• Nicole Anderson

Dating with an Autoimmune

THE GOLDEN QUESTION: how to date with UC. I struggled with this A LOT. Half of my struggles came from being afraid of sharing my diagnosis and of being asked why I can’t have beer or why I am requesting the gluten free menu at a restaurant. I mean, let’s be honest, sharing that you have Ulcerative Colitis isn’t the most glamorous first date topic. The other half of my struggles came from feeling unlovable. I couldn’t imagine that someone who isn’t family could ever love someone who is such a liability. My health is unpredictable, my medical bills are high, I can’t go out drinking every weekend, I can’t share food while out to eat unless it’s gluten, dairy, and egg free ect. Who would accept this lifestyle??

I struggled letting people get close to me because I was trying to protect myself. I thought that once I truly opened myself up to someone, that they wouldn’t like what they see and I would end up hurt. If you have an autoimmune and feel any of the things I explained above, I want you to know, you are not alone. I also want you to know that you are loveable! Do you know why? Because your disease doesn’t define you. Self-love is SO important and something you often have to learn all over again after being diagnosed with a chronic disease. I am not the same person I was when I was diagnosed. I am stronger, more intuitive, and more compassionate towards others. I am also a lot more tame but hey! That doesn’t mean I don’t know how to still have fun!

I got more comfortable talking about my UC by opening up more to people I wasn’t going on dates with: friends, family, and coworkers. This made me realize that most people actually had a really positive reaction when I told them about my diagnosis. They genuinely cared and wanted to hear more. I never dealt with someone who shut me out, and if you do encounter someone that does – they are clearly not someone you want to have in your circle anyways. I have found it best to surround myself with empathetic people who you can foster mutually supportive relationships with. Surrounding myself with a supportive group of people has helped me realize that this disease doesn’t define me and has given me so much more confidence.

As far as date activities go, try to throw out an idea you are comfortable with – maybe a walk around the lake? If you are having flare symptoms that day, it might make y0u feel more comfortable to pop an Imodium an hour before you leave. For my first date with my boyfriend, I ended up suggesting brunch at a restaurant that I had been to before and already knew what I could and couldn’t eat. Another reason I suggested brunch is because I knew drinking wouldn’t be an added stressor. :)

Fast forward to today and my boyfriend knows everything about me and my autoimmune and is the most kind, caring, understanding human I have ever met. It took a lot to get to this point (especially a lot of patience on his end). I struggled a lot with letting him in and we have had SO many conversations about what happens when I flare and him reassuring me that it wouldn’t scare him away. I haven’t had a horrible flare since we started dating, but I have had symptoms here and there and it amazes me every time how un-phased he seems by it. He tells me he admires my strength. He thinks more of me because of the battle I am fighting, not less like I always assumed. I still have to pinch myself that I am in such a healthy, loving relationship with someone who is absolutely amazing and accepts and knows everything about me.

If you are a single autoimmune-er out there DON’T LOSE HOPE! Your person is out there and will come around when you least expect it, and when that time comes be confident – because you are AMAZING <3

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