Romance and Illness: A Match Made in Hades

Romantic Illness

I remember the first time a guy flirted with me while using my wheelchair. Okay, it’s the only time a guy has flirted with me while in my wheelchair. That makes it sound like he was in my wheelchair with me. No. That would be wrong, like this whole first paragraph. Let’s start over…

This isn’t one of those lamenting posts singles write to ensure everyone that, yes, they’re still single. Remaining so due to their unattractive desperation.#NotMe

Anyone who knows me well knows I don’t talk about guys. Or the feels surrounding guys. I am, however, growing older, and my interest in a relationship grows with my age. As do my stress levels. As does my desire to be a carefree child again.

I would define “interest” lightly as well. It’s more of an “It would be cool to have a constant close friend who thinks I’m hot and kind of awesome.”

Every girl wants to feel beautiful, sexy, and captivating. Every girl wants to feel special. Every girl wants to feel wanted. Every man wants to feel strong, admired, and respected. Every man wants to know they have what it takes to get the girl. Every man wants to feel needed. We are “wanty” beings.

With these attributes of humanity’s longing hearts, one would think I’d be a perfect candidate for a male’s affection. I’m physically fragile and need a lot of looking after. Thus, theoretically, a man would see an opportunity to be needed. I, in turn, would interpret his helping as wanting me. He would feel needed, I would feel wanted. A match in heaven, right? Nay, a match made in Hades.

Countless films exist about romance and illness. A sickening, cheesy number.: A Walk to Remember. The Fault in Our Stars. Me Before You. My Sister’s Keeper. This list goes on forever, but the accuracy stops at the very first scene. Disease is more emotionally devastating than it is adventurous. If your version of adventure is laying on the couch eight hours a day, then it is your paradise. You should make a reservation with me right away. I will be your guide on arranging pillows for just the right, exhilarating comfort.

Disclaimer: I’ve only seen “A Fault in Our Stars” and “My Sister’s Keeper” but the narrative is always the same. Cancer girl is innocent, helpless, and wantonly blameless. The man is bold and brave in his pursuit of the woman. Or, when the male lead is sick, the female tends to him and changes his heart. These conceptions are abhorrently inaccurate and dangerous. Like a mother bear of four cubs who’s out of wine. Okay? Okay.

A relationship where one person is taking more than giving spells disaster. D. I. S. A. S. T. E. R. One person is always taking care of the other, resulting in an imbalanced wheel of relation, spilling more and more rapidly until it’s thrown off axis. Like the globe set afire with nauseous smoke spelling into the universe that is life.

These movies above do get one thing right. When both characters are sick, their bond is deeper than is comprehensible. Significantly ill people do have a deeper connection than others. There is an unspoken understanding of deep pain, both physical and emotional. The misunderstandings between healthy people and ill people are just as strong. Thus, communication can digress as quickly as the stage-four cancer Hollywood is so obsessed with filming.

I, for one, would be disturbed if someone wanted to date me at this point in my life. I would think they had some sort of complex, needing to feel completely needed, fearing they don’t have the skills to keep a girl otherwise. That, or they’re a “devotee,” the name given to individuals possessing a disconcerting infatuation with the sick and disabled. The world is weird, folks. It’s not as if I think I don’t “deserve” a relationship because “I’m not good enough.” It’s because I know I can’t give what it takes to be in a relationship right now. I can’t go out. I can’t talk with someone more than an hour without being totally drained (I NEEDS A NAP).

The Bible says not to be “unequally yoked.” This metaphor refers to a believer in Christ dating or marrying a nonbeliever. Or, if we’re talking Old Testament, it refers to Jews marrying Gentiles, something God condemned again and again. This metaphoric rule can extend into more trivial matters, like a man who loves the outdoors dating a woman who can’t stand the sight of baked beans in a can. Or the sight of a dead trout. Or doing her business behind a tree.

2 Corinthians 6:14
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

They say “opposites attract.” I wouldn’t disagree with that notion. A cleanly person may at first find their partner’s absent-minded clutter “cute.” Two years of marriage later, and that same cute clutter is the reason divorce papers sit on the coffee table.

Reason for divorce: He wouldn’t pick up the gosh darn underwear he left on the couch. Or clean the bathroom. He has terrible aim.

It’s immeasurably important for young people to consider their commonalities with a potential partner. Too many incongruent characteristics and the relationship is in jeopardy before it begins. Instead of a desperate search to find someone to make a woman feel wanted and to make a man feel needed, a more steady consideration for validation needs to be sought.

I often feel ugly. Subsisting in baggy sweats and in an existence too fatigued to dawn makeup. My heels lay in my closet, many untouched for over a year. My boney frame makes my clothes look like fabric swimming pools. Nice clothes and makeup make me beautiful, it’s that they make me feel beautiful. A lack outward maintenance in conjunction with physical helplessness and one can see why my self-image suffers some days.

In consideration of the weakness above, it would be easy to seek out a dating website, to fill my feelings of inadequacy with the affections of a man. Relationship searching is an unhealthy way to fill my need to feel captivating. It would be like remedying hunger with a constant diet of candy. Quenching thirst with salt water. Filling a craving for chocolate with raw cocoa powder. It seems to subsidize the need at first, but only leads to further damage.

The only healthy way of remedying any type of deep emotional need or insecurity is in the arms of Christ. He’s the only one who can completely satisfy us, because He’s the only one who completely and wholely knows what we need.

The actual purpose of a relationship is to be more effective as a unit of two than a unit of one. If two people compliment one another to the extent of making each other better people, the relationship will be blessed.

A romantic relationship is meant to bring two believers together in a way which allows them to serve Christ to the fullest extent. If two believers can serve Christ better together than they can apart, God bless them. Hurrah. Mazel tov.

When two people do not compliment one another’s characteristics, and are instead concerned with remedying their insecurities, the relationship distracts them from both God, and life’s purpose. The relationship will be a hot mess. A train wreck of testosterone and estrogen. A propane tank and fire.

At this point in my life, romance is impractical, distracting, and admittedly discouraging. The longing for such a romantic relationship cannot currently be quenched. There is, however, hope for a relationship in the future. Like a dog hopes for a scrap off the table. Like a child hopes to become an astronaut. One reasonable, the other unlikely, but both possible.


I also want to clarify: I’m not saying a marriage or serious relationship in which one partner becomes ill is doomed. Quite the opposite. Because of the previous experiences together, and the vow taken, the ill individual can be there emotionally for their partner in ways they can’t be there physically. I have seen some amazing marriages in the chronic illness scene, in which a couple grows closer during illness than they were before.


  • Reply

    LeRoy Reynolds

    April 24, 2018

    I have some understanding of where you are coming from. Disease sapes your energy and you need energy to carry on a relationship. Sometimes it is in God’s plan not to give us what we desire for a time (maybe the whole of this life). The reasons may be hidden in God’s purposes for us. God wants us to find in Him the satifaction and need met in the present. When I was younger I looked for someone to help me in a ministry and never found such a lady (though I am sure one was out there). i
    tell you countless times doors shut when they found out I was single. Later in life, I just wanted a friend and companion only
    to find the ladies were looking for something else. Lastly I have desired someone just to share my dreams and soul intimacy, but again the ladies biggest concerns are deteriorating health and the physical security just to make it to the end of their lives. Oh well. All that to say, God’s will is not always what is comfortible or even explainible to others.

    • Reply

      April 29, 2018

      Very true. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your story with me!

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