As I Get Older, People Seem to Care Less About My RA

Last updated: October 2022

Finding someone. Dating. Relationships.

When you have rheumatoid arthritis or any chronic illness, being in a relationship comes with extra challenges. If there’s anything relationships don’t need – it’s more challenges. It’s like adding laser turrets and spike strips to the DMV driving test. Or the instructor didn’t get his half-caf, no-foam, soy latte before work. I can never tell with those instructors, but I digress. Relationships with chronic illness as the third person are hard, but lately, I’ve noticed something. The older I get, the less people seem to care about it.

Dating while aging

Now, I am certainly not “old,” well, maybe I am by some standards, but then again… you know what, let’s start again. Ahem… Now! I’m certainly not VERY old, but I’ve been around for a good amount of time, and with the exception of a brief pause in my mid-thirties, I have pretty much been actively dating my entire life. Well, not when I was a baby, obviously, but I was a really cute baby. Just sayin’. Anyway, I can confidently say I’ve seen it all. Some day I’ll write a book about the hilariously disastrous dates I’ve been on and it will be a bestseller. Just have to wait for a few statutes of limitations to run out first. I swear that squirrel completely recovered.

My point is, if anyone knows how badly rheumatoid arthritis or really any chronic illness can screw up a relationship, it’s me. Now that I’m actively dating again, I have been dreading telling potential dates about it. This time around, a funny thing started happening – no one really cared that much.

Preparing for disappointment

Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely got ghosted more than a few times when they found out my full name. Apparently its S.O.P. (that’s the cool way to say standard operating procedure) to google the name of your potential date, you know, just in case something like “John Smith acquitted on penguin sex ring charges.” pops up. The problem is that I’ve been writing and conducting interviews and doing seminars now for more than fifteen years, so if you google my name, a ton of stuff comes up, and the words “cancer,” “arthritis,” and, weirdly, “frightened (??)” are right at the top, so you can imagine how that might scare off any potential partners. Yeah, being 1% famous on the Internet isn’t great for dating. Who knew?

This is why when I dove in with both feet to this latest round of looking for someone, I prepared myself for disappointment. It’s why I was even more surprised when it didn’t happen anywhere near as much as I expected. In fact, there were more than a few times when it seemed like whoever I was talking to didn’t really care.

Everyone deals with hardships

It's true – and my first thought was “well, I guess I am officially old.” I had reached the age where people just understood that anyone they meet is going to have their share of scars and baggage because, well, no one gets out of this life unscathed. After 4 decades… ish…  only someone who has lived in an underground bunker their whole life could escape the damage the world does to you just by living it. Then again, bunker life would probably come with its own set of problems. Still though, you get my point.

After enough years of living, none of us gets out unharmed. I think that after a certain age most people realize this and that’s why it’s getting easier to breach the subject of my complicated, complicated, relationship and health history.

Does more acceptance come with age?

I also think there’s another reason and it has to do with a realization that many of us have after a certain age. You sort of come to terms with the fact you might end up alone. Not in a sad, tragic, way, but in sort of a, “if it happens it happens, and if not then that’s OK too,” way. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to around my age who have accepted the fact that the cards may not fall correctly for them to meet anyone again.

I know, it sounds sad and lonely but there’s nothing wrong with being alone. There are still friends and family to keep you company. It’s the other reason why I think some of the potential dates I meet around my age are much less phased by the RA and cancer diagnoses that I currently have. We’ve all accepted the fact that meeting someone we like and want to be with would be a bonus and many of us have figured out how to live and be relatively happy without the potential for finding a significant other, so we are more apt to be accepting of whoever we meet, warts and all.

Hope for the future

As you can see, dating with chronic illness still isn’t what I’d call “easy” by any stretch of the imagination, but I have learned not to look gift horses in the mouth. In their mouths? Whatever, the point is that things getting a little bit easier for once is a gift I’ll readily take and who knows, maybe, just maybe, I’ll end up not needing to worry about dating again for a while. Talk soon.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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