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Relationships - Diabetes Australia
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Image Relationships sectionLife doesn’t always go to plan. Things like spontaneous parties while out with friends, your new girlfriend’s Mum makes you a special home cooked carb-loaded meal or cramming for exams can all mean routines go out the window. When trying to make new friends and meet potential partners, knowing who to tell about your diabetes and when to tell them can be tough. While it may at times seem easier to go into denial and pretend that you don’t have diabetes to ‘fit in’, the reality is that you do.

You will have a safer and more relaxed time going out with friends, or on dates, if someone you are with knows about your diabetes and if you are looking after yourself at the same time.

What you’ll find here

Telling Family
Telling Friends
Telling Partners
Hot Tips for Dealing with Dating

Telling Family

“They stress anyway, but diabetes adds to it … every now and then chat to them, let them know you’re doing fine.” (Ruth, age 25)

It’s more than likely that your family is one of the first people to know about your diabetes. Your family may become overprotective, and at times, suffocating. It’s easier said than done, but try and remember that it’s only because they love you. And as much as they might nag, they’ll be the ones who will be there for you if and when you really need it.

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Telling Friends

“I didn’t tell anyone at first. Then I realised I had to, or they’d start thinking I was really weird.” (Anonymous)

If you spend any sort of quality time with your friends then it’s highly likely you will feel the need to tell them about your diabetes, or that they will suspect something’s up when you keep disappearing and eating all the time. While this may be hard and you may want to be choosey with who you tell, sometimes you have to give your friends credit. If they are good mates, they’ll most likely understand and want to be there for you. You don’t have to give them all the information about it, maybe just enough so they understand what diabetes is and they’ll know what to do if you have a hypo so they don’t freak out if it happens.

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Telling Your Partner

“Relationships are hard. You don’t want to share the baggage.” (Anonymous)

New relationships are full of highs, lows and countless insecurities. After initially sussing each other out, being there for one another is what caring for someone is all about. It can be hard to work up the courage to tell a new partner about your diabetes. What if they freak out about it? It is generally a matter of timing, and only you can decide the right moment to tell them. You may need to consider whether you are being fair to them by not saying anything? How will they know what to do if you have a hypo, if you haven’t told them about it? Your diabetes is a small part of who you are, but a part nonetheless. If they know, then they can support you and it might make for a few less awkward moments in the future.

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“Be honest that you have diabetes.” (Amanda, age 21)


“Make sure partners know how to use hypo pen and teach them to recognise the signs of hypos/hypers.” (Anonymous)


“It’s a pretty big leap of trust to divulge fears, secrets etc about diabetes. Just make sure that they know basic first aid (especially if you are drinking) and share when you feel that you’re ready.” (Holly, age 18)

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“Like a big night, make sure you’re energised.” (Anonymous)


If you are thinking about it or having sex, remember that sex is actually a form of exercise. As a person with diabetes, you need to think about the risk of hypo and consider ways of preventing it from happening. The last thing you want is to ruin your night having a hypo while you are in the throes of passion!

It might not be convenient but you may need to have a snack before sex so that you don’t get low and if you can check your levels even better. Having some hypo food handy is also good just in case.

One of the things that can affect guys who have had diabetes for a while is Erectile Dysfunction (this is when a guy can’t have an erection or sustain an erection long enough to finish having sex). It’s unlikely that it will cause a problem for you in your teens or twenties, but if you find yourself with this problem, speak to your doctor or CDE as they can help you sort it out.

A useful article on diabetes and sexual health can be found on the myDr website.

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If you’re ready for sex, to stay safe and avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), you’ll need to consider the type of contraception to use. Some forms are more suitable than others if you have diabetes.

To work out what contraception is best for you talk to your doctor or CDE first.

Condoms present no health problem for people with diabetes and they provide protection against STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

The Pill
Females with type 1 diabetes can usually use the pill without any difficulties, unless they have a history of high blood pressure or blood clots. However, the pill should be used with another form of contraception such as condoms to protect against STDs. 

Intra-uterine devices (IUDs)
IUDs can involve a risk of infection. So, females with type 1 diabetes are advised to avoid using them.

Contraceptive implants
Contraceptive implants may affect insulin sensitivity, so a doctor or CDE can give you advice about using these.

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