Since (a few failed attempts at) re-entering the dating world post-widowhood, I have learned that there are many struggles to dating in the modern era. From the drama of online dating to the drama of just dating at all, I have learned a lot about how to navigate the dating world as a “young widow”. But I am realising that there are still things I have yet to figure out. (And maybe I’ll never figure them out!)
The biggest of those things are around disclosures. As in, when do you disclose certain things to a potential suitor?
Some disclosures were easy for me to figure out. Like my marital status. Whilst some widows opt to hold that information back for a few dates or a few months, I have always made sure that my status was clear before the first date was over. (This, of course, is made easier because I still sport my wedding rings.)
It is also easy to disclose the fact that I don’t work (doing a PhD gets me a pass on the otherwise awkward “unemployed” status). Then there are the “who cares?” things such as nationality, religion, and education levels—though some of those automatic disclosures can be a bit hard for some people to handle.
But what about the “big” things?
Children? No, I don’t have any. That’s easy enough to say. Do I want them? Well, that’s a bit harder. Because I do. But I can’t. Well, not safely (medical issues) and therefore only through adoption. But, again, that’s not too difficult of a disclosure as I get older, as men my age are less likely to be really, really keen and eager to start a family. (Or they already have children. Which, I admit, can be a barrier for me!)
The really big things that I worry about, however, are the medical things.
How do I tell a potential suitor that I have kidney disease and may very well need dialysis or a transplant at some point in the future? How do I tell them that it’s genetic and that whilst I hope that I am healthy for many, many years to come, there is always a chance that my health declines swiftly and I will need serious medical intervention when that happens?
How do I tell a potential suitor that I also have a rare blood disease that causes me mild problems on a regular basis (bruising, prolonged bleeding), fairly moderate problems on an occasional basis (drastic drops in my platelets leading to bed rest), and has the (extreme and rare) potential of causing life-threatening problems (brain bleed, anyone?)? How do I tell them that I never know from one day to the next if I will have a platelet crash and be unwell for a while? How do I tell them that the simplest of colds can mean I am very ill for several weeks?
How do I tell someone I like that I am a ticking time-bomb? How do I explain to them that, whilst I am seemingly healthy, a long-term relationship with me might mean they are a caregiver at some point? I don’t want to tell someone too soon, and have them think I’m going to die tomorrow. But I also don’t want to tell someone too late, risking them feeling betrayed and manipulated.
Because they should have a choice in falling for someone who is sick. They should have the choice of walking away early on, before they are emotionally invested. Because they should have a choice.
I know that this is something I will have to work out on my own to at least some degree (Google will help, I hope!) but I really would love some thoughts on the issue—and from the side of the tellers and the tellies! So if you’ve had to disclose medical issues to a date, or if you have had them disclosed to you, please do shout out! (And maybe, with luck, this theoretical query of mine can be put to the test in the near future!)