Today’s post takes a more literal look at our theme of “Matchmaking Month,” as Sharifa writes about actual matchmaking sites online. As we discussed in last week’s #HAchat – telling someone you’re romantically interested in that you’re living with a health condition – is not something anyone looks forward to. The conversation itself is scary and anticipation of the recipient’s response might be even scarier. When you’re thinking of love and romance – the last thing you want to focus on is the tough challenge of living with a symptoms, treatment, and the weight of self-care. Perhaps this is the exact thought behind the creation of certain dating sites that are especially tailored to patients who are chronically ill. Just as there are sites dedicated to members of certain religious groups or centered around particular hobbies – these patient-dating sites reveal a few of the important facts about each of the members’ lives – just related to their health instead. Let’s look at what these sites aim to accomplish and how they compare and contrast to our own patient-to-patient health communities. –Amanda
Finding Love Online as Patients
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day! At the mere sight of those words, I am certain many people’s minds wander to thoughts of hearts, roses, stuffed animals, chocolate, jewelry, etc. – physical manifestations of romance or love or infatuation, whatever the case maybe.
In this post, I will not be adopting that angle. I refuse to dwell on the commercial idealistic aspect of the day. Instead, I invite you to explore with me the world of matchmaking specifically the realm created for those who are ill and thus feel challenged when it comes to dating, making special connections and finding love.
You have seen this phrase on a television commercial in the past probably: “1 in 5 new relationships begin on an online dating site.” I can not help but wonder if this statistic is reflective of those who are chronically ill as well. Given the rise of websites such as Ostodate, Prescription4Love and Whispers4u, I suspect the number might be higher for those who feel constrained by their disease/s.
‘I have not heard of these websites. What exactly are these websites?’ Already, I can sense questions forming. Before I take any, let me tell you how I would describe these sites and then we can move on from there. These are all online dating and/or friendship sites for people who suffer from certain diseases, who have distinct health ailments and/or who are interested in the aforementioned.
Someone who is not afflicted with an illness may inquire how these websites are different from the traditional set, for example Match.com and eHarmony? To a person who considers himself/herself healthy the majority of the time, the distinctions may not be very clear. However, they are present. Here, are some of the unique qualities of dating websites targeted at people with health conditions/ illnesses offer various communities and what an asset they are to their users.
- To start with, websites that cater to people with health conditions eliminate the need for the dreaded ‘awkward conversation’ of revealing an illness to another person.
- Users of these sites are more likely to find support, rather than rejection. I admit, that sentence sounds harsh. After researching this topic, I have to say it is an unfortunate but because it is a real fear for those living with health conditions – this is a comforting quality.
- By dating or befriending someone else who is familiar with the disease, the educating phase isn’t necessary. The majority of stereotypes, misconceptions, and stigma that could potentially come into play are removed. Interactions can, instead, focus around more in-depth conversation.
- These websites offer reassurance to users as they know there is a place where they can possibly find love without judgment, and through this, the health condition is no longer a defining component of their profile. It offers an even playing field for those on the site.
It’s important to keep in mind that many people truly are hesitant about letting others know they are sick for a variety of reasons. There are enough things to worry about when beginning a new relationship – without adding apprehension about revealing your condition to others. For the same reasons many patients go online to find a community of those who understand – these sites aim to accomplish the same thing.
Are you in this situation or do you know someone who has been? What do you think of the idea of condition-specific dating sites? Share your thoughts with us.
I think this is a fitting conclusion to today’s post: We all yearn to love/ find love and human connection regardless of our perceived individual boundaries.
Happy Matchmaking Month all.
Today’s post is a wonderful Guest Post (and must-read!) by Health Activist Julia Olenik blogger at the awesome blog Reasonably Well. In her guest post she shares her experience with that third relationship conflict mentioned in our theme: your condition vs. your family (and friends). Julia offers real, honest advice and I know you’re going to enjoy reading this as much as I did. –Amanda
February, Family, and Friends
The month of February brings with it several interesting events; one being Groundhog day, when it’s so gratifying to anticipate the end of winter. Another is Super Bowl Sunday and the best excuse ever to gather in large boisterous crowds in front of huge televisions while consuming large quantities of really-bad-for-you snacks.
But my favorite day by far in February is Valentine’s Day. Why? Well, gifts of chocolate in heart shaped boxes from a wonderful hubby for many years are very, very good things. But aside from chowing down on a serious amount of high quality candy, Valentine’s day also is a great time to for me to take time to appreciate not only my marriage, but all the relationships with others around me.
When I think about my relationships, mostly I think about how fortunate I am to have these special folks around me, especially since autoimmune disease entered my life. My ties with my family and friends were certainly tested during the early days of my diagnosis. I am incredibly thankful that these vital bonds survived, and eventually flourished. But it wasn’t an easy process.
Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, and my life changed in ways that I would never have imagined. I wish that I could say that I accepted these changes with grace, but I didn’t. No, I became crabby and very self-centered. Not that I didn’t deserve to be a bit cranky: Sjogren’s brought with it bone-crunching fatigue, joint pain, the classic dry eyes and dry mouth. It also took away my job and several of my hobbies.
I was not a happy camper.
As I struggled to adjust to the enormous changes that my body was making, I became aware that my social circle was changing, too. Several friends that I had considered close began to just……fade away. My family and closest friends often looked at me with puzzlement and concern. They didn’t know what to make of me, and I didn’t know what to make of me, either. It was a difficult time, and I knew that if my ties with my loved ones were to survive, I needed to look to the wisdom and experiences of others who had successfully made this journey before me.
I found a helpful perspective from another woman dealing with chronic illness in the book A Delicate Balance: Living Successfully With Chronic Illness, (Perseus Publishing, 2000, pg. 191) In it, author Susan Milstrey Wells dove headlong into these same issues. She discussed the many ways that chronic illness may impact all of our relationships – those as a spouse, a child, a sibling, a parent, a co-worker, and as a friend. She summed up her experiences by saying:
February is here so that means we have a new theme to announce! This month we will be aligning with many retailers’ second-favorite holiday – except that we promise to spare you the saccharine jewelry commercials and obligatory heart-shaped gifting. Our theme is Chronic Conditions and Relationships – two things that affect nearly everyone but do so in individual, sometimes inexplicable ways. There’s a lot to discuss on this broad topic but, as was the case with last month’s theme, you can come here for some ideas, inspiration, and things to bring back to your community.
We’re going to look the “relationships” part of Chronic Conditions and Relationships a bit differently than you might expect. “Relationships” doesn’t always mean “romance,” and we’re touching on all different kinds of relationships in this month’s theme. Inspired by the six common conflicts of fiction (read this Wikipedia article for a refresher), we will delve into all the assorted (sometimes conflicting) relationships we have in our lives. I’ve decided to explain our topics through the conflicts there. Here’s our look at the different kinds of relationships that we, as Health Activists, may be involved in:
Which relationship conflict is the one your community talks about most often? Head over to our Community and add your thoughts to this discussion. Be sure to check back in throughout the month for some prompts, featured conversations, interviews, and other activities for you to try in your health communities. And as always, thank you for everything you guys do. The relationship between Health Activists and WEGO Health is a solid one. 🙂