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Navigating Love: Dating After Cancer Treatment

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Dating and maintaining romantic partnerships can be challenging after cancer treatment too. Cancer is a life-changing experience. You may be dealing with changes in your appearance, body image and sexuality.  

Here are some considerations for navigating relationships and dating after cancer treatment:

Recovery Period

Recognise that recovery doesn't end when treatment does. It may take time to regain your physical and emotional strength. Be patient with yourself and your partner

Body Image

Understand that your body may have changed due to cancer and treatment. Self-acceptance and self-love are important. Your partner should appreciate you for who you are, regardless of physical changes.

Dating Again

If you're single, when you decide to start dating again will depend on your comfort level. Some people choose to take time to focus on their recovery before re-entering the dating scene, while others may start sooner.

Disclosure

When you're ready to date, decide when and how to disclose your cancer history. Some people prefer to be upfront about it, while others may choose to share it later in the relationship.

Supportive Partners

Seek partners who are understanding and compassionate. A supportive partner will be there for you through the ups and downs and won't judge you based on your cancer history.

Rebuilding Trust

For those in existing relationships, cancer can strain trust and communication. Rebuilding trust may take time, but couples’ therapy or counselling can help address these issues.

Building a strong support network (outside of a partner), and focusing on your own well-being, can also help contribute to a fulfilling dating and relationship experience during and after cancer treatment. If you feel more confident and comfortable, that flows into your relationships too! 

Remember that every person's experience with cancer is unique, and the impact on dating and relationships can vary greatly. What's most important when dating after cancer is finding partners who are understanding, supportive, and willing to navigate these challenges with you. Wherever possible (and safe), talk to your date/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend about how you’re feeling, so they know what’s going on in your head (and heart), and can support you. 

Comment below – what have you learnt from your experiences of dating after cancer treatment?

By Mona H and Brie T, Online Counsellors, Canteen Australia