Dating is hard for everyone—putting yourself out there in an attempt to find a person whose values and personality align with yours is daunting, but there is an added element when dating with a chronic illness.
For me, I struggled with determining the right way and time to disclose my disabilities. If I opened up about my illnesses too early, was I trusting someone with information that they don’t deserve this early on? On the other hand, if I waited to tell them, was I keeping a big secret and not being truthful about who I am? Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all solution. I tested my methods, but ultimately it didn’t matter—I got rejected no matter what.
Rejection after rejection led me to feel shame and unworthy of love. I felt betrayed by society that no one would give me a chance after learning about my health history. I hated the feeling of having to defend myself and prove to the world that I am in fact worthy of receiving and giving love. It took a lot of work, but I was able to get to the point where I wholeheartedly believed that the rejection I was facing was not my fault and it said more about my potential partners than it did about me.
There is a lot of anxiety when dating with a chronic illness. Between managing your symptoms and juggling the stress of the healthcare system, it can feel like an intimidating task instead of an experience filled with excitement and joy. Finding someone with a shared experience (whether that is being chronically ill themselves or facing another type of adversity) is important to me. Life is hard no matter what and if someone isn’t willing to stick by me through thick and thin, I am not interested. I want to be confident that my partner will support me through my health battles, and I will do the same.
So, after years of discouraging dates from the mainstream dating apps, my sister and I created Dateability. We learned that my experience is not unique and many people with chronic illness/disability have been looking for an app like Dateability. It is our goal to make love accessible by breaking these stigmas and normalizing chronic illness. We aim to have a diverse platform filled with people with all types of disabilities and chronic illnesses (although non-disabled people are permitted to join).
The days of defending my chronic illness to anyone (but especially in dating) are over. I no longer feel ashamed of who I am or feel the need to hide behind the guise of my invisible illnesses. My experiences have made me the person who I am today, and I am proud of that.