Bladder Cancer and Dating

In this article, I want to discuss dating and bladder cancer. A few months ago, I wrote a companion article on this topic for ProstateCancer.net. I suggest you take a quick peek at that article, then come back to this one. Instead of writing the same piece twice, I’m going to add some new information from different sources.

Many people close their dating profiles after a cancer diagnosis and its complications, which can include scars and pain during sex.1 During cancer, dating can take a backseat to active treatment. Dating, in general, can be difficult, but one woman put a positive spin on it by saying she learned that “Getting out in the dating scene is a scary thought no matter what, but you’re not going to know unless you try.”1 So, let’s take a second look into dating with bladder cancer.

Who to tell?

To begin, you have to decide when and who to tell about your cancer. Maybe it’s not something you want to discuss on a first date, or maybe it is. Please keep in mind: you do not have to tell everyone about your business right away if you don't feel comfortable. As you’re getting to know one another, you’ll have to decide when to have this conversation. It’s a delicate decision, and the timing can be sensitive. Also, many people are meeting online nowadays, so for an easy and transparent solution, it’s possible to discuss your cancer diagnosis right on your dating profile. This way, the information is out there, so any potential suitors can decide on their own whether or not to contact you without you having to decide when and where to disclose.

When to tell?

Many sources online have tips about when to tell a potential romantic partner about a cancer diagnosis. I compiled a few here to help you navigate the decision on when to tell your love interest:

Trust your gut!

You’ll know when the time is right to have this conversation. You two could be out on a stroll or munching on popcorn while watching something on TV. But keep in mind that the word “cancer” can really scare some people or put them on edge. I’d suggest having this discussion in a space where they can have a moment to process before they start asking questions. 2

Try not to wait too long

If you wait too long, your love interest may feel hurt or feel betrayed or even angry. Please keep in mind that the most successful relationships are built off of trust and honesty. If they don’t find out until months into a relationship, a love interest may feel that their trust has been violated and begin to wonder what else is she/he keeping from me? 2

Speaking of honesty…

When your boyfriend or girlfriend asks questions, my best advice is to tell the truth. Be ready to have an open and honest discussion about the diagnosis, treatments, and how the cancer has affected your life. They do have a right to know how serious the cancer is or was, and also to discuss how the cancer may affect their life as well. 2

The reaction

Some people may feel they cannot be in a relationship with a person who has cancer. It seems this reaction is fueled by fear and the fear of an unknown future. Honestly, you may or may not be able to change their minds, and that’s okay, too. A partner should see you as more than just your cancer, but it would be ideal to give them a realistic understanding of how cancer currently affects your life and how it might affect theirs. Ultimately, you need to be around a person who is going to support you in your health and living the best life you can.

What about sex?

As we’ve discussed earlier, cancer treatments can have an impact on your sexual health. I recommend talking to your doctor before engaging in any sexual activity. It is better to get the “all clear” before becoming sexually active. Also, it could be beneficial to talk to your sexual partner before you become sexually active. Be honest and discuss the physical changes to your body and discuss things you both can do to make your sexual activity the best it can be. 3 Bladder cancer can impact sexual functioning and desire, but there are ways to adapt. Check out some articles below for more information specifically about intimacy and bladder cancer.

Thanks for reading!

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