Online Dating and Intimate Disclosures

Serena Lawrence avatar

by Serena Lawrence |

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In Life with PH

I found myself on Tinder a few weeks ago, after swearing to my friends and family that I would never date again. Truthfully, I felt like I made an account as anthropological research. As a recovering hopeless romantic, the idea of swiping through a bunch of people based on a picture felt … well … gross. I mean, shouldn’t I meet the love of my life in a more organic way?

Logic lost, I found myself swiping left on about 100 guys who had gym selfies. I wouldn’t say many other people on Tinder wanted the same kind of relationship I am chasing. Perhaps I needed something more serious, like a paid eHarmony account, but I didn’t feel ready for that, either.

As much as I would like to have a serious relationship, settle down, and find “the one,” I can’t help but worry whether I will find my albatross, condor, or penguin (yes, even some birds have soul mates!). PH took away my ability to make certain choices about my life that tend to be pretty important in relationships. Because of this, PH will also dictate whom I date. I feel stuck between two worlds, often longing for the things I thought I deserved pre-diagnosis.

I decided to put a disclaimer about having PH right in my dating profile. That is one of the nice things about online dating — you can get awkward conversations out of the way before you even meet. I thought that the disclaimer in my profile would help weed out guys who were afraid of a little figurative blood.

I didn’t expect to hear back from many people after stating that I have PH in my profile, but that wasn’t the case. Some of the guys I heard back from told me that they also had heart conditions. Another person actually used PH as a pickup line! Online dating still felt weird, but I have to admit that it felt nice to be noticed after feeling invisible for so long. It also showed me that PH doesn’t have to be a big deal, and I could choose to explain the severity of the disease in a way that felt most applicable to me.

I eventually went on my first Tinder date. The person I was meeting said he wanted to get to know me and didn’t want to know about a bad thing that happened to me over which I had no control. So, we didn’t talk about PH at all. If a question overlapped with it, I just referred to it as the thing that happened four years ago.

Halfway through our date, he dropped a bombshell about something that happened to him as a teen. It was then that I realized that I probably won’t be the only person in a relationship who feels as if there is something to hide. Most of us have something about us in our pasts that we try to keep covered under our thumbs for as long as possible. We usually hide these things until the other people get to know us, hoping that they will be more open to accepting our flaws, mistakes, and tragedies once more feelings are involved.

Honesty is the best policy, but how soon do you have to disclose everything?

I had another person tell me something about himself a few weeks after we had met. Admittedly, what he told me probably would have been a deal-breaker for me early on — and maybe it shouldn’t have been. Because I got the chance to know him. I realized I didn’t care as much as I would have had I not had the chance to get to really know him. Perhaps, that grace period of allowing someone to get to know us beyond circumstances is needed before removing our thumb from the baggage or hardships we try to hide.

Maybe I should start giving others that grace period to get to know me before I disclose my diagnosis. I wonder how many people would be able to tell that I am ill, or if my diagnosis would impact how they feel about me? (Once they got to know me, of course.) It is difficult to know when the time is right to disclose a diagnosis. I want someone to like me for me, but I also know that my limitations might be a deal-breaker for others.

At the end of the day, I am just looking for someone who can see past the fire (or at least doesn’t mind dancing in it with me to “Harvest Moon.”) But, for the right person, I would settle for low-sodium tacos, sweatpants, and watching awful horror movies together.

I’ve also learned that I am not scared of a little blood or fire, either.


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Carol avatar



I have been reading your posts on a regular basis. Like you, I have PH (idiopathic). My *thing* happened just about four years ago too.

I am happily married to my best friend and someone I couldn't live without. I often feel guilty because he certainly didn't sign up for his role as caretaker. While it's difficult to stop doing things we use to, we're finding other things I can do.

Okay, now as far as dating and disclosing PH, do what you feel comfortable with. First and foremost, just be YOU. PH does NOT define you. You are still (and will always be) Serena, a well-read and eloquent blogger.

So go ahead and take that chance to meet your forever person.

*Raises cannula in salute!*

Serena Lawrence avatar

Serena Lawrence

Hi Carol,

Thanks so much for following my columns.

I am so glad to hear that you have a supportive and loving partner. I've learned that we often become great adapters after diagnosis, finding things that we can do instead or differently.

Thank you for the kind words and support <3 Warm regards, Serena

Colleen avatar


Hi Serena!
I have been on several dating websites for years (ok, that makes me sound pathetic?? lol). But, I did date someone for almost 4 years even though I had put PH in my profile and my pictures had my cannula fully on display. I figure, why not? While he was really supportive with my PH, even going with me twice to Cleveland Clinic for my appts, I broke up with him when he just didn't know what he wanted our relationship to be (after almost 4 years? UGH). I took a year or so off from dating to find myself again, and I've been on two different dating sites but haven't had much success yet. However, I'm not giving up hope!! I'm a little leery on trying Tinder, but eHarmony just seems so expensive. Anyway, I'm rambling! lol Good luck with your dating adventures! YOU ARE WORTHY, PH OR NO PH!! There ARE men out there who will see past that, and be supportive!!

Serena Lawrence avatar

Serena Lawrence

Hi Colleen!

I wish you luck with whatever adventure you decide to try next!

Tinder is very low commitment, so it is a great way to practice how to talk and meet someone again. (I am painfully shy, so I know I need some help in this department!) I've also had some friends who have met their partners on there, but again, it isn't a super serious dating website, so that is probably few and far between.

Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share a bit about yourself with me :)

Tess Jewson avatar

Tess Jewson

I read this article first thing this morning, I didn't realise it was from your blog, as went through a different website! Such a good topic to cover. I was very nervous when I went on Tinder to find a partner. I didn't mention anything about my PH on my profile. I wanted to see if there was a connection with my date before I mentioned anything. I didn't see the point of explaining it all if I wasn't going to see them again! Luckily with Terry (my husband), we instantly clicked and I told him on our first date about my PH and I explained about it and said look I'm here, if we go further I'll explain about it more, but i want you to know I live by life, not by my illness. And that's what he realised over the months and as time went by he started learning more about how I dealt with it and what PH is. As you probably know, we got married in April last year and it was the best swipe right we did! :D good luck with finding someone who will look past your fire.. they are out there! X

Serena Lawrence avatar

Serena Lawrence

Hi Tess!

Thanks for sharing, I am so glad you two found happiness with one another. I had no idea you met your husband through Tinder!

I still feel guilty about the idea of dating anyone because my life feels as if it will never be rooted. I am hoping I will find someone who will look past the fire, and that I will be able to let them in.

Thank you for the kind words of encouragement :)

Andrea Rice avatar

Andrea Rice

Everyone lies especially when dating, so I don't think it is a big deal. Me, not interested to date at all, regardless of having PH. I'm also Bipolar but never disclosed this bit of information to anyone, I believe they can figure it out for themselves and if I really drive a person nuts, then we can sit down and talk about the pros and the cons of having a mood disorder. Having a chronic illness is serious but I don't believe it is a deal breaker. Everyone has some kind of medical problem in their family, can't escape it so why try. If a person likes you for you whatever you have goes along for the ride. Of course there are people that like to nit pick what they like and what they don't like or want in a person. Stay away from people like this. No matter what you are and what you have you'll never be good enough, not worth the risk. I am a proud mom of a 26 year old male who is still a virgin and has never been on a date and has no desire to date. He puts his attention on other things. I, as his mom, don't expect things from my son, as long as he's happy this is awesome! It's his life and he's gonna live it the way he chooses. After being married and divorced I have no interest to date any guy. Might be because I am happy dealing with myself and have no interest to deal with another person. I find trying to get along with another a chore and much prefer my son & friends to a dating partner. I have learned by raising a son what makes guys the way they are. Very unique individuals. My son and I have always been close but since found out I have less than two years left to live because Pulmonary Hypertension became Severe my son is here for me full-time. He quit his job, moved back home and lives with me as a live-in caregiver. Socializing with my son makes me happy as I have learned so much from him and enjoy an adult to adult relationship with him now that he's all grown up. The best way to describe it is I have the best seat in the house I get to watch him trip, stumble, mess up right in front of my eyes without judgment admiring how he does things similar to how I would do things and at other times completely different, things I would have never thought of doing myself. I have honesty with my son. He tells me like it is and I do the same with him. Don't believe I could find a 100% honest relationship with a guy in the dating world. Needle in a haystack to find.

But for those of you that are interested to date, go for it! But be safe, especially for women. The risks are out there when dating online anyone can say anything doesn't mean that it's true. There's no accountability. Then, there's domestic violence, date rape, sex slave trade, alcohol poisoning, and even death.

Good Luck!


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