Dating is hard enough, but add your bleeding disorder to the meet-and-greet mix and things can get more complicated. You wonder if you should tell the person you’re seeing about your health issues. And you wonder how and when to have the talk—if you choose to have it at all. After all, your new would-be sweetie may not even know your middle name.
“You have to make sure you feel comfortable,” explains Sami Jankins, 26, a HemAware blogger and grad student who lives in Milwaukee. “Starting a relationship in general is scary. It’s very revealing to talk about your health. It’s very personal.”
You also may feel scared to share because you think your health isn’t really someone else’s concern when you begin dating, or because you don’t want to be rejected. “Our health conditions—to us—are normal. But having to tell someone else about them can make it feel like we’re not normal,” says Jankins. “Rejection is looming.”
Some relationships will not progress, and you have to accept that. “It’s good to know earlier on if your bleeding disorder is going to be an issue before things get super serious, and the rejection hurts more,” Jankins says. Guys broke up with her in the past, saying it was because of her health. But her health was under control at the time and the guys just used it as an excuse. “Don’t take rejection personally,” she says. “Everybody has something. If the other person can’t deal with it, it’s not your fault.”
“For most people, a bleeding disorder is a big part of life, but it doesn’t define you,” adds Brent Movitz, 28, an attorney in Chicago who’s written about relationships for HemAware. “You don’t want people to treat you differently because you have hemophilia.”
The person’s initial reaction can be a good indicator for the future. “You want to know how that person is going to react,” Movitz says. “If you’re just casually dating someone, it’s not necessary to disclose.” But if you’re hoping for the possibility of a relationship down the line, you should tell the other person about your medical issues. For instance, Movitz’s partner found out early on about his hemophilia, and they have been in a happy relationship for nearly five years.
Movitz says timing is important: You don’t want to disclose months after you meet, or have the person find out when you suddenly have a bleed after a dinner date. “Don’t share on the first date, but maybe on the second or third,” Movitz advises. “I wouldn’t put it on your Match.com profile,” he quips. “But you should tell sooner, rather than later.”
Eventually you will find the person who’s meant for you. “It’s easy to think that if you have chronic health issues you don’t have options, but there are tons of people out there,” Jankins says. She is happily single but still open to meeting the right guy. “Don’t think you’re limited because you have health issues.”