Dating with Diabetes: Finding My Unicorn in a Field of Frogs

Lauren Rapaport
Featured Podcast Episode
June 8, 2023

March 2021 Risely Coaching graduate Hollie writing from Bowling Green, Kentucky, here to talk about my experience with diabetes and dating! First, some background on me: I was diagnosed with T1D at age 2, well before I was dating, and have been an active member of the T1D community for several years. My dogs are treated better than most humans. I have a shoe and purse obsession, and I like to think I'm a better detective than the head of the FBI.

I’ve always been in pursuit of that perfect unicorn…and not just the 100 m/dL on my CGM or meter. I’ve always wondered how I would be looked at through the eyes of a partner. 

Would he… 

  • Think it’s disgusting that I have to prick my finger sometimes in the most random places? 
  • Notice how my outfits always have a “bulge” from my insulin pump and CGM and an occasional tube hanging out? (God forbid when I take my clothes off - - eek! Will I look like an android?)
  • Judge me as a “bad diabetic” because I sometimes inhale sugary snacks while trying not to act drunk from hypoglycemia? 

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what potential partners would see in my T1D. 

Spoiler alert: many times, my dates haven’t even noticed! What has felt like a burden and seemed like a huge deal to me so many times, seems like an inconspicuous glitch on their radar. 

Here are some other lessons I’ve learned from dating with T1D: 

  1. Our instincts will guide us about whether to keep it quiet and feel them out a bit first to determine if you will see them again, or to be more open with them from the start. I know I’ve done both! 
  2. Dating with diabetes, like any dating, relies on honest and open communication, supportive actions and understanding each other – regardless if you are beginning to date, have been dating a while, or coming off a long dating hiatus. And being able to communicate honestly and openly with someone else means being able to be honest and open with… yourself
  3. How I show up in my relationship with my T1D will play out in my romantic relationships. It’s my responsibility to accept my diabetes and be unapologetic about this part of me. Afterall, I really can’t hide treating a low or a beeping CGM when your levels are high or low during a date, nor should I have to. It took me some time to believe that anyone who got scared away by my diabetes doesn’t deserve one single minute of my time. 
  4. When I have been overwhelmed with fear and self-doubt with past partners because of my diabetes, I blamed myself and my disease. What I didn’t realize for so long is that it’s also their responsibility to be part of creating a relationship in which I can fully be myself, which includes being open about T1D. 
  5. Those who do notice… might be the special ones. If they notice the external signs of T1D and use that as an opportunity to embrace every part of you – including all the highs and lows, all the beeps and sticks, all the mood swings – then they can turn out to be an incredible complement to your life. 

When you find someone so amazing and awesome, somehow the thought of feeling “different” doesn’t define you in a relationship. Instead, when you feel supported and loved for who you are, you remember that diabetes can be just a part of your life. I have learned that diabetes is not a hole in me and it’s not the whole of me. And coming to that understanding feels like stepping over a field of frogs and finding out my unicorn was there all along.