Dating is a natural activity, but it does not come naturally to most people. Teens are often uncomfortable or uneasy when they start to date, and having epilepsy can complicate an already complicated social situation. Although it is a good idea for teens to discuss epilepsy with their dates, it is reasonable to wait until the relationship feels comfortable. The person should not be tested. For example, it is best not to make up "people you know with epilepsy" to see how the other person will react. If the discussion is open and honest, friends will be more willing to ask questions and share their feelings. If the teen's seizures are not well controlled, however, it may be a good idea to discuss the epilepsy with the person being dated sooner rather than later. This situation can be awkward. It is best done in person, not over the telephone. In general, it is wise to wait a bit before talking about epilepsy with new friends. Even if it seems necessary to tell them on the first date, it is best to wait for a good moment.

Every person who has asked someone for a date has known the fear of possible rejection. It underlies much of the anxiety and discomfort associated with dating. Someone with epilepsy has the added fear that he or she will be rejected because of the epilepsy. This fear is not completely unfounded. Some people who hear the word "epilepsy" become frightened. They may have little or no knowledge about epilepsy, and fear of the unknown is great. But they can be educated by someone who has the disorder. Their understanding of epilepsy and feelings about it will reflect the understanding and feelings of the person who lives with it.

Rejection is part of the dating game. No one is spared. People are attracted to others because of physical features and personality. The physical reasons may be more important at first, but the compatibility of personalities and the rapport that develops between people are what keep a couple together. People may be rejected because their nose is too big, their waist is too wide, or for countless other physical reasons. People are also rejected because they are too insecure, arrogant, obnoxious, lazy, or selfish, or for many other personality traits. Most of the time, the reasons for rejection are not clearly defined in the mind of the person who is doing the rejecting. Although epilepsy is one of many possible reasons that someone may reject someone else, often it is not the reason. In addition, some people perceive rejection when it is not there; they expect it and so imagine it to exist. If the other person is already aware of the disorder before dating begins, the situation is much easier. In this case, there is less to explain, and less fear that epilepsy will "turn the other person off."

 

Authored by: James W. Wheless, MD | Joseph I. Sirven, MD
Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD on 10/2006
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