Dating After Cancer: Addressing Common Fears

Expert advice about finding new relationships

Dating After Cancer: Addressing Common Fears

If you wish to date someone or if you’ve just started a new relationship, you may be afraid to mention your cancer diagnosis. It’s natural to have some jitters. For example, if you have experienced hair loss or have scars and other physical signs of treatment, you may feel self-conscious about how you look. You may be fearful of the reaction you might receive.

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People often ask questions about dating, including when is the best time to tell the other person about their cancer diagnosis. It may be that you don’t want to burden someone by telling them you have a history of cancer.

Dealing with common fears

There are some common fears about dating too, though it all depends on each individual. Whatever you feel, it’s all normal. You may have a fear of recurrence and be afraid to start a new relationship. You may also have a fear of rejection or a concern that they may not accept you because of changes you have undergone. You may have sexuality or fertility concerns.

Remember, you are more than your cancer, and most people will understand.

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It is normal and healthy to want to socialize and be with others. You still have to “put yourself out there” just as you would without a cancer diagnosis.

It’s important and fair to the other person to share information about your diagnosis when you’re entering a committed relationship or when things are starting to become serious. However, early on, it’s your decision about when to share and what you want to share.

Finding new relationships and friendships

Relationships of all kinds enrich our lives. Whether you are seeking a romantic partner or friend, it starts with being open and making some efforts also.

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Here are a few suggestions for meeting others:

  • Build a network
  • Join new activities (a club, yoga class, golf league)
  • Build new interests (hobbies)
  • Volunteer
  • Get out and socialize (go to sporting events, restaurants, coffee shops)
  • Live your life as you normally would, keeping in mind any restrictions

From the book The Complete Cancer Organizer by Jamie L. Schwachter, BSN, MSN, CNP and Josette M.Snyder, BSN, MSN, AOCN

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Cancer Answer Nurses

Jamie Schwachter, BSN, MSN, NP-C and Josette Snyder, RN, MSN, AOCN are Advanced Practice Nurses for Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute’s Cancer Answer Line.
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