Relationship Red Flags: Can They Really Accept Your Illness?

Last updated: December 2021

There was a time in my life where I had been in a relationship for about four years. After this relationship fell apart I began to dissect it and realized, or rather finally came to terms with, the idea that he did not accept my illness. This was also a time where I was still internally struggling with accepting it myself, so to have someone by my side who didn’t make it that much more difficult.

Thankfully, I am in a very healthy and loving relationship now with someone who understands the fluidity and permanence of my health. Here are some red flags that I had wished I payed more attention to in previous relationships:

They don’t ask about it or try to educate themselves

If someone truly wants to be with you long-term, it won’t be something that will just simply be brushed over. They will bring it up, ask questions, and overall try to educate themselves not only for the sake of being a good partner but also so it can help them understand what it means for your relationship moving forward.

Someone who is accepting of your illness will want to educate themselves to the best of their ability so they can better understand what you go through and offer a helping hand when they are able.

They get uncomfortable with disability-aids

In my previous relationship, I was in remission and I remember sitting in a breakfast diner and speaking about how I used to use a wheelchair. I started discussing the possibility of me getting out of remission and having to rely on one again, which was followed by him immediately shutting the conversation down. He didn’t want to discuss it at all. Back then I was blinded by rose-colored glasses so, despite how hurt I was deep inside, I figured why bring it up again if I wasn’t for certain it would even happen.

This is a huge red flag. If you feel like using something like a disability-aid will help support your overall quality of life and this makes them uncomfortable, that is ableist and you shouldn’t be with someone who doesn’t want life to be easier for you.

They don’t want to discuss your illness at all

This one is very blatantly obvious, but I feel is still worth mentioning. To put it simply, if they don’t want to talk about your illness whatsoever, they are making it incredibly evident that they just don’t care about you and your wellbeing.

Talking to your partner about what the reality of all sides and situations of your illness may look like, both now and in the future, is very important to not only prepare them for how difficult life may be sometimes but also know for yourself if they are willing to ride those rocky waves alongside you.

I think the best piece of advice I could give is this: just like any situation or hardship that arises in a relationship, your partner will want to tackle them together. It will be something you get through together and something that your partner will want to help out with.

So whether it’s helping you roll out your wheelchair, or offering to come to your appointments, this person will want to be there holding your hand through this journey—not fearing it.

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