How will MS affect my relationships?
An MS diagnosis may change the relationships you have with your family, friends and other people you interact with. Because the symptoms of MS can interfere with your ability to undertake your daily tasks and activities at home or at work, there may be a shift in roles and responsibilities in your family. A partner may suddenly feel more like a carer and this can impact intimacy and closeness.
You may lose contact with friends with whom you didn’t feel comfortable sharing the news of your MS diagnosis – while other friends may simply not know how to respond. All relationships require effort and energy – even without the presence of a condition like MS – so it’s important to have strategies to help you and those around you.
Telling family and friends
Deciding if and when to tell family and friends is a very personal decision, and there is no one best approach. Initially it can be difficult to discuss your feelings, particularly when you are newly diagnosed, however it can also be a relief to be able to share your feelings, fears and anxieties with a person or people you trust. For those with children, deciding when and how to tell them about your diagnosis and how it affects them can also be a difficult decision. Each family member or friend will have their own way of managing the changes MS can bring, and these coping strategies may be different to yours. It’s important to find comfortable ways of communicating with your family and friends, and take time to understand the impact of MS on their lives as well as yours.
Be kind to yourself and those around you, and have patience as each person adjusts to the changes MS can bring. If you need help reaching out to family and friends, please call our NeuroAssist team who can provide support and guidance.
Many people wonder if their MS diagnosis will affect their intimate relationship with their partner, or their ability to establish a new intimate relationship. While MS can affect sexual function, for example libido or altered sensation, and have an impact on mood and self-confidence, sexual intimacy does not have to disappear.
There are many strategies to deal with physical symptoms such as fatigue, pain and limited movement, as well as those to help with the emotional and psychological impacts of MS on intimate relationships. These may include MS medications, physiotherapy, exercise, counselling and mindfulness.
Finding a partner
For people wondering about finding a partner, it’s important to remember that finding love with MS may not be any more challenging than it is for anyone else. The biggest question you may have is when to tell someone that you have MS. There is no one right answer and it may help to talk it through with your family and friends.
There’s no way of predicting how someone will react so it helps to be prepared for all possible outcomes. And remember, new relationships can fail for many reasons – it may not be MS that is the cause!
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