Living with chronic pain can make how we interact with one another feel different. But there’s nothing stopping you from having a joyful and unforgettable love life.
Whether you are single, dating, or in a relationship, you are free to experience love in your own fulfilling way.
There are loads of ways to get out there, enjoy being with yourself, finding companionship and celebrating what you already have. Whatever suits you, here are some tips to keep your love life alive.
Finding love while staying home: online dating
Online dating is preferred by many because it’s practical, often free, and easy to use. As you connect to your perfect match via instant messages or emails, you have all the time you need to enjoy the process when you want to engage with it.
Dr Lee Philips, a psychotherapist specialising in love life with chronic illness, recommends that the first step when you want to dip your toes into the dating pool is to recognise your goals and expectations. He suggests asking questions like what dating means to you, what type of relationship you want, and whether you want to meet in person or prefer an online relationship. This will help you understand what you need.
Preparation, from understanding yourself to setting your own goals and boundaries, is key as you are in for an exciting adventure: getting to know someone new and letting that person into your life.
Now dating might be scary for some, especially when you have to open up about your chronic illness to someone you just met. But since it’s online and semi-anonymous, you have all the power to decide which details to disclose, how much energy to invest in it, or change your mind if it doesn’t turn out as expected. So many possibilities, but you are still in control!
Trying new things with your partner
Having a partner who can support you is a rewarding feeling. Researchers from UCLA suggest that putting your feelings into words help reduce negative feelings, which in turn gives us a sense of calm – especially when someone close to you can respond positively.
Here is a list of our favourite activities to do with your partner:
If you are the creative sort, crafting is a good place to start. A project that both you and your partner can invest in, like painting a piece of art to liven up that plain wall in your bedroom, could be the way to go.
Looking for something less messy? How about adult colouring books, which we found a whole lot of fun! They are very supportive to keep you both mindful and positive even in tough times. They help pass the time, distract you from pain, and bring you into a calm, meditative state.
A great activity to do in teams and a good break from the daily routine is for you to engage in a healthy task that rewards you with a delicious meal for two. You can take your time cooking by treating it as a creative pursuit and a welcoming distraction. It is a special bonding moment too and might help you feel empowered. Luckily for you, we have mouth-watering recipes for two made with ingredients that are packed with nutrients and help with pain management as well as being delicious!
Far but never forgotten: Activities for long-distance relationships
A Harvard study on health benefits of strong relationships suggests that strong relationships improve health and increase longevity, so regardless of the distance, it is great to keep that spark going.
Thanks to technology, organising fun activities for the two of you can be done in a few clicks. Here are our top picks of activities for long-distance relationships:
- Comedy movie party
If you love watching movies, having a Teleparty and binging on your favourite Netflix show with your long-distance partner could be a fun activity to do together.
Watching a comedy helps boost your pain tolerance as laughter can be the best medicine, so why not try picking one one you haven’t seen before and having a giggle! Whether you experience neck and shoulder pain, lower back pain, or chronic back pain, sharing a laugh may very well be the best pain management technique – even when you two are miles away!
- Virtual walks
You can even try new hobbies virtually with your partner. Sharing a walk in the park or your favourite spot while chatting to your partner on the phone is a fantastic idea.
Sit down on a bench, video call your partner, and show each other what you find on your path! And if you love animals and surprises, invite an animal from Shepreth Wildlife Park to join the video call too!
- Virtual yoga
A virtual yoga session together could be a new thing for you two to feel upbeat and stay healthy. Caren Baginski has a playlist of Restorative Yoga at Home Challenge, where you can practice new yoga poses to cope with stress, promote better sleep, and emotional resilience with your partner for 12 days.
Practising yoga can also be a form of therapeutic activity for anyone regardless of their fitness background. Check out our article on how restorative yoga could help chronic pain sufferers and our top poses to do at home.
Building up a gratifying love life is always possible for anyone even with chronic pain. And it might surprise you that there are still dozens more activities that can help give your chemistry a boost.
Loving relationships start from within and giving yourself the proper amount of love is extremely important.
Anna Goldstein, an NYU-certified life coach, and Lucia Garcia-Giurgiu, a holistic psychotherapist specialising in mental wellness, says besides lowering stress levels, loving yourself also releases the “happy hormones”, strengthening our heart and immune system.
If you’re sold and would like to integrate simple acts of self-love into your daily routine, take a look at this Forbes article ‘11 Simple Ways To Practice Self-Love This Valentine’s Day (And Beyond)’ for some suggestions.
If you have any tips and tricks on managing relationships with chronic pain, feel free to share your stories on our Facebook page.