This guest post is by Lauren Kaminsky. She was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis during her sophomore year of college. But she never let it define her. Follow her antics at Forward is a Pace.
Immediately after being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, I grabbed my cell phone to call my boyfriend of four months. “I have colon…colonosis…” I uttered incoherently. Luckily, at that very moment my mom took the phone away from me, told him that I actually had Ulcerative Colitis, and she’d have me call him after the anesthesia from the colonoscopy wore off.
And just like that, I was forced to navigate a new relationship and a new IBD diagnosis at the same time.
So how do you navigate the dating world when you’re dealing with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?
If you’re comfortable, tell your date about your IBD as soon as possible. You don’t have to be graphic or get into the gory details. To explain my UC to new friends, I usually say something like, “I have Ulcerative Colitis. It’s an autoimmune disease that makes my body attack my colon, and some foods are really difficult for me to digest.” It paints the basic picture without being all, “Oh hey, sometimes I poop blood and mucus.”
Remember there is such a thing as too honest
The first date is probably not the time to talk about the mucus in your stool or share the photos from your recent colonoscopy. Save those for the honeymoon, people! But really, it’s probably best to limit the gory details at first. As the relationship grows, your significant other may do their own research or begin to ask more questions. Answer them honestly.
Be the planner
Offer to take on the role of planning dates whenever possible. That way, you can choose restaurants that you know agree with your system and places with clean bathrooms! Your date will likely breathe a sigh of relief to have everything taken care of, and you’ll have less to worry about, too.
Use the bathroom down the hall
When I was first diagnosed, the idea of my boyfriend knowing that I’d just defiled the bathroom in his dorm made me incredibly uncomfortable. I’d sneak down to the floor below his and use their potty! He was none the wiser, and it made me free to poop in peace.
If there is no “down the hall” then carry matches
Doing the apartment thing? Carry matches in your purse or pocket. They mask stinky poop smell without the overpowering floral or cinnamon bun smell of air freshener.
Remember that your date is focused on himself or herself
Yes, they think you’re swell, and want to get to know you. But they are likely spending just as much time worrying about their outfit or the zit on their forehead as you are about your IBD. Keep it in perspective. It feels like a huge deal, but chances are that your date isn’t worried about it at all!
If all else fails, remember that if they can’t handle it, somebody else can
If your IBD is a deal breaker in your relationship, it wasn’t the kind of relationship you wanted anyway.