The First C of Dating: Communication
Written by Allison Davin and Anna Masciola
Bringing a romantic partner into your life is exciting, but with food allergies it can be intimidating because your significant other ends up with some responsibility for your health and safety. Talk about pressure! For you to feel safe and ultimately trust your significant other, you need to develop healthy communication about your food allergies, and although it can be a little intimidating, the conversation has to be started by you.
Meeting your Significant Other’s Friends
Okay, so you’ve made it past “The Food Allergy Talk” with your significant other. They understand how to keep you safe when you’re with them. You’ve gone on a few dates and things are going well! But what happens when you move to a group setting? If you’re meeting your significant other’s friends for the first time, it can be a little intimidating, especially if there’s food involved. Whether it’s a party, game night, or night out on the town, you have to know that your significant other can and will back you up if you feel unsafe.
Your significant other, especially early on, might not always recognize the signs of an unsafe situation (open cans of nuts, not using separate utensils to serve food, unclean surfaces, etc). It’s important you educate them to start recognizing them, but if you’re in an unsafe situation that they haven’t picked up on, maybe come up with a signal or send a text to them if you don’t feel comfortable saying something out loud.
This is just another example of the importance of communicating with your significant other about food allergies. You’ll have to tell them that if their friends don’t understand or aren’t being considerate of your food allergies, that you might need their help either to educate the friends, or to get you out of the unsafe situation. Is that something they’re willing to do? Or are they going to leave you to fend for yourself? And if they’re not willing to help you, is that someone you want to continue pursuing a relationship with? Your safety and comfort should be just as important to them as it is to you.
Getting Out of Your Own Head
I would easily say the most difficult part about dating with food allergies isn’t the inconvenience of kissing, or the inability to go on an easy dinner date. I would say it’s all of the overthinking that I end up struggling with.
Some recurring thoughts I’ve had in past relationships
“Is he eating mac & cheese right now because he doesn’t want to kiss me later?”
“Is he frustrated by my food allergies?”
“Is he starving right now? Is it my fault because of my food allergies?”
“Does he feel guilty eating around me because he can’t kiss me later?”
“Am I really worth all of this trouble?”
Questions like these would send me into a panic in my own head. I’d make myself stressed and worried about all of these things for hours on end. But you know what resolved this panic? If I simply asked. These are the answers I would get:
“Honestly I just wanted mac & cheese right now, I didn’t mean to upset you or for you to take it personally.”
“Of course your food allergies can be a little frustrating, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”
“I’m a little hungry right now, but I’d rather kiss you goodbye later than have a snack right now.”
I think you get the picture. Communication is important to get past your own thoughts. And chances are, if you’re having negative thoughts like this, your significant other may be too. If you vocalize these questions to each other, you’ll strengthen your relationship and give each other clarity. Food allergies are a different aspect to a relationship that not everyone has to go through, so it’s important to address the questions you both have throughout your relationship to keep things open and honest.