Dating with Chronic Illness

Dating with Chronic Illness

As a 28-year-old, I watch my peers find their partners and start their lives together. I look at them and ask, “How did you find them?” They tell me about meeting at work, meeting through mutual friends, or swiping right on a dating app. It’s easy, huh? But then I remember something that makes me different from all my friends: I’m disabled. 

Life as a chronically ill person can be isolating. I don’t drink alcohol, I have many physical limitations, and my schedule is full of doctors appointments and treatments. Much of my life is affected by my disability, but I also live a very typical life. Since I am a homebody (due to personal choice AND my disability), my best bet to finding a partner is on a dating app. With a mostly invisible disability, my profile looks like any other user one may swipe on, but when the first messages come in asking if I like to hike or how many days I’ve skied this season, I begin to panic. 

Do I disclose my disability right away? Should I wait until I trust the person? How much do I tell them? After some trial and error, I concluded that it doesn’t matter—I will get ghosted or rejected no matter what. For years, I hid my insecurities and experiences about dating. It’s embarrassing to be rejected over and over again, especially when you have people telling you that they can’t believe you haven’t met someone yet. I became ashamed and embarrassed of my disability and I started to think that maybe I wasn’t worthy of finding a partner. 

After years of internalizing over these unsuccessful dating app stories, I decided it was time for a change. A big one. I spent years searching for a dating app for chronically ill/disabled people, but there weren’t any legitimate ones. So, my sister and I decided we would make one ourselves and call it Dateability. Dateability is the app I’ve searched so many years for; it has a user base filled with people just like me. It’s a place where I can fill out the Dateability Deets section (a part of the profile that lists broad terms about one’s disability, such as permanent medical device or mobility aid) and not feel judged. To me, disability is neutral and with this section, it is destigmatized and normalized. 

I know my experiences aren’t unique, as evidenced by the number of messages we receive relating to my experience and thanking us for creating Dateability. I am confident Dateability will become the safe and inclusive space for dating with a disability or chronic illness and those who have been made to feel uncomfortable in their own skin can find love for themselves and for someone else. 

Dateability is available for free on iOS, Android, and web

Dateability's Jacqueline and Alexa Child discuss dating with Stacy London and Neura Health's Cannon Hodge and Maddie Lesperance.

For more great content, follow us:
Instagram IconFacebook Icon
Jacqueline Child
Co-founder of Dateability, a dating app for people with disabilities and chronic illness.
About the Author
Jacqueline Child is the co-founder of Dateability, a dating app for people with disabilities and chronic illness. She also lives with migraine, lupus, dysautonomia, gastroparesis, and other chronic illnesses.

Share this article

Looking for expert neurology care?

Video visits within days

Talk with neurologists

Get Rx delivered

Learn More

Finally, expert neurology care at your fingertips

Neura Health is a comprehensive virtual neurology clinic. Meet with a neurology specialist via video appointment, and get treatment from home.

Phone and Leaf Mockup