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Ask the Advocates: Dating with COPD

This article is part of an "Ask the Advocates" series. Our awesome advocates answered a few questions to share their thoughts and tips with the community. Other articles in the series include:

Dating with COPD

What advice do you have for folks navigating intimate relationships/dating with COPD?


Just know that you can still be intimate in your relationships. You can still date despite your diagnosis. If someone truly loves you they will accept you the way you are and help you any way they can.


First, be honest. You have nothing to be ashamed of so just be upfront about your health. If you have limitations let them know right away. Since more and more people are meeting online, it may actually be easier than you think. In fact, there are particular sites for people with chronic health conditions. However, if you don’t want to take that route just mention it in your profile. On the other hand, if you’re meeting people the more traditional way, you may be meeting via support groups or classes related to COPD – in that case no explanation is really needed.

Being socially active is good for both our physical health and our mental health. Being intimate with someone we care about is also healthy and rewarding. Having COPD doesn’t mean we have to give those things up. However, we may need to use more caution and wisdom when engaging in intimacy. For instance, pay attention to your limits and know when enough is enough. As with anything, don’t overdo. While you may feel it takes the spontaneity out of it, try to “schedule” intimacy for times you’re feeling the most energetic. Showing affection is part of being human so don’t shy away from it. Learn to be creative and resourceful in finding ways to have a fulfilling, intimate relationship with that special someone in your life.


My tips for dating with COPD are to be honest with yourself and each other as to what you are looking for in a relationship and what you expect from each other. For an intimate relationship, safety is important. Keep your rescue inhaler close by and if necessary, use the inhaler or a nebulizer before getting intimate. Go slow.


For intimate relationships, it was hard for my mom. She was single after dad's death. She didn't want to date. I kept encouraging her to get online and meet someone who had the same condition. She finally did!


It's best to expect challenges on both ends. There might be tubes or bits in the way that weren't there previously. You might need to add some extra speed settings on the dial, from slow to ultra slow to really ultra slow. And consider if medications are going to affect things. Overall, have a sense of humor about the whole thing.


My advice for people with COPD is the same as for anyone: always endeavor to communicate with honesty and openness. Depending on where you are in your COPD progression, you may face some physical limitations. But these limitations don't have to prevent you from leading a vibrant, rewarding life! Focus on learning what you are able to do, how to pace yourself and then communicate that with anyone whom you are dating or having an intimate relationship with.

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