3 Lessons on Dating with Celiac Disease
Romantic relationships with celiac disease can be difficult to manage. I won’t lie, dating especially can be hard. While it can be tough, it can also teach you a lot.
For instance, for me, dating has taught me:
◊ Fearless self-advocacy
◊ Boundary setting
◊ Self-respect and self-love
However, I didn’t just learn these lessons right after being diagnosed. It took time and patience. Here are some of the lessons I learned and how you can use them to better your dating experience.
Dating can be scary, especially during a time where a gluten-free diet is typically assumed to be a fad diet. The scoffs and misunderstandings can be hard to deal with. However, it can help teach you to build a thick skin and to defend yourself fearlessly.
Let me clear, never should you have to defend your dietary concerns or disease to anyone. If someone ever pushes you to that point, they are not worth another date.
However, when those moments of question do arise, it teaches you to advocate for self in a whole new way. In a moment of vulnerability, you learn to assert your needs.
A life-lesson that could not have come sooner
Another super important lesson learned from dating with celiac disease. Boundary setting is vital to successfully and safely dating.
Setting the appropriate boundaries will protect you from trying to dine in unsafe restaurants, potential cross-contamination, and so much more.
Some boundaries I suggest you consider discussing with partners include:
Support when dining out
Support can come in many forms.
It can involve having your partner stay silent when you order to prevent any contradictory comments from being said (though if they are prone to making this comments… you might want to rethink things).
It could also mean if things don’t turn out right (say your salad came out with croutons on it), that you expect that your partner has your back. Whatever support you need or want, make sure you tell your partner and set those boundaries.
Depending on how sensitive you are, you may need to set some physical and home boundaries. For instance, you may want to request that your home stay gluten-free. Meaning if your partner visits, they are to only bring gluten-free items through your door.
Alternatively, maybe you set up a “protocol” (so fancy) on how your partner should prepare gluten foods in your home to prevent CC. This will not only demonstrate their knowledge but also their commitment to keeping you safe.
Additionally, you might want to ask your partner to avoid gluten products when around you. If this is too much of an ask, you might consider asking them to wash their hands, face, and brush their teeth thoroughly after eating gluten in order to prevent cross-contamination onto your body, clothes, and mouth (I learned this the hard way).
As your relationship progresses, you may want to consider discussing how you will share a living space. Is your partner okay with going gluten-free? Do you have the ability to have two separate kitchens? Perhaps a more cost-efficient measure might be to have two separate preparation areas.
A separate preparation area might look like this: your partner has an area in the kitchen away from the main preparation areas where they have their own toaster, dishes, and mini convection oven for when they prepare unsafe foods. Think college dorm style mini kitchenettes.
Self-Respect and Self-Love
I can’t tell you how many times comments were innocently made to me about how I ask a lot from my partners. Comments like “it’d be a sacrifice to date you” or “wow that’s a lot” or even “you’re a lot”, all in response to people finding out about my needs. For a long time, this planted a seed of self-doubt.
Was I really asking for too much? Was it really a sacrifice to date me? Did I need to settle because of my “terms and conditions”?
The answer is no. This took me a long time to grasp. As I started studying nutrition and dietetics, I learned how special my condition is. On top of that, I learned how amazing the celiac community is. I began to develop pride in my condition. Not that we don’t have our bad days, but I have learned to really embrace celiac disease over time. With that, I have learned to love myself, to love the food I get to eat, and to love the lifestyle I get to live.
While dating with celiac disease can be daunting, it also leaves so much room for personal growth. As Celiacs, we get the benefit of having an extra weed out process. As in, when we have our first discussion about our disease and needs, we can quickly determine whether or not we should pursue someone further!
Have any lessons learned from dating? Any tips to share? Drop a comment!