5 Ways Having Celiac Disease IMPROVES My Dating Life and Relationships

As it turns out, I was asked out on my very first date the same month I was diagnosed with celiac disease. So, as you can imagine, dipping my toes into the dating pool was...interesting, to say the least.

5 Ways Having Celiac Disease IMPROVES My Dating Life and Relationships

However, in the six years that have passed since both of those days, I have learned a ton about myself, about dating and about dating with two chronic illnesses. And while celiac disease can definitely present challenges when dating and forming serious relationships, I've also discovered that dating with celiac disease actually offers a few perks. So today, I thought I'd focus on the positives and share five ways that having celiac disease improves my dating life and my relationships overall!

1. Celiac diseases forces me to highly value communication in any relationship - but especially romantic ones.

Obviously, it's up to everyone with celiac disease to decide how open they are about their diagnosis. Personally, I am very open about having celiac disease and fibromyalgia, and since both of the guys I've dated seriously have started out as friends, they knew from the get-go about my gluten free diet. However, that doesn't mean we still didn't have a LOT of things to talk about, from what a gluten free diet really is to surprising precautions I need to take because of celiac disease. And as these relationships progressed, celiac disease continued to trigger conversations over other important topics, like how to cope with the family or friends of my significant other not understanding my diet or what things I value spending money on (hint: travel and gluten free food are two of them!).

5 Ways Having Celiac Disease IMPROVES My Dating Life and Relationships

The biggest takeaway? While communication has definitely been easier (and more effective) in some relationships than others, I think having to be so open about my health early-on has made it a bit easier to have more serious or deep conversations as they come up.

2. Celiac disease makes it very clear who really cares about me.

Now, I know I'm focusing on the positives of living with celiac disease...but it CAN make dating more complicated. After all, you can't just meet up for drinks or food wherever and kissing someone who's just eaten gluten is, at least in my experience, problematic.

But here's the good part of all this news: if a prospective partner isn't down with my chronic "quirks," I know he's not the right partner for me, and I can move on and not waste either of our time. All the people in my life are 100% supportive of me and my health, and I'm insanely grateful for that. And there's nothing wrong with trying to make sure your inner circle becomes or remains positive.

5 Ways Having Celiac Disease IMPROVES My Dating Life and Relationships

3. Celiac disease pushes me (and my significant other) out of our comfort zones...

Like most people with celiac disease probably are, I'm pretty cautious about my food. Sometimes, I'm even overly cautious. I know what foods do well on my stomach and how to cook my own gluten free food at home...so I rarely eat out when I'm living on my own in grad school. (Not to mention that Mankato, MN isn't necessarily a hotbed of celiac-safe options).

When I'm in a relationship, though, I definitely become a lot more adventurous with my eating. This isn't to say that I ever intentionally eat gluten (cheating isn't something I personally will ever partake in), but I do take educated risks such as going to restaurants that have a gluten free menu that I trust but aren't 100% gluten free. And while sometimes this does result in me being glutened, most of the times, I eat it, it's delicious and safe, and I get to have a delicious lunch or dinner date with someone I care about.

5 Ways Having Celiac Disease IMPROVES My Dating Life and Relationships

Meanwhile, none of the guys I've ever dated have been gluten free, so a lot of the times, I introduce them to new restaurants and foods (like buckwheat or quinoa). The best part is when they realize that gluten free food can actually be pretty dang tasty, as long as you know what brands you like and what restaurants know how to do gluten free food best!

4 ...but also makes us embrace compromise.

Even as my celiac disease forces me and my partners out of our comfort zones, it's also helped me learn the magic of compromise. Sometimes, this means eating before going out to dinner with a significant other's family or bringing my own food to social events that we both want to go to but aren't super gluten free friendly. Other times, this involves my boyfriend going to a "hippier" restaurant than he's used to because it offers amazing celiac-safe options and I happen to love superfood smoothies and buddha bowls.

The truth is, any relationship involves compromise...but I believe this is especially true when at least one person in that relationship has a chronic illness. After all, chronic illnesses like celiac disease are kinda like the third wheel to any relationship. You never know when they may flare up, require a change of plans or call for a little extra TLC.

5 Ways Having Celiac Disease IMPROVES My Dating Life and Relationships

But the good part about these chronically ill surprises is that they have taught me much more than just how to strike a happy compromise about dinner with my partner. They've taught me how to go more with the flow and be creative in coming up with plans that suit me and my partner...like spending quality time together watching Netflix instead of going on a long hike if I'm having a flare-up, or making gluten free pancakes together for breakfast if he wants us to share a meal but I'm tired of eating out.

5. BONUS: 99% of kisses are minty fresh ;)

The last mostly serious benefit of living and dating with celiac disease? It has to do with kissing. 

Now, like I shared in my Gluten Free Teen Summit post, experts report that it's unlikely that someone can actually get glutened from kissing (unless the couple is getting realllly into it and one of them has very recently eaten a lot of gluten). However, I personally like to err on the side of caution, and if my partner eats gluten, I don't kiss him until a good amount of time has passed or he has brushed his teeth.

As a result, most of my kisses are pretty minty fresh, and like I've joked before, my partner's dental hygiene definitely improves. In my book, that's a win/win!

5 Ways Having Celiac Disease IMPROVES My Dating Life and Relationships

What I Want Everyone to Remember About the Benefits of Celiac Disease

The truth is, celiac disease does make life a little more complicated, especially when romance is involved. And sometimes, I do wish I could just eat wherever a date suggested and never have to explain my "special" diet to a new partner's friends and family. As I've grown as a person, a celiac advocate and a romantic partner, though, I've also grown more aware of all the insight and strengths my chronic illnesses have given me.

And that, at least, is a pretty lovely realization.



What's one way celiac disease (or another chronic illness) has IMPROVED your life? Tell me in the comments!


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