Even though many associate Crohn’s disease with older people, it can afflict a person of any age. It usually manifests itself in the late teens and early twenties, a prime dating time of your life.

No matter what your age, a Crohn’s diagnosis can be difficult, especially if you’re single. If you’re trying to date while having Crohn’s disease, you may wonder when you should tell a date about your condition. Here are a few tips to help people with Crohn’s disease navigate the dating world.

Social Networking for Crohn’s

One of the best ways to date with Crohn’s is to meet others with the same issues. They’ve probably also experienced difficulty in dating and will understand what you’re going through. Internet forums for people with Crohn’s are a perfect place to start. Social networking sites such as Ostodate.com or MeetAnOstomate.org are also great places to meet others with the same issues.

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

Dealing with Symptoms While Dating

In the first few months after diagnosis, you might find it easier to stay away from dating while you learn to manage your symptoms. This is a time when you may be learning about your symptoms and how to handle their ups and downs. Once you’ve become accustomed to your Crohn’s, you may be able to better accommodate someone else into your life.

One of the biggest issues you’ll tackle early on is how to deal with a flare-up during a date. Your date might become suspicious if you have to run to the bathroom multiple times during a date. Stress is a known trigger for Crohn’s symptoms, so this can easily happen as you try to hide symptoms alongside being nervous about the date. Bring medication along with you on your date. If you plan to eat in a restaurant, try to avoid foods that trigger your symptoms.

You should get to know when your symptoms are at their worst before starting the dating process. This will help you time your dates around your symptoms. It may be the best way to handle things, especially if you decide to enter into a physical relationship with a new partner.

When to Tell Your Partner

One of the toughest decisions a single person with Crohn’s has to make is when to tell the new person in their life about the disease. While it’s probably not a conversation for the first date, 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 been on a few dates and it seems like you may want to continue to see this person, 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 divulging the intimate 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 having a normal relationship.

If your date has more questions, you may want to direct them to one of the many Crohn’s informational websites. There are also brochures and fact sheets you can download before your talk.

Dealing with Those Who Can’t Deal

Not everyone is comfortable dating someone who has an illness. It’s better to know this up front rather than later on in the relationship, when you’ve formed an attachment. Remember that 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 pull back from you, keep in mind that it’s not your fault and that everyone has limits. A long-term partner should be one who wants to be with you when you’re healthy and when you’re sick. It’s important to find someone who will be there for you, no matter what.

You may encounter obstacles and challenges if you date with Crohn’s, but be patient. It may take a while, but you’ll eventually find the right person for you.

What’s the Takeaway?

Dating is always fraught with challenges, and having Crohn’s disease can seem like an insurmountable one. However, taking precautions before you date someone can be helpful. This includes timing a date around your symptoms and bringing along items to help you if you have a sudden attack. When you’re ready, being honest with your date can weed out a partner who isn’t in it for the long-term. Telling your new partner can also help you find someone who will support and care for you, no matter what.