Relationships & Epilepsy

Persons with well-controlled or infrequent seizures should have no serious problems dating or developing and maintaining a stable, intimate relationship. For persons with uncontrolled seizures, dating and romantic relationships can be more difficult. Nevertheless, some people with frequent seizures have adjusted well to their condition and are successful in pursuing an active romantic life. All persons with epilepsy sooner or later face some important questions: Do I tell this person that I have epilepsy? When should I tell him or her? How much should I tell?

Dating and Disclosure

There is no reason to rush the disclosure of epilepsy. Unless the seizures are so frequent that one might occur on the first date, it is best to wait until the ice is broken and trust and openness have developed in the relationship. These positive developments may happen on the first date or the tenth date, or they may never happen. If the two persons are obviously incompatible, there is no reason to discuss the disorder. If the relationship is developing slowly but is promising, it is reasonable to discuss the epilepsy earlier rather than later. It is best to tell the other person face to face, not over the telephone or by letter.

The way in which the disorder is presented is often how the other person will see it. The person with epilepsy should be honest in telling the truth about the disorder and how he or she has been affected by it. The other person should be allowed to react to what he or she has heard. The person with epilepsy has had time to adjust to the disorder, but the friend needs time to ask questions and to think about it.

Epilepsy should not be made the focus of the conversation. The two people should discuss it and then move on to other subjects. Like everyone else, a person with epilepsy is defined by many traits and attributes; epilepsy should not be allowed to be the defining feature.

Anyone who dates and gets involved in romantic relationships is likely to experience rejection at some time or another. Some prospective partners may say no to the first date or the second date, and others may break up the relationship after an extended period of dating. Rejection is, unfortunately, part of dating and relationships for everyone and is not unique to persons with epilepsy. People are rejected for a variety of physical characteristics, personality traits, social beliefs, and other reasons. Numerous observations and feelings about other people merge in the subconscious parts of our minds, and we end up attracted to some people and not to others. Epilepsy may contribute to the reasons for rejection by some people, but it may be "attractive" to others who have a need to nurture or care for someone. However, a healthy and long-term relationship is more likely to develop when the other person is attracted to the individual’s personal qualities and is able to put epilepsy in its rightful place as a medical problem.