Lupus and Relationships
Last updated: March 2023
I wanted to talk about relationships in my latest article, as I feel it is something that can have a huge impact on lupus patients. I have experienced both ends of the spectrum when it comes to this subject, and I think it's something that others have too, so it's always insightful to share our own thoughts and experiences.
Navigating lupus and relationships
When I first became very sick with lupus pre-diagnosis, I had been in a long-term relationship for 6 years, and we had recently become engaged. We had a great connection, and we had plenty to look forward to. We both had decent jobs, and we enjoyed traveling and living life to the full. Upon the decline of my health, this all started to change.
It was an incredibly difficult time for me with being so unwell and having to take so much time off work. I had so many worries and concerns about what was wrong with my body, and at this time, I had no answers.
I had no improvement with my health, and a huge strain had been placed upon our relationship. I could feel my partner becoming more resentful towards me once I had to leave my job. I can understand the financial issues were a huge strain, but I guess I felt very unsupported emotionally while feeling so vulnerable.
Eventually, we did go on to get married, although I think the cracks were just too large, and we split a few years later.
Feeling insecure about the future
In reality, it's surprising to learn that it's often the person with the chronic illness or disability that will end a relationship because they might feel as though they are holding their partner back and can do better. Communication is so important in these types of situations. Obviously, it's a huge change when a person suddenly gets sick with a life-changing illness such as lupus, and the whole dynamic of a relationship will change.
Some of the factors that will often change in an existing relationship post lupus are where the woman can no longer look after the house and kids in the same way as before, loss of income, appearances can change due to steroids, or there's a loss of libido.
After my experience, I had a lot of worries and insecurities about any future relationships. I felt like nobody would be interested in me because I had a chronic illness, and I would be too much of a burden.
I think this is especially so if you are placed in a situation where you're actively looking for a partner, such as online dating. There's more pressure for people to feel like they need to be perfect to impress the potential date, and of course, when exactly do you slip in there that you have a chronic illness where you struggle to get out of bed most days? Plus, there's the bonus of constantly canceling the date because you aren't feeling well.
It can be hard enough to find the ideal partner when you are healthy and well, so it can be extremely difficult when you have lupus – but not impossible!
Building a healthy relationship
I did go on to meet my perfect partner, although I already knew him as we started as friends. I was lucky as he knew all about my health woes, and it didn't phase him at all. I would mention all the time in the early days how it's no picnic when you're dating someone with a chronic illness, but he would just say, "well, I can handle it."
He's been there for me when it's mattered the most. He's never made me feel like a burden, and when I'm an emotional mess, he picks me up and talks to me until I'm feeling calm. Fast forward 10 years, and we now have a daughter together.
How are you most likely to respond when someone offers you unsolicited advice about your lupus?