Finding Stability

Dating With Cancer: How to Get Back out There

Depending on how you feel, it's okay to continue to be social and date when you have cancer. If you're at a point where you're comfortable, get out there and meet someone new. It might be just the confidence booster you've needed! At the very least, a fun date can give you a much needed break from daily life.

As if dating and cancer treatment aren’t daunting enough separately, dating with cancer can be pretty scary. It’s normal to feel unsure about whether you want to do it at all. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Maybe you want to mingle and meet new people, or maybe you’ve already met someone you’re interested in building a relationship with. You don’t have to put your social life on hold, even if your treatments create some challenges. Only you can decide what’s best for you.

Let friends and family know you’re willing to be set up. To meet new people, join clubs, attend church events or volunteer for organizations that support a cause that’s important to you. Consider setting up a profile on an online dating site. Support groups are also a good way to meet new people and find out how others are managing relationships. Here are some starter tips.

Finding Confidence

One big challenge in dating with cancer is feeling confident in yourself. Treatments can change your body, whether it’s scarring or the loss of your breast, testicle or hair. These changes may make you feel less attractive or worried about a potential partner’s reaction. As a confidence booster, consider giving yourself a bit of a makeover. Try out a new lipstick or treat yourself to a new blazer to give yourself a boost. You can also take a look online at resources like Look Good, Feel Better that offer beauty advice for men and women on hair styling, makeup, wig selection, exercise, skin care and more. Before you go on a date, make a list of your best qualities as a reminder for when you’re feeling insecure. You can store it in your wallet or phone.

Talking About Your Diagnosis

Perhaps one of the scariest points is when and how to talk about your cancer experience. You don’t have to lay it all on the table on the first date. You may not even want a second date. It’s OK to wait until you’ve developed a certain level of trust with someone before opening up about your full experience. At first, you may just want to share the basics of your diagnosis and your treatments. You can divulge more as you become more comfortable. The American Cancer Society advises waiting to share your experience with cancer at a time when you’re both relaxed and the other person has a chance to process the information and respond.

Be prepared that rejection may happen. It can in any dating relationship, but it could be harder to take when you’re battling cancer. Not everyone you meet or potentially date can and will be supportive of your struggles. But rejection doesn’t make you a failure, nor does it need to end your dating efforts. Move on from that person and keep looking for your perfect match.

Getting Intimate

Once you’ve met someone and dating progresses, you may also feel like getting intimate again. Be open and honest early about your physical concerns, limitations and sexual side effects. Talk to your doctor about whether your treatment and medicine may decrease your sexual drive and take note of any pain you feel during sex, as suggested by the American Cancer Society. It’s OK to set limits for what you’re comfortable with, so talk to your partner about what you want when sex comes up. Don’t be afraid to take things slowly and discuss together other ways to be intimate besides sex.

Keep in mind that you can take dating as quickly or slowly as you want. It takes time to find the right person that you connect with, so be patient as you search and most importantly, have fun!

When you look and feel your best, you will be more comfortable on the dating scene. UVA’s Flourish Boutique is resource that helps you do just that.

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Patricia Chaney
Patricia Chaney