We've Got "Issues": Unlucky in Love
Irreverent solutions to your real life allergy drama
Well, this is awkward. I recently became single (again). My boyfriend implied that my being gluten-sensitive and dairy-intolerant was part of the reason we couldn’t make it work. He said I was “too difficult.” I guess he just didn’t want to deal. I’m totally embarrassed about this and really angry. I can’t help my food issues! It’s not like a bad haircut. I think I might need therapy to help me deal with my many relationship failures but thought I would ask you first if you had any way of dealing with dating when you have “special needs.”
This isn’t what anyone wants to hear, especially around Valentine’s Day. I’m so sorry about your recent breakup—but you are not alone. Millions of people in America have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, 1 percent has celiac disease and half the adults in the U.S. are single. So you should be feeling pretty crowded right now.
But I know, I know. Breaking up sucks. You may feel adrift and lonely for a while as you pick yourself up and head back to the dating scene.
I get it that you’re frustrated with romance and that you dread yet another blind date at the coffee shop. (Again, you’re so not alone in this.) I also get that adding dietary issues to your online profile doesn’t exactly make you feel confident and sexy.
There are two ways to help deal with this very real, very permanent part of you.
1) Join GlutenFreeSingles.com. Although a small pool, it’s great to mingle with people who already know about xanthan gum and share your love for rice. You may find someone who has already scoped out the safe restaurants in your area and you can explore new dining places.
2) Don’t identify yourself by your health issues and don’t allow anyone else to either. You are not your disease or your sensitivity or your bad haircut. The sooner you stop making it an issue in your dating life, the easier it will be to navigate romantic encounters without that gluten/dairy-free monkey on your back.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to pretend you can guzzle down a cookies ‘n’ cream milkshake on your first date. I’m just saying that the first thing your potential partner has intimate knowledge of should not be your digestive system.
When you’re asked out on a date (or when you’re doing the asking), plan accordingly. Call the restaurant, bar or dinner theater and determine what you can and cannot eat there. Once there, pull the waiter aside and make sure what you’re ordering is safe—but do not make it the central point of your evening. Show your date that you’ve got this and it’s so not a big deal and he doesn’t have to think twice about it. (If he’s ingested gluten or dairy, this chillaxish way of dealing with your food issues will go a long way when you give him the mouthwash before you go to make-out town.)
In every relationship, there is compromise. While you should never, ever compromise your health, you can ask him where he wants to eat now and again and then go about making sure you’re all set and safe to dine there.
Unless this guy is a total jerk, he will want to make sure you’re happy and healthy. This should never be a source of strain in your romantic life. Anyone who has no desire to keep you safe and well should immediately be kicked to the curb.
Therapy may be a good way to figure out if you’ve been settling for partners who aren’t interested in your well-being. It can’t hurt and it’s totally GF and DF.
April Peveteaux is author of the book Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free.