Shannon and her friend, Kelly, enjoy a night out on the town.
Explaining to someone new that you have type 1 diabetes is usually fairly simple…that is, until you realize that you really like and want to impress them. While most of us aren’t ashamed that we have diabetes it still feels…awkward at times. Meeting new people and dating is usually a fun time in any young adult’s life, but as a person with diabetes, it can also be tricky. There are common concerns: will they think I’m weird? Will they not want to get to know me now? And the list goes on.
I found in high school it was so easy to tell my date or a new group of friends that I have diabetes, because we already knew each other – or at least they all probably already knew I have diabetes. In high school you grow up with the same people. Usually you end up dating someone who is a friend and they already know some of your quirks and what makes you, you. In college, it’s a bit different. I haven’t known these people my whole life. I didn’t grow up with them; we just met minutes ago.
Meeting New People with Diabetes
As I learned that dating and meeting new people is different in college than in high school, approaching the subject of “I have diabetes” seemed different, too. I didn’t want that to be the very first memorable thing when meeting someone new. When I first started college, most of my social interactions, whether hanging out in my apartment building, going into the city or attending a school event, seemed relaxed. I was meeting new people constantly and made the decision that I didn’t need to inform everyone why I wore a Pod on my arm. Mostly on campus, people never asked until we got to know each other better or I just explained it after.
Going out into the city was a different situation. My girlfriends and I would hit different restaurants or venture out to a club where I would get the occasional, “What’s that!?” question followed by someone pointing to my Pod. It made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I would never be so brazen to ask someone I didn’t know a question like that, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to explain it in a loud environment – especially to someone I’d probably never see again.
Dating and Diabetes
My approach to informing others about my diabetes needed to be different when it came to dating. Going out to dinner with a guy meant that I would have to test my blood glucose before eating and bolus for my meal. While I could have always gone to the bathroom and done that secretly, I felt that was wrong and unnecessary. My biggest concern was that I’d end up really liking a guy, we’d go out to a movie or for dinner on a date, I’d explain I have diabetes and he’d let that affect his opinion of me. The first time I went on a date with someone who wasn’t in my group of friends, I was so nervous. Those thoughts kept creeping up in the back of my mind.
But I ended up being nervous for no reason. I’ve found that most people understand. They don’t think of me as “Shannon the girl with diabetes,” but just simply as “Shannon the girl I would like to get to know better.” That was such a relief. I’ve also realized that not everyone will be like that. Some might think it’s weird I have to prick my finger several times a day or think I have this extra burden. But they aren’t worth it. Finding people who are accepting and understanding of who I am as a person is really nice and helps me decide which people in my life are special and worth holding onto.