Dating with IBD: Then and Now
Since being diagnosed, I have dated some grade-A jerks. From guys who didn’t even care about my condition, to my personal favorite, the guy who started an entirely new relationship while I was in surgery. To give him a little credit, I’m sure he’d been seeing this person before, but I guess my first ostomy surgery just seemed like the perfect time to go public (on social media) about it.
Eventually I got so tired of getting it wrong, I just decided to stop dating for a while. Dating and relationships are already hard but you add a chronic condition (that’s so misunderstood) to it, relationships become almost impossible. Or at least that’s what it seemed like to me.
When I started dating again it was somewhat on and off. I’m not picky but I also don’t like to waste my time with someone I can’t see a future with. Going so long without having anyone to rely on made me very independent. I rarely ever asked for help, even when I needed it the most. Finances were always handled by me; no matter how tight it got, I took care of it on my own. When I hung out with my friends who were either married or in serious relationships, I didn’t like a lot of things they would say. They would mention things about “checking in” with their partners to let them know where they are, or how their partners call to make sure they’re okay. I mean I’m sure it’s harmless, but it was never my cup of tea. I’d always done my own thing and I’d always wanted to keep it that way.
It’s amazing how much things have changed. Not only is my partner a major part of my healthcare/support team, he’s also everything I never realized I needed. Doing everything on your own gets old fast. Never having someone you can count on is even worse. I never imagined I would be someone who not only appreciates, but actually likes my partner checking on me to make sure I’m okay. I love that he cares so much about me that he does his own research on my condition and possible treatments or medications for my symptoms.
I realize now that the reason a lot of my relationships may have failed in the past is because I didn’t know and wasn’t able to voice what I actually needed. This may not be important to everyone but I now know that in order for my relationship to thrive, my health needs to thrive as well. And in order for that to happen, I need someone who is educated and present in my healthcare.
I’m happy I don’t have to try to live two lives anymore, separating my health from my relationships. Always pretending to be “okay.” I’m happy knowing that I have someone by my side that advocates for me during times I cannot advocate for myself.
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