Confessions of a Perpetually Single Sick Girl
I am very open about my illness.
I blog about it, I’m on volunteer committees advocating for patients, and if anyone asks why I’m on a funny diet, I’m not shy about telling them –– it’s because I have Crohn’s Disease. For the uninitiated, Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease that affects your gastrointestinal tract. It’s known for really cringe-worthy symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and fatigue.
For better or for worse, Crohn’s is a part of who I am, and most people that know me know that. There is, however, one glaring exception to my openness about my disease: that exception is hot guys.
It’s incredibly hard for me to reconcile my identity as a “sick girl” with my identity as a sexual human being. And because of this, when I’m online dating or talking to a guy I’m interested in, I tend to try to steer as far away as I can from the Crohn’s talk. It’s like I’m living a double life –– one half of me is a health activist and blogger who’s happy to tell you why greater visibility for chronic illness is important, and the other half is a girl who doesn’t want to tell a guy something about her that may be less than alluring.
Everyone comes with baggage, whether it’s issues with your parents or an ex you’re not quite over. My particular set of baggage includes spending the rest of my natural life dealing with a chronic disease. While some people are really zen about that and know that “the right person will love them anyway,” I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Crohn’s has a huge effect on my romantic and/or sexual relationships.
When it comes to meeting new guys, my disease makes me horribly self-conscious. When your illness affects your GI tract, it can lead to some pretty embarrassing first date (or met-a-dude-at-a-bar) scenarios. Don’t get me wrong –– I’ve been in relationships where things have been great because I knew the guy knew me well enough and cared about me enough that me having to make an early exit from dinner because I was in pain would be understood. I knew if my health put me in a place where sex was a non-starter on a particular night, he’d get it. But it’s way tougher to get to that level of relationship comfort when you have a chronic illness. At what point do you out yourself? Or worse yet, at what point does your body do it for you?
My worst nightmare would be going out with a guy I like and having to cut things off abruptly because my disease was like, “just kidding, I know dating is nerve-wracking enough, but why don’t we add some mind-numbing abdominal pain to the mix just for fun?” And because of that fear, I hold back. I don’t try to meet new people. I don’t go on dates. I notice how seemingly easy it all is for my healthy friends, too. Even if they’re nervous, it’s just your usual pre-date jitters. It’s not a fear that someone will reject you for the complexities of your immune system. I try to make it happen! I have a Bumble account just like every other self-respecting single Millennial. It’s just that when it gets to the point where they actually want to meet up, my brain cycles through a million terrible scenarios in which Crohn’s works as the world’s worst cock block, and I back out.
So while I love hearing inspirational stories of ladies with chronic illnesses who have found the world’s most supportive guy (or girl), I think it’s important to acknowledge how hellaciously hard it is to put yourself –– malfunctioning intestines and all –– out there. So if you’re reading this and you’re in the same chronically ill, single boat as me, I’m sorry I don’t have better advice for you. The best I can do is tell you you’re not alone –– and sometimes that can make all the difference.
Check out more of Samantha amazing writing on her blog: Sickerthanyouraverageblog
Samantha's Instagram: sammmreid