For many people with chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis (MS), the internet is an invaluable resource. You can find support, express yourself, and communicate with others. Online dating, in particular, can provide an opportunity to find romantic partners when social stigma or mobility issues, fatigue, and other MS symptoms make it difficult to do so face-to-face.
It is possible to find fulfilling, loving, long-term relationships while living with MS. Here is what you need to know about using dating sites and mobile applications (apps), including common concerns and dating strategies.
Dating can be difficult for anyone, and research shows that people with MS usually have two major types of dating concerns — disclosing MS to potential partners and how MS symptoms might affect dating.
When dating, some people with MS worry about disclosing their condition to potential partners. When is the “right” time to tell them? How should you go about bringing it up? And when you do, how will the other person react? As one MyMSTeam member wrote, “I meet nice guys, but it’s hard for them to understand me. It’s more me than them. It’s just frustrating.”
A long-term partner must understand how MS affects your life, but the “how” and “when” of disclosing your condition depends on your comfort level. You are under no obligation to disclose your condition immediately when meeting someone new. Some people will want to mention their MS early on, and others will not. Many people choose to wait to disclose their MS until they have become more comfortable with a person and the relationship is approaching intimacy.
After you decide to disclose your MS, the other person may need some time to process that information. Be patient and let them ask questions. The right person will be accepting and supportive.
Some people with MS worry about how symptoms like fatigue could affect their dating lives. They may worry that dating will look different for them, that they won’t be able to handle the time and energy commitment of dating, or that they will get into a relationship and not be able to continue it because of MS symptoms or an MS flare.
Dating might be different for people with chronic conditions like MS. When you’re not feeling well, it’s important to be straightforward about it and let your partner know if you’re not up for certain activities. Be honest about how you’re feeling and what you’re able to do on a given day. The right partner will be understanding and may even suggest alternative, lower-stress activities — like video chats or watching movies at home.
Having MS doesn’t have to change the way you date, but certain approaches may ease the process if dating feels daunting. Some people with MS prefer to date other people with MS or other chronic conditions or disabilities. Others don’t have a preference about someone’s health status.
Some people with MS choose to date other people with MS, chronic illnesses, or disabilities. As one MyMSTeam member explained, “I figured I would try a dating site catered to people with disabilities because I am tired of explaining my situation.” Dating people who can relate to living with a chronic health condition or disability is easier for some people with MS.
There aren’t any dating services specifically for people with MS, but you can find many websites and mobile apps for meeting others with chronic health conditions and disabilities. Some include:
Note that you will meet daters with a variety of physical or intellectual disabilities on these sites, not just those diagnosed with MS.
Other people with MS are not concerned about whether they date someone with MS or another health condition.
As one member wrote, “I have been on general dating sites — and have met great guys. Don’t limit yourself. You need to have more in common than just MS.”
Another member wrote, “Just because you have MS doesn’t mean you can’t date men without it. I have never dated a guy that had MS, nor did they have a problem with my having MS.”
There are many online dating services and apps for meeting people, including:
Most websites rely on compatibility algorithms to connect you to people. The apps usually involve swiping through potential matches to select the people you are interested in. Note that some people on certain apps may be more interested in sexual relationships (or hookups) than committed, romantic relationships.
No matter which service you choose, make a dating profile that is honest about who you are and what you like. Don’t be afraid to make the first move and send messages to people who interest you.
Finding people you truly connect with may take some time. However, that time will be worth it when you’re out there dating, meeting new people, and potentially finding the right person.
Sometimes, you might need to take a dating break, especially if you have had negative experiences. One member offered some advice: “Don’t give up! Just take a break. I’m taking a break just because I’ve got too much going on and am just plain exhausted!”
Taking a break from dating to reassess your goals and interests can help you regain some energy and clarity before you put yourself out there again.
It is important to prioritize your safety when dating online. Major red flags include people who:
You can take a few steps from the beginning to keep yourself safe while dating online. For example, you can:
With a few precautions, online dating can be fun and can help you find a compatible partner.
On MyMSTeam, the social network for people with multiple sclerosis and their loved ones, more than 186,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share stories about life with MS.
Are you looking for love while living with MS? Have you tried online dating sites or dating apps? Share your story or tips in the comments below or by posting on MyMSTeam.