Dating—When to Introduce Type 1 to the Relationship
Dating someone new is always stressful, and even more so when you have type 1 diabetes (T1D). True of both people with and without T1D, how much information to reveal at what time in the relationship is a tricky balance—not unlike T1D management itself!
Think back to when you were first diagnosed. Chances are, you knew very little about type 1 diabetes, or at least a lot less than you do now. It was overwhelming and scary considering the abundance of information being thrown at you all at once. All of these new terms, facts and routines can be (almost) as overwhelming to those close to you. This is important to consider when deciding which information to reveal to the person that you are interested in, and when!
We want to be ourselves. We don’t want to hide our type 1, but we also don’t want our loved ones to feel burdened, pressured, or overloaded with details.
It is extremely important to trust your own instincts and pick the moments that feel right to you—but just in case, here is a handy date-by-date guide to help ease your significant other into T1D life.
There is no reason not to reveal the fact that you have type 1 diabetes on the first date, especially if it happens organically, (i.e.: your date starts discussing their own diet or nutrition practices). Look out for windows of opportunity during the conversation to mention it casually. If you appear at ease when you tell them, it is likely that your date will feel at ease about it as well. It is probably best not to get too “heavy” when first learning about a person, and this applies to many other personal discussions aside from T1D!
You’ve made it to the second date! This means that there was enough of a spark that the two of you want to continue getting to know each other on a deeper level. Second dates are often something more adventurous than just coffee or a meal (perhaps a nice walk or hike?), so this would be a good time to explain how you need to test your blood sugar regularly. If your date seems interested or asks questions, you could even walk them through the process.
By now, the two of you are getting comfortable with each other. Maybe you plan a cozy evening at home together—dinner and a movie on the couch. Don’t be afraid to whip out the pump, insulin pens or syringes during dinner. Let them see how routine it is for you. If they ask questions and/or want to see how it is done—great! If not, just do your thing and let them ask for more details when they are ready.
By the fourth date, things might be getting personal. If your date is open with you, be just as open with them! Don’t be afraid to share stories of when you were diagnosed, how you perhaps suffer from burnout occasionally or what it was like switching from pens to the pump, etc., etc.! If your date hasn’t already inquired themselves about how you inject insulin, your continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or your emergency glucagon kit—give them the full T1D tour.
If you’ve made it this far with your new flame, it means that you have clearly accepted them and their own unique “baggage” that came along for the ride, and they have embraced you as you are entirely. They realize that T1D—although it does not define you—is a part of you.