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Dating/Relationships When you Have Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

Starting a new relationship can be challenging for everyone: chronic illness or not. Throw IBD on top of that and it can become quite overwhelming. One thing many people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis think about is when and how to tell their partner about their health.

Dating with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Telling someone you like that you have a chronic illness can be intimidating; especially if you are young or don’t have a lot of practice talking about it. It’s human nature to want to be liked and accepted and so we fear rejection when entering a relationship. What will this person think of us once they know the truth about our health? 

So how do you approach this? There are no rules and one approach does not work for all situations. The following is a guideline as to how it can be done. 

Bride disclosing her illness to her groom at their wedding

When to Tell Them

How to Tell Them

Who Am I?
Who Am I?

I think it’s important to show the other person that your disease is not who you are. It is a part of your life and has helped shape you into the person you’ve become, but there is so much more to you than just your health. I want a person to get to know my personality and how smart and funny I can be before they get to know who I am with a chronic illness. I let the person know ME and then hope they want to be with me based off that while knowing my chronic illnesses are a part of what comes along with everything else that makes me who I am. They will need to know that it’s likely there will be more hospitalizations in my future and possibly even more surgeries.

Hopefully they will be by my side for the good and for the bad. If not, they are not the one for me and that’s OK. I think it’s best to be straightforward about my situation because I’d rather know if they feel like they can handle it sooner than later. If your situation is less severe,

more severe, or different (so basically all of you) then you can explain to your partner in what ways your chronic illness affects your life specifically. To sum it up – honesty is the best policy.

Having "the talk"

Every time I’ve done this I have had different reactions. One person even cried because they thought it meant I was going to die (from the illness). That led to a long night of discussion which wasn’t a bad thing; it became a great opportunity for us to communicate. For the most part you are going to get people who don’t know anything about IBD or people who think they know about it (“my friend’s brothers girlfriend’s Dad has that…”) and then you have to do your part to educate them.

What is Crohn's Disease?

If you don't educate them then Google will. You don't want that!

What if You're Rejected?

There are going to be people who will not be able to, or want to, handle it for whatever reason. If that is the case it is better to find out sooner than later once you become more attached to the person. No one likes being rejected especially over a part of yourself that you can’t help. It’s not a good feeling but it’s just not meant to be. There are so many people out there who wont be detoured by the fact that you have IBD and/or any other chronic illness.

I know many people who have Inflammatory Bowel Disease who are in very healthy and happy long-term relationships. Not everyone out there is willing to handle someone with a chronic illness; that is just the reality of life. It’s nothing you did and nothing 

you can change. Some patients have even said that having IBD has helped them filter out people who aren’t worth being in relationships with. Others have said that if someone can’t handle them at their worst then they are not worth sharing their life with at their best. 


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