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Sickle Cell: To Tell or Not to Tell

Sickle Cell: To Tell or Not to Tell

When dating with sickle cell, many warriors are stuck in a quandary. Do you tell your significant other that you have this chronic medical condition…or do you keep the secret as best as you can?

There are two sides of the coin and this article attempts to examine both sides.

If you do tell him/her that you have sickle cell, it might dramatically affect your relationship. Your boyfriend could freak out seeing you so sick and dump you. Your girlfriend could decide that she didn’t sign up for constant hospitalizations and doctor visits. Your fiance’s family could descend on you, scaring him with horror stories of all the ‘sicklers’ they know until it put a strain on your relationship. Your beau might decide that he/she wants to be with you regardless, but finds it hard to navigate the chronic medical condition and your relationship has alot of strain and drama as a result of it. Your best friend could decide they can’t ‘afford’ having such a financial responsibility and bail. Telling is often the hardest choice, and many warriors can testify that letting your siginificant other know about your sickle cell often spells the demise of the relationship.

If you don’t tell him/her, then the burden is oftentimes on you to hide your condition. A lady once told me that she always keeps her condition a secret, and that in her current relationship (going close to a year) her man doesn’t know anything about her having sickle cell. She hides her meds, doesn’t let him over when she’s sick, and keeps their dates short to minimize him noticing when she’s in pain. She tells him she has the flu or some other malady to keep him at bay. This surprised and saddened me, because it’s hard to imagine what depths she had to go through to keep her man. I asked her why she did this, and she stated that in her experience, everytime she told a guy about sickle cell, they always left leaving her heartbroken and devastated. This was the only way she thought of to protect the relationship.

Not telling is often as hard as telling, and it erodes the honesty and trust in your relationship since you have to go through such lengths to hide it. It sends a message that you do not trust your partner to be there for you through thick and thin. Not telling also prevents you from reaching that ‘safe’ place where you can tell your partner anything and know that you will still be accepted
. It blocks you from having that deep level of intimacy that all relationships crave.

Not telling can actually do more harm than good, since the other person doesn’t understand what you are going through, and may misconstrue your actions and emotions. For example, if you are cranky because you are in pain, your partner might think that you are just being a mean bitch that day for no reason. Or if you can’t hang out because you’re in a crises, your partner might think that you don’t want to spend time with him/her.

The one thing I told her, and that I’m telling you all today is that the person who is right for you, who is God-sent, custom made and right for you, will not find sickle cell as a dealbreaker. I can understand putting up our defenses, and becoming cynical and jaded, but please, don’t give up on love.

The right person for you is not going to let something like sickle cell demolish your relationship.

For me, I considered sickle cell a boon in that department. It helped weed out the ne-er do wells, the losers, the boys that were just after me for 1 thing…etc. It helped fade out the fair-weather friends, and those that were just using me in one shape or another.

At the end of the day, the decision to share your heart, or keep sickle cell a secret is up to you. There are advantages and disadvantages in every scenario, and every relationship is different. Just proceed prayerfully and thoughtfully, and try to do what’s right and best for you.

I would like to leave this topic open for discussion. Here is the question: in your experience as a sickle cell warrior, do you tell your partner that you have sickle cell or keep it a secret? Post your thoughts and advice in the comments section.

Be well.

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Sickle Cell Warrior

Sickle Cell Warrior

Tosin is dedicated to perpetuating healthy and positive messages about sickle cell. Although sickle cell is a subject often taboo in the communities this condition is most prevalent, Tosin's message is that sickle cell is not something to be ashamed of and you can live a rich and fulfilling life with sickle cell. Sickle cell warriors are the most amazing people in the world, with a great fortitude for compassion, willpower and strength.

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14 Comments

  1. Omini
    Omini November 01, 07:46

    I have SC and I make it no secret to any woman I am interested in being involved with! I actually test them with the thought of it to see where their heads are at. I do this b/c I know the consequences of NOT doing it. I’ve had friendships and relationship deteriorate because individuals didn’t know they were “signing up for this”, I’ve heard it all, believe me…and in the end, they just aren’t worth it. We already have a lot on our plate, we need to ensure that ANYONE in our lives is a source of comfort and support, not a source of stress. Why would you want to be with someone that can’t accept ALL of you? Good or bad? Why? And from a personal and genetic standpoint, I have asked every girl what their “status” was before I took them to the bedroom. Do YOU have SC? Trait? Anyone in your family? I do not want to fall in love and/or have relations with anyone that has the disease/trait, potentially creating a lifetime of pain and suffering for another individual. That’s just me…but the bottom line and the point of my rant is this…JUST TELL THEM FROM THE START! I promise, it feels better that way!

  2. Gafar
    Gafar November 05, 18:57

    I believe the best approach to sickle cell anaemia and relationships is to be open……at least most times. When I date, I take my time to know people and give them a chance to know me before telling them about my ailment. This way, they get to know my personality and are able to separate who I am from the challenges I face as an SS. It also helps to reduce people’s jaundiced views and appreciate the fact that I am also a normal human being. However, you will still come across people who cannot seem to overcome the myth they have imprinted in their brain about sickle cell. I once had a fiance whose dad called me and told me point blank that i cannot marry her daughter because of my ailment, after he tried everything to stop our relationship. Finally, I met a woman who was willing to go all out to stay with me, come what may. And now I am married to her.

    I just think one has to learn to ignore what people think about the ailment and lead one’s life. Leave the decision to them to make if they want to stick with you or not!

  3. Adedoyin
    Adedoyin November 10, 05:00

    Hmm great,

    I gave up on love long ago. People see SCD as a burden, an expensive commodity not worth spending so much on. Its their thinking and am not ready to change that. I’ve had a boyfriend who told me He cant date me cos sickers who tries to give birth usually end up dying. For 5mins I couldnt close my mouth. That was the final straw that broke the camels back. Am using it as an excuse to stop men from bothering me.

  4. Oladapo
    Oladapo November 12, 08:19

    I am an ss carrier I once had a guy asking me out well I had finally decided to date me just a few hours before I would have told him he said he had found out I had sickle cell and was no longer interested Like you said he was definitely a weed and goood riddance,but I had someone we dated feor a few years unfortunately I am of the belief that knowing I have this I can not in good conscience pass it on to an offspring I can,t stand for any of my children to go through this my partner was quite in love and after having a genotype testing like I asked him lied about it he said he was AA even though he had the trait,fortunately or unfortunately I can,t decide his family put an end to the relationship they just wouldn,t accept I was so emotionally stressed and falling ill.But when do you tell at the beginning when you might not even be sure the guy is not just looking for a fling and your genotype makes no difference to his desires anyway at the begginning when you have invested nothing or when you have invested alot and have a lot to lose?

  5. DeMon
    DeMon November 14, 13:10

    This question has plagued me my entire adult life. I’ve had relationships where I’ve tried to hide it as long as I could. I’ve had relationships where I told them, but down played what it really is and how bad it effects me, and I’ve had relationships where I told them right away. I’ve even had a relationship where I just started to get to know the guy, and I really liked him, but I wasn’t ready to tell him about my condition yet. I wanted him to meet a couple of my close friends but before we went to dinner, I told my friends that I hadn’t told him about my condition yet. Everything went well, but the next day I find out that one of my friends had pulled him aside and told him without letting me know anything. I was so hurt and mad even though he was understanding. I decided to end things with him and the “friend” who told him. Finding love is hard enough when you’re gay, but I think being gay and living with sickle cell makes it extremely hard. I’m 30 years old now, and I still haven’t found that “one”. I understand that watching someone you love go through some very seriously painful episodes, is not an easy thing to do. I don’t want to be single for the rest of my life, but I know it’s a very probable possibility… weather I like it or not.

  6. Monday's Child
    Monday's Child April 20, 17:27

    I have the SS genotype, although people can hardly guess from looking at me. Plus i luckily seem to have the constitution of a horse as i rarely fall ill. No one besides my family and long-term friends know of my condition. And i am happy about being able to keep employers and acquaintances out of the loop. Concerning relationships, i wouldn’t quite wear my health status on my sleeves but I think that when one begins to feel that a relationship might be getting serious (the time frame should be determined individually though i think six months is about right), then it’s time to let the partner know. I’ve had some pretty decent guys who would even love you more (dubious as that sounds) for it. And some who run kicking and screaming. The penny really could fall on either side. But whatever, hey, we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

  7. cilla
    cilla August 08, 04:09

    I nid ur advice, I hv been in a relatnshp nd it been mre dan a yr nd i hv nt told my guy bout my health conditn. My cncerns r i dnt knw hw he would react, in my neighbour hood i hv kept it to myself nd non of my frnds r aware so i dnt wnt pple to pity or behv weird around me, am so scared dat he would walk away. Pls advice me.

  8. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author August 10, 00:13

    @cilla, only you know your relationship and this man. I have always believed honesty is the best policy and the right person for you, it will not matter that you have sickle cell. don’t just tell him, educate him so that he understands it better. Ultimately it is your decision

  9. Phillip
    Phillip November 05, 12:59

    I’ve always been up front and honest about my conditions in all my relationships. I am now married to my high school crush and she is definitely God Send. She is caring and always there for me through crisis pains, admissions and even surgery always by my side. She even did a massage course so she can give me massages, my wife would miss her meal to make sure I eat.

    My wife has had females say to her they don’t know if they could do what she does, neither do they think they would be able to be with me and having to deal with Sickle Cell Anaemia. I know one thing she’s a true blessing to my life.

  10. DJ WHITE
    DJ WHITE November 06, 02:42

    dear Cilla u have to understand that all those u call friends around you may not realy be friends n i bet u dnt knw them untill u let them know u, then shall u know who friends are. keeping it all to yourself is an additional burden to what we r going tru, if u tell ur man he has two options, stay or leave. if he decides to marry u, wont u guys v a test ? n then what will u do if he learns from d doc or if he is AS, u will still leave him right? cmon feel free. i tel all my dates, some go some stay, n im happy wit myself.

  11. Oladapo
    Oladapo January 05, 19:47

    I once told a date who had been introduced by a close cousin of mine and his question was’ HOW MUCH OF A FINANCIAL BURDEN IS THIS? Needless to say I high-tailed it after remember to close my mouth which was hanging open.

  12. Liz
    Liz January 09, 21:10

    No one should pour out all of who they are in the early stages. That’s why dating is a process. You are slowly getting to know one another. Once you know enough to commit, you still don’t have to go out of your way to talk about it OR to hide it. To me, having Sickle Cell is just as much a part of me as being a single parent, loving to travel, or being a person of strong faith. For me, it usually comes up in conversation when I make a reference to it while discussing some other topic, i.e. “I don’t skate cause falls can be too risky. First there’s brusing and soreness, then I could wind up in a sickle cell crisis.” This sparks questions and we talk and move on with the conversation. It’s good to talk about it because having SCD does inform my opinions and way of life. When I have a crisis, I let my boyfriend know. Honesty is important in any relationship. A boyfriend can bring you medicine, gatorade, soup, and hot towels as well as any family member if you allow them into that part of your world. I’ll be glad of the day when we’re all Warriors and no longer feel the need to hide our condition. There’s no shame in the genetic cards we were dealt. And there can be pride in the strength we muster to endure and continue to live on.

  13. Lynny
    Lynny November 14, 22:01

    I have never even thought of it as a problem at all. I mean beyond educating partner as needed about sickle cell, I never thought of it as hinderance to any one of my relationships. I always thought of it as my business and responsibility, I never asked for a nurse asked for a lover. So if I ever run across one that found tension with my condition I will, with pride, swerve the hell out of them. Small minded possessive losers to the left you’re not mature enough for a relationship. Childish.

  14. Pressy
    Pressy December 23, 12:44

    I’m prestige. So happy to come across this site. I feel like I’m with my kind of people here. I mer a guy in March and I hid the illness from him. Someone who wasn’t minding their business told him four mths after we mer. I fell sick and came out front to tell him. He has been acting weird and I feel the relationship going the way of the others. I’m tired of finding live. I have decided not to give chance to love. This guy is the 8th guy. I will be 40 next year. I’m working, have a car and live on my own. I plan on adopting a baby girl soon, travel out and just live my life.

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