Dating 101

Crohn’s disease can afflict people of any age, although it’s often associated with older people. It usually manifests itself during college, a prime dating time of your life.

But no matter what your age, being diagnosed with Crohn’s can be difficult, especially if you’re single. If you’re trying to date while having Crohn’s Disease, you may wonder how soon is too soon to tell your date you have the disease. Here are a few tips to help Crohn’s disease patients navigate the dating world.

Social Networking for Crohn’s

One of the best ways to date with Crohn’s is to meet others suffering from the same issues. Not only will they understand what you’re going through, they’ll likely be having a difficult time dating as well. Crohn’s forums are a perfect place to meet others with Crohn’s, as well as social networks like Ostodate.com or MeetAnOstomate.org.

However, an important side note is that some theorize that Crohn’s has a genetic link. While this is still unproven, Crohn’s sufferers of childbearing age may prefer to date outside of the Crohn’s community to lessen the chances of passing the disease to their children. 

Dealing with Symptoms While Dating

In the initial months after diagnosis, it might be best to stay away from dating while you learn to manage your symptoms. There will be an early getting-acquainted period when you learn the ebb and flow of your symptoms. Once you’ve become accustomed to your Crohn’s, then you’ll be able to deal with bringing someone else into your life.

One of the biggest issues you’ll tackle early on is how to deal with a flare-up when it happens during a date. Obviously, your date might become suspicious if you have to run to the bathroom multiple times during a date. Since stress is a known trigger for Crohn’s symptoms, this may very easily happen as you grapple with trying to hide symptoms alongside being nervous about the date in general.

By getting to know when your symptoms are at their worst before beginning the dating process, you’ll be able to time your dates around symptoms. This may be the best way to handle things, especially once you decide to get physical with a new partner.

When to Tell

One of the toughest decisions a single Crohn’s patient has to make is when to tell the new person in his or her life about the disease. While it is certainly not a first-date conversation, it’s important to not put off delivering the news too long, either. If you wait until things are serious, your partner may feel betrayed.

Once you’ve passed the initial few dates and it might seem like this person is interested in continuing to see you, it’s time to bring up the topic. In your initial conversation about the disease, keep it as simple as possible. There’s no point in scaring your date off with the fine details of your daily symptoms. Simply explain the disease and what it means to your daily life. Make sure your partner knows this doesn’t get in the way of being able to have a normal relationship.

If your date has more questions, refer him or her to one of the many Crohn’s informational websites. There are also brochures and informational pages you can download prior to your talk.

Dealing With Those Who Can’t Deal

Unfortunately, not everyone is comfortable dating someone who has an illness. It’s better to know this up front than later on in the relationship, when your symptoms flare up. As long as you’ve been honest and up front about your Crohn’s, you have nothing to feel bad about.

In some situations, however, you may begin dating someone who seems fine with your disease until you actually get sick. While it can be painful to have the person you’ve grown to care about suddenly distance himself or herself from you, once again keep in mind that it’s better to find out as early as possible. The words "in sickness and in health" are written into marriage vows for a reason. It’s important to find someone who will be there for you, no matter what.

If you’re trying to date with Crohn’s, you may find there are many challenges. But be patient. It may take a while, but you’ll eventually find the right person for you.