My first date was right after I turned 15, my mom drove me and my crush to the movies and we saw the Lego Movie. Needless to say, it was very romantic and when we dropped the boy off at his house, he hugged me goodbye and asked if I would be his girlfriend — we only dated for a week before we decided it was better to stay friends. From here I had to slowly figure out the whole dating “thing.” Between butterflies and firsts, I also had the additional challenge of navigating my diabetes and how it would apply to my romantic life.
One thing I quickly realized was just how big diabetes was in my life. While I was going on dates, I sometimes worried I talked about it too much. I would start to talk about my life with diabetes, diabetic camp, volunteer work, insulin … diabetes, diabetes, diabetes. I quickly learned that talking about my disease was a good thing and it was something that made me unique. If a person doesn’t take the time to learn about you (which means your diabetes too!) they’re not worth your time and energy. A good rule of thumb is to talk about diabetes as much as you’d talk about your favorite hobby. Your date or significant other will want to hear more about you, but you are not your disease.
First dates can be — let’s face it — scary. However, no matter where you are or what you’re doing you have to be aware of how you’re feeling blood sugar wise and take the time to test and bolus. It’s so much easier to take care of yourself correctly, even if it takes a couple of minutes, than having to spend the rest of the night not feeling well.
In every relationship, regardless if your diabetic or not, communication is key and I think this especially applies to relationships with someone who is T1D. It is essential for your partner to know about what happens when you are low or high, what symptoms to look out for, and how they can help you during those times. Plus, I know when my blood sugars aren’t in range I can become rather cranky; at that point I have to tell my boyfriend that I’m not mad at him, but I’m just not feeling well. My boyfriend now can sometimes see my lows before I feel them. He’s woken me up from a nap before and his first question was, “Are you low?” I didn’t feel it but when I checked, my meter said I was 60.
Diabetes is almost never convenient, so you must be willing to communicate with your partner to let him or her know what you need. I’ve found it hard to admit that my diabetes might be stopping me from something (only until my blood sugar is corrected that is!) but my boyfriend is always the first to go get me juice or insist that I rest. I’m sure that your significant other wants to feel useful and helpful — so ask them to go get you a juice!
Like with all other things, diabetes management becomes very routine and it won’t be something that you even have to think about whether you are in a long-term relationship or while on a date. Do not be afraid to tell your date about diabetes, but remember diabetes does not control your life — you are more than your disease. It’s also important that people who will be in your life for the long term — whether thats friends or a significant other — know about your disease, symptoms and what you need.
So, next time you’re getting ready for a first date or a date with someone you’ve been with for a long time — I hope you feel beautiful, can rock out to that cliché Taylor Swift song, and most of all, be confident about yourself and your diabetes. You got this!
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WRITTEN BY Makaila Heifner, POSTED 07/01/16, UPDATED 12/09/17
Makaila Heifner is 17 years old and lives in a small town outside of Seattle, WA. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 16 months old. Her father also has T1D and now she has many close friends who are also diabetic. She enjoys playing the guitar and piano, singing, volunteer work, reading, going to museums, golf, snowboarding and hiking. She enjoys a good pun as much as a tasty bowl of soup.