The second date is going well, so maybe now is a good time to bring up your colostomy bag. Herpes. Third-degree burns.
Dating can be challenging for singles with medical conditions. For 15 years, Ricky Durham watched as his younger brother dealt with the gastrointestinal inflammatory ailment known as Crohn's disease while trying to date.
"He had a colostomy bag, and this is a very good-looking boy," said Durham, 46, of Atlanta. "I started thinking, `When do you tell someone you have a colostomy bag?' He didn't know how to approach this at all."
After his brother's death at age 41 in 2004, Durham was inspired to start an Internet dating company where people with medical conditions could meet a love interest. The site, Prescription4Love.com, is less than two years old and has 1,000 members.
The site offers search options for more than a dozen medical conditions, including arthritis, cancer, deafness, diabetes, epilepsy, herpes, HIV, HPV and obesity.
Durham's site isn't the only one offering dating services for members with specific medical conditions. PositiveSingles.com, for example, is for members with herpes, HIV, HPV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Another Web site, DAWN-Disabled-Dating.com, is for singles who are "differently abled," said Wendy Wolf, founder of Different Abled Winners Network (DAWN).
Wolf was inspired by her experiences as a quadriplegic. "I had polio when I was 4 years old," said Wolf, 59, of Tucson, Ariz. "I was completely paralyzed; I couldn't move a muscle."
Her childhood, despite the surgeries and medical procedures, was a time of happiness for Wolf. She said she had a loving family and many friends. But as she became a teenager, her "world changed" as her friends began dating and she was alone.
"That loneliness and isolation I was feeling, that was more debilitating than my disability," Wolf said.
She married in her 20s, adopted two children and later divorced. Now she is in a long-term relationship and jokes that her boyfriend has a "commitment" disability.
The feeling of being alone inspired Wolf to not exclude any member when she started DAWN in 1993. She acknowledged that her site is aimed at people with physical disabilities, but no one is denied membership.
Mary Mocny, 24, of Chicago is one of DAWN's new clients. "I realized I don't know anyone else who is an amputee," Mocny said. "I never knew what it was like to know someone who goes through the same issues and has the same troubles."
In November, the dating service introduced Mocny to a man living in a different state whom she describes as "able-bodied." The two have been e-mailing and talking on the phone for eight months. Mocny said the newly forming relationship is going well, and the two hope to meet in person.
In a sense, DAWN is more like a matchmaking service. Members sign up online, but Wolf does the pairing. Each member is required to write a letter of introduction that she sends to potential matches.
Prescription4Love.com, however, follows a more traditional online dating setup. Members can search by ZIP code and medical condition. The site allows users to search more than 20 medical conditions and send e-mails to members of interest.
Emilie Le Beau wrote this story for the Chicago Tribune.