Telling a Potential Partner That I Have Sickle Cell Disease

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by Dunstan Nicol-Wilson |

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The dating scene has shifted significantly in recent years. It’s common nowadays to meet people online through social media or dating apps.

Virtual dating allows someone to create a profile that showcases their best qualities. It can include anything from favorite foods to most embarrassing moments. In building my profile, I’ve always wrestled with the question of when and how to disclose that I have sickle cell disease.

In my early dating years, I rarely mentioned sickle cell. I either wasn’t serious about the relationship or didn’t want to be judged. I was insecure about my genetic condition, so I tried to hide it. It took some time before I was comfortable enough with a partner to share, and when I did, I received mixed responses.

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Some felt that I had withheld vital information. I understand this, as my sickle cell journey would affect them over time. They’d likely see me in a hospital bed suffering from a crisis, which isn’t a great spectacle. Sickle cell can be a lot to deal with, especially if you’re unprepared for it, and I realized it was unfair to bring someone into that space without warning.

Withholding this information also meant I could potentially meet someone who has the sickle cell trait or the disease. I personally don’t want to have any children with sickle cell, so in that scenario, I’d either need to end the relationship or explore alternative methods of building a family. These are hard conversations to have when feelings have developed, making it difficult to find the best solution for both of us.

The burden of deciding when and how to tell people that I have sickle cell disease made it difficult to build healthy relationships. Sickle cell affects every part of me, including my mood, personality, and motivations, so part of me was always hidden as I tried to develop deeper connections.

When to disclose

Being upfront about my condition allows potential suitors to decide if they can handle it. Not everyone wants to be in a relationship with someone who has a chronic illness, and that’s OK. Therefore, I always disclose this information during the first few conversations. If it’s not received well or the conversation fades, it’s easier to move on because I haven’t developed feelings yet.

How to disclose

Because I do advocacy work for sickle cell and blood donations, I always tie this into my personal interests on my dating profile. Potential matches who are genuinely interested in me might ask what that work entails, and at that point, I’ll be open about my sickle cell journey. This allows me to be upfront, and it also provides insight into who I am as a person.

Disclosing health information is always a personal choice, but when you want to build a strong relationship, it’s important to share. I learned my lesson after failing to do this, but I also acknowledge how much I’ve grown. Dating is definitely more interesting when you have a chronic illness.

Note: Sickle Cell Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell disease.


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