Living with a partner who has diabetes can be challenging at times. The condition, especially if it’s only recently been diagnosed, may change your lifestyle, your role and even how you see your future. You might be confused about how exactly to support a partner with diabetes. If you are confused Here are some tips and advice about how you can respond to the challenge in a positive, effective manner. 

Supporting your partner: tips for managing blood glucose levels together 

Studies show just how beneficial the right kind of support can be for a person living with diabetes. The support required will vary from person to person, but effective communication will help you find out what your partner needs.

The main message you probably want to get across to them is that because you want to help, they can always be open about how they feel and the kind of support they need. Reassure them that they can talk to you honestly and that you will listen.

It is equally important that you can express your own feelings and needs too.

Positive actions to help your partner

There’s a lot you can do to help. 

Why not find out about diabetes yourself? Learning about the condition will help you to understand your partner’s experience. You could go to medical appointments or dietitians’ visits with them and ask any questions you may have. 

One thing that is useful to know is how to recognise the signs of a drop in a person’s blood glucose levels.

A person living with diabetes whose blood glucose levels have dropped too low might not be well enough to realise what’s going on. It’s important for their partner to be able to spot the early signs of low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia) because if the condition is untreated it can lead to seizures, unconsciousness and death. 

Some of the initial signs and symptoms include:

  •  sweating
  •  dizziness
  •  suddenly feeling very hungry
  •  racing heart
  •  blurry vision
  •  confusion
  •  irritability
  •  tiredness.

If you don’t already know what to do in such circumstances, make sure you speak to a doctor or diabetes educator to find out.

Another thing you can do is to suggest ideas to help your partner manage their diabetes. These might include joining a gym or finding out about the nutritional management of the condition. Maybe you think that joining a diabetes support group would encourage them to talk about their emotions and connect with people in a similar situation.

Always check that your partner is happy for you to help. Make it clear that you’re confident in their ability to handle things.

Discussing sexual problems

Diabetes may affect your sex life. The condition can increase a man’s risk of problems such as difficulties getting an erection and decreased sex drive. For some women, diabetes-related vaginal dryness may make sex uncomfortable. Diabetes can cause fatigue, which might make a person simply too tired. 

If diabetes does affect your sex life, good communication is key.

Discussing mood changes and how to handle them

We all have mood swings, and stress can make them more frequent and intense. Having diabetes can certainly be stressful: the challenges of managing a serious condition can be difficult to cope with. Furthermore, if diabetes is not well-managed, fluctuating blood glucose levels can cause mood swings.

It’s possible that your partner will experience changes in mood. If this occurs, try to stay calm and find out how they really feel so that you can understand and support them. If they don’t want to talk, don’t put pressure on them or criticise them.

Allowing your partner time to manage their diabetes

Your partner may now have to test their blood glucose levels or inject themselves with insulin. They probably need to learn new information about subjects such as diet and exercise.

All of this takes time, and they may feel tired and distracted, so give them the time and space they need. Remember to give yourself the time and space that you need, too.


Supporting a person who’s dealing with an illness can be stressful. It can take a toll on your own health.

You might experience:

  • tiredness, or even exhaustion
  • feeling isolated
  • worries about your partner, yourself and your future
  • anger towards your partner
  • physical problems caused by stress such as digestive difficulties and headaches 
  • feeling overwhelmed.

You owe it to your partner and yourself to avoid burning out.

Here are some tips on doing that.

  • Try to get good-quality sleep.
  • Eat well and exercise regularly.
  • Manage stress by finding healthy ways to relax. And if you’re in a stressful situation, take yourself out of it for a little while. It’s important to put aside some time to take care of yourself, so ask friends and family to take over while you recharge your batteries.
  • Make sure you see friends. Talk to them about how you are feeling.
  • Never feel guilty about looking after yourself: it’s important for your own wellbeing and will help you care for your partner more effectively.

Healthy lifestyle choices: the importance of diet, exercise and stress management in diabetes management

Building your new healthier lifestyle together can bring you and your partner closer.

Maybe you could both join a gym or go jogging. Or you could plan and prepare diabetes-friendly meals. Go to medical appointments together, and learn about managing diabetes such as lowering cholesterol. Perhaps you could both attend a diabetes group. Healthy eating benefits everyone, not just people living with diabetes. A nutritious diet can be very effective in managing diabetes as it helps to keep your blood glucose levels within a healthy range, which reduces the risk of developing diabetes-related complications. If you’d like to find out what constitutes a nutritious diet, take a look at the Australian Dietary GuidelinesHealthy Eating for Adults.  

Stress management is also important. If we are consistently under stress, the pancreas releases a hormone called glucagon into the bloodstream, which eventually increases blood glucose levels. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to counteract the effects of stress, and there are many ways that you and your partner can do this together. You could learn mindful meditation, do some exercise together or learn a new skill.


While every relationship is different in terms of the roles and responsibilities of the individuals within it, living with someone with diabetes can be challenging.

However, there are many effective ways of supporting a partner with diabetes. Making sure there is open and sensitive communication and learning more about diabetes can be a big help.

For the person living with diabetes, it’s also important to accept as much effective support as possible. 

How the Life! program can help you

Life! is a free healthy lifestyle program that helps people prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  The program is for people who are at risk of these conditions. (People living with diabetes are not eligible for the program.) You can choose from a group course or our telephone health coaching service and you’ll learn more about nutrition,  physical activity and stress management.

Life! is run by experienced health professionals, including dietitians and exercise physiologists, who guide and support you to make realistic healthy lifestyle changes that suit your needs. The program includes 7 sessions delivered over a 12-month period.

Learn more about the program at

You can also check your eligibility for the program by taking a quick online test here.

Life! is funded by the Victorian Government and managed by Diabetes Victoria.


Diabetes and Women – CDC

Diabetes and healthy eating – Better Health Channel

Gender Differences in Living with Diabetes Mellitus – PubMed Central (PMC)

Healthy diet for diabetes – Diabetes Australia

Supporting Your Partner – Diabetes

Why stress makes your BGLs rise – Diabetes Australia


Kristie Cocotis, Head of Prevention and Health Promotion

Sarah Dubé, Strategy and Engagement Lead

Ria Cheripuram, Digital Communications Officer

Tegan Kohlman, Communications and Social Marketing Officer

Elaine Osei-Safo, Program facilitator and Health Coach