Two people on a date and another person 3rd wheeling representing narcolepsy.

Dating With Narcolepsy

Last updated: June 2022

Narcolepsy can be an annoying third-wheel on a date. With your nerves on edge and excitement brewing, it can be difficult to set boundaries for your narcolepsy symptoms. The more severe your symptoms are, the more accommodations you will need. And when do you tell your date about your narcolepsy? And what if they react poorly to the news?

There are so many uncertainties when it comes to dating with narcolepsy. There are a variety of strategies I use when dating with narcolepsy that help me advocate for myself while also appropriately tending to new relationships.

1. Keep dates short and sweet

Few things are worse than overstaying in public places and getting overly tired due to narcolepsy symptoms onsetting. I tend to keep my trips into the city less than an hour long, and even doing so I still have sleep attacks on the bus ride home.

It can be easy to get caught up in a date and end up talking hours away. However, doing so would impact my ability to get home safely and I would have increased recovery time following the date.

Overextending myself means being forced to rest for days following the event. I try to limit my dates to no longer than 2 hours in public spaces. It’s enough time for me to read someone without exhausting myself in the long run.

2. Plan energetic or exciting activities

For myself, this includes avoiding activities centered around eating. Sitting down and dining is a surefire way to get me extra sleepy.

My favorite date activities involve walking around, especially in nature. Picking activities that you are excited about is helpful too.

3. Make safe transportation plans ahead of time

I rarely drive and prefer to take public transportation. When I take the bus, I can take a quick nap to help me feel more awake for my destination. Sleep attacks are also common for me on the bus. I tend to only drive my car on errands if the trip is short and early in the day.

Dates often take a lot out of me, thanks to my narcolepsy and worsened by my hearing impairment and the sensory issues that come with that (for hard-of-hearing people like me, “listening fatigue” is a real thing). It’s important to have plans for safe transportation after a date.

4. Decide when to break the 'narcolepsy news'

This is something that is very personal. Narcolepsy is still a medical condition that holds a lot of stigma attached to it.

If you’ve had bad experiences in the past with people not being empathetic about your condition, it can be difficult to be willing to share the information freely.

5. Be unapologetic about your narcolepsy needs

No apologizing for things out of your control! This includes narcolepsy symptoms.

Instead of apologizing when I have a need, I try to thank people for bearing with me. It can be helpful when people check in on me during an event to ask if I am getting tired or need to rest.

What are some of your favorite dating tips as a person with narcolepsy?

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