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I Have IBS and So Does My Girlfriend

I would love to run a poll on this one. For those of us with IBS and are dating, would you be relieved or terrified if your partner told you that they have IBS, too? Hmm. With all of my self-conscious worry about my IBS over the years, I don’t really think I ever thought there would be a day where I would hear, "ME, TOO!," from my girlfriend. We are always the sick ones, and if you’re anything like me, on bad days I think of myself as dirty, gross, incapacitated, and any variety of untrue hurtful things. Now, the person that we are thinking about spending time with, a LOT of time within this case, tells you they suffer from the same illness. I was speechless, to say the least.

IBS and mental health

I have bipolar disorder and have been in a situation where my partner explained that they struggle with mental illness as well. In these situations, I have found that we have gone on for hours discussing our symptoms, the struggle with general wellness, medications, problems with family, friends, and jobs. The response to the partners sharing that they both had IBS was far different. There was a lot of silence at first, I think mostly because of the perplexed look on my face. Did she want to talk about it? Did I want to talk about it? If we were going to talk about it, what were the ground rules? We can all agree a frank conversation about our personal experiences with IBS could get rather, uh, graphic, no?

Sharing our IBS experiences

Fortunately, I had the ultimate ice breaker up my sleeve. I have been a contributor to this site for over 4 years now both as a contributor and moderator. Relief. I told her all about this and hoped that it would indicate that there would be no judgment and more than a little more understanding about the illness than your average citizen on the street. This is just what the effect was. We talked about how awful it was and felt our way around what might be too much to talk about that night, what was sad, and what was really funny. And we did it together.

Confidence moving forward

We have been talking about moving in together and I’m really glad we had this conversation beforehand. While it was great to get everything out in the open, IBS is a really difficult illness for one person to handle, 2 people struggling at the same time, or even at alternate times, requires extra care and sometimes a different approach. We are still planning on moving in together, but know that further conversations regarding our mental health, dietary experiences, accommodations we might require and so many other things, still need to be worked out. I am confident we can do that. And I’m really glad I brought it up in the first place. I wonder if she would have told me on her own?

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