Everybody, everybody, everybody but me
Everybody's got someone caring
Everybody's got a love they're sharing
Everybody, everybody but me.
Everybody's out romancing
Having fun and they're going dancing
Everybody, everybody but me.
Dean Martin said it best. In his Everybody But Me classic —the first chart-topper for the Reprise Record Label —founded by Frank Sinatra himself, depicts the not so pretty truth of staying home and going to bed at 8:00 p.m. while everyone else seems to have somebody —everybody but me.
Dr. Patrick F. Bass III, a professor of medicine and pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health Services Center-Shreveport who also owns his a clinical practice explained, “Chronic pain has a ripple effect — not only does it disrupt your life and force you to manage pain, it also changes your personal relationships.
“Interactions with your spouse [potential spouse], children, family, and friends alter in ways both large and small due to the physical limitations and emotional strain that come from living with chronic pain.”
A large portion of managing your chronic back pain is to adapt and overcome to your new challenges while facing them head on — personal relationships included.
Athena Champneys, a 37-year-old resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, and a chronic pain patient since 2003 due to a fibromyalgia diagnosis —a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain and weakness — reported that even though she is married, the pain can still affect her relationship.
“I was in so much pain that I couldn't bend over to put on my own shoes or socks,” Champneys revealed. “And my husband was like, ‘You've got to be kidding me! Get up and deal!'”
Real Life Perspective: Marriage
“I started doubting whether it was real. I even started doubting our relationship, because I was having to do a lot of the same things for her that I have to do for our children. She was in her 30s, but it was like taking care of an 80-year-old grandma,” Champneys's husband, 36-year-old real estate broker, Adam Champneys said.
“People who have chronic illnesses desire support from their loved ones,” said Annmarie Cano, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan.
“We all want to feel loved and cared for, but if the people around us are not supporting us the way we want them to, we might become resentful and feel like we are entitled to support.”
Cano further explained, “The first step is education. Consider treatment as a joint effort. Both partners should try to learn as much as they can about the pain condition and should attend doctors' appointments together to learn about options for treatment.”
In many cases, you as the chronic back pain sufferer may not be in a committed relationship — making dating while in this deliberating back pain quite a chore. After all, how do you meet someone when most of the time you are just trying to get through the day while living in chronic back pain.
Real Life Perspective: Dating
Plenty of Fish (POF), a free online dating service that connects people in the same community to one another has a discussion section on their website for singles to virtually gather to talk about anything that may be on their mind. An anonymous female user created a forum —posting a rather interesting question.
“I was just curious if the men out there would date a woman that suffered from moderate to severe chronic pain disorders such as Fibromyalgia, cervical disc or lumbar disc pain?” she asked.
“Also, would you want them to tell you before you meet for a first date or after you get to know them better? For some, their pain can limit them when doing daily things like sitting for too long or walking for short periods of time or others can manage the pain most of the time but still, makes it hard to enjoy things like riding a bike.”
The responses were interesting as the question itself.
An anonymous male user reported, “Hmmm. I don't think I would, is the most honest answer I can give without being faced with the situation. Chronic pain affects the quality of daily life and although I can certainly empathize, how do you even build a relationship with someone whose life is affected in this manner?”
He continued, “I guess it will ultimately depend on the lifestyle of the new partner. For instance, I tend to walk. I enjoy wandering around downtown and along the waterfront. There are lots of lovely trails here and parklands, which I enjoy. So, being in a relationship with someone with limited mobility would have a direct impact on what I tend to do with my downtime.”
Other responses were similar in nature simply explaining that back pain can be debilitating and limit activity, which could create a potential barrier for the relationship to progress. BackerNation knows that's not always fact. Others reiterated that with chronic back pain means pain medications that can lead to addiction and they didn't want to get involved with someone who could possibly be abusing their medications.
This may be a little frustrating to hear —although the general idea of what the users are reporting may be true at times, it's not always the case. Everyone is different. Chronic back pain and how someone manages it included. Someone with a back condition is still human. You still have feelings, wants, and needs. It's human nature to want to feel close and connected to the people around you or someone you may want to be intimate with. People in pain are still people who deserve everything the next guy has or needs.
Luckily, there were also positive responses such as this one.
Another male subscriber happily argued, “I live in chronic pain every day, from a spinal cord injury back in 1996. I recovered well, no one ever knows. It hasn't affected my love life.
“I see folks who pull a muscle jogging act out in more pain than I ever show to anyone. I use many pain management techniques, including a daily physio regimen. I take responsibility for how my body operates. If I feel stiff and need to stand for awhile, I don't announce it, I just do it. No one ever asks or even notices.
“If by chance someone asks why I'm standing, I'll just say 'because I feel stiff today'. If you don't make a big deal of it, no one else is going to. I have been working with the same team since 1998 at my job and people are flabbergasted when they learn what I do deal with.”
This user concluded, “For me, the fact someone may have pain is not relevant, the more important factor, is how are they dealing with it? Are they using it as a reason they cannot accomplish things or a reason to lash out at people? Those are traits I would not date.”
Communication is the Bonding Factor
For those back pain warriors who are single, remember you are worthy of love. You are worthy — period, end of sentence.
For those in a committed relationship, consider communication and compromise. Communication is key to fully understand your partner's wants and needs in addition to yours. You are worthy.
Clinical Health Psychologist and Behavior Coach, Jonas I. Bromberg, who works at Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Brookline, Massachusetts, articulated, “Poor communication, or lack of communication about pain, can also lead people living with pain to experience problems in their intimate relationships.
“Those who remain aware of the ways that pain can impact their relationship, and who actively work to maintain or improve their relationships while coping with pain, experience fewer problems and adjust better in the long run.”
There you have it. You just have to find the right words and person for you. Everyone you encounter may not be the most empathetic to your situation.
So don't fret. If you are single and eagerly looking, your time will come. There is a season for everything.
If you are dating or married, make your recovery a group effort. You and your partner can do it —not alone, but together.
Regardless of your marital status — try to not assume that you may know everything inside of your partner or potential partner's head. They may be thinking the same thing as you.
When in doubt — talk it out.
Closing it Out
Stay true to yourself and your back pain. Relationships can be hard regardless of other extenuating circumstances like your chronic back pain. There is back pain help and solutions out there. You just have to find them.
And guess what? You don't have to look far because one of those resources is we at BackerNation! Although we're not an online dating service, we do provide tips and tricks on getting the most out of life while living with a chronic back or spine condition.
Now it's time to turn the page for your happily ever after.