“She Thought I Was Cheating on Her.”
Trying to hide Crohn’s disease from a partner is impossible, say those who’ve been there. But honesty just might bring you true intimacy.
Dating someone who also has a chronic condition can make things a lot easier, say these young adults. But if you fall for someone outside of the chronic community, sharing your physical challenges is the best way to draw you closer.
Marcus: What Crohn's disease has taught me about relationships is loved ones are going to be there. If people really care about you, they will be there.
Alicia: When it comes to dating, I feel like most of the time I've been really open about it from the very beginning.
Joel: When I was diagnosed, in 2016 I actually had a girlfriend, but I didn't tell her about my Crohn's disease at all. That was a big mistake. You should always tell.
Alicia: I didn't start dating until I was about 17 just because from 14 to 17, I was having a lot of surgeries and I was not comfortable with dating at that point. I didn't know what to say to someone.
Alicia K.: I've dated many people who have also had chronic health issues, including Crohn's disease. We had this shared language, right. We knew kind of how the other person was feeling. When you're making preparation for, say, a day trip or a vacation or even just going out to eat, there's things that we as people with Crohn's disease think about automatically. Well, how many bathrooms are in this venue? And how long are we going to be in the car? When your partner is also thinking the same way, it makes that whole process easier.
Marcus: With having a partner that completely understands and been there with you throughout this entire process, it makes it a little bit easier in that they're willing to support you. Even though you may feel uncomfortable at times with thinking about sex or whatever it may be.
It's like, hey, did I eat the right things today? Because I don't want to have a reaction prior to going into this. You always try to make sure, if you plan on having a romantic moment after dinner or anything like that, just say, hey, what did I eat today?
Alicia A.: So back then, I used to wait quite a bit of time before telling anyone and I would try to slowly introduce it and I would try to sugar coat it. What ended up happening, in those relationships is that when it reared its ugly head and they saw how much it impacted me, there became tension in the relationship because they were like, wow! I didn't realize like this was the impact of you having this diagnosis.
Joel: It was a relief, when I finally shared that I had Crohn's disease to my girlfriend. It was a juggling act. There would be times that we're going to a movie. I would go to the bathroom, hop in the shower and I'm getting ready. Then I hop out and I had to go to bathroom, again. I go pick her up and she's upset and she's like, why did you take so long? I was like, Oh, I'm sorry, I fell asleep. She said, honestly, she thought I was cheating on her. When I finally told her, yeah, it was a big relief.
Having an ileostomy, when I first got it, I didn't want to have sex at all. At this moment it's fine because the product changed. But there would be times that we would have sex and my bag would burst. It would be all over her and all over me.
She's a big support system, because she never made it a big deal or anything. She was always fine. She'd just hop in the shower. It made me happy that she accepted me and still loved me for me.
Alicia A.: Now I tell people before I even meet them, because this is my life, it's forever. If I'm going to, date someone who doesn't have compassion or empathy or an understanding on some basic level about that, this is my life and I advocate for my disease, for a living, then I don't see any reason to continue on with dating them.