Someone (who has a much more serious chronic illness than I do) recently asked me if it were selfish of her to want to get married or even just date. Her rationale was that she is sick a lot which would not make her as good a partner or future parent. She might even have a shortened lifespan because of it.
I admitted that this topic is one I struggle with as well. The thought of needing to be cared for on bad days or preventing loved ones from enjoying a trip to the mall or a vacation is bothersome. My vivid imagination doesn’t help. I haven’t been on a date in a long time as a result.
But talking to someone else with the same concerns, I realized something: While trying to be selfless, these concerns could be very selfish!
First of all, it is not selfish to love someone. Love often happens when we least expect it. Even someone who isn’t actively looking to date can fall in love. It happens all the time.
Second of all, life is unpredictable. The perfectly healthy boyfriend could become ill tomorrow. In that case would she abandon him? Absolutely not! So, why should she assume that he would leave her or be unhappy simply because of an illness? She is so much more than her illness. We all are.
Thirdly, I think a lot of us are too proud to let others do something for us. If someone who loves her chooses to make sacrifices on her behalf, it really isn’t her place to decline. He is not forced to but does so out of love. She is so much more than her illness. We all are. He recognizes that fact and accepts the positives and negatives as he would with any other person. We all have our flaws to be dealt with or humored by a partner in life. Why should an illness be any different?
Lastly, there are two people in a relationship. Illness or not, we all have the capacity to love someone and bring joy into his/her life. How can we possibly say that it is selfish to show love and to be a wonderful companion? It could be a very special and fulfilling relationship for both parties involved; no matter how much or how little time they are given together.
So, I think we need to stop asking ourselves if it’s selfish to date. Instead, we need to ask ourselves if it is selfish to withhold love and happiness from someone else’s life.