3 Things I've Learned From Dating With IBD
Before I met my significant other, I’d dated off and on. The legitimacy of my past relationships is pretty debatable. I consider my chronic conditions a big part of me; after all, they did mold me into the person I am today. I’m always upfront and open about my IBD and other issues. I don’t “data dump,” but I think it’s very important the person I am seeing knows the basics of my health in case something happens (while we are together). While men in the past have claimed to be okay with my condition and appeared to be supportive at times, they never really took the time to understand my history with my conditions or to learn what IBD (and other conditions) actually does to my body and how it makes me feel.
Opening up about my condition made me nervous
Meeting my current significant other was different. While I did acknowledge my condition, I failed to go into detail (for a while). To be honest, he made me nervous. Everyone knows I take relationships very seriously. For me to consider dating someone I have to think very highly of them and see them as someone who will make me better.
Yes, I have ulcerative colitis, but that doesn’t make me any less of a person. I deserve to be loved and appreciated just like anyone else. Meeting him was like a breath of fresh air, but I didn’t want to tell him too much too soon (remember, I was nervous). So while I did go over the basics of my condition, the details came a little later.
How I explained UC to my partner:
I talk about How I Explained IBD to My Partner here. The story is actually pretty funny and so random. Basically someone else brought up the details of ins and outs of ulcerative colitis to my partner, which opened up a much deeper conversation between my partner and me. Once we started talking about my condition, my partner told me he’d done research on ulcerative colitis and IBD since our first date and went over everything he’d learned. Since that day we’ve had more open conversations and I’ve learned to be more comfortable around him, especially dealing with symptoms I normally hide from the world.
I am certainly no relationship expert and would never claim to be. My life and relationships are complicated, with anyone, not just my significant other, but I have learned a lot in the past (almost) two years.
Things I've learned from dating someone who doesn’t have Crohn's or colitis
- Be Open – Without sharing your experiences with them, your partner will never be able to fully understand what you’re going through and what you’ve been through. Even if your significant other does their own research on your condition, they should know your personal journey.
- Be Honest – “Sugar coating” things only hides the severity of what you’re going through. Let your partner know your struggles and pain and let them know if they can do anything to help.
- Ask for Help – I personally struggle with this one. It’s hard when you’ve become accustomed to being independent, doing things on your own and only asking for help when it’s absolutely necessary, or even feeling guilty when we ask for help as we don’t want to inconvenience someone else’s life. We must learn that our partners are there to help, if someone loves you they will want to help. Asking for help doesn’t make you any less independent, it makes you smart enough to know and understand your limits.
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?