Dating with Diabetes

By

Amy Stachnik-Ruslow

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Dating is hard enough on its own. How will you dress? What should you say? Where will you go? But when you have diabetes, dating comes with another set of difficulties. Here’s how to navigate the most common questions and challenges.



When to Tell Your Date You Have Diabetes

It’s up to you to decide when to share your health information. These questions can help you make a decision: If you don’t share, what could the consequences be?

If the roles were reversed, what would you want?

Remember, most people are caring and curious. Don’t worry if your date asks a lot of questions—that’s a good sign.

What to Say

Keep your initial explanation quick and basic. For example, you could say, “I have diabetes, so I have to watch what I eat. I check my blood glucose daily.”

You might want to go over everything at once to get it out of the way. Or, you can explain things little by little as your relationship goes on. Either way, be open. Don’t shy away from sharing your feelings, and ask your love interest how he or she feels about your diabetes, too. It’ll help you bond and put you both on the same page. Remember, if you’re comfortable, your partner will be, too.

Finally, remind your date that you can do anything anyone else can as long as you manage your condition.

Navigating Dinner and Drinks

If you’re dining out, suggest a restaurant with a lot of options so there will be something you can eat. Try to plan the date at your regular mealtime, and make a reservation so you won’t wait for a table. If you have to make a date later than usual, have a piece of fruit or a serving of starch from that meal early.

Alcohol is a common part of dating, whether you’re just grabbing drinks or having wine with a meal. Before you drink, ask your health care provider if it’s OK. Some medications require special care with alcohol, and your health care provider might adjust your treatment if you drink regularly.

Make sure you eat before drinking or nibble while you drink. Stick to one drink per day if you’re a woman, or two if you’re a man. Remember that alcohol, unlike most foods, can lower your blood sugar for up to a few hours, especially if taken without other foods.

Check your blood glucose before you drink and before you go to bed. Only drink if your blood glucose is OK. And don’t drive for several hours after drinking.

Healthy Date Options

A date doesn’t have to be a sit-down restaurant meal. Try one of these ideas instead:

  • Go for a walk in a park or around town

  • Go out dancing

  • Prepare a romantic, candlelit dinner at home. Broil fish and serve healthy side dishes.

  • Take a bike ride together.

Diabetes and Intimacy

Some women with diabetes have a low interest in sex. This may be due to depression or anxiety. Other common sexual problems in women with diabetes include vaginal dryness or painful sex. It’s normal to have a hard time talking with your partner about these problems. Try talking with your health care provider about these issues. Medications or counseling might help.

On a safe sex note, most birth control is safe for women with diabetes. Birth control pills, however, may raise your blood glucose levels and increase your risk for other complications.

Men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) than men who don't have diabetes. ED is when you cannot have or maintain an erection. Men with diabetes also get ED 10 to 15 years earlier than usual.

Tell your health care provider if you think you have ED. There are many treatment options, including medication, psychological counseling, or a vacuum pump. You might be nervous talking about these issues, but remember, your health care provider is there to help you.


Key Takeaways

  • Be open about your condition, and ask your date how he or she feels about your diabetes, too. If you’re comfortable, your partner will be as well.

  • If you’re dining out, suggest a restaurant with a lot of options. Try to make a reservation for your regular mealtime. Before you drink, ask your health care provider if it’s OK.

  • Some women with diabetes have sexual problems, such as low interest or vaginal dryness. Talk with your health care provider about treating these issues.

  • Men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED). Your health care provider can suggest a treatment plan.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: May 7, 2017

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Medical References

  1. Diet, Eating & Physical Activity. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity
  2. Sexual and Urologic Problems of Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/sexual-urologic-problems
  3. Coping with Emotional Issues, Resources to Help a Loved One with Diabetes. National Diabetes Education Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/ndep/people-with-diabetes/coping-with-issues.html
  4. What We Recommend. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/types-of-activity/what-we-recommend.html
  5. Alcohol. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/alcohol.html
  6. Eating Out. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/food-tips/eating-out/ 
  7. Erectile Dysfunction. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/men/erectile-dysfunction.html
  8. Dating. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/everyday-life/dating.html
  9. Telling Others. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/everyday-life/telling-others.html
  10. Women and Sexual Health. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/women/sexual-health.html
  11. Women and Diabetes: Frequently Asked Questions. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/women/women-and-diabetes-frequently-asked-questions-faqwomen-and-diabetes.html
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