It might feel awkward telling someone you’re dating about your diabetes – not to mention brandishing needles at the dinner table. We’ve spoken to people who are so worried about it, they try to hide their diabetes altogether during dates (avoiding having to take insulin, or injecting in the bathroom!). Others like to get the conversation out of the way early on, before they meet a date in person.
It can be tough deciding when and how to bring it up, but diabetes shouldn’t be something to get too hung up on when dating. This time should be fun and exciting! (By the way – yes, we all get those nervy first date highs.)
We collected some tips and anecdotes from fellow people with diabetes, and partners of people with diabetes, to offer some insights on best ways to approach the conundrum.
How and when should you bring it up?
When you’re chatting on Tinder? The first date? Your first meal together, while you’re bolusing? Or don’t say anything and wait till they ask what you’re doing?
It’s totally up to you how and when you bring up your diabetes. Do what feels natural, but with a disclaimer: Don’t be embarrassed!
Feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious is normal when you’re with someone new, but what you do to keep yourself alive is incredible. If anyone makes you feel bad about it, they’re not worth your time (ABORT THE DATE!).
Jack Sinclair (who you may know on Insta as @jackabetic or on Youtube as Diabetic Jack) says that diabetes can work as a good conversation starter on a date. “From trial and error, I’ve found that it’s easiest and best to be upfront about having diabetes,” he told us. “Own it. It’s a part of you.”
From a practical standpoint, he also considers it a good safety measure. “It’s so easy to get distracted when you’re dating, and it can make it more difficult to notice hypo symptoms,” he said. “Whenever I’ve gone out with someone for the first time and they didn’t know I’m diabetic, I’ve made a point to tell them.”
So what do you say?
Again, it’s up to you how much you share and how much you don’t. An offhand comment might suffice. Or, you might prefer to give your date a brief biology lesson to dispel any misconceptions.
Jack suggested, “Start off with a small explanation and see if they want to know more. You don’t want to be lecturing a date.”
He often finds that people are interested, and he’s given the opportunity to talk more about it.
From the perspective of someone hearing about diabetes for the first time, Ashley Hanger (@thediabeticsgirlfriend) said her T1D partner brought it up naturally during their first date (right after she mortifyingly shared her fear of needles with him!). “He was very chill about it, so I was very chill about it too,” she explained. “I personally found it fascinating, and I wanted to know everything.”
What about if sex is on the cards?
If things are starting to get heated, diabetes may not be the first thing on your mind. Then again, it could be a source of anxiety when you’re trying to get in the mood.
You might feel totally fine to just go with the flow when it comes to having sex – and if you wind up rummaging around a random’s kitchen for post-coital hypo treatments, you wouldn’t be the first.
But a bit of prep could boost your confidence and help things go down without a hitch.
Have a quick chat with your partner
It could be great to hash things out beforehand. This gives you a chance to bring up any concerns (i.e. penis problems or lube requirements), cover off safety info (hypo risks and all-important protection/birth control), and unclip any devices (HOT!).
Give yourself a pep talk (if needed)
You may feel self conscious about all the sh*t you need to do (test blood sugars, unclip a pump, smash a protein bar beforehand). But you know what’s sexy AF? Confidence. Do what you need to do and know that you’re amazing for doing it.
Get set up
Mid-sex hypos aren’t fun, but they’re also not the end of the world. Ashley said, “It’s never a problem for us, we keep it light and humorous. You have to be comfortable talking about your emotions and feelings”.
Have some hypo treatments on hand in case. Although, Jack recommends explaining your stash so things don’t get weird – "My past partners have said they'd be worried about my closet candy-eating habits if they didn’t know I was diabetic.”
Whether you're on the hunt for a life partner, or you’re just having some casual fun, telling a date about your diabetes might feel awkward. Most people with diabetes tend to agree that the longer you leave it, the more awkward it becomes.
It may not be as big a deal as you think it will be. And how your date responds may even just clue you in to whether or not they’re serious partner material.
Find someone who leaves you cute hypo offerings on your bedside table! And Ashley found herself so inspired to help her partner manage his diabetes that she set up a company to help. This one, actually. Stripped Supply itself.
Sign up to our newsletter for more diabetes lifestyle tips.