Dating With a Chronic Illness Brings Unique Challenges, Considerations

How this columnist approaches dating as someone with EB

Lena Riedl avatar

by Lena Riedl |

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I’m currently rewatching the “Sex and the City” TV series for the third or fourth time. Now that I’m closer in age to the main characters, I relate even more to their feelings, thoughts, and struggles regarding dating. While the women face various insecurities, I think I can add one more.

As I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder: How does dating with a rare disease differ from dating while healthy?

I live with epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a rare skin condition. Worrying about my appearance has always been a part of my day-to-day life.

While my friends might worry about not meeting someone’s beauty standards or dating someone whose energy doesn’t match theirs, I worry that people won’t even consider me as a dating candidate.

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Those of us living with health conditions are often stigmatized. Other people might be afraid that dating us would mean becoming our caregiver, abstaining from certain experiences, or changing their lifestyle. Many don’t understand what it’s truly like to live with a chronic illness.

I don’t want to blame anyone, and I certainly don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. Dating is just different when you have a health condition.

Breaking through barriers

“Somewhere out there is another little freak who will love us and understand us and kiss our three heads and make it all better.” — Carrie Bradshaw, “Sex and the City”

My approach to dating is to try to ignore the fear of being disqualified from the beginning because of my chronic illness. After all, that’s not something I can change. And would I really want to be considered as a dating candidate by someone who automatically excludes people because of their conditions? The answer is no — but that still leaves me with fewer options.

Luckily, I’ve never had any problems finding dates. (Though that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find “the one!”) Still, whenever I meet someone new, I question when the right time is to explain that I live with EB.

I find it easier to address this topic in person rather than over a dating platform. I’m not a big fan of those, anyway, as they don’t really work for me.

When I meet someone in real life, I can’t really hide my condition (not that I’d want to!), so the person immediately knows what they’re getting. They have the chance to ask me whatever they want, and I have the chance to talk openly about my condition.

When it comes to online dating, it can be hard to decide when to tell them about my chronic illness. If you look closely, you can definitely see my scars, but not everyone notices them right away. I often wonder if I need to “warn” them before we meet in person for the first time? What if they didn’t see my scars in my pictures and run away when they see me?

On the other hand, I don’t think I necessarily have to tell somebody about something so personal before I’ve even met them. My health doesn’t concern anyone but me. I wouldn’t expect a person I barely know to let me in on all of their personal stuff right away!

Now, who’s gonna take me out on a date? Until then, I’ll just treat myself to a nice dinner out.

Note: Epidermolysis Bullosa News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Epidermolysis Bullosa News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to epidermolysis bullosa.


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