Getting Romantic: Talking to a Potential Partner About Incontinence
Romantic relationships are an important part of life for all of us. As human beings, we are biologically programmed for connection. We desire partnership and decades of research supports the fact that long term, stable relationships protect against illness and prolong life.
For people with incontinence, the potential of a romantic relationship can be daunting. Intimacy plays an important part, though how do you even get that far if you’re too afraid to reveal your condition? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Be gentle with yourself. Managing incontinence – emotionally and physically – can be difficult. When you feel anxious, or even frightened, about having “the conversation” with a potential new partner, accept those feelings. Let them come up and they’ll dissipate more quickly. If you have someone you can talk to about it beforehand, that may help, too.
Don’t rush things. Intimacy isn’t the only important factor in a relationship. Take time to develop natural affection and respect for each other before you move into anything physical. Developing emotional intimacy before you bring up your need for protection will help you feel more comfortable discussing it. If you feel the need to procrastinate, you’ll need to give it up. The conversation about your need for protection is one that should be had in advance and in the right environment, not right before a potential intimate moment.
It’s a health issue, not a protection issue. Your incontinence is the result of a health concern. It’s a symptom that you need to manage. When you bring it up for the first time, you might say something like, “I have a medical condition that I’d like to talk about with you.” Explain what the condition is before you discuss your need for protection to manage the symptom.
Take a chance. You have many facets of your personality that make you interesting and lovable to the right person. If you don’t take the chance of telling the man or woman that you’re dating that you need to wear protection, you’ll never know if they could have been Mr. or Ms. Right. The U.S. Navy Seals have a saying: “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Getting to know someone new and discussing things like intimacy can be uncomfortable, though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. Besides, if they’re not accepting and compassionate, are they really the right choice for a partner?
Plan for Intimacy. If you’re anticipating a romantic moment, plan ahead to reduce your worry. Addressing the practical issues and knowing how you will manage them if they show up will help you be more confident.
What about you? Do you have any suggestions for talking to a new potential partner about incontinence?