The dating scene can be daunting for any single woman, but for a single woman dealing with breast cancer, it can be downright intimidating. Is the first date too soon to bring up the subject of breast cancer? What exactly should you say? How do you tell him that you only have one breast or none? What do you do if the guy doesn't handle the news very well? Here are some answers and suggestions to guide you as you consider new relationships.
When is the right time to talk with a date about breast cancer?
This is a communication issue and an intimacy issue. You don't want to overwhelm anyone by discussing your breast cancer history immediately but of course you want to disclose it before taking your top off. Wait until you've developed a sense of trust with the other person and the two of you share some mutual feelings for one another. When someone cares about you unconditionally they will still care no matter what you tell them. Everyone feels vulnerable and when you feel comfortable and open with that person- that's the time to tell them.
How will he react when he finds out I've lost my hair due to chemotherapy?
Breast cancer and chemotherapy have definitely come out of the closet. Most potential partners have someone in their life who has been through this, and it's not so taboo anymore. Your hair is not what it used to be like, it could grow back thicker/ finer and it could be growing through that "awkward growing out length". Use this time to really experiment with styles. There are lots of tips on YouTube and ask your hairdresser for their advice.
You might experiment with different wigs and colours too which is fun. This is a time for you to try different looks that make you feel the best and most confident. Remember this person doesn't know what your hair looked like before and is attracted to you for who you are now (they wouldn't be dating you otherwise)!
Will a new partner be able to accept my new, physically altered body after my breast cancer treatment?
What partners of breast cancer survivors care about most is that their loved one is alive. You should expect no less of a potential partner. Still, a lot of communication is necessary in order for both of you to feel comfortable with the physical and emotional changes you've experienced. It's normal not to feel sexy as soon as you've had the all clear. Remember cancer is a huge part of you but doesn't solely define you. Concentrate on aspects of yourself that you are proud of (inside and out). When you feel good about yourself, you will radiate self-confidence that is bound to have a positive effect on your companion. If your relationship is moving toward physical intimacy, discuss the changes in your body and any sexual challenges before a bedroom encounter. Then proceed at your own pace with what you feel most comfortable.
Remember every woman has hang ups. Your body however is a strong fighting machine more so than anything else.
What if I'm disappointed by his reaction?
The relationship you have with yourself is your most important relationship. You've faced harder things in life than someone who isn't strong enough to face the fact that you are a fighter. Don't let someone that is not as strong as you get in the way of you living a happy life.
Don't assume that once you've been rejected, it will happen over and over again. It might be messy and awkward but that's dating anyway. It gets easier each time and it happens to absolutely everyone.
As women we can be cruel to ourselves and our bodies. Pin pointing every dimple of cellulite and pinching every wobble is something a lot of women can identify with. After going through breast cancer, these "flaws" won't matter so much. You will have a whole new respect for your body. You're stronger than you have ever been before and once you truly believe this, it will blossom outwardly and be part of your allure.