Dating is hard when you have Parkinson’s disease, but it can also be fun! Learn how to narrow the search for your soul mate by being true to yourself and open minded with others.
Your mouth is dry. Your palms are sweating. Your heart is practically beating through your chest. You look down at your hands and notice they’re shaking uncontrollably. What if you freeze and not know what to say? What if you fall and fall hard?
Moments like these make it tough to tell whether your Parkinson’s is acting up or if it’s a merely a case of the first-date jitters.
Looking for love with Parkinson’s has its own set of challenges. That’s why we came up with five tips to make your search a little bit easier.
1.Get out there and socialize.
The Power Through Project is an excellent way to meet other people with Parkinson’s around the world. You can make friends virtually by liking and commenting on their status updates. You can make friends in person by using the PTP exercise class finder to locate Parkinson’s-friendly fitness classes in your area. At this very moment, there could be someone with Parkinson’s in Australia who loves ice cream and tai chi just as much as you do. But you’ll never know until you sign up!
If you’re actively looking for love, you may want to get with the times and give online dating a chance. The world has come a long way since the early days of chatrooms and personal ads. There are all kinds of dating sites available, from the well known Tinder and Bumble apps to online sites specifically for people with chronic conditions, such as Prescription4Love.com. And if you’re looking for advice from another PWP, check out social media groups and blogs. We like Kathleen Kiddo’s Adventures with Parkinson’s blog, which has posts about dating with PD.
2.Be honest and upfront.
So maybe “I have Parkinson’s” is not the first thing you disclose to every person you encounter. But when it comes to dating, you shouldn’t wait too long to tell a potential mate that you have Parkinson’s. Some people are so fearful of telling their crushes the truth about their disease that they’ll make up other excuses for symptoms like stiffness, tremors and balance issues. Trust us, this will only backfire in the end.
Just rip off the proverbial Band-Aid and get it over with. We shouldn’t have to worry about making people feel uncomfortable about the things we can’t change about ourselves. Parkinson’s doesn’t define who you are as a person, but it is a part of you. Anyone who can’t see past your disease isn’t worth your time anyway. You deserve someone who loves you for you.
3.Know your physical capabilities and your limitations.
A lot of people are hooked on televised dating shows like “The Bachelor” where couples go on these intense, action-packed adventures that start with skydiving lessons and end up in a hot tub where things get awkward. Yet despite our addiction to reality TV, we all know that dating in real life is far less exciting and far more complicated.
Be realistic when it comes to dating with Parkinson’s. Account for the realities of your disease when planning dates. Stick to your usual medication routine, meal plans and rest times. Keep emergency contacts and medical information in your wallet or on your phone wherever you go, and never forget your charger. Let a loved one know who you are meeting, where you are going and when you expect to return. You might share the full name and phone number of your date with that person for safety purposes.
Dress comfortably and practically. You don’t want to go on a romantic stroll downtown wearing stilettos when you already learned the hard way that high heels can lead to balance issues and falls. Wear clothing that you can easily button, zip or tie by yourself after trips to the restroom.
4.Have patience, confidence and an open mind.
Dating is frustrating for everyone, and finding the right person takes time. If you felt a spark, but they didn’t, don’t blame yourself if there isn’t a second date. It’s not automatically a reflection on you. Everyone has their own insecurities and emotional baggage. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. Don’t assume someone is only looking at you through the lens of your disease if/when a relationship doesn’t work out.
If a relationship ends, dust yourself off and try again. Never settle for someone who doesn’t give you the dignity and respect that all people deserve. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, so honor yourself by seeking a partner with the same values. Remember that going on dates is like trying on outfits in a dressing room – not everyone is going to be a perfect fit. It’s not always about you. It’s not always about them. Sometimes it simply is what it is.
5.Don’t forget to enjoy being single.
There’s a reason why people in relationships envy the freedom that comes with the bachelor or bachelorette life. What are you going to do when you wake up in the morning? Whatever you darn please because you’re single and you can! Ha!
Sure, you want companionship. But it’s better to appreciate what you have instead of fixating on the things you don’t. Whenever you feel lonely, remember that you have friends and family who enjoy your company. Savor this free time to yourself. Use it as an opportunity to imbibe in self-care. Concentrate on being the best you that you can be, and everything else will fall into place.
By Kathryn Jones