How to Date When You Have IBS

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You can have the best doctor in the world able to focus on The exact type of irritable bowel syndrome you have And make you feel reassured about the treatment. You can also have a very powerful registered dietitian, whose brain is like a vast encyclopedia of Foods that will trigger your IBS symptoms and won’t. But even if you and your gut work with a great team of gastroenterologists, they probably aren’t advising you on that crucial aspect of your life: how to date with IBS.

I have a secret for you: Once you reach a certain age—hell, once you reach your teens—nearly everyone deals with some sort of health issue and worries about the best way to reveal it to a romantic partner. So if you meet someone who is feeling weird about your IBS, joke on them. (Mohaha.) I know, I knowSure, you can understand that ~intellectually~, but that doesn’t quite take the stress out of going on a date with someone you really like, you know?

So before we get into ra-ra-have-got-this, let’s all sympathize for a second. “I had to cancel many dates at the last minute due to illness, which is really annoying in the early stages of dating someone,” says Mandy, who lives in New York and prefers to use only her first name for privacy. “I also have a few things that fade away due to digestive issues.” Among other things, she adds, stay informed about your symptoms Low FODMAP DietPlenty of rest, plus a great gastroenterologist helps her tremendously.

And just a reminder that sometimes our minds literally work against us. Tiffany Homan, 34, a Texas-based relationship expert says. “There is nothing to be embarrassed about.”

So beepAnd the beepBuckle up, betches! Because we spoke to a group of young women with IBS—plus a few experts—to find out how they navigate the dating scene on their own terms and enter into healthy, supportive relationships. A lot of their advice applies to anyone looking for love, so feel free to dispense these words of wisdom to your friends who don’t have gut issues either!

Choosing a place for a date when you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome

“Since most early dates are about food, I always plan and prepare ahead of time. It’s perfect for Be very clear about any food triggers beforehandThen plan accordingly. This means keeping detailed journals of nutritional symptoms to rule out food intolerances or other types of adverse food interactions. —Gina Volpe, 34, registered dietitian

I try to limit early appointments to activities that do not include meals. Drinks are usually a good plan (coffee, not much), but I’ve also done things like Mini golf, go to a botanical garden or an art gallery and an afternoon symphony party (If you go to the 2 p.m. show that ends at 4, that removes the possibility of lunch or dinner.) – Mandy

Nowadays, when I go out on date nights with my husband, I have a spoonful of sauerkraut rich in probiotics before going out, So my gut has the extra support to better digest the delicious food I’m about to eat! Taking a mint capsule or sipping a cup of peppermint tea before going out to eat can help reduce gas, bloating and discomfort, especially when eating rich foods. (The downside to peppermint tea is that it can sometimes trigger symptoms of heartburn and reflux, so listen to your body!)” — Jenna

“Back when I was up to now, I always made sure to go to my “safe places”, Where I knew I could eat certain foods and had no problem. Or I suggest having a coffee. I know coffee sounds like a surefire way to go, but it’s a surprisingly safe food for me. So a great and easy date was a trip to a local coffee shop or Starbucks. It wasn’t very formal, there wasn’t a lot of pressure and I could order the same drink I always ordered without any issues. Going to my tried-and-true places was also a way to reduce the anxiety that triggers seizures.” — Tiffany

“If you are going to the cinema or outdoors, Check in advance to see how many bathrooms are on site useful. You can also have a few outfits ready ahead of time to make sure you feel “at home” in your body while you’re dating. If you’re driving, keep a change of clothes in your car in case you feel too uncomfortable, or if plans change unexpectedly. I like to keep a suitcase in my car with some safe clothes on.” —Kristen Casey, PsyD, founder and owner of Evolve Psychological Services

Telling a new partner that you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome

“Once I’ve been dating someone for a while, I’ve become more and more transparent with them about my digestive issues. This conversation is really bad, but in all cases, the guys I’ve had relationships with have been really supportive. In fact, One of my ex-boyfriends has gone so far as to learn about my diet, He cooks me low-FODMAP meals. He once made me a garlic/onion-free and guacamole-free sauce for the Super Bowl and that was the sweetest thing—maybe the only nice thing about it, but I could.” — Mandy

“When I met the man who is now my husband, I already gave him a heads up before we went out on our first dinner date That “I have some dietary restrictions that I need to respect, in order to stay in remission from previous health issues.” While I didn’t tell him on the first date it was IBS, I eventually shared it with him at a certain point in the relationship when I felt safe and comfortable talking about it. Long story short, the more you exercise, and the more you remind yourself that a kind, patient, and supportive partner won’t judge or shame you for having IBS, the easier it will be.” — Jenna

“It depends on your comfort level. Some people don’t want to be vulnerable on a first date, which is totally understandable! I usually suggest At least waiting for the second date So you can gauge whether you enjoy the company of this person and that revealing your IBS diagnosis doesn’t affect you one way or the other. Remember that transparency and vulnerability are two different things. Transparency means that you are upfront and state the facts about your experience. Vulnerability is when we share deep details that we feel close to our hearts; Things that, if shared with someone else, might upset us.” — Kristen

“When the topic of foods came up on early dates, sometimes I would just think of “Yeah, I can’t eat that” or “My stomach can’t handle it.” Usually their response was the same weight as someone who says they are lactose intolerant.” — Tiffany

“I’ve personally had a challenging time exposing IBS to new partners. While I’ve been married for a few years, I previously hid this part of my health journey for months until it showed up. As I became more comfortable with partners, I’ll tell them about my “tummy troubles.” When my IBS was on fire. I was usually met with sympathy and a feeling that the partner didn’t care and/or think it was disgusting, and that was my biggest fear.” —Emily R, 28

Being in a Relationship When You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome

“Unconditional love means loving and supporting someone regardless of their health or nutritional needs. I eventually realized that if a man couldn’t handle a woman with IBS and food sensitivities, he wouldn’t be worth my time. It’s usually early on whether Whether or not the partner would be supportive and understanding. A supportive partner will take into account your needs and preferences When it comes to choosing a restaurant or a place to eat. They will check in with you, and ask you what you want or need. It will be flexible and easy. It will not make you feel ashamed or embarrassed. They will be reasonably mature when you trust them about your health.” — Jenna

“I think the easiest way to know if someone will be supportive and understanding of your IBS is if these traits are in nature regardless of the circumstances. I found these traits in my husband and this is what made me Comfortable enough to feel like I don’t have to hide my stomach issues. It’s easier if the person you’re dating also has a stomach or food allergy. Birds of a feather fall, you know? — Lauren Schneider, 29

“I think my husband is the only person I’ve actually told I have IBS, but in part because of it He was with me through doctor’s appointments and diagnoses. I always assumed I had IBS, but it wasn’t actually diagnosed until I had a committed relationship with my current husband. He took me to my colonoscopy appointment and was very understanding. He knew how much it cost my life – when we live together it’s hard to hide that kind of thing. I told him about it fairly early in our relationship. I think that’s because I felt a level of comfort with him that I didn’t feel on a lot of other dates.” — Tiffany

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