Dating with celiac disease

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You may have a range of emotions and concerns about dating with celiac disease. Learn how assessing your comfort level, clearly communicating your needs and planning ahead can help make the experience more enjoyable.

Key points

  • Navigating the dating scene can be difficult when you have celiac disease.
  • Before you start dating, think about your comfort level with sharing your diagnosis and explaining your need to follow a strict gluten-free diet.
  • Clear communication and planning can help make a date more enjoyable.
  • Remember that celiac disease does not define you! Your value does not change because of your diagnosis.

Dating is a way to learn more about someone you like and to let them know about you. For example, you might share details about having celiac disease to help your date know you better and understand your need for gluten-free foods and activities. You might also choose not to share your celiac disease diagnosis. Here are some tips for navigating dating as someone living with celiac disease.

Assess your comfort level

Before you start dating, you may want to think about when to tell your date about your diagnosis of celiac disease and the need to follow a strict gluten-free diet.

If you feel comfortable sharing with your date that you have celiac disease, be open about what this means for you and explain your gluten-free diet. If you want to plan a date that involves going out to eat, you may also want to suggest places that you are comfortable navigating or have been to before and know can safely provide gluten-free meals.

If you aren’t comfortable sharing right away that you have celiac disease, you may want to plan a date that doesn’t revolve around food.

Depending on who you date or how long you have been dating, your comfort level may change. This is normal!

Communication is key

Communication is an important part of building a healthy relationship. Once when you are ready and comfortable, you may decide that you want to tell your date about your diagnosis of celiac disease and need for a gluten-free diet. Sometimes, it can be hard to know exactly what to say. Here are some examples of how to communicate your diagnosis for the first time:

  • “I would love to hang out again and get to know you more, but before we do that, I think it’s important for you to know that I have celiac disease, which means I need to follow a strict gluten-free diet. There are a few restaurant spots that I know of that have gluten-free options. Would you be interested in going to any of these restaurants for our next date? [List two to three restaurants you know can safely accommodate your gluten-free diet.]”
  • “Just so you know, I have been diagnosed with celiac disease, which means I have to follow a gluten-free diet. I am still learning how to follow this diet and build up my comfort level with dining out. Would it be okay if we plan our next date at [suggest a non-food-related activity or spot] or hang out at my house?”
  • “I have to eat gluten-free for celiac disease, so I’ll have to talk to the server about my meal to make sure it’s gluten-free and prepared safely.”

There are other important things to tell your date about managing celiac disease. For example, exposure to gluten, even in the smallest amount (this might come from sharing foods, from surfaces or a kiss), can make you feel very sick. Encourage your date to wash their hands after eating and offer a new travel toothbrush for them to brush their teeth and rinse their mouth to minimize gluten exposure.

Non-food products like lip products and hand lotions can also contain gluten. Ask your date if they are wearing any of these products and suggest they look into the ingredients for gluten before seeing you next. If they are not sure, ask them to send you a picture of the ingredients for you both to review together.

Plan ahead

If you will be going out to eat, suggest restaurants that you know are safe for you or call ahead to make sure the restaurant you plan to go to can provide safe gluten-free options.

There are many date options that do not involve food. If you prefer not to go to a restaurant or you are not comfortable with having to navigate dining out with your date, consider these non-food related date activities:

  • Try something athletic like bowling, mini golf or going to a batting cage.
  • Visit a museum or an art gallery.
  • Enjoy the outdoors with a bike ride, hike or a walk around the neighborhood.
  • Attend a class like a paint night or a yoga, pottery, spin or dance class.
  • Embrace Canadian winters by going ice skating, skiing or building a snowman or fort.
  • Organize a board game or trivia night with friends.
  • Take your puzzle and riddle skills to the next level by attempting an escape room.
  • Do something festive. In the fall or winter, you might carve pumpkins, watch holiday movies, go apple picking or make holiday cards or decorations.

Navigating your significant other's family and friends

If you choose to pursue a relationship, you will likely be invited to family and/or friend gatherings. This may mean you will have to share your diagnosis and details about the strict gluten-free diet with others. You may want to have a conversation with your significant other about your expectations around support in these settings. Although there are things you can do to make sure you follow your gluten-free diet and feel safe, having a supportive partner in your corner can make things much easier.

Whether or not the date goes well, or you decide to pursue a relationship, remember that having celiac disease does not define you. There are many things that make you who you are beyond living with celiac disease.

Last updated: September 26th 2023