Dating the Terminally ill

Dating is usually about hoping to meet the right mate or at least being open to various romantic possibilities in life. But what if you find out that your partner is terminally ill; then the very essence of hope and future inherent in dating clashes with imminent pain, separation and death. And yet dating is also about having fun and enjoying oneself with a like-minded partner – something which you can do with a terminally ill person too. So if you are thinking of dating someone who is terminally ill or are already doing so, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Know exactly what you are doing

Being in a relationship with someone who is terminally ill is extremely exhausting. Your partner will likely be in and out of hospitals and clinics, prone to bouts of depression and sometimes without warning, his/her condition may take a turn for the worse. All this can be emotionally draining for a partner, not to mention physically taxing. And worst of all, you know that there is no future together to which you can look forward. So if you have not started a terminally ill person, it is best of all not to start now. However if you decide to go ahead, let it be for the right reasons. Don’t start dating a terminally ill person out of pity for his/her condition. Or be misled by the romantic notion that you will be helping a suffering person to enjoy a few more moments of love and happiness. If you must date someone who cannot get better, let it be for the interests and values that you share and the fact that you feel happy and fulfilled in each other’s company.

Find out about his/her condition

If you have just found that your partner is terminally ill and cannot think of leaving the relationship, then the most practical thing to do would be to find out all you can about his/her condition. Ask your partner to share with you the nature of his/her illness and the ongoing treatment. Also be aware of the various kinds of medication he/she is on and any contraindications or side-effects that they may have. Being armed with information will not only help your partner to better manage his/her condition but you will know what foods and drinks to avoid and what to do in a medical emergency. However it may be possible that your partner is not ready to share all the details about his/her illness in the early stages of dating. Do not pressure him/her to come clean on the illness but bide your time and give evidence of your openness to any discussion.

Be safe

There are innumerable potentially fatal diseases for which there is no cure. And some of them like aids can be spread by sexual, intimate or body contact. So when dating a terminally ill person, take care that you don’t put yourself in any danger of contracting the disease. Keeping yourself safe implies that you value the relationship and don’t want anything to happen that would create additional complications. Don’t be misled by sentimental notions of sharing in your partner’s condition into exposing yourself to danger. If you too fall ill, then all chances of a fulfilling relationship – no matter for how short a time – will come to nought. Act like responsible partners and have a mutual respect for each other’s well-being.

Explore unusual dating options

At the same time though, dating a terminally ill person need not only be about what you cannot do or experience. Admittedly you may have to avoid physically rigorous activities like mountain biking or wind surfing but then you can drive to the hills and have a picnic by a gurgling stream or simply laze at a beach on a sunny day. You both can explore art galleries, historical monuments or take up a hobby or a course together. Even when your partner is not particularly feeling well, you can have a home date, playing your favorite DVD or reading out love poems to one another. There are innumerable ways you can enjoy each other’s company while safeguarding your partner’s health. You can even leave for short vacations provided it is not too tiring or the weather too hostile.

Live for the moment

Love and passion are not emotions counted in number of days. So even if you cannot plan a future together or have a family, you can definitely shower all your love on each other right now. If there is a movie that your partner hasn’t seen, a hobby that you have always wanted to try out or a place nearby that your partner dreamt of visiting, this is the time to do it. Make use of all the moments you have to build a happy and fulfilling present. So that even in the days to come when you will be alone, you will have no regrets and instead a treasury of wonderful memories.

Rope in well-wishers

If you are in a relationship with a terminally ill person, try to become part of his/her circle of family and friends. You will not only be able to contribute better to your partner’s healthcare but you yourself will have access to a support network in times of emotional distress.

Seek acceptance

Many doctors and counselors believe that acceptance of the reality of illness can go a long way in easing the pain and helping you to live for the moment. However acceptance of the inevitability of your partner’s illness may take time and it comes more easily to some than others. Indeed you can even take recourse to spirituality and faith since all the major religions preach acceptance of God’s will in some form or other. At the same time though, identify and make use of the choices you have. Adapt yourself to the opportunities at your disposal and use every available strategy that can help you in having a positive and fulfilling relationship.