Dating can be challenging for anyone whether you have IBD or not.  IBD is a disease of younger people with most being diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 35.  As a result, there are many, many young people with IBD who are wondering about dating and having IBD.  Two questions that many younger patients with IBD want answers to are:

 

  • Should I date if I have IBD?

 

  • When I start dating, when should I discuss my IBD?

 

If you have recently been diagnosed with IBD, it may make sense to wait until you are confident that your IBD is under control (i.e., that is you are not experiencing a flare).  When you are feeling comfortable with recognizing the signs and symptoms of IBD and steps to take to control them, you will be in a better position to consider dating.

 

For those of us with IBD, generally speaking having IBD is not something that anyone wants to discuss on a “first date”.  It is up to you to determine how far along in the dating process (as the relationship progresses and trust develops) to figure out when is the best time to discuss your IBD.  The thing about dating is that there are no hard and fast rules.  Trust your judgement on when to discuss that you have IBD.

 

Relationships

When dating progresses further and becomes a relationship, you need to realize that relationships are built on a foundation of two people supporting one another. Relationships are often complex with many factors having the potential to influence the outcome. A key to having a successful relationship is communicating effectively as well as having an understanding partner.  When to disclose that you have IBD is a matter of timing (i.e., When in the relationship should disclosure take place?).[1] In speaking with other patients who have IBD, a few points on when to disclose that you have IBD need to be considered:

 

  • Trust needs to be established.

 

  • You must feel comfortable in discussing your IBD.

 

  • Your attitude about having IBD will influence the attitudes of those you have or are having a relationship with.

 

  • Some experts recommend that once a person has decided to disclose that they have IBD, they need a game plan – who, what, and how to tell your partner.

 

  • Discussing and sharing information about IBD with the person you want to have or are in a relationship with can reduce stress, anxiety, and avoid embarrassing situations.

 

[1] Dubinsky M. Sexuality issues in IBD. Practical Gastroenterology 2005;29:55-59.

 

Game Plan:

 

  1. Plan your date
  2. Choose your location – Don’t go to a place where there are no restrooms
    1. Select your restaurant – avoid spicy food
  3. Choose your time – You know best – don’t hesitate to change if you feel a flare
    coming on
  4. Take the time get yourself prepared – don’t stress
    1. Pack some essentials like a toilet kit and maybe a change of clothes
  5. Shorten the date until you feel comfortable

 

When to tell:

  1. You decide when you are comfortable
    1. Don’t forget most people don’t really know what it is and you can start by saying you have a non-contagious disease which has the effect of sometimes needing to go to the bathroom suddenly
    2. You have to take medications
  2. Don’t go into too much details at the beginning and see how they react, you would be surprised if they like you, they may not care.
    1. Sometimes they need a little time to do their own research

Sometimes they are not the right person