Guest blog: How to date after cancer
This is another brilliant blog in the series from Confidence Coach, Allie Morgan (links to previous blogs are at the foot of this post). Allie is a Confidence Coach, working with cancer survivors and those with chronic illnesses. After overcoming bone cancer at the age of 14, Allie knew that the end of treatment could be a difficult time for a lot of cancer patients and wanted to offer support for those finding it tough to get back into ‘normal’ life. Through her use of confidence-building techniques, Allie helps to make those who have suffered from serious or chronic illness to feel empowered, and able to write the next chapter of their life. You can find out more at www.whatcomesnextcoaching.com
Dating after cancer can be a daunting prospect.
After all, you’ve just gone through something absolutely life-changing and now you have to try and explain that to a stranger? Yikes!
The truth is, dating can be scary regardless of whether you’ve had cancer or not. But the added pressure of divulging all the details of your treatment or the subsequent side effects can make you just want to stay at home watching Bridget Jones with a tub of ice cream instead.
Here are my top tips to help you get back into dating after cancer:
Make sure you’re ready
It can take months or even years to come to terms with a cancer diagnosis. And you need to make sure you’re truly ready before you put yourself out there, otherwise you could be putting yourself through even more stress.
Spend some time alone, building yourself back up, before you download that dating app. Meditate. Read. Take yourself to your local coffee shop for a solo date. Get to know the person you are now – the one who has finished cancer treatment and is starting a new path.
Cancer can change many things, including your perspective and priorities, so you may notice a difference from the person you used to be when you’d go on dates in the past.
Something that might help is writing down a ‘profile’ of this new you. Note down what’s important to you, what’s important for you in a life partner and how you want your life to look going forward. Are you looking to settle down or do you want to spend a few years travelling? Is it important that you’re in a well paying job or are you more focused on getting some life experience?
Writing down all of these things can help you to make sense of your life after cancer and what you’re looking for in a partner. It can also help you to decide whether you’re ready to hit the dating scene again or whether you’d rather wait.
Build a great relationship with your body
Your body will have been through a lot when you were going through cancer treatment and it may have even changed dramatically. This might take time for you to get used to and you need to make sure you feel comfortable with yourself, before you think about getting physical with someone else.
I always advise my clients to start showing gratitude for their body, rather than berating it. My top tip is to buy yourself a nice, rich moisturiser and spend some time by yourself, moisturising your skin and showing some love to those parts of your body which you might be feeling really disconnected from.
When you start to think of your body as something to be grateful for, instead of something to be frustrated by, you start to love yourself again.
When to tell someone you’ve had cancer
Well, we all know that dropping that bombshell can be an absolute conversation killer, so it’s tough to know when to let your date know that you’ve had cancer.
The truth is there’s no right or wrong time – it’s up to you to decide what feels right for you. You might feel comfortable sharing it when you’re halfway through your first dinner together or you may want to hold off for a couple of weeks, or even months before you tell them.
But what you need to keep in mind is that cancer is only part of your story, not the whole thing. You are a person with dreams for the future, goals to achieve and a heap of life experiences behind you. Of course, cancer can play a pretty big part in that but it doesn’t define you.
Tell your date whenever you feel ready and don’t feel pressured to share before then.
Wear clothes you feel confident in
Wearing clothes you feel good in can make a massive difference to your confidence, even if you’re meeting your date via Zoom. Think about how different you feel when you get out of bed and put on your clothes compared to when you stay in bed, in your pyjamas. I know when I was going through chemo, getting up and dressed made me feel much more upbeat and refreshed.
Take a look at what’s in your wardrobe and choose something that you know you’ll feel comfortable in. Maybe you don’t feel entirely confident in heels or low cut tops at the moment and that’s fine. Go for something that you know you won’t have to be worrying about throughout the date.
Comfortable and confident = perfect dating gear.
Try to relax and enjoy the experience
Remember that even if your date goes really, really badly, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve come through a lot worse.
Relax and enjoy the experience for what it is, without putting any expectations on it.
You have absolutely got this – I believe in you.
Please note that I, as Ticking Off Breast Cancer, do not accept responsibility for the content of the guest blogs. The information and content provided in all guest blogs is intended for information and educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek professional advice or speak to your medical team if you have any questions about the issues raised in this guest blog.