Tourette's Syndrome is a type of tic disorder that causes someone to make involuntary, repetitive movements and sounds. People who have Tourette's often also have vocal tics, during which they say things others may find inappropriate and generally aren't true, according to the Tourette Association of America.
Having Tourette's can make it difficult for someone to navigate any social interaction, but as one man explained in an episode of the U.K. reality show First Dates, it can make it especially hard to date.
Damian Friel, a mental health nurse from Northern Ireland, has Tourette's and had to explain his syndrome on his episode of First Dates, which aired about a year ago.
"It doesn’t affect my looking for relationships too much," he told Gay Star News. "A lot of people will say they don’t really care, or that I seem like a nice person, and they just want to meet me anyway."
That doesn't mean Tourette's has never affected his dating life, though. Friel told Gay Star News of a time when he was supposed to meet a guy he had never met — and therefore never had the chance to explain that he has Tourette's — in a "really public place." He stood there for an hour waiting for the guy to show up.
Although he initially thought he stood him up, Friel later learned that the guy had seen him standing there.
"He saw me ticking," he told Gay Star News. "He thought I was crazy and walked away."
On the other end of the spectrum are people who think Friel is really hot because of his Tourette's.
‘They like, they say 'that’s really hot,'" he told Gay Star News. "Really, this is my disability? That’s not hot at all. Even though it’s something I’ve accepted, and it’s not something that I find I would use to try and entice people."
While there are certainly people out there who are neither scared of Friel's disability nor turned on by it, he's not looking for a long-term relationship right now. Instead, Friel is focusing on finishing his degree and running a marathon.
As Friel says in his First Dates episode, people with Tourette's often experience worse tics during times of stress or anxiety — like a first date. Some people are also triggered by certain sounds like hearing someone sniff or clear their throat, according to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
There is no cure for Tourette's, and people who have the syndrome often cannot control or suppress their tics. Instead of hoping for a cure, the Tourette Association of America suggests that people with the syndrome "get it out of the way early," when it comes to dating.
Though they don't recommend opening a date with, “Hi, my name’s Joel, and I have Tourette's Syndrome,” Tourette Association of America does suggest breaking the news after your date notices a tic — just as Friel did on First Dates.
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