Dating With Lymphoedema or Lipoedema

After more than two years of social distancing, you’re probably looking forward to getting out into the world again. Whether that’s meeting up with friends or family you’ve not seen for a long time or, perhaps, you’re thinking about going on a physical date; a dinner, rather than meeting for a virtual coffee? For many of us, this is something we may no longer be used to and, if you have lymphoedema or lipoedema, the prospect of an upcoming date comes with additional challenges.

Dating With Lymphoedema or Lipoedema

To Tell or Not To Tell

Talking about your lymphoedema or lipoedema is very personal. It’s your decision whether to share this information when you’re in the early stages of dating someone. When you’re thinking about this, your most important consideration should be what’s right for you. Are you more comfortable hiding your garments under your clothes? Or do you show them off, choosing bold colors and clothes you’ve selected because you love them, not because they hide what you’re wearing underneath? Both options are fine; it’s totally up to you. You don’t have to decide whether to talk about your history with lymphoedema or lipoedema right away. You might feel comfortable doing this immediately, or you might want to save it for when you know your date a little better. Again, this decision is entirely yours to make. No matter what you decide, please try to remember that you are not defined by your condition – in the same way you are not defined by the colour of your hair or whether you are left or right-handed.  

Boost Your Self-Esteem

Social media has reinforced the beauty ideal of slim, toned, perfect bodies. These unrealistic standards have impacted people generally, and we know that this impact can be intensified if you have lymphoedema or lipoedema.You may struggle more with your body shape and low self-esteem. An upcoming date can magnify these worries or fears. But there are ways to give your self-esteem a boost. Identify one of your negative beliefs, such as “I can’t wear a dress because of my swollen legs”. Write this down and challenge this thought. Think about situations when you feel good about yourself, or have received compliments about your hair, style, etc. After that, write down more positive things about you that are unrelated to your appearance. You’ll soon notice that there are many more positive things about yourself than you might have thought. If you can, turn to a trusted friend or family member and ask them to help you identify your positive qualities. Sometimes, our greatest champions are the people closest to us, who often see things in us that we do not. 

Stop Yourself from Overthinking

Living with a chronic condition requires planning ahead; you have to be structured, organize your appointments and medical equipment, as well as take care of everything else in your daily life. But, sometimes, the best thing is to allow yourself to let this all go and live in the moment. Instead of thinking about what can go wrong, start thinking positively and about what could go right – this could be the person you’ve been looking for! And even if you do not meet “the one”, you’ve challenged yourself by meeting someone new. We all feel afraid to do things at times, but it’s important to face these fears and live the life you want, without compromise.

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Claudia Lymphoedema patient

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