Men aren’t known for their openness or for talking about a wide variety of topics. Intimacy is one topic that most shy away from, but when you have a chronic disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, it’s one that needs to be discussed. This isn’t easy, but there is a 100 percent chance that it’s crossed every grown man’s mind if he has IBD.
Why is it hard to talk about intimacy?
For one, guys don’t usually talk about this topic. Now throw in IBD, another topic which many men have trouble opening up about, and you have a recipe for staying quiet. Men like to see ourselves as the strong, supportive rocks in a person’s life. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can quickly take that away. So what do we do? We shut down. We figure if we stay quiet enough, the people around us will just learn that’s how it is.
This is the wrong thing to do because it puts an enormous amount of stress, not only on the man, but also on any relationships. Intimacy is an important part of life and sharing it with a person you care about is very special. The last thing you want is to lose a person in your life because you didn’t have a simple conversation.
When you have IBD a lot of things can sneak into your mind and then it’s tough to get them out. The “what ifs” in life that are so hard to ignore. Thoughts such as:
What happens if I have an accident during a date?
What happens if I have an accident during intimacy?
Will the other person understand?
How will I deal with it all, not only physically but mentally?
Should I hide my IBD?
Can I hide my IBD?
What if something happens in my sleep?
How will they react to my scars? (If you have any)
Is this something they would ever want to deal with?
Will they be there for me once they learn more?
The questions can go on and on Most of the time it’s good to get them off your chest and you’ll be surprised by the answers you’ll get. Many conversations go better than you might think.
What happens if they don’t go the way you’d like? In sales, they teach that getting the “no” is actually a good thing. It allows you to clear your mind and focus on what’s ahead instead of chasing something that might not happen.
It’s similar with dating and intimacy. Even though it hurts, it’s better to get the “no” up front. This way, you don’t focus energy on and get stressed by something that won’t work.
I’ll leave you with some very powerful words that were said to me by a good friend:
Be open and you’ll find this to be very true!
Brian Greenberg is founder of the Intense Intestines Foundation. He primarily works as an advocate to help patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and ostomies. You can reach Brian on Twitter at @BrianIIF or email at Brian@IntenseIntestines.org. If you would like to connect with the IIF more please visit www.Facebook.com/IntenseIntestines, or www.Twitter.com/NtenseNtestines. And you can join Brian in the conversation about all things IBD on the IBDHealthCentral Facebook page.
Brian Greenberg was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 11. His freshman year of college, he began a roller coaster ride of flares, hospitals stays, major surgeries, and more, with brief breaks of good health. After having an ostomy surgery 6 years ago, making it permanent 3 years ago, he is happy with his quality of life and enjoys helping others with their health journeys. When his health cooperates, he enjoys triathlons, hiking, climbing, skiing, and more.