As we’ve already discussed, stress is a huge trigger for people who live with IBS. Which is why we figured we would talk a little bit about dating with IBS.
If you think about all the stresses an average person deals with in a day, the first things that come to mind are probably things like work, balancing home life, bills etc. But what about new relationships?
Dating can be difficult enough as it is, when you throw IBS into the mix, it can seem completely impossible. Especially if stress is one of your triggers!
Think about it, you hit it off with someone new, and set a date to meet up and get to know each other better.
You’re thinking about it for days, agonizing over what to wear, what to talk about. Most people elect to go out for dinner, but nothing makes you flare up like a meal full of trigger foods! Do you be ‘that guy’ in front of a new person and heavily modify your meal? Do you avoid eating all together? What happens if you have to disappear to the bathroom and your date starts to wonder where you went? All of these worries are already making your stomach turn over and you’re getting that familiar pain again. You’re not even on the date yet!
What do you do?
Everyone deserves a chance to find a partner and happiness, and though this may seem like just one more thing your IBS is taking away from you, that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the dating world with IBS:
In this article we’ve already discussed ways that you can learn to manage stress in general to help minimize IBS flares. But this is something you should be getting in the habit of practicing before a big date. By using breathing exercises, practicing yoga and exercising regularly, you’ll be able to minimize those pre-date jitters. Even better, if you’re able to learn some cognitive behaviour strategies beforehand, you can implement them to help you calm down.
One great cognitive behaviour strategy that might be helpful is mentally stating facts to yourself About your surroundings. For example: ‘there is a plant in the corner over there’, ‘I am wearing blue shoes’, ‘my date’s hair is blond’. It sounds silly, but by going through this mental exercise, you are forcing your mind to pull focus away from the whatever it is that is triggering your anxiety, and you will noticeably start to feel calmer.
Be open about your IBS:
Obviously you don’t want your opening line to be: “Hey, nice to meet you, I have IBS so I may be be spending the majority of this date in the bathroom.” Though, depending on your date’s personality, it may seem like a great ice breaker!
But it’s always a good idea to be open about what you’re going through instead of bottling it up, whether it be with a new date, your long-time partner, an employer or even family and friends. Trying to keep it a secret is just going to add unnecessary stress to the dating process and trigger exactly what you don’t want: a flare.
Feel your date out. Maybe after a couple of successful outings, bring it up. Be honest, with them and withyourself. By letting them in a little bit and sharing your struggles, you open up the possibly of deepening the relationship. Most people appreciate honesty and are understanding. You may even find that they have been sitting on something that they’ve been worried about telling you as well. Digestive conditions are more common than you might think! They may struggle with something similar or have a close loved one who does and already get what it’s all about. You never know until you have the conversation!
Talk to your doctor about some non-prescription remedies for IBS:
For example, are you taking a probiotic? If you have IBS, there are probiotics that can help. However, not all probiotics are created equal! Each strain does different things. Talk to your doctor before selecting the probiotic that’s right for you. To learn which strains are best for IBS, You can also check out the clinical guide to probiotics here.
Another thing you might want to ask your doctor about is peppermint oil. A great brand to try is IBgard. IBgard is a clinically tested capsule filled with tiny beads of peppermint oil, using a technology called SST (Site Specific Targeting). It’s the only product of its kind that has actually been proven to be effective and safe in relieving symptoms in people with moderate to severe IBS-M and IBS-D. Many patients tested actually saw lasting results over the course of 3-4 weeks! You can read the full clinical study here, or, if they’re interested in giving IBgard a try, you can receive a sample and coupon for your first purchasehere.
Another thing you might want to look into if you’re worried about dating with IBS is adding a psyllium fibre supplement to your diet. Again, if you have IBS, it’s best to talk to your doctor first before buying a fibre supplement, and we wouldn’t recommend trying it out for the first time right before a big date! To know what type is right for you really depends on what type of IBS you have. Some fibres can actually aggravate your symptoms and make them worse. But there’s some evidence that suggest psyllium is good for all three types of IBS. Just make sure you talk to your doctor first.
Focus on your diet when dating with IBS
And finally, if you’re not monitoring your diet already, get started, especially if you’re dating with IBS! Talk to a registered dietician about your IBS. They may put you on a low FODMAPs diet or just help you with some healthier habits, depending on what your needs are. Watching what you eat and avoiding your trigger foods will be a big help when it comes time for date night! And it’ll help you safely order off an unfamiliar menu if it ever comes down to that.
So, now you’re equipped with all these great tips hopefully dating with IBS doesn’t seem like such an impossible task, does it? You’ve got this! Get out there and start swiping right. Your soulmate might be just around the corner!