Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Ways to Navigate a Successful Date Night with IBS


Written by d. Donna Powell and Dr. Renee M. Marchionne Peri V Gastro MD

Dating can be nerve wracking, and it becomes even more so when you have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Living with irritable bowel syndrome means a constant fear of flare-ups, especially in public. You have to avoid trigger foods, which make you look like a picky eater. And even worrying about wanting a date to go well can lead to uncomfortable symptoms.

Discussing the health of your digestive system isn’t exactly something you want to reveal to a potential new lover on your first date. And you’re likely to hide it—which can put you in an uncomfortable position when your date suggests a restaurant or dish that you know is likely to trigger symptoms like gas, bloating, cramping, or diarrhea. Even after you’ve been on a few dates and gotten to know each other better, having a conversation about your status doesn’t get much easier.

Because of the challenges and unpredictability of irritable bowel syndrome, dating can be daunting. While these are realities that many people with IBS live with, we are here to tell you that having IBS does not mean giving up. Here’s how to deal with irritable bowel syndrome:

Allow yourself to be “picky”

There’s nothing wrong with being choosy about your food, especially if it means saving yourself the pain and discomfort of a bout of IBS. Change the narrative about what it means to be picky from someone who is picky or picky to someone who is careful and picky on purpose.

Do your homework

As much as possible, agree on a restaurant before you go on your date so you can look at the menu. They may recommend their favorite place, or you can make a suggestion. Knowing where you’ll be having dinner ahead of time allows you to do your research so you know what to order and call ahead to see if they can make changes to the dish. You may also want to learn about how the facility is designed, so you know where the bathrooms are. Whether you’re going to the movies, an art museum, or a park – do your homework!

Choose the right words

You may feel ready and comfortable enough to talk about IBS at some point. A great way to discuss your condition is, “I have diet restrictions due to digestive issues” or “My stomach can’t handle certain foods.”

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