Starting a new relationship can be exciting. But you might feel worried about sharing your condition and any care needs you have. You could be unsure about when to talk about it and how.
Telling a new partner about your needs
Tell your partner when you feel ready and in a way that feels comfortable. It’s important that you talk about your condition, even if you just share a bit at a time. It will help your new partner understand you and your care needs.
It can also help to explain that:
conditions affect everyone differently
information about your condition will not always apply to you
people’s care needs vary
You may worry that your partner will read information about your condition that's wrong or does not apply to you. You could try showing your partner information you’ve chosen to help them understand. Or you could give them some trusted and accurate websites to look at on their own. Be prepared to answer questions about additional research they’ve done.
Remember that disability is a part of your life and not something your partner has to cope with. When they choose to be with you, they choose to be with all of you. It’s important to be honest, share at your own pace and do what’s comfortable for you.
When to tell your partner about your condition
You might want to go on a few dates first or you might want to talk about your condition from the start. How much you share and when is up to you. There’s no right way.
As the relationship develops, you can share more about how disability affects you. It’s the same as when you share other aspects of your life, like your interests, family life and things about your past.
When you begin to get intimate, you’ll need to tell a partner more about your needs if you have not already done so.
There may be things your partner will need to know before you start. This might be because you will need to try a different approach. Or you might want to prepare them for a difference in the way you look or do things. You might also want to explain about some of the equipment and adaptations you have in your room if they have not seen them before.
This can be a bit awkward. But being honest and open can support you and your partner to have a good time.
Talking about your care needs as your relationship develops
For your partnership to be fair and equal, your partner needs to know the person they’re committing to. Getting serious with someone should be an informed choice, especially if your care needs will in some way affect your life together.
But it’s also important not to put your condition and care needs at the centre of who you are. Disability is part of your life. Anyone that chooses to be in a relationship with you should accept that.
Be positive and confident that you can have a strong and equal relationship that meets both of your needs.
Making decisions about your care and your relationship
As you spend more time together, you will need to decide if you want your partner to support you with your care needs. You may be happy for them to help with some things but not others. You may prefer to keep your relationship and care support separate.
Deciding what you’re happy with is the first step. You should then talk to your partner about what they would like to do. They may be happy to support you with some care but not all.
When you decide to talk about this depends on when you feel ready. It can also depend on what stage you are in your relationship. You could be spending the weekend, going on holiday or moving in with each other.
Talking about how your partner feels about your care needs
Over time your partner might have taken on some of your care. It’s helpful to talk about this. You might have to start a conversation or create opportunities for your partner to talk because it might not happen naturally.
It can be a bit awkward at first. Your partner may not have wanted to mention things they do not like doing. Or they feel shy talking about it. Ask if there’s anything they need from you.
Communication is essential for a strong and equal relationship.
It’s important to be open and respect what you both want and how you both feel. Finding out how you fit together - your strengths and weaknesses - helps you to make your partnership equal and loving. You will encourage each other and bring out the best in each other. It just takes a little work and a lot of communication.