Dating and Relationships with Chronic Illness: an Interview with Kira Lynne
Aches, Pains, and Love: a Guide to Dating and Relationships for Those with Chronic Pain and Illness is a new book by Kira Lynne. Using her background as a life coach and someone who lives with multiple chronic illnesses, the author covers many aspects of dating and relationships. These include getting ready to date, dating, disclosing your illness, sex, relationships, and advice for partners of people with chronic illness. This is a fantastic book that shows a deep understanding of the challenges of relationships with chronic illness. The down-to-earth and practical advice and exercises will be tremendously helpful for anyone who lives with chronic illness and is looking for love.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kira about her book.
“I created what I was looking for,” Kira said of writing her book. “I read books about pain and female pain, and they were all pretty negative about your relationship potential.” She used her life coach experience to write about how we overcome the obstacle and create what we want.
Kira wasn’t always a life coach and author. After working in restaurant management and hospital administration, she went back to school to become a paralegal. She experienced burnout in that career, and decided to go a different route. “I wanted to get deeper into helping people, and became a registered holistic nutritionist, and a professional counsellor and life coach. I feel like I finally am where I was meant to be,” she said.
The book came out of Kira’s own experience with chronic pain and illness. “It started in my late teens with pelvic pain,” she told me. The pain continued until she was diagnosed in her 30s with interstitial cystitis, fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Kira’s chronic illnesses have affected her career. “They were a huge factor in why I left the law firm. I had to take a break and reevaluate my life,” she said. “The wake-up call got so strong I couldn’t ignore it anymore.”
Create a foundation to create a relationship
In her book, Kira stresses the importance of having worked on yourself before starting to date. If you don’t, she believes it’s difficult to create a sustainable relationship. “I see that even in people who don’t have pain or chronic illness,” she said. “If they haven’t done work on themselves, the relationships are usually not that successful.”
So, how do you create the foundation? Kira explained that this includes work to “clear up your baggage, such as past hurts, beliefs about relationships that aren’t serving you. Become more confident and secure in yourself.” She also believes it’s essential to create a good support team, and to know and respect your body and your illness. “The stronger you are in yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, the better your chances of having a successful relationship.”
Disclosing your condition
Many people with chronic illness worry about disclosing their condition to someone they’re dating, and Kira is no different. “Will they see the illness and not see who I am? That’s the biggest challenge for me.” She is working with a coach, “chipping away at the beliefs that are not serving me in a relationship, some related to chronic illness, some not.”
Kira's advice to others starts with a reminder that “you don’t owe anyone anything until you decide you like them.” She emphasizes feeling good about what you’re disclosing, and that you don’t need to get specific right away, but can disclose slowly and in pieces. For instance, if the other person suggests taking a walk, you can mention not being able to walk very far. Above all, Kira recommends that you “listen to your intuition, listen to your body. If the thought of divulging makes you cringe, now’s not the time.”
Her thoughts about sex run along the same lines. She notes the importance of remembering the strong foundation, and to think ahead to ensure you don’t end up in a position or situation that might be uncomfortable, or for which you’re not ready. Kira herself won’t go to a man’s house for a while, until she feels ready.
Her bottom line is to be realistic about what she wants. That is, instead of does he want me? she shifts the emphasis to do I want him? It’s important to remember that “just because you have a disability, it doesn’t make you less-than or less deserving of love. By being human, we are all worthy of love.” She believes that coming from a position of hope and optimism is a very important part to creating a successful dating situation.
Advice for partners of people who have chronic pain
Aches, Pains, and Love also contains a chapter for the partners of people with chronic conditions. In this, Kira explains her number one piece of advice for them is to not to be the primary caregiver. “It changes the balance of power, and can lead to powerlessness and insecurity for the sick partner, and resentment for the healthy person. It kills the romance.”
She also mentioned that it’s important for the healthy partner to maintain their own life and interests, and take care of themselves.
What’s next for Kira
In addition to promoting the book, Kira also has plans for a holiday, continuing to work in her practice, and starting work on the new book. As for her social life, “I am currently dating someone with a disability,” Kira shared. “There is a little more understanding.”
“I’m very hopeful for myself.”
Aches, Pains, and Love: a Guide to Dating and Relationships for Those with Chronic Pain and Illness is available in paperback and e-book formats, and the audiobook is in production. You can learn more about Kira Lynne on her website.
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Lene writes the award-winning blog The Seated View. She’s the author ofYour Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain.