5 Ways to Make Dating Easier When You Have Crohn’s Disease
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Navigating the first steps ofanyrelationship can be tricky — but when you have Crohn’s disease, you also have another task on your hands: telling your new love interest about your condition. It may feel awkward at first, but talking about your Crohn’s symptoms will help your partner better understand your condition and help you a healthy sex life.
Only you can pick the right time and place for a conversation about your condition, says Jacquelyn Spencer, the manager of educational resources at the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). Each relationship is different, and it’s up to you to figure out the right circumstances for talking about Crohn’s with the person you’re dating.
How to Talk About Crohn’s Disease When You’re Dating Someone New
Before you delve into the details, consider these guidelines:
Don’t wait forever.While breaking the news about your Crohn’s right from the get-go is not necessary, putting it off can make the situation more difficult. “The key is to not wait too long,” says Spencer “Waiting too long can build stress, and stress can make disease symptoms worse.” As a practical matter, she adds, not being open about your Crohn’s disease can become tricky if, say, you have to make frequent trips to the restroom.
Another reason to have an early conversation: Hiding your Crohn’s diagnosis can mean starting off a potential long-term relationship on the wrong foot. “If this is the man or woman of your dreams, then keeping your condition to yourself too long is not a good idea,” Spencer says. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) doesn’t have to signal the end of your romantic dreams. Canadian researchers compared adults diagnosed with IBD during childhood or adolescents with healthy peers and found no difference in how likely they were to marry, according to research published in the October 2019 issue ofClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Cover the basics.When explaining Crohn’s, keep it short and to the point. “Give an overview of the disease,” Spencer suggests. “Explain that Crohn’s causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal system and that it can be managed with treatment, but not cured. It isn’t necessary to go into too much detail.”
Offer more information.Just as educating yourself about Crohn’s disease is a powerful way to manage your condition and feel more in control, having more information about Crohn’s symptoms and other aspects of the disease may also help your dating partner better understand it and be able to offer support.
One good resource: the CCFA, which offers free downloadable brochures and factsheets on everything from Crohn’s symptoms to the emotional and practical aspects of living with the disease.
Be strategic about sex.“People living with Crohn’s have periods of active disease and remission,” says Spencer. “The best time to get involved in a sexual relationship is when you’re not having a flare-up of disease symptoms.”
Another approach is to time your sex life to the fluctuations of your condition in a given day or week. “People generally know when they are on the verge of a flare-up,” Spencer notes. If your partner is interested in having sex in the morning, when you know your symptoms tend to flare, explain that evenings are a better time for you, she explains.
Consider your openness as an opportunity.Rather than viewing your Crohn’s disease as something to ignore, see it as an opportunity to get closer to your partner. You want to be with a person who can understand and support you, Spencer says.
Opening up to a new love interest about your Crohn’s can be intimidating at first. But being honest about your symptoms and other aspects of the condition can be a good starting point for a strong, lasting relationship.
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