Dating With MS | Tips For How & When to Share Your Diagnosis

Dating with MS_young woman and man on a date smiling

15 Feb 2024 | ~4:01 Engagement Time


Roz Kalb , Psychologist

Special thanks to our sponsors, Viatris & EMD Serono.

Dating with MS can come with many questions. When should I tell my date that I have multiple sclerosis? How should I tell my date that I have multiple sclerosis? What do I do if they react poorly to my diagnosis?

Disclosing your MS to someone you are dating is a very personal decision. While it’s important to be thoughtful and intentional about your choices, there are no right or wrong answers. The decision is truly up to you. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you date.

The First Date

The purpose of a first date is to get to know each other and decide if you’d like to see each other again. You don’t owe this person any information about yourself, and you’re not likely to learn a lot about them either. Remember, on first dates, everyone is on their best behavior.

If you do not have any visible limitations or use a mobility aid, there is no need to discuss your MS at all unless it feels important to you to do so. If you use a cane or other device, you may choose to disclose your MS right away or give some other reason (an injury of some kind) for using the aid. What you decide to share is totally up to you.

Questions to Ask Yourself as You Continue Dating

Deciding to see the person again means that you think this relationship may have potential – for fun, romance, friendship, a future, or whatever you may be looking for. So think about:

1. Are you ready to invest emotionally in this person by sharing this personal information?

You may like the response you get, or you may find it hurtful or confusing. Sometimes, you may have to wait a bit while the person sorts out their feelings about it. Whatever the response, you need to know that you can handle it. So, there’s no need to rush until you feel ready.

2. Is this the point in the relationship when it would be important to you to learn similar health or other personal information about your date?

Your interest in learning more about your partner is often your best cue for the timing of your own disclosure. Everyone has something to share.

Managing Other’s Reactions

Fears about the other person’s reaction are not a good reason for putting off sharing your diagnosis for weeks or months. It’s tempting to think that waiting until the relationship is on very solid ground is the best strategy, but secrets and half-truths don’t lay a very solid foundation for intimacy and trust in the future.

It’s better to share this important information before you’re so invested in the relationship that disappointment would be devastating. Keep in mind that it goes both ways. Learning about a person’s health or personal issues well into a relationship may lead to feelings of hurt by the lack of honesty early on. As always, try to treat the other person as you would like to be treated.

Preparing For How to Tell Someone You Have MS

Preparing for how you are going to share that you live with MS is a good strategy because you’ll feel more confident and secure. Knowing what you want to say will also help you focus on your date’s reactions and questions. Some may be stunned into silence; others may be embarrassed that they don’t know what you’re talking about. Some will start firing a lot of questions and others may tell you about all the people they know with MS.

Take a deep breath and try to give the other person time to process the information, formulate questions, and share their feelings. Let them know that you understand this is a lot to take in and that you’re happy to answer questions or point them to information about MS. Be ready to describe your own MS – it’s unique.

When dating with MS or without MS, finding a soul mate is challenging. It may take time, patience, and some bumps along the way to find that person. But people with MS do it all the time – some before their diagnosis and many after. You can as well.