When to Disclose Multiple Sclerosis to Your Date

When is the right time to talk about your MS?

Dating can be one of the most stressful things in life. Here you are, trying to figure out how you feel about someone, while you know that they are analyzing you in the very same way. Adding a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and the knowledge that if this relationship develops you will have to disclose this information at some point gives a whole new dimension to the normal anxiety around dating.

I asked people with MS to share their opinions, experiences and advice on dating and disclosing MS. Here are some of the responses that I received:

  • I have had MS since I was 19 - now I'm 28. I have had girlfriends that were understanding, some were not so understanding. I guess it's time to try to find someone with the same condition around the same age.
  • Tell them quick - if they can't accept it, tell them to walk. I loved my girlfriend with MS for almost 25 years but she died, from bad nursing homes and a bad colon that was taken out. I loved her so much, she was a brave fighter but she couldn't fight the last battle.
  • I'd say tell him right off the bat. If it's a problem for him, then you're lucky you told him when you did. if he can't deal with MS, imagine how he/she would deal with even bigger issues?
  • I think some guys will be okay with and others not. Guess who I'm going to end up with? The guy who IS okay with it.
  • Waiting to tell people that we date about our MS only generates anxiety and many of us living with MS have anxiety issues to begin with. I find that on the first or second date you generally get a sense of whether or not you want to continue seeing this person and at that time is when I would say it. If they can't handle it then so be it! Let them go. If they can't even handle hearing about it, imagine them not being there for you when you're going through a rough MS day or a relapse.
  • While not every person will be able to see beyond the MS diagnosis, the earlier you tell someone the better. No sense in getting attached or hiding the fact. Let the other person determine whether they can deal with this reality or not but don't wait and fool yourself. The person won't be ok with MS if they're not understanding to begin with but if they are understanding, then they won't run.
  • If just out for a date nothing serious, I would not tell – when I was younger, that is. All you would probably get would be a stressful date that would be no fun. But if it gets serious, you need to be up front and go from there.
  • I don't think it is such a big deal to tell people others that I have MS. It's not like it's something you can pass on. It's just that you have it. I'm sure that if you explain well enough (I mean, explain what MS is) they would understand, and wouldn't treat you any different. I've been telling people around me that I have it, and it hasn't made much an impact. So just SAY IT.
  • I tell about my MS on about the 3rd date. After a certain age, many people have some health condition or another. MS is mine. I have no lasting effects of my MS attacks and there is no absolute guarantee I will have another relapse. But you never know. Since diagnosis, I have dated about 6 men each for 6 months or more, investigating the possibility of a long-term relationship, and none have been scared off by my MS. I no longer have fear of my MS interfering with dating, but if I had disabilities as a result or obvious signs of MS or yearly attacks lasting 4 weeks plus, I'm not sure how that would play out. I think it would scare some people off.

Bottom Line: Like most of the other people who wrote in, I am a fan of getting the "I have MS" speech out of the way early. However, I was engaged when I was diagnosed with MS, and my fiancé (now husband) took it in stride. I imagine that if I had been burned a couple of times after disclosing my MS status, that I would be a little cautious in sharing the information.

If you would like to read more about real-life dating experiences of people with MS, I have compiled some of the stories that I have gotten, doing you the favor of dividing them into Bad Dating Experiences of People with Multiple Sclerosis and Good Dating Experiences of People with Multiple Sclerosis

Read more about talking about your MS: 

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