Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2, 2012 - Crohn's and Dating

Being married, it's been a while since I've dated, however, a "tweet" I read over the weekend from one of my fellow "Crohnies" made me think back about what it was like to date and have Crohn's.  This fellow Crohnie is in the hospital with a major flare up and has a first date scheduled that she obviously could not make.  She was looking for some advice on how to handle the situation.

Dating is difficult enough for healthy people, let alone those of us with chronic health conditions that are difficult to discuss. Crohn's is a disease of young people -- most people tend to be diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. This means that there are a significant number of young, single people with Crohn's who have to deal with this issue.

For the Twitter person's case, in my opinion, Crohn's is not a first date conversation.  I certainly don't advocate being deceitful, however, in this case, I would tell a half-truth.  I would say that I couldn't make the date because I am in the hospital, however, would not say anything about Crohn's.  It takes a while for two people to really know each other in a dating relationship.  When you are both comfortable enough to be yourselves, that’s really when you can get a feel for what this other person is really about.  You can learn a lot by seeing how the person you are dating reacts to other people with medical conditions. Without ever bringing up your condition, your date may give you clues about how he or she is receptive to being in a relationship with a person who has a medical condition.  If you decide that you’re having fun being with this person for now, but you don’t think it will go anywhere, bringing up your disease is not really important. If you're well enough during the relationship, you may not feel the need to discuss your Crohn's.

On the other hand, if you do feel like you would like to take the relationship to the next level, in my opinion, it is important to discuss your Crohn's as soon as possible.  It's a sad fact of life...not everyone can cope with the demands of being the partner of someone with a chronic illness. It may be better to find out earlier in the relationship rather than later, when you are more at risk of being hurt and have invested a significant amount of time and energy.

Personally, I was fortunate when I was single.  Not all, but most people I dated were very good as it related to being with me, despite my Crohn's.  I do have an example of why I think discussing Crohn's very early in a relationship is a bad idea.  In 1999, I was scheduled to have surgery for Crohn's.  I had met someone a few weeks before the surgery was scheduled.  On our second date, I told her about the surgery.  She told me on that date, she "could never date someone as young as I was that was that sick".  I never saw her again.  I also have another example of why I truly believe that Crohn's should not be talked about early on in a relationship.  I had a first date in the early 90's where I didn't make it to a bathroom on time.  As horrific as that was, I simply told her that I must be coming down with the stomach flu, because that had never happened before (another half-truth, because it had never happened before...on a first date).  She continued to date me.

Crohn's is difficult and dating is difficult.  Combining the two is certainly not easy, but you can make it a positive.  If you find someone that 100% supports you emotionally when you are going through a bad flare up, you know that you have found someone that will stick with you through anything.

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