Dating and intimacy with a digestive condition
While it’s natural to feel nervous about dating, that feeling may run even deeper if you’re living with digestive issues. But there’s no need to press pause on dating altogether — our GI experts are sharing their top 4 tips to help you feel confident when connecting with others, whether you’re single or in a relationship.
1. Consider the time and location of your date
Since unknown outcomes or perceived lack of control can cause anxiety, do what you can to plan what’s in your control — such as suggesting a location, time, and activity that minimizes your chances of GI discomfort. For example, choose a restaurant where you’ve eaten before without experiencing symptoms. Or, if food triggers are unpredictable, skip the typical “dinner and drinks” date for a walk in a park, a movie, or other food-free activity.
2. Prioritize relaxation ahead of time
Many people find dating to be nerve-wracking — and your gut can sense it! With such a close connection between our brains and our guts, stressing about your date can lead to GI symptoms (and vice versa). To help reduce stress in your gut, bring awareness to your breathing and make time to practice mindfulness techniques.
3. Challenge your thoughts
Due to the gut-brain connection, our thoughts can actually play a role in our symptoms. If you’re worried about how your GI issues might impact your date, try to examine and challenge those thought patterns. You can start by writing down your thoughts, and then analyzing them. Then ask yourself, “What evidence do I have that these thoughts are true? How about that they are false? What would I tell a friend? What’s a replacement or counter thought?” Over time, this process of challenging unhelpful thoughts will start to come more naturally.
4. Share if and when you’re ready
Vulnerability is part of any relationship — and you can control when, where, and how to approach a conversation about your GI condition. You can start small with simple statements like, “I have a sensitive stomach. To feel my best, I avoid certain foods.” If you feel comfortable, you can have a deeper conversation about your GI condition and how your date can best support you.
Dating is an opportunity to feel connected, valued, and safe with another person — and you don’t have to miss out on that experience if you’re living with GI issues. Remember: a person worth dating will value you for who you are and support you through any GI symptoms.