Tips for Dating with MS
When talking about multiple sclerosis, the subject of MS and dating may seem like a trivial one to raisebut that is only so to people who have never been single and managing the disease. Though it is not as major a conversation as, say, treating MS, it's important to acknowledge that multiple sclerosis may give rise to some insecurities, uncertainties or issues when it comes to your dating lifeand your comfort and happiness are too important to overlook.
Do I Tell My Date That I Have MS?
When and if to ever disclose that you have MS is a personal decision, and perhaps the hardest part of dating with the disease. There is no roadmap for addressing this. Each person is different, and you need to listen to what your gut is telling you. While there is no "perfect" time, you may want to consider waiting until you get to the point where you and your date are beyond small talk and are comfortable sharing more personal details about one another.
Consider a few things:
- Remember that your MS is a part of your life, but it is not your identity. You are more than your diagnosis.
- With growing feelings comes growing concern. As a relationship progresses, you may feel more comfortable that he or she would rather know about your situation (and help you with it) than not know.
- Before you disclose your diagnosis, it helps to plan how you will do so. Remember that your own attitude about MS will likely cue your date as to how to react. When you feel comfortable about discussing and living with MS, your date generally will feel more comfortable talking with you about it as well.
- There is a good chance that your date probably does not know much about MS, so also be prepared to answer questions and delve into a little detail about how this condition affects you if you are asked.
- If a date is rather quiet afterward, it may mean that he or she needs time to process the news. You may want to consider revisiting the subject after a bit of time, inquiring as to if you can answer any questions about how this impact your life.
Dating Limitations for People with MS
Multiple sclerosis symptoms can interfere with different types of dating activities. For example, if mobility is an issue for you, going to the movies is a better idea than playing miniature golf. Fatigue may make a hike too much to handle.
Do not be afraid to be upfront with your date about what you would prefer to do, whether he or she knows your health status or not. If you decide to go on another date together, you can decide whether and how much to disclose about why you cannot do certain activities. The whole point of dating is to have fun, and you can’t have fun if you are uncomfortable or trying to do an activity that your symptoms prevent.
You may want to keep some alternative ideas at the ready, so you can be prepared with another suggestion if one proposed to you is undesirable.
Sexual Issues for People with MS
Sexual dysfunction is common among people with multiple sclerosis. People with MS may have little to no libido, an altered orgasmic response or uncomfortable or painful genital sensations. Men may experience erectile dysfunction and women may have issues with vaginal dryness. All of this can inhibit sexual health and sexual relationships, and these concerns may become more top-of-mind as a dating relationship moves ahead.
You may hesitate to bring up sexual problems with your doctor, but it is important that you do so that you can discuss how the situation can be helped.
Many issues can be addressed with treatment, and that may help put any related concerns of yours to rest. Some concerns may persist, however, even with treatment. This does not mean that you cannot have sexual relationships. You will just have to be honest with you partner and be sure that he or she respects your limitations.
R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen
Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS, Dating and Starting New Relationships. Available at: http://www.mssociety.org.uk/about_ms/symptoms/sex_relationships_and_intimacy/dating.html Accessed on June 20, 2011
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Disclosing MS in Romantic Relationships. Available at: http://www.msfocus.org/article-details.aspx?articleID=33 Accessed on June 20, 2011
National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Disclosing Your MS to Others. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/relationships/disclosure/index.aspx Accessed on June 20, 2011
United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Sexual Dysfunction and Multiple Sclerosis. Available at: http://www.va.gov/MS/articles/Sexual_Dysfunction_and_Multiple_Sclerosis.asp Accessed on June 20, 2011