Girl meets boy. Girl and boy date. Girl and boy breakup. It's a common enough story and, as followers of my Facebook and Instagram, it's a story that hits close to home after I went through my first break up last March.
In the months that have passed since then, though, I've started to find peace. Not only that, I've found greater appreciation for the good times I did have...and the five celiac-related lessons my first relationship taught me.
1. Brushing your teeth isn't a deal breaker.
As I've shared before, one comment always able to trigger laughs is, "At least you don't have to ask a guy to brush his teeth before kissing him!" Cross contamination through kissing is just one of the "fine print" requirements of celiac disease.
Although laying down this law with new dates can feel awkward, I've learned that smooth moves just aren't worth it. After all, nothing ruins the mood more than texting, "I think you gave me the kiss of death the other night" when you feel zombified a few days later.
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Those who care about you won't mind stepping up their dental hygiene. And if he (or she) doesn't think a good nights kiss is worth the hassle, you probably aren't missing much anyway!
2. Gluten isn't a the secret weapon to a romantic dinner.
I'll admit that when it comes to a date night, celiac disease can make planning a little more difficult. Compared to years ago, though, it's never been easier to find a romantic gluten free dinner to enjoy!
Thanks to apps like Find Me Gluten Free, calling restaurants ahead of time to check their options and reading online reviews, I've never had an issue finding somewhere both I and my date can enjoy. Some of my favorites include: Chipotle, Chick Fil A, PF Changs, Outback, Whole Foods (what's better than a picnic dinner for two?), Stacked and several of the other restaurants I've reviewed here.
You can also save money - and time - by making your own gluten free dinner at home! When I'm feeding a gluten-eater (a loving term, I promise), I usually stick to ingredients that are naturally gluten free.
My sweet potato salmon sliders or potato nachos are two meals that have been especially devoured in the past. Since you're doing the cooking, it's also nice to be able to enjoy the company instead of trying to talk to the chef or worrying about cross contamination.
3. Meeting the family will be awkward.
There really isn't any other way to put it. Now, from what I've heard, meeting your significant other's family for the first time is always a bit scary. But when their family has to reschedule lunch plans for a restaurant you can eat at or you have to turn down grandma's famous apple pie, it can seem especially awkward.
In the best case scenario, they will try to accommodate your diet as much as possible and not make a big deal out of your restrictions besides asking a few basic questions. If that doesn't happen, though, here are a few tips:
- Be patient. Don't be offended if they don't understand what you can or can't eat; think back to everything you didn't know right when you were diagnosed!
- Come prepared. If you know you're going out to lunch or dinner with them, pack a protein bar in case the restaurant doesn't turn out celiac safe. And if you're visiting during Sunday dinner, pack your favorite meal to enjoy with them.
- Be open. Don't be afraid to turn down gluten free cookies they baked just for you that could be cross contaminated. Don't shy away from questions about your diet or celiac disease in general. The more they know, the easier they can understand how to make you feel at home...minus the free food.
4. Educate your dates.
Speaking of preaching, don't forget to keep your dates in the loop too! Now, I'm not saying that you need to give a PowerPoint presentation on celiac disease by your third date. You should, however, let them know the basics of celiac disease and your gluten free diet.
I remember that, on our first real date, my ex asked a series of questions about celiac disease and what I could or couldn't eat, only to quickly say, "You don't mind me asking, right?" Make sure your dates know that curiosity, at least in my opinion, is a good thing. While celiac disease is not my whole identity, it certainly is part of it - and it definitely impacts my (love) life.
The more your date knows about celiac disease, the less they'll be surprised by your specific orders to the chef when eating out, the nights you have to cancel plans after being glutened or how (relatively) easy it can be date a gluten free girl.
5. Communication is key.
All these tips really point to one main idea: the importance of communication. Talking about celiac disease with a crush isn't easy. I can't count how many times I wished I could just go out to eat anywhere, kiss someone anytime and never have to worry if my dietary restrictions would scare someone off.
But while communication is important in any relationship, it's vital when dating with celiac disease. You need to be able to voice that you got glutened at your last date night restaurant and don't want to go back; that even pecks cause problems after his pasta lunch; or even how much you appreciate his acceptance of your medical quirks.
Because the moment you don't feel free to talk about your disease is the moment you don't feel supported, appreciated or loved for all that you are - celiac included.
Now that the heartbreak is healing and I've had time to reflect, I can recognize all the ways that this relationship - and its end - has helped me grow. I've learned that I can - and deserve - to be loved, celiac disease and all. I've seen that, while partnership is nice, I can still kick butt on my own.
And I've developed a clearer understanding of what I want, what I can offer and how to navigate the minefield of gluten free dating.
I can even look forward to the next adventure.
*Also found at Wine'd Down Wednesday, Wednesday Round Up, RunningwithSpoons, IHeartNapTime, Saucy Saturdays, ShareFest and Wow me Wednesday!*
Can you relate to any of these celiac dating lessons? What did you first relationship teach you? Comment below!