How Type 2 Diabetes Affects Relationships


Having type 2 diabetes
changes your life and can certainly affect relationships, whether
you’re dating or married. Diabetes management requires a lot of your
attention and focus, which may be hard for a partner unfamiliar with the
disease to understand.
You have to carefully monitor what you eat and
check your blood sugar frequently throughout the day.

And if you’re not always so careful about managing your diabetes,
your partner may also be affected. A recent study of people whose
partners had type 2 diabetes found that those who tried to exert control
over their partners’ dietary behavior felt particularly stressed and burdened.
Finally, if you get sick and need help, your diabetes care may fall to your partner.
Diabetes: The Physical and Emotional Impact

People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may experience a wide range of emotions, including:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Denial
  • Guilt

Not only is the emotional aspect of diabetes a real rollercoaster,
but there is also a physical impact on sexual function. The emotional
strain of dealing with diabetes can cause stress and anxiety, as well as
communication difficulties that can lead to sexual dysfunction in
Diabetes: Dating With Diabetes

Even if you’re not currently in a long-term relationship, diabetes
can have an impact on your dating life. Ronda Keys, 37, an event planner
from Maryland, was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 18. She
didn’t know anyone else her age with the disease, so she tried to
downplay its seriousness to her friends, her boyfriend, and even
Keys, who is single, didn’t want her boyfriend or friends to feel
that they had to stop what they were doing or make accommodations for
her diabetes, so she just didn’t tell many people.
“I had to try to figure out how to still live a normal life and do
normal things and manage my situation. After a while it just got to the
point where I had to let people know,” says Keys.
At first, her boyfriend just didn’t know what he needed to do for
her, what she needed from him, or anything about diabetes. “When you
mention that you have diabetes, everyone wants to be the food police,”
says Keys. She explained to him that she was still a normal, healthy
person who just needed to make a few lifestyle adjustments to manage her

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Diabetes: Maintaining Bonds

Whether one or both partners have diabetes, there are things you
can do to remain open and loving and strengthen your emotional bond,
which in turn will help you navigate the changes that diabetes requires.

Here are coping techniques to ease you both through a diabetes diagnosis and for years afterwards:

  • Talk to each other. Adjusting to life with
    diabetes is difficult for patient and partner. Talk about what you’re
    afraid of, what you’re angry about, and what you need from your partner —
    and be sure to answer your partner’s questions.
  • Join a support group. Joining a support group for
    people with diabetes or family members of people with diabetes can be a
    valuable resource for both partners in a relationship. There you can
    talk to others experiencing the same challenges you are and exchange
    ideas on how to cope.
  • Find ways to relieve stress. Dealing with
    diabetes can add a complex level of stress to a marriage, so find time
    to relax. Choose an activity or hobby that you each enjoy, together or
    alone, and regularly make time to forget about your troubles and have a
    little fun.
  • Attend a diabetes education class together. This
    helped Keys and her boyfriend better understand her type 2 diabetes and
    adjust to her new reality. He learned about what she was facing and what
    she — and he — needed to do to manage her diabetes.
  • Commit to lifestyle changes together. Keys says
    this was another important step in adjusting their relationship to
    accommodate her need for a healthier lifestyle. Her boyfriend altered
    his lifestyle as well to make it easier for her to stick with her
    improved habits.

For people with type 2 diabetes struggling in their marriage or
relationship, Keys stresses educating your partner and talking openly
about your needs. Understand that your partner wants to help and often
just needs you to show him or her the way.

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