probably wouldn’t know what to say initially and might act awkwardly.

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I agree with cardamom on the casual reveal, and mohe0001 on realizing that most people will react differently. I think most people, including a lot of people on this forum, forget that lada and type 1 diabetics are 4% of the diabetic population and at some point you probably will have to explain that you can eat donuts or desserts, you just have to take more insulin… you won’t find too many type 1 diabetic movies to help, but one of my recent favorites is 50/50… he has cancer, which I know is very different, but how his friends, family, dates, work colleagues, etc respond will probably help…

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Oh I also sometimes joke that I’m part bionic (the dexcom), but it’s cool because I’m just preparing for the inevitable takeover by the machines someday, because maybe this way I can convince them I’m on their side. :slight_smile:

I agree with everyone else if someone continues to be weird about it after a little time and some information, you’re probably better off without them.

Right around this time 38 years ago I asked my husband to dinner at my apt. We had just just starting dating.

He told me to please avoid using sugar because he was diabetic. That’s how he introduced me to his diabetes. I made a chicken dish. I was more focused on the making of the meal and him. We were married two months later.

We were just talking and figure I make him 1000 meals a year complete with carb info.

Now we have had bumps in the road in our marriage but no marriage is perfect. I never want to come across that way.

But every day we “team up” make our plans and face the day together.

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Quick update: I decided not to let it get to me and we had a few more dates. I did mention the Dexcom in a joking way and it wasn’t an issue at all, even though I’d built it up in mind mind.

Part of me wishes they would ask more questions surrounding diabetes, but I also realize I might find that annoying, too. I think my perfect balance would be finding someone who accepts that I have it and respects I know what to do, but doesn’t get overly involved.

For those out there in new or old relationships, how does your partner view your diabetes?

This has kind of already been said in different ways, but you can’t expect someone else to be comfortable with your diabetes if you’re not comfortable with it yourself. It’s who you are, it’s what you are. You need to accept it as something that defines you.

Whether it’s an appropriate analogy or not, someone who hides their homosexuality for whatever reason is never going to live a happy, fulfilling life. People hide things out of shame. Shame is not a good emotional state - it’s inhibiting. It’s only when people fully embrace who and what they are, only when we accept ourselves for who we are without any attached shame, that we can begin to find happiness.

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I don’t mention any disabilities or anything to anybody! Not my co-workers, not my manager/boss, and not a date. The only person who will know any medical issues or disabilities are my doctor(s).

I am afraid they’d not understand, or would overreact. I also have a common mental disability which people make fun of online a lot. I get hiding this stuff out of shame isn’t a good thing, but nobody understands/gets it always

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It’s varied by person for me—I usually don’t fill people in on the details of what I’m doing/why unless I’m very close to them. I also have never had a partner (even my current serious partner who lives with me) follow my Dexcom, nor do I think I ever would, because to me, that feels super weird (although I know others do that and like it, whatever works for folks!). My current partner knows about handling lows, and I’m comfortable with her asking about blood sugars, which she does sometimes, especially if I’m seeming off or something. I do not involve in her dosing decisions or anything like that, although she understands that for some foods I need to “pregame” as we call it. It probably helps that we have great communication in general and that she’s a social worker, so I feel like I can talk to her not only about the diabetes stuff easily when I want to, but can also have discussions outside of the moment about how I find it helpful for her to interact with me about it (in fact, she generally welcomes that kind of information and uses it effectively). She does get concerned at times, but mostly only if I’m very low or if I’m expressing concern about an aspect of my diabetes to her. So she tends to take her cues from me.

I think as you transition from dating to being in a more significant relationship with someone, this is the kind of thing that warrants direct conversations, in terms of letting them know what you want and giving them a chance to ask questions and express any concerns. Way more effective than just hoping you end up on the same page.

Well I’ve never had a negative reaction honestly. And I’m very open about it… I’ll usually tell people straight off. Which makes this person’s reaction to you sharing this very odd to me. You might consider asking why this person said that. Perhaps they lost a loved one? Perhaps they don’t know much about it and you can educate them? All the same, I doubt it was your imagination that the person cooled off. Id try to have a discussion about it but I would be very cautious about dating this person. You deserve someone accepting and supportive. I’ve never had a reaction like that so it seems really strange and inappropriate.

Hey CB11
I understand your concern.
I’m 65 and began dating again five or six years ago after my marriage ended.
Both of my long term relationships, plus the less important ones have been very understanding, concerned and helpful.
But I was having hypoglycemic events that disrupted our time together so I had to explain what was going on and what the implications for a partner could be.
As a result of their openness to learning more and their concern for me, I realized that I had to be completely open and tell them as much as they wanted to know about what was going on.
In the end, my dearest friend, was the person who did the research to discover and encourage me to use CGM. I wasn’t all that thrilled by it but it was better than the downsides and my friend was accepting and I don’t think he cared very much that I had that little CGM sensor on my abdomen.
I still had a couple of whopper lows when the sensor wasn’t working or whatever, including one in St. Paul’s in London, but my friend stuck by me and after we talked it all through remained great about diabetes.
Eventually I ended that relationship for practical reasons, not because if diabetes but because of personal issues he had.
But he showed me that diabetes doesn’t have to be any worse in a relationship than it is our lives.
Be honest, believe in who you are and the value you bring to the world and your relationships will be better than ever.
Diabetes doesn’t define you, even it it takes more effort to manage successfully. It doesn’t diminish who you are, I think it makes you stronger and maybe a little kinder.
But you do have to be open and help your non-diabetic partner understand what it really means. If you do that, I think the good ones will be there for you.
All the best
Brenda

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Thank you all so much. I can’t tell what talking about this means to me. I don’t think this person is the right person long-term for me based on how she reacted. So far, I’ve felt awkward about bringing it up again, aside from mentioning the Dexcom. I might try another time and then gauge how she handles it.

I’m still working on self-acceptance re: diabetes. In a way, I think it’s harder because I was diagnosed at 18 so it was easier to hide if I wanted to. Now I’m realizing that hiding it is just that – it makes me feel like I’m hiding something all the time, and it’s not a good feeling.

I had dinner last night with a friend and she noticed when I went for my insulin pen at dinner, and said something like “you’re doing your thing!” It actually didn’t bother me at all; I used to think I was being slick by hiding it under the table, but now I realize my friends know and notice and don’t care at all. If anything it was good because I could be a little more open and hide it less. It felt great, and I need to remember that.

Thanks so much to all of you for your support.

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Try to remember that most people would be dead if they had to do what we do. People with chronic illness are tough as nails and you should never apologize for it. It give’s you lots of advantages and probably makes you a better person in ways that you just haven’t recognized yet. Many of the best people that I know have chronic illness. They are simply more empathetic and understanding and perceptive and tougher and more sophisticated, creative problem solvers than most people. I’m sure you are too!

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