Chronically Ill, Looking For Love

Hey all, there was a fire next to my apartment over the weekend. I'm fine and very lucky, and while there's lots of smoke damage, my small David Bowie doll is fine. But I'm dealing with adjusters all day and buying underwear, so I can't lead chat. We'll have to make up for it next week.

I have chronic health issues, with the most disruptive one being fibromyalgia. About two months ago, my boyfriend of about six months broke up with me. I know my health problems were a drain on the relationship. He also wants children eventually. Given how long I've had health problems, I can't imagine that I will improve enough that I would be able to be a good mother, and I was honest with him about this.

I don't blame him for leaving. He needs to find someone with whom he can build the kind of life that he wants. The problem is that I don't know how to go about trying to find someone new. My health issues leave me in pain and frequently with low energy, so getting out and meeting people is hard. I've tried online dating. I don't think I'm attractive enough for that. Should I seek out dating services for people with disabilities? Should I be honest about my health issues on general dating sites? Or not mention them and hope that who I am as a person is enough to mitigate the health issues? I know there are plenty of people out there with health issues who are in loving relationships, but it seems like the health issues occurred after the relationship was established. It's one thing to stand by a person you love who gets sick, but it seems to be a different kind of issue to fall in love with someone who's already sick.

– In Sickness


You're right — it not easy to find love when you're dealing with health problems. But it's not impossible at all. I have a bunch of people in my life who found partners after a diagnosis. Some of their illnesses have required hospital visits, hair loss, and treatments that made it difficult to make plans. That didn't stop their relationships.

I'll say this about my chronically ill friends who found love – they all believed they had something to offer. I'm not saying they didn't have awful days and insecurities, but they believed that the people who fell for them were lucky. And they were right.

I want you to focus on the whole "I don't think I'm attractive enough for that" thing. That's the sentence that concerns me here. There are a lot of grownups out there who have the patience and empathy to date someone with a chronic illness, but it'll tough to find them if you're feeling terrible about yourself. This is a great time to spend time with family/friends/therapist and talk about ways to boost your confidence.

Readers? We've discussed chronic illness before. What can you tell this letter writer? Should she be looking for a partner online?

– Meredith