When I was younger I hated talking about bras and panties. Awkwarrrddd. I was more of a tomgirl. Wanting to run free, play in the dirt, climb trees, and get messy, I didn’t care what I looked like or how straight my hair was. Bras and panties were the last thing I wanted to think or talk about even though they are a normal part of life for women.
There are still conversation topics I struggle with, especially when it comes to things like *whispers* pooping, which isn’t normal dinner table convo.
The funny part? It’s a completely normal thing that everyone does. Yes, even girls.
It’s common to feel uncomfortable, awkward, anxious and vulnerable talking about poop, which may not make it your ideal date scenario.
When you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), this topic is even more important and will come up often in your dating life. It doesn’t mean it’s an easy conversation or a conversation you only have once, so here are some tips on how to become comfortable combining intimacy with your bowel movements.
Yes, that’s right pooping and dating all in one article. The reality check we all need.
The First Conversation Is Always The Hardest
When it comes to bringing up a gastrointestinal disorder, the timing of the discussion can seem tricky. Your first date might be dinner for two. At this stage, you might not feel comfortable explaining your stomach issues with a semi-stranger.
But why not just rip the Band-Aid off?
IGNORE these spiraling thoughts:
- What if they don’t believe me or understand IBS?
- This diet is so confusing, maybe it isn’t worth explaining…
- What if they get annoyed because I always have to specify no garlic and no onion?
As someone who has always struggled with caring too much about what others think, I understand where these thoughts are coming from.
But let me tell you, if a friend or potential date doesn’t take the time to try and understand, or if they don’t care enough to appreciate how strong and brave you are for speaking up for yourself, then they don’t deserve to be with you.
Tough, but simple.
The sooner you bring up IBS and the low FODMAP diet, the better.
I learned this the hard way. I went out with a guy and he ordered me a cheesesteak in a different language…how was I supposed to know he ordered my cheesesteak with everything (including onions, which were basically embedded into the meat). And yes, I paid for it later on. If only I had spoken up for myself.
Okay, so you’ve reached the point where you’re comfortable and confident in talking about your stomach problems. Now what?
Well, knowing first hand how complicated your digestive issues are, you can imagine it’s even harder from an outside perspective. So, you need to make it easier for them to support you.
Gladly repeat information for them. Communication is a large part of any relationship, intimate or not. It’s importance is even greater when you have IBS. You not only have to effectively communicate with restaurant staff but also with your partner to ensure that you aren’t taking their support for granted.
You may want to download and share this super clear and simple explanation of IBS and the low FODMAP diet.
Give them access to any tools you have. Download the Monash App on their phone, sign them up for low FODMAP newsletters to keep them up to date, too.
Download our printable resources, including our Handy Info Card for Waiters and Kitchen Staff
Just click on the image to download the PDF to your computer for printing.
Explain any worries or concerns you have before it becomes a potential problem. Otherwise, you’ll end up resentful and upset over something that could have been prevented or at least better controlled. (Like politely explaining that you cannot eat that onion-studded Philly cheesesteak).
Be a Good Listener
It is highly unlikely that your partner doesn’t have days where he/she doesn’t feel great. It’s important that you take the time to listen to their problems and support them, too. Mentally, this provides your relationship with a good foundation.
We’ve got a great article on Traveling with IBS: Being A Good Travel Buddy – with lots of wonderful advice on how to ensure your IBS doesn’t ruin your travel plans and how to be a good friend to your good friend who is supporting your needs too.
Let’s Get Physical
But what about the physical challenges that you carry with you in regards to IBS?
Having a physical relationship and IBS can bring many insecurities to the surface. Some struggles you might have encountered could be your stomach rumbling during an intimate moment or having to run to the bathroom suddenly. Or farting. And yes, just like pooping, everyone does it.
For me, having IBS-C, I’ve had two challenges: bloating and stomach rumbling.
Stomach rumbling is easy to blow off. I simply laugh about it and make a comment about how my stomach is talkative today. Everyone’s tummy rumbles; might as well get a smile out of it!
Bloating has been my biggest challenge. I believe this stems from my struggle with body image. I used to be so fixated on how I looked. I could blame a lot of things for this, but the only way I figured out how to get over it was by looking internally. I realized I had more important things to fill my mind with besides how bloated I was.
That’s not to say there are times where I am bloated and feel sluggish and not as confident, but I can now put it into perspective and push through. I have also learned some ways to cope with it:
Create a Bloated Wardrobe
I like to wear flowy shorts or pants and maybe a flowy shirt. If it is colder and I can get away with a sweater or jean jacket it adds a nice touch. Also, adding some jewelry or accessories to an outfit can really up your confidence!
Check out our favorite IBS-Friendly Clothing Collection Here!
Take Deep Breaths
Sometimes your expanding tummy creeps up on you and before you know it your pants feel a little tight. If you are already out of the house and start to feel overwhelmed, pause and take some deep breaths.
This will help clear your mind and allow you to appreciate the people you are out spending time with and the fun you are having. It can also calm you and if stress has been triggering the trapped air, there’s a chance that you might be able to minimize the bloat or at least halt its progression.
Self-love can be different for a lot of people. For some, it’s making time for that yoga class you love. For others, it’s writing in a journal or coloring. Whatever makes you feel more like yourself.
You might want to read: IBS and Yoga Series Intro: It’s Your Body
After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you can’t love yourself, how can you find it within you to love someone else?
IBS has a way of making us feel like we aren’t ourselves anymore so it’s important to stay in-tune with our bodies and embrace them as they are.
If bloating is a major symptom for you be sure to read all about the “Bloated Belly Whisperer” and read our article on tips to beating the bloat and “What Conventional Wisdom Gets Wrong About Bloating”
By doing so, you will be able to have confidence in yourself and your relationship so that when those intimate moments come up you can have fun and be strong enough to overcome those “embarrassing” moments or conversations.
That’s how we win the dating game.
We’d love to hear from you about your favorite tips and suggestions on how to navigate the dating scene when dealing with IBS. Share them in the comments below!
Meet Jordan Faith, one of our Contributors here.
For more of Jordan’s articles, check out:
- IBS Attacks & How to Re-set Your Gut
- Using Social Media To Navigate the Low FODMAP Diet
- How To Help Friends & Family Understand The Low FODMAP Diet
- How To Make The Low FODMAP Diet Work For You – A Teen’s Perspective.
And our article on teens eating low FODMAP, written by a FODMAP focused RD will be helpful as well.