• Masarat Jilani

Is IBS ruining your love life?

Ever heard someone say women don’t poop? Or maybe you’ve heard a joke about how men and women hold farts in during the early stages of dating? The message behind such jokes tells us that having normal bodily functions isn’t attractive and it could even ruin a first date! No wonder first dates are so nerve-wracking. But what if you have IBS?

Once you put IBS into the dating equation - things can get messy. From finding yourself stuck to the toilet in the middle of a first date, to avoiding dates which include food- IBS can creep into all aspects of your dating life. Let’s face it: when you suffer from flatulence, being shamed for letting rip on a first date is the last thing you need. In fact, the very idea of getting up close and personal with someone is so stressful it can cause another flare-up!

That’s why some people with IBS avoid dating altogether. But being robbed of romance and connection can really get you down. And it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you want some casual fun or a long-term relationship, we explore the best way to manage IBS and relationships so you can have the love life you deserve.

How to stop IBS from taking over your love life

You are worth it!

Having IBS can make you feel like a lousy partner. Thoughts like “who would want to be with someone like me” may start to enter your mind. But this is extremely damaging. IBS does not define you. Your personality, achievements, and ability to love are not affected by IBS. Nobody is perfect and being in a relationship means accepting and understanding the flaws of others. Remember that you are not to blame for your illness and you deserve love, support and kindness just like everyone else. IBS may mean that you need some unique support, but your partner will also have their own problems that they need support with, too. We’ve heard some amazing success stories when people with IBS were confident enough to realise that the right partner had to be understanding and supportive of their gut troubles.

IBS does not define you. Your personality, achievements, and ability to love are not affected by IBS.

Love yourself first

Before you can give love to others you need to appreciate yourself! Learning to understand and cherish yourself fully means you are self-aware and know what you deserve from a relationship. You learn to accept what you cannot change and work on valuing that which makes you special. By loving yourself unconditionally first, you learn the key skills of acceptance that will allow you to support a partner. Most importantly, you learn that true happiness is not reliant on a partner. It’s easy to have a rose-tinted view of relationships but they can be hard work. Being happy and single can be extremely empowering. However, the self-love journey can also be difficult. Especially if you are used to being harsh on yourself. You may not even realise the ways in which you shame your body or take an unkind approach towards yourself. Luckily, we have a 5-step plan to help you achieve self-love! And the cognitive restructuring tool in Zemedy can help you tackle negative self-talk.

Talk when you feel ready

Since IBS does not define you, you don’t have to tell a new partner about IBS straight away. You can work on developing a connection first and then share when you feel ready. But, at the same time, if you want to be open and honest from the start- that’s fine too. This is all about approaching the topic in a way which allows you to confidently create a connection with the right person. Remember, if someone is not willing to accept you with all your quirks then they are probably not the person for you. But with 7 billion people on the planet, if you keep looking, you’ll definitely find someone more suited!

Use the power of open communication

Taking an honest approach can really enhance your love life. It allows you to develop a mutual understanding with your partner and creates a trusting safe environment. Talk about a wide range of things from sexual fantasies to embarrassing moments with your IBS. Soon you will realise having your partner accept you for you who you are is liberating! Not only does this take the stress out of the dating experience - you may find it even helps your bowel to relax and your IBS to get better!

Don’t play the blame game

IBS can affect your mental health and lead to toxic thought patterns and behaviours. Lots of these may affect the way you think about yourself. But sometimes they also affect your partner and you may start to take things out on them. This can lead to arguments and even a relationship break down. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your IBS- using tools like Zemedy you can track your gut symptoms and learning how to outwit them! By using the 6-week program you can take control and learn to trust your gut again! Who knows, with that renewed gut instinct you may just land yourself a hot date or even spice up your current relationship!

Stop the avoidance tactics

We get how taxing IBS can be. With food triggering symptoms, this can make social occasions with food involved a nightmare! Even with those closest to you, you may avoid eating together. The thought of a social occasion involving food may cause stress and anxiety. This stress alone may trigger another IBS flare-up! Even talking about IBS and how it affects your life may seem like a daunting task. And all of this may make you avoid dating or meeting new people. Unfortunately, though, studies have shown that avoidance behaviours like this can actually make your symptoms worse! And no matter how much you try to avoid stressful situations, you will soon realise that stress is inevitable in life. So, what can you do? We have the answer! Try some behavioural experiments – these are a key way to tackle your avoidance behaviours and could help you gain the confidence to go on a first date!

The bottom line

Despite the fact that IBS may make your love life a little more challenging, there are hundreds of people with IBS who have successful relationships. Some people even find that sex can offer them symptom relief since it releases stress-busting endorphins. Others find a partner who also has IBS so they can offer each other support. Whatever your unique needs, there are definitely lots of possibilities awaiting you. If your love life is struggling, then try some of our tips and keep putting yourself out there! But loving yourself first is definitely the most important part of achieving true happiness. And remember, whether you’re single, coupled up or it’s complicated- the Zemedy community is always here to send you lots of love and support - no matter what!

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