Managing a First Date with Ulcerative Colitis
Let's face it: First dates can be tough. Add in the bloating, stomach pain, and sudden bouts of bleeding and diarrhea that come with ulcerative colitis (UC), and it's enough to make you want to forget the hottie next door and stay home. On top of dealing with embarrassing symptoms, UC often hits in the midst of the dating years. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30.
But just because you have UC doesn't mean you can't enjoy time with friends or give romance a chance. Try these tips from people who've been there.
Choose a good location.
Pick a place you know well, or scout out the bathroom situation ahead of time if you're going someplace new. Dinner and a movie is usually a safe bet, but avoid crowded bars where there may be long lines for the restrooms. You may want to forgo an afternoon of hiking, biking, or kayaking for a museum or theme park instead.
I’m 22 and was diagnosed a year after getting together with my partner. We have been together almost five years now. - Helen Claire, Manchester, United Kingdom
Make yourself comfortable.
Do what you can to ease the jitters, especially if stress or nerves seem to make your symptoms worse. Wear something you feel good and confident in, and give yourself plenty of time to get ready.
And of course, be prepared for emergencies. Tuck wipes, a spare pair of underwear, and any medications in your purse or bag (just in case)!
Dating can work out. It takes time to find the right person… Be confident, and don’t let your partner be afraid about it! – Mark Briski, Glenshaw, Pennsylvania
UC affects everyone differently, so it's important to know what foods, if any, trigger your symptoms. Caffeine, carbonated drinks, alcohol, and high fiber or fatty foods can be problematic. Plan what to eat not only during the date but beforehand as well to help prevent a surprise early attack. Many restaurants include their menus online, which can take some of the pressure off when it comes time to ordering your meal.
I often joke that I can only eat air! – Temeko Westbrook, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Be open, only if you want to be open.
Even if you're not feeling your best during the date, you shouldn't feel pressured to bring up your condition. You're more than a person with UC.
When you’re first meeting someone I would not bring it up. I want them to see me for me instead of my disease first. – Randi Engelhardt, Detroit, Michigan
Decide to have a life.
Having ulcerative colitis can be annoying, frustrating, and even restrictive at times, but it doesn't have to control your entire life or your dating life. Many people continue to live happy, productive lives with the condition and many are happily dating or married too!
I met a man who is my biggest support system. It’s not easy but it is possible. – Elizabeth Garnes, Wilmington, DelawareRead more in Ulcerative Colitis Resources