A couple enjoying a loving meal at an outdoor cafe.

Questions to Ask a Prospective Partner

I was diagnosed with CHF at 35, never married, and with no children. While I always wanted to find a partner, the diagnosis made it even more important as I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted from life. Over the past two years, I’ve had my fair share of challenges in the dating world; however, I did find someone great.

Why does our relationship work?

My boyfriend and I have talked a lot about why our relationship works despite my challenges. From our perspective, the most important thing is that a patient needs to be someone who can take care of him/herself in every way. Physically, mentally, emotionally.

A heart failure patient can give a lot to a relationship and provides 'value' in their own way but outlays of physical work, emotional healing, and dealing with relationship drama (ie no extra stress) are not consistently on that list.

Questions to ask

If this helps, we created a list of questions to ask prospective partners if that resonates with you:

Compromise toward health

  • What did you eat for dinner yesterday?
  • Oh did you make that yourself?
  • What do you typically make?

Mental outlook

  • What do you and your friends do?
  • Is this person wholehearted or superficial?
  • Is this person brand conscious? Do they want a partner who can be arm candy?

Appreciate you for you

Look for things like are they wearing or ‘sporting’ stuff that is all about name recognition. Why do they drive the car that they drive? This might seem odd, but we no longer have the agency in our lives the way we used to.

We might not be able to wear clothes we used to due to swelling or weight gain, we might have to take a step back in our careers, might not have the energy to do a ton of makeup, etc. Someone needs to appreciate you for YOU, because that’s all that you can count on.

Some more questions in this realm include: What is the last thing you processed (save this for date #2 or #3)? What makes you truly happy?

Feelings about therapy

If you can assess how this person feels about therapy, terrific. This can be tough stuff and making the first ER visit (as my boyfriend found out) can be overwhelming.

It is helpful to be with someone who recognizes their limitations and is not afraid to seek help to cope. You must recognize your limits as well and you can’t be a partner and therapist. You cannot always walk on eggshells being afraid of scaring them off.

Seeking help

There is a great meme ‘f*** the nudes, send me a dated invoice from your therapist so I know that you are working on yourself.’ Along the lines of mental health, I’d assess how well your prospective partner has dealt with their own baggage, so it doesn’t take up an oversized space in your life. Seek help for yourself too, if you need it.

Health relationship

Be aware of communication issues. Are they ok being vulnerable? Have they done any work around this? A poor communicator tends to add stress and drama, and you need someone who is interested (and is willing to or has already) put in the work necessary for a healthy relationship.

To last long term, a heart failure patient needs a relationship that is a source of comfort and strength. You want someone who can perform chest compressions if needed, not someone who contributes to your need for them! Ha.

Hobbies and spare time

What do you and your friends do for fun? If it’s someone who doesn’t have hobbies that they can do alone or all their hobbies are energy-intensive that might be tough.

What do you do in your downtime? I don’t have a lot of energy so we don’t do stuff all the time and sometimes I just cannot get off the couch, but it’s ok because that allows him to pursue the things he wants to do by himself. His hobbies are such that he can do that.

Things to be aware of

I’ve also written this before, but you have to find joy in your life. You HAVE TO find a way to grieve and keep it moving. The right person will appreciate you, but you do the work on yourself to continue being ‘you,’ whatever that might now look like!

Said another way, chemistry comes from attraction, not pity. Personally, my boyfriend said that it was clear that I’m a fighter and he appreciates that. You can still be ‘you,’ even with a devastating medical condition. ‘You’ just might come in a different package, and it’s up to YOU to make the best out of Plan B. Keep on fighting 😊

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