Love in the Time of Diabetes

I hate dating.

Okay, let me back up. I love dating. I love getting dressed up, I love the nerves of waiting for my date to show up, I love all that. But relationships have always been a problem for me because I’m a diabetic.

Okay, let me back up. It’s not just because I’m diabetic, but I might as well blame it on something, right? Besides, being T1 adds a layer of awkwardness to a process that already seems laden with enough awkwardness landmines.

The only reason my first boyfriend in college knew I was diabetic was because he saw my pump. In fact, I didn’t even tell him; my roommate did (Thanks, roomie!). Everyone has things that they don’t necessarily want to tell on the first date; sometimes you need to get comfortable with a person before you want to tell something so personal. You don’t want to tell them at the beginning, but if you wait too long, it only makes things worse. You try to wait for the right moment, but, alas, there’s no such thing.

But here’s the thing….people already have to deal with so many other quirky parts of me. I laugh at everything, I work ridiculous hours, and I am a smidge high-maintenance. Being diabetic isn’t a personality trait or anything that I can even control, but it’s still a big part of my life, and if a guy becomes a big part of my life, then it becomes a part of his life, too. I feel as though I’m asking him to take on more than what he signed up for.

I hear unconfirmed rumors that a healthy romantic relationship can actually make having diabetes easier. One of my friends with diabetes has been dating a guy for 2 years who knows she’s a diabetic. She told me that of all the people in her life, there are only 2 people who she can stand getting on her case about her diabetes – her boyfriend and her mother. That’s the kind of relationship that I want. You know it’s the right guy when you don’t mind him giving you grief about keeping your diabetes in check. I’ll take a guy like that, please.

The truth is that it eventually has to come out if you want a future with your love interest. Basically if there’s a guy or girl who can’t accept the T1 side of you, then he’s not going to be a good fit for you in the long run. Everything can be glossed over in the first blush of love, but we get to a point in life where it’s more important to have a supportive person at your side than it is to maintain the illusion of perfection.

Besides, I don’t think that dating me would be any easier if I weren’t diabetic. I would still be the same crazy girl that I am now, albeit without the pump. And I’m learning through trial and error that well-controlled diabetes is not going to be a deal-breaker in a good relationship.

I guess diabetes is just a good litmus test of your romance’s staying power. Yeah; that’s the silver lining. I’ll end it there.

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Heather Hall just graduated with a degree in writing from Drake University in Iowa. Her work has appeared in Drake Magazine and she has served as editor for Periphery, Drake's literary magazine. Hall was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 9.

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