Whether you’re swiping right or e-matching, online dating is no longer seen as the refuge of the weird and undatable. And dating sites and dating apps are perfect for people with chronic illness who might have a hard time leaving the house.
Looking for love can be a real challenge when you have a chronic illness and unfortunately, not everything is solved by including technology in your search.
Wondering when to disclose and whether the person will run screaming for the hills the minute you do, can make this process extremely stressful. Wouldn’t it be great to eliminate that factor?
Looking for love in your community
Several sites and apps specialize in people with chronic illness and disability. This allows for complete honesty — at least in terms of your health — and removes the stress of wondering if you’re going to be rejected because of your illness.
As with any dating sites, some are free and some have paid memberships or both. In creating your account, you’ll answer some questions, complete a profile, and upload a photo. Then the search (and the fun) begins.
Go at your own pace. That means you decide when you feel up to reaching out to people you connect with. The great thing about these sites is that the others in that community will understand that your energy levels may wax and wane.
Be smart when you chat with people and especially when you decide to meet someone. It can be easy to accelerate trust when you both understand life with chronic illness, but be careful nonetheless. The reality is that there are people who will not be genuine. It’s a part of the online dating process. Come to think of it, it’s simply part of dating!
But so is hope and faith that the match for you is out there. Online dating can be an excellent way to focus the search by finding out more about people before you take the leap to talk to them on the phone or meet in person.
Remember that it’s normal to kiss an awful lot of frogs before you find a prince or princess — just because you have chronic illness in common doesn’t mean it’ll work out. People fall in love for many reasons and a common experience is only one of them. Be patient. You’ll meet the right person for you if you persist. I know this because it happened to me! My partner and I met on a dating site 10 years ago and we are still madly in love.
Dating sites for chronic illness and disability
The following is a list of sites that are focused on the chronic illness and disability community. There are also a number of apps, but during my research, most of these seemed to be either not functioning or functioning badly.
DisabilityDating — The site serves a wide range of disabilities and chronic health conditions. The site was created to provide a venue to connect for people with direct experience of disability and those who understand these challenges. Membership is free.
It also has communities for individuals with chronic sexually transmitted diseases. The site was developed by Ricky Durham, who saw his late brother Keith encounter challenges in dating. Paid membership.
No Longer Lonely — People with mental illness may experience particular challenges when dating. No Longer Lonely is for people with a diagnosis of mental illness, including schizophrenia, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and more. There are both free and paid memberships.
POZ Personals — POZ is well known for an online and print magazine for people who are living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. They also run a dating site for their audience called POZ Personals with more than 150,000 members. There are two levels of membership: free or Premium at $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year.
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Lene Andersen is the Community Leader for HealthCentral’s RA Community. Lene (pronounced Lena) is an award-winning writer, health and disability advocate, and photographer living in Toronto. She’s written several books, including Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain, and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain, as well as the award-winning blog, The Seated View. Follow Lene on Twitter @TheSeatedView and on Facebook. Watch her story on HealthCentral.