This article has, after starting as research, ended up being pretty much my opinion. It is based on my 59 years of life and 35 years of marriage but yes, I still remember my first date with my wife because that was the initial first date I had with ulcerative colitis. Well, I guess you would also say it ended up being the most important.
There are, of course many different schools of thought as to whether or not one reveals their ulcerative colitis condition on their first date. In fact, there are many schools of thought as to how long one should wait before revealing one’s ulcerative condition and to whom.
My personal opinion is that you reveal your ulcerative condition at the end of your first date if you wish to see that person again. However, I am also a big believer as to the way you reveal your condition.
Two weeks ago I attended a conference called “On the Road Again” put on by Shire Pharmaceutical. Certainly one concept that came out of that conference was that one should not be a “Gloomy Gus” when talking about your illness. Depending on the seriousness of your condition, it probably should be mentioned as an “afterthought”; in a second nature voice. In that way, the information is being revealed but not in excess of the importance of the relationship at that point.
I guess I feel that everybody has some information that they don’t want people in general to know about. Sometimes, as a matter of fact, they never tell a person who even ends up becoming their spouse. It isn’t really possible to do that if you have ulcerative colitis because you will, sooner or later, have flares and symptoms that will occur around another person. To prevent them from feeling “tricked”, I think the sooner brought up the better, but, as I said, I would only go into as much detail as the relationship warrants.
Obviously, if the first date was pretty much a bust, I wouldn’t say anything.
If we recap the strategy, then we take our signal from the date. As long as we don’t have a flare that just has to be explained we aren’t pushed by circumstances. If we have a date that isn’t much fun and we won’t be continuing the relationship then it makes no sense to go into your physical condition.
On the other hand, if we have a terrible time physically on the first date (such as a major flare), it may make sense just in the spirit of friendship and fair play to explain what is happening. Further, if the other person seems like someone you would like to spend more time with, then maybe it makes sense to let the person know what exists. Give them a chance to react and give yourself the opportunity to see their reaction.
In any event, when discussing your condition, remember to remain upbeat. If a person thinks that your mentality is that you feel sorry for yourself, or you are gravely ill, why in the world would they want to invest any more time knowing you?
Yes, ulcerative colitis offers a special challenge but there are many people who have problems that are way worse. Our job as ulcerative colitis sufferers is to impact our social life; not let our social life impact us.
“On the Road Again” Conference May 14, 2008 Chicago, IL Shire Pharmaceutical