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Romantic relationship and being diagnosed with diabetes

The course of your own life and the kinds of experiences you have with illness greatly affect how you experience your own or a loved one's diagnosis. A relationship can be strengthened by the shared experience of having overcome challenges together in the past.

Many factors influence how people behave towards each other. These include, for example, one's upbringing, previous experiences with illnesses, experiences of coping, and resources. How one has previously responded to fear or uncertainty also affects one's behaviour.

For instance, the response received as a child when falling down—whether it was simply “you're not hurt, get up” or whether one received understanding, comfort, and care—impacts how one behaves in similar situations as an adult.

When diabetes unexpectedly becomes part of an existing romantic relationship, the experiences previously shared within the relationship are especially significant. The relationship and hope can be strengthened by the experience of having overcome past challenges together and being able to cope together now as well. However, there may also be the experience that the relationship could "tip over" when sudden challenging situations arise. It might be that roles have been formed within the relationship regarding who is responsible for household chores, childcare, relations with relatives, or financial management. Illness can disrupt this familiar and secure division of labour and roles.

Openness increases unity in a romantic relationship

Open and honest communication in a romantic relationship increases the sense of unity between partners. This also avoids interpretations and secrets, the feeling that something must be hidden. When information is shared, it eases the preparation for the possible psychological stress brought on by diabetes, potential decreases in functional ability, changes in body image, or the various effects of medication.

A romantic relationship is never static; it changes over time and with life events. The experiences brought about by being diagnosed with an illness can also lead to the strengthening of the relationship and bring new elements to it, such as more intimacy or sharing.