It’s one thing to be open with family and friends about diabetes and the impact it has on your life, but what happens when you start dating someone? Many people wonder when is the right time to share with a significant (or potentially significant) other about life with diabetes. In honor of Valentine’s Day we reached out to a few friends to hear what they had to say. Check out their answers below and share your opinion in the comments. Happy Valentine’s Day!
“When dating, I think it’s important to be immediately upfront about diabetes. As soon as someone knows my name and they spend any time with me, they find out about my passion for health, for diabetes empowerment and for physical fitness. I want anyone I date to hear it from me that I live a full and happy life even with or maybe because of diabetes.” – Mari Ruddy, age 47 (Today!), Single, 31 years with diabetes (I wear a Medtronic pump and CGM!)
Editor’s Note: Happy Birthday Mari!
“Over all, I do think earlier is better, just for safety sake. It’s always good if the people you are spending time with know you have diabetes in case you need help with a bad low or another emergency situation. That said, I don’t think diabetes is necessarily something you have to make a huge issue out of. I’d say look for a time when it seems natural to bring it up, such as before a meal when you need to test and take your insulin. You can simply explain what your meter is and what you’re doing, and see where the conversation goes from there. When I first started dating my husband, I was a completely different person than I am today where diabetes is concerned. I wasn’t an advocate, I didn’t like anyone to know I had diabetes, I wasn’t on an insulin pump or CGM, and I did as little as possible to manage my diabetes. I spent three months hiding my insulin injections from him by doing them in the bathroom. I finally did tell him on a weekend get-away we took after dating three months. He was surprised, but so supportive and from that time on he’s made an effort to know all he can about diabetes and to give me all of the support and help I need.” – Karen Graffeo, age 44, Married, 33 years with diabetes
“I am in favor of being open about your diabetes, perhaps not the first time you are seeing someone, but definitely soon thereafter. This would be no different than telling them about your family, or perhaps how your siblings or your parents may be a bit the jealous kind… I mean, it comes “with the package.” If the person freaks out, it sure would hurt. But if they really love you, they will take you with everything that you are and have, and THAT includes your diabetes. My wife has been my #1 supporter ALWAYS. I was diagnosed (Oct. 2002) before we had our first son (Oct. 2003), so she has been there from the day I heard the dreaded “you have diabetes” words. I can’t imagine my life without her: she has never blamed me, judged me, or treated me any different for my diabetes. If anything, at times in my life when I have been strong on myself for my diabetes, she has helped me take it easier on myself. I am so lucky to have her!” – Manny Hernandez, age 40, Married, 10 years with diabetes
“Everyone is different, but I think if someone is special enough to date, they are special enough to know about your diabetes. You want those important people in your life to understand, support, and care about the details of your life. There are also many misconceptions that circle around diabetes these days and I always want to make sure that I address them early so that people understand I am a strong, healthy, normal individual who can lead a completely normal life! I shared my diabetes very soon after dating my husband. It’s an important aspect of my life and at the time I knew that if I was going to be looking for someone to share my life with they would need to be on board with diabetes as well. It so happened that at the time my husband and I started dating I was just beginning to look at an insulin pump. On a drive to a mutual friend’s birthday I gave him a complete beginner’s course to type 1 diabetes and got his feedback on the pump. I was fully expecting him to think it was odd or strange, but I remember his exact reaction being “that sounds so much better than taking shots!” It definitely helped my decision to know that he would be supportive as well.” – Cheryl Cormany (Pump Therapy Consultant at Medtronic), age 32, Married, 27 years with diabetes
“I do not think there is a best time to tell someone that you have diabetes, rather it is when you feel like telling them. Diabetes plays some sort of role in everything that I do during the day, and yet it does not define me. If it defined me then there would be a specific time to tell someone, but since this is my life and I define how my diabetes impacts my life, then I get to decide when I share my diabetes story. My wife actually knew that I had diabetes before she knew anything about me. I met my wife in the process of ordering an insulin pump and she received a FAX that read “Brett Griswold, 25 years old, type 1 diabetes.” Even though she knew other people who have diabetes, it was not until after we moved in together that she truly began to understand what day to day management of diabetes is like. She quickly realized that diabetes consists of more than simply taking insulin and checking your blood sugar. Diabetes is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week commitment that never gives you a break. My wife has been more than supportive of my diabetes from day one and whether she likes it or not, diabetes plays a role in everything that we do as a family.” – Brett Griswold, age 30, Married, 21 years with diabetes
“It inevitably comes up in the first hour when I test my blood sugar, pull out my pump, or tell them what I do since I work for a diabetes company. Even if I didn’t I would tell them pretty quickly – there’s no point in wasting each other’s time if that is a deal breaker, but in all of my experience it has never been an issue. Plus, no one is perfect and often times they open up about something else. You can also think of it as an interview. While to many it is a weakness, I position it as a strength. Finally, it helps set expectations, especially when the clothes come off and I have an infusion set and sensor on.” – Michael DiFiore (CGM Product Manager at Medtronic), age 29, Single, 23 years with diabetes
“I’ve struggled in the past on when to tell the guy that I’m dating that I have type 1 diabetes. For the last 14 years it’s like I’ve been a single mother. I’ve worked to deal with the roller coaster of diabetes on my own and so to ask someone to join me in that is a big deal for me. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized every single person has strengths and sometimes issues, or a medical condition like diabetes. But if the guy can’t look past me having diabetes, he’ll miss out on knowing that I’m funny, compassionate, and intrepid. I come as a package deal. Take it or leave it. I know that one day I will meet a wonderful guy who loves me for me, which isn’t just a disease condition.” – Quinn Nystrom, age 27, Single, 14 years with diabetes
“A good time to tell someone that I have type 1 diabetes is when you are on date with your significant other because it allows the two of you have alone time to talk to each other. In the past, I’ve told my significant other about my type 1 diabetes when we started going on dates. At that time we became in depth in to each other’s personal life including mine and hers. I told her that it takes a tremendous effort at first to manage the blood sugar and then it becomes easier over time. She reacted with a caring mentality to help also a mindful of questions for me to answer, for example, what is diabetes, is it contagious, how you got it, is there a cure? I always try my best to answers all the questions.” – Nick Ward, age 18, Single, 4 years with diabetes
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
– Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
– Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.
Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
– Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.