Dating with diabetes

Dating is hard already but then throw in diabetes too and things can get tricky. Darren Badenhuizen and Paula Thom, a couple who both have Type 1 diabetes, offer advice and share some of their relationship.

Darren Badenhuizen (39) and Paula Thom (33) live in Port Elizabeth and have been dating for two years. They run DSA Young Guns.

How did the two of you meet?

I (Paula) received a message via Instagram by Lundi who wanted to meet up and talk about living with diabetes. She was diagnosed during pregnancy and wanted to get involved with Diabetes South Africa. She brought Darren along to our coffee meeting. Darren was very quiet but always showed up at the Young Guns get-togethers. He was keen to meet other people who live with diabetes. 

How did you each tell the other about your diabetes?

We found out at the coffee shop. Later when we became good friends, we learnt that we both have a passion of helping others with diabetes, especially the youngsters.

Is it best to tell a potential partner about your diabetes?

Definitely. It is a major part of your life and affects your partner’s life as well. 

When best is it to tell a potential partner?

Before you start dating the person and when you feel comfortable enough to share it. Darren and I don’t shy away from telling people that we have diabetes. It’s also a way of spreading awareness in our own little way.

Does having a partner who also has T1D hold accountability in managing it correctly?

We do not think so. We are each equally responsible to look after ourselves, regardless of who we date. There are ups and downs with our health and all we can do is be a support. It definitely helps that we understand every aspect of it with no judgement. This does make it easier to deal with.

If you both have T1D, can you share medication?

No, we have a set amount of insulin prescribed to us and different types. There is no need to share medication and we definitely should not.

Does having T1D add more stress or need for clear communication in a relationship?

Darren and I understand each other pretty well. We both tend to get a bit grumpy or irritable when our blood glucose levels are high. If this is the case, then we will tell the other to test their sugar. It’s something we laugh about, but usually we are right, and the blood glucose level would be the cause of the mood change.

Is there a concern that if both of you have T1D and if you decide to have children that there is a chance that your children might have it too?

This is definitely a concern as it may be genetic.

How has your partner helped you in managing your diabetes?

Paula doesn’t let me eat until I inject as this is my biggest weakness.

Darren reminds me to take my long-acting insulin and test as this is my biggest weakness.

We also help each other figure out what the cause may be of our blood glucose levels being either high or low. So, we will go through the day and talk about what we ate and did and try and eliminate factors and get to the source. This is how we learn what affects it as we go along. We are constantly learning.


Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on [email protected]