Tips for Dating with Fibromyalgia

This blog post is based on personal experience. It is not intended as medical or mental health advice.


It's a Match!


For a moment, I may smile. A match made is a match made, after all. I have taken a step out of my comfort zone in attempt to expand my circle. I am doing the things that other people my age are doing. I have made a first move.


But now begins the real effort: the introductions, the meetups, the energy exchanges.


Dating when you live with fibromyalgia is more complex and challenging than dating without a fluctuating and chronic nerve pain condition.


A person with fibromyalgia can experience several types of pain at once, extreme fatigue, mood changes including severe anxiety and depression, digestive disorder such as IBS, sensory issues, and migraines.


Since there is no cure for fibromyalgia, disease management is the only option people with this illness have at any quality of life.


Disease management doesn't care if you want to wear a certain outfit for your date, eat a certain meal together, do something spontaneous and outside of your comfort zone, or sit still and enjoy a live performance of flashing lights, too loud music, and too cold air conditioned air.


Disease management begs us to meet ourselves where we are at, each moment of each day. When it comes to fibromyalgia, the fluctuating nature of symptoms, easily triggered by stress or major change or weather, mean we do not know what we are in for each day. We cannot predict with exact confidence. Things happen quickly.


Dating and Living with Fibro


The pros of dating with fibro is when it goes well.


When you meet someone you can be yourself with, relax with, trust, and respect, you can lose yourself in those blissful chemical reactions going off, and at times even forget about fibro for a moment here and there. You may begin to experience feelings of pleasure, connection, and love, which are truly some of the best emotions this human experience has to offer.


The cons of dating with fibro


Dating when you have an invisible chronic illness is additionally exhausting and stress-inducing and can be a trigger for flares.


While we try to manage and work on nervous system regulation, this, too, takes extra effort when we begin "dating."


Some basic date considerations that become more complex when fibro is involved include:


  • footwear: it's not just about what to wear to be comfy and cute, it's about what to wear to walk and not limp or trigger the nerve pain in your foot, and how to match that aesthetic to your outfit...also will these shoes be required for the whole date? Fibro feet swell in heat and won't want to be in hot socks and shoes for a day or nighttime date...sandals don't always offer a lot of walking support...heels are out of the question (for my fibro feet, at least)

  • undergarments: it's not even about are they staying on or coming off, it's about whether or not you can stand the sensation of the bra on your back, shoulders, and whether or not the one comfortable bra you have is seggsy (just in case) or if it's too sporty and binds things down by default or if it's too hot for the date you have planned

  • a purse: I gave up on carrying a purse of any substantial size years ago because it creates shoulder imbalance, pain, and is always in the way. Now find a way to safely and securely bring your phones, keys, and wallet in women's pants and that's pretty much my go-to or I carry the items. Not ideal (fibro fog days and anxiety can have me rechecking my surroundings for my items to be sure).

  • pants: on flare days, a pant tag can be excruciatingly distracting against the skin. Loose pants in heat work well, if you can stand the sensation of the pant leg on your leg if wind occurs, or yoga pants that provide some compression pressure

  • hair: washing, blow drying, shaving, tweezing, waxing, whatever, it takes time, effort, and more energy than anyone without a chronic condition could even imagine

  • timing of date: you need to hydrate, eat, exercise, and sleep, among probably a bunch more things in your daily life that you may or may not be struggling to juggle. timing of the date can be a big consideration for maintaining your own routine regarding, especially, bedtime.

  • sleep: if you start seeing someone new and staying up later to accomodate getting in more time with them, it will backfire on your fibro symptoms.

  • food: if your diet changes drastically and suddenly (ie., you're eating out a lot more or eating more meat, dairy, or sugar and snack foods), your body will respond, again, with a backfire in symptoms.

  • medically helpful items: there are many things that are helpful to have in that non-purse you carry. Some include pain oil that you will be forever remembered by. Others include socks, glasses instead of contacts, medications, etc.

The best pieces advice I wish someone gave me


Listen to YOUR OWN NEEDS.


On a date, you've put so much thought and effort into the experience, you likely just want to have some fun! You may be tempted to stay out and up longer than usual, take risks with levels of activity your body can't currently accomodate, or even end up in physically uncomfortable settings that take a toll on your pain levels and mental health. This pain may prompt you to make choices that are not in your best interest health-wise. These are all fibro flare triggers, too.


Be your own advocate


Only you know what you experience, and what you need. You must be your own biggest advocate (and I know how hard this is since I still wince at times when even mentioning the word 'fibromyalgia' like it's some personal failing when IT IS NOT). Fibromyalgia isn't your fault. Be vocal about what you need. Be accepting enough of yourself to not frame fibro as some "catch" or deal breaker. Your chronic condition is not a catch or deal breaker for an human worthy of your time and energy.


Flares don't require a heartfelt apology (you have done nothing wrong)


You actually don't have to feel bad for cancelling plans due to an incurable illness. This is not a reflection of your character, it's a reflection of your illness.


That's all. You don't have to stay home feeling guilty, either, or trying to be productive in other ways to compensate, or trying to figure out what, exactly, "caused" this flare. Just rest (gentle movement is okay, but you know best!) and let your body receive relaxation, if possible.


If you liked this post, let me know and I'll write more content on living real life with fibromyalgia.

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