Everything you need to know about dating with epilepsy
Dating can be hard enough, never mind dating with epilepsy. But this doesn’t mean having fun dating is impossible. Often, you see articles about dating someone with epilepsy or marrying someone with epilepsy. But what about the person with epilepsy? We have hesitations too! So for all the epileptics who have worries about dating, here’s a post written specifically for you.
An epilepsy diagnosis doesn’t mean that your dating life is over. It simply means you have to consider certain things like when do you tell someone you have epilepsy? Or it could be about being more creative with date nights if going out for drinks doesn’t work because alcohol is one of your seizure triggers.
Dating with epilepsy goes beyond the “what if they don’t like me” thoughts. There’s all sorts of different questions that might come up like;
- When do I tell them I have epilepsy?
- How will they react?
- What if I have a seizure?
- Will my epilepsy damage the relationship?
If you’ve been asking any of these questions, or anything similar – you’re in the right place.
A note on confidence
Before we get started on everything dating with epilepsy, do you feel ready to get out there? Epilepsy can have a huge impact on mental health, and speaking from personal experience, it might be better to build up your self-confidence living with seizures before jumping into the deep end.
When to tell someone you have epilepsy
Unless you found your partner on an epilepsy dating site, “when do I tell them I have epilepsy” can be quite a common question. It applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones. Deciding when to tell someone you have epilepsy varies for each person. If you’re unsure about telling your date that you have epilepsy consider these things:
What’s the likelihood you’d have a seizure when out on a date?
Do they need to know seizure first aid?
How comfortable do you feel with the person you’re dating?
Realistically, how long can you see yourself dating this person?
Most importantly we want to stay safe. If your seizures aren’t too well controlled, it makes sense to tell the person pretty early on. Plus it’s probably easier to explain your epilepsy, instead of them searching “how to date someone with epilepsy” on Google, potentially discovering an overly dramatized story leaving you with plenty of myths to clean up.
To keep you safe it’s important they know what to do if you did have a seizure. Depending on your type of seizures it could be worth bringing up your epilepsy so that you don’t seem rude if they asked you a question mid-absence seizure.
If you’re excited about this new person you’re dating, it might be hard to be realistic about how long they’ll be in your life. If your seizures are well controlled and, being honest with yourself, you don’t see them in your life for very long, it might not be worth the energy even thinking about whether or not to tell them.
Don’t forget to listen to your gut. If your seizures are well controlled and you feel safe, but don’t feel comfortable or want to tell your date about your seizures – don’t tell them! Trust yourself, and if you can’t shake the feeling you need to speak to them about your epilepsy, then maybe it’s time to explain your seizures.
How to manage their reaction
So you’ve put your brave pants on and told them about your epilepsy – go you! Their reaction to your honesty is what comes next, and it could tell you a lot about them as a person.
If they’re understanding and want to learn more, this is great news.
If they react badly, in whatever way that might be, this might not seem like great news at first.
BUT, it could save you a lot of wasted time. If you have epilepsy you need supportive people around you, not insensitive or dismissive people.
So it’s probably worth getting rid of them, which is their loss. They’ve missed out on you and all your greatness.
Get creative with date ideas
Going out for food and drinks isn’t going to work for everyone. With or without epilepsy doing the same thing all the time gets boring anyway. But when seizure control comes down to minimizing common triggers like alcohol consumption, sleeping patterns and diet, heading to a restaurant or a bar isn’t exactly ideal.
You don’t have to go wild but instead of doing the same old date why not try things like:
- A picnic; if you’re eating a specific diet to control seizures, you aren’t limited by a menu.
- A trip to the zoo
- Cinema (there isn’t much talking but great if you’re feeling nervous)
Consider investing in some seizure alert devices
This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about dating with epilepsy. Yet having a little device that would alert loved ones if you were to have a seizure can put your mind at ease. You don’t need to worry about how your date will react, and you know that help will be on the way in an instant.
There are different seizure detection devices out there, but I went with the Empatica Embrace2 Seizure Watch. It’s a little pricey but it definitely puts my mind at ease.
Epilepsy and sex
Everyone’s approach to dating is different. You might wait to have sex or you might not. Either way epilepsy can impact your sex life.
When it comes to contraception, make sure you discuss this with your neurologist or epilepsy nurse. Some medications impact the effectiveness of certain hormonal contraceptives, so it’s important to know about this before making your choice.
In general, epilepsy doesn’t seem to have much impact on an individual’s sex life*, but if you are worried, give your GP a call and have an honest discussion (even if it feels a bit awkward).
Dating with epilepsy doesn’t have to be difficult
Yes, dating with epilepsy isn’t as straightforward as without, but dating isn’t always simple anyway! Try not to overthink it but do your best to keep yourself safe. Choose date ideas that suit the lifestyle that controls your seizures and open up about your epilepsy when you feel it’s the right moment. But most importantly, try not to worry and have fun!