When I first started dating after fleeing an abusive alcoholic husband in the wake of getting diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to do things right. If I was ever going to attempt dating again, I wanted to make sure I never ended up with a guy similar to my ex.
…But wait a minute. I wasn’t exactly at the top of my game. I was sick. I was bald, even though I had great wigs and I looked healthy. I was still in the midst of treatment. In fact, in one of the texts that my estranged husband, Rob the Great (Alcoholic) sent me, he reminded me of the fact. “I’m a great guy! I’ll have no problem finding another girlfriend in no time. You just don’t appreciate me. You, on the other hand, will never find anyone as fabulous as me. You’re a single mom living in your basement surviving on disability.” He always had a way with words.
Was he right? Could I date? What kind of guy would I attract? What information did I owe him about my illness?
The more I thought about it, I didn’t really care if I found another husband. I knew I would much rather be single than end up with a guy like Rob. But I was very curious as to what the dating scene for someone like me would look like.
Before I got ahead of myself, I made a list of the traits I was looking for in a guy. I might have cancer, but I was going to be extremely picky and if that meant I stayed single, so be it. Here is my list:
- No signs of alcoholism or substance abuse
- Kind and thoughtful
- 3. Honest. I was infinitely tired of the lies Rob told me in an attempt to hide his drinking. Sneaking alcohol, sneaking trips to bars… All of it. One sign of dishonesty, I was done.
- 4. Ample time after a split with his ex wife. I’ve gotta say– any woman who dates a man who’s straight out of a marriage is crazy.
- 5. Great relations with his children
- Handles stress well
- 7. No screaming at me (i.e. has good communication skills)
A few weeks ago I attended a ladies’ spa night at a friends’ house. While there, I met a woman who has been battling leukemia for nearly two years. She got married five months ago. She told me that when she started dating again, she was terrified. Would any guy accept her health issues? When she told her now-husband, he hugged her, told her he loved her, and the rest is history. So the answer is, yes, the chronically ill CAN date and find love. When you need to divulge your personal health history is for you to decide. Take your time and do what is right for you. Obviously, at some point, your health is an important part of you, so don’t let it go too long. But if you’re casually dating a guy, you don’t owe anyone anything. And, besides, when you do share this information with a guy, if he vanishes, it isn’t meant to be. Make sure you are open, honest, and you explain in detail what your illness means to your daily life. How often are you at doctor appointments, how expensive are your out-of-pocket treatments, what limitations do you have? Let me tell you how fun it was trying to hide the bruising on my stomach thanks to the injections I was giving myself every night. But I did and owning my imperfectness is ok. In fact, life is complicated. If a guy is looking for Perfect, I’m not it, and that is ok.