Should you wait until you’re in remission before going on a date?
First dates are intimidating enough. You may wonder what you’ll talk about, if they’ll get your sense of humor, or what will happen if politics come up in conversation. If you have a condition like ulcerative colitis, you might find dating even more of a challenge.
If you’re having a flare of ulcerative colitis symptoms, you may feel tied to the bathroom. The stomach pain and urgency to use the bathroom means you might not be able to fully relax. What if you spend the entire night in the restroom while your date dines alone at the table, watching your food go cold?
Tips for Dating with Ulcerative Colitis
It’s natural to have these fears, but it’s important to know that you can absolutely have healthy and successful relationships with ulcerative colitis. Keep these tips in mind to make dating with ulcerative colitis a little easier.
1. Have an honest conversation
You don’t have to share all the details on the first date, but it’s definitely a good idea to sit down and talk openly about your condition with a long-term partner. They can be an amazing support system as you manage your chronic illness. Plus, keeping your ulcerative colitis a secret will likely lead to conflict down the road if they get the impression you’re avoiding them or acting strange.
As for first dates, if you’re worried about symptoms getting in the way, you could always share some basic information. For example, you could tell your date something like, “I have a stomach condition that’s kind of acting up right now, but I really didn’t want to postpone our date. I might need to go to the bathroom more often than usual, but it’s not because I’m avoiding you!”
2. Stick to your treatment plan
If you’re constantly having a flare of symptoms like rectal bleeding, diarrhea, pain, and urgency, it may be a sign that your treatment isn’t working as it should. Take your treatment exactly as prescribed by your doctor (even when you’re feeling well). If you’re doing that and still struggling with symptoms, check in with your doctor. You might benefit from a different treatment regimen.
3. Plan your dates carefully
When planning a date, it might help to think ahead about logistics. Will there be bathrooms nearby? Do they have single-stall bathrooms, which might offer more privacy? How long will the date be? Will the food be something that you can eat without making symptoms worse?
Perhaps the most important thing is to pick your partners carefully. A good partner will be compassionate about what you’re dealing with. You should feel comfortable being open and honest with them about your fears, challenges, and more. If a first date isn’t accommodating for you, that may be a red flag.
4. Wait until your symptoms are better, if needed
Let’s make one thing clear: You can absolutely date and have healthy relationships during an active ulcerative colitis flare. That said, it can be stressful to navigate the dating world when your symptoms are severe and unpredictable. It’s totally okay if you want to put dating on the back burner while you find the right treatment and get your symptoms under control.
Think your ulcerative colitis is holding you back? Learn more here about treatment options for UC.
Dr. Kayal is a gastroenterologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.