I’m moving to a new area within the next few months because of a job relocation and because of this, I’m considering online dating. I’ve never done this before so I’m curious as to how you think I should approach my health subject in both online dating and dating outside of it? How soon is too soon to tell someone about my health and do I break them in slowly or all at once? — Matter of the Heart
While your issues are quite different, I’ll first point you to last week’s His Take column, in which the guys advised a woman on how and when she should let dates know that her ex-husband used to abuse her. They all gave really great advice, the summary of which was: you do not have to — nor should you — share intimate details of your life, like the reason for your divorce, or, in your case, your heart condition — until you’ve achieved a level of comfort with someone. There’s no schedule for when that time will come, but I promise it isn’t on a first date (and definitely not in an online dating profile). Depending on you and the other person and the dynamic you share, you may feel ready to open up after a few dates … or it may take a few months. There’s no right answer here — it’s really what you feel comfortable with … and when the need to know arises. For example, if sex and intimacy exacerbates your condition, you should probably give some hint of that before you let yourself get too … excited.
Along those lines, if there’s a spark with someone you can see yourself pursuing a relationship with, it isn’t a bad idea to give a few clues early on. For example, you could let her see you take your medication and if she asks what you take it for, you might answer, “Oh, I have a health condition I have to take medication for.” If she asks what your health condition is, you can smile and say, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing contagious.” If she pushes or asks more follow-up questions, answer them as you feel comfortable, being as vague or as specific as you want. Basically, a general rule of thumb to keep in mind is to answer enough questions or share enough information that concern is minimized but not heightened. Letting a potential girlfriend know that you have just as much chance at a long and high-quality life as anyone else is a good place to start.
I’m sorry you’ve had occasions to feel like “damaged goods” on the dating scene and that your confidence has taken a hit. I’m tempted to suggest that that might have something to do with your age and relative new diagnosis you’re likely still coming to grips with. Once you reach my age (34), it isn’t all that unusual to meet and date people with a host of health problems, or history of health problems. Twenty-six is still pretty young to be dealing with heart issues and the women you’re meeting probably just aren’t used to going out with someone who isn’t in perfect health. No reason to let that get you down. Use the opportunity to show them that health conditions don’t have to be a big, scary thing that ruin your life or slow you down. You don’t have to be some sort of poster child for heart problems, but living a full and active life will never stop being attractive and will go a long way in increasing your confidence and showing off your vitality.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.