Last week, I left things on a bit of a negative note. Dating is full of pitfalls, whether you live with a chronic condition or not and it can be disheartening. When confronted by absurdly rude blokes, you’ve got to laugh or cry – and most of the times, I choose to laugh. I’ve dated my fair share of weirdos, let me tell you!
On finding out that I was deadly allergic to all nuts, one guy announced:“I could totally kill you by slipping nuts into your food and you’d never know what happened!” No, shit sherlock – if you killed me, I’d obviously be dead! He thought this was hilarious but I failed to see the funny side. That relationship ended pretty quickly.
One guy became obsessed and kept saying, “What on earth can you eat? So, you just have steak every time you eat out? How boring!” No Sir, it’s my way of staying safe. You’re boring! I’m able to eat every other food on this planet when I’m safe at home, I’m just choosing to play it very safe tonight.
Another chap who I was getting on really well with dumped me because I made him buy a tin opener and put pak choi in the Thai curry I was cooking. I kid you not. I mean, what self-respecting 36-year-old man doesn’t own a tin opener. Seriously? And he didn’t eat ‘green food’ so when I insisted on putting peppers and pak choi in the Thai curry I was cooking him, that was the final straw for him. “I only eat tinned peas!” was his lament. Wow! His diet was even more restricted and limited than my own!
“I enjoyed the evening, even though your skin was quite dry!” was a line from another chap. With pillow talk like that…!
To throw the ‘A bomb’ or not
My most recent date bought me gifts which was a really kind thought and I was quite impressed as I’ve never been given a gift on a first date before. The problem was that he had chosen beer that contain wheat and chocolates that contained all my allergens.
I hadn’t told him about the risk of anaphylaxis at that point as I don’t think it’s important on a first date, but in hindsight, it could have helped avoid embarrassment if I’d been upfront. I didn’t think that I needed to share everything on my profile because it’s not the most important thing about me.
However, throwing the ‘a-bomb’ might help to sort the wheat from the chaff.
I’ve had guys tell me I’m not as fun in person as I am on Whatsapp – wow! Some people have no qualms voicing the issues that most us keep to ourselves out of politeness.
I’ve even had someone message me when I was sitting waiting in Costa to say he’d walked past, seen me and decided he would save us both the bother as I really wasn’t his type. That one actually really hurt because the skin on my face had flared up and it was quite obvious that I had pretty bad eczema. I plucked up the courage to go along because I felt it would be rude to just cancel for such a silly reason. What an absolute douche bag! If you can’t even spare the time for a coffee, what does that say about you? I sat in that café and cried when this happened. It just made me feel so ugly and worthless.
The peanut kiss
Peanut kisses are not fun.
The first time I had one, my then-boyfriend had eaten nuts earlier in the day – not realising that traces can remain in saliva for hours. He kissed me and immediately, my mouth, lips and side of my face swelled up. It looked horrendous and was pretty scary but luckily didn’t progress into anaphylaxis. It could easily have been far more serious and was a warning to me to be more careful.
Imagine the horror of discovering you are allergic to latex when you use condoms for the first time. That was a very painful and uncomfortable experience. It happened when I was quite young and at the time, I thought I’d caught something nasty and went to the doctor. He took one look and knew it was an allergic reaction.
Of course, you can buy latex-free condoms in most pharmacies.
At the time, these were difficult and disappointing experiences but they are quite funny, hilarious and downright ridiculous to look back on. There have been other stories but you’ll have to get me tipsy first if you want to hear the more x-rated disasters!
Cracking on with my love life
The thing I’ve learned is that if you want to meet someone, you’ve got to get out there and give it a go. Yes, you might meet some total weirdos but you just might meet the right person too. I have plenty of friends who’ve been lucky and found a partner on dating sites.
I’ve put my life on hold for a long time now. Most of the time, I just wasn’t ready to meet anyone, but now that my skin is so much better than it was, I feel like I’m ready. If someone isn’t able to handle the fact that I have eczema and am currently still going through topical steroid withdrawal then they’re not the one for me.
I’m trying to meet someone more organically so I’ve been starting to go out and meet people in my area. What if the guy serving coffee in the local café is single? What if the carpenter who buys his breakfast there and smiles and chats to me is looking for Mrs Right? There are loads of men who I walk past, maybe smile at or even talk to and neither of us asks the important questions… are you single and can I have your number?
I’m trying to be brave and get out there. For me, internet dating feels too soulless and shallow. I’m going on local night trail runs which loads of fit guys go to. I’m thinking of taking up wild swimming – ditto on the potential for talent.
Of course, dating during a pandemic also makes for added complications… it’s all a bit weird and I’m not even sure if it’s that safe to do at the moment. Maybe I’ll have more luck when we are back to normal!
I’d love to hear from anyone else with allergies who is currently dating. What has your experience been?
All I can offer by way of advice is to tell you to be brave. Smile and don’t settle for second best. You are brilliant and you will meet someone. And if you don’t? Can you learn to be happy without a significant other? It’s something I’ve faced and I think I can. Sometimes that perfect partner turns up when you’ve stopped looking and are just content with your own situation.
Read more about Ruth’s experiences and tips on her blog,What Allergy. You can buy her bookThe Reluctant Allergy Expert: How to kill the fear that anaphylaxis could kill you on Amazon for £10.50.