A GWG’s Guide to Dating (aka, my love for you is like diarrhea, I just can't hold it in!)
Dating in 2019 can be a scary prospect, IBD/ostomy or not. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s well into my relationship and after I had gotten engaged, so I had to call on the expertise of our lovely GWG’s for this blog. Thanks to their stories and experiences, we have compiled some do’s and don’ts, as well as some green and red flags to look out for when talking with potential partners!
1. Date, unapologetically! Your disease, symptoms, equipment, etc. are part of you. We all go through times where we are embarrassed or uncomfortable with something about our IBD/ostomy journeys; however, every human on this earth comes with some sort of baggage. The first step to finding a partner or just a fun date is actually getting out there and doing it! Whether you are meeting people out and about, online dating, or getting set up by a friend, be confident in the whole person that you are!
2. Experiment with lingerie! There are so many different styles and sizes out there, anyone with any shape can find something sexy to wear! There are even options that can conceal your ostomy if you aren’t looking to share that part of you with someone just yet!
1. Put yourself in a position that you don’t feel comfortable in. Can’t drink? Maybe meeting at a bar isn’t the best choice for you at the time. Thai food mess you up? Try Italian instead. Food mess you up in general? A walk in the park or a trip to the zoo can be a great non-food related first date! Walking not so hot? Try a comedy show or movie! There are fun activities that would be great first date options for everyone!
2. Let one (or a few, even) bad experiences ruin all dates for you! There are some genuinely crappy people in this world, and the journey to finding love is often full of them. Having negative experiences with the wrong people does not mean that a positive experience with the right person isn’t possible.
1. He/She/They are politely curious about your disease. If your date doesn’t squirm when you bring up your health, but instead shows genuine curiosity, you may have found a good one. Asking questions, wanting to know more, and doing research on their own shows a positive interest in you as a whole. If they are pushy about their questions, you always have the right to ask them to stop. There are just nosy people out there!
2. You fart, and there is no negative response. If your date tries to say that they didn’t nervous fart at least four times throughout the date they are dirty liars. No reaction, or at least one that isn’t negative, shows that they are 1. adults, and 2. not concerned by normal bodily functions that they have, too/
3. He/She/They are understanding and considerate when it comes to getting intimate. Respecting your boundaries is key! A lot of us are at different stages of disease, healing, etc. and there are plenty of ways to be intimate that don’t include a pants-off dance-off!
1. He/She/They expects an explanation for why you aren’t drinking alcohol or eating something off the menu. You owe an explanation to no one. If they get pushy when you don’t offer an explanation, they are probably not the one for you.
2. He/She/They can’t accept the thought of an ostomy or a lifestyle that involves chronic illness. Having questions or concerns is one thing, but if your date can’t accept living a life with someone who is differently abled, you probably don’t need them around.
The question of the day: When do I tell my date about my IBD/ostomy?
This is such a personal decision to make. Most of our GWG’s who are actively out there in the dating world recommend doing it sooner rather than later. The thing I am seeing most in our forum is to either tell them up front to weed out the bad eggs or to wait a few dates so they can get to know you as a person before allowing a disease or piece of medical equipment define you. This will be a different process for every single person who goes through it – the most important thing is to do what you feel is right and to be confident in who you are!
We would love to hear your dating success or horror stories! Leave them in the comments below!
Casey Flancbaum was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 22, which ultimately was changed to a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease the next year. She found the GWG organization and forum during a late night search for a support group geared towards women and is so grateful for the online community that she is now a part of!
Casey holds degrees in Music Performance from the Crane School of Music and University of North Texas, and is currently an active performer and teacher in the DFW area. In her free time, Casey loves to cook, garden, and spend time with her amazing husband, Samson, and three adorable fur kids, Jackson, Roxy, and Roscoe!