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The Head and the Heart: Dating With Migraine

February 11, 2021

When you’re dating someone new, migraine is like an unwanted third wheel. You wish it could be just the two of you — but then migraine threatens to ruin your dinner, cancel your plans, make you feel unappealing and chase away your new crush. Ugh. 

Despite the complications migraine introduces, dating’s still doable! You just need to take it slow and follow your heart.  

When Should You Tell a Potential Partner You Have Migraine?

There are a few possible approaches to this, so choose the option that feels right for you: 

  1. Don’t mention migraine at all until the relationship develops. First dates (and second and third ones) should be fun. Fielding awkward questions — or worse, correcting migraine misconceptions — ruins the romance.
  1. Tell a potential partner right away that you live with migraine. Why waste your time getting to know someone who won’t be supportive? Both of you will benefit if you’re clear, from the very beginning, that you have a chronic, invisible illness.
  1. Ease in slowly. Mention that you have migraine early on, but wait a while before you describe every symptom. Make it a natural part of the getting-to-know-you process.

What’s the Best Way to Explain Migraine to a New Partner?

Rather than taking a deep dive into your medical history, you can begin with something more concrete: how migraine affects your life. You might say something like, “I want you to know that I live with migraine, which is a neurological condition that gives me really bad headaches/fatigue/nausea about X days every month. I’m getting treatment for it, but it probably won’t go away.”

“Migraine means there are certain things I can’t do, like going to a noisy bar or being outside on a really hot day. Please don’t take it personally when I cancel plans at the last minute! I really enjoy spending time with you, but I can’t control when a migraine attack hits. I appreciate you understanding.”

What Happens When Your Partner Witnesses a Migraine Attack?

Early in a relationship, you may feel more comfortable avoiding your partner when an attack looms. It’s just easier to go it alone… and you might worry about scaring away someone you’re starting to have feelings for.

But at some point, your partner will be with you when you’re experiencing a migraine attack. They’ll see you when you’re feeling your worst. And that’s OK! This is a crucial step in dating when you have migraine. Will they flee when you’re vomiting and groaning in pain? Or stay by your side and try to help?

A little preparation goes a long way. No one likes feeling helpless, so suggest some concrete ways they can ease your pain. You could even share this guide with them: Dos and Don’ts for Supporting a Loved One with Migraine.

What Are Migraine Dating Dealbreakers? 

If your goal is a long-term relationship, it’s important to make sure that the person you’re with loves you fully. Research shows that migraine causes stress in many marriages, and you don’t want to settle for someone who won’t support you. So look for red flags early! These may include:

  • Being dismissive or sarcastic about your symptoms
  • Insisting that it’s “just a headache
  • Telling you it’s “all in your head”
  • Showing zero interest in learning about migraine
  • Blaming you for your migraine attacks
  • Pouting or making you feel guilty when you cancel plans
  • Ghosting you when you’re having a migraine attack
  • Complaining that your migraines make their life harder

Migraine is, for better or worse, part of who you are. Stay true to yourself, keep an open mind when dating, and you’ll find someone who can love and uplift you through your migraine journey.

Learn more about CEFALY: a clinically proven, drug-free treatment for migraine.

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