One thing I see a lot of on the Facebook support forums for IBD, is people talking about their relationships. Some people post about how difficult they find dating with IBD - especially due to the stigmas, lack of awareness and furthermore difficulty to talk about the disease. Many people are scared to tell a potential partner that they have a chronic illness, as it feels like it will make all the more complications in what is often considered a complicated enough 'dating world'. Some people post about being left by their partners, because they found dealing with their illness and all that came with it too difficult. But some people post about how amazing and supportive their partners are in helping them deal with life with a chronic illness. Here are 10 things you should know, if you are a partner of somebody with IBD:
1. Less really is more
Sometimes the smallest and simplest of gestures, like spending some time doing fun things with us without asking, are appreciated so much more than big gestures like days and nights out. Mainly because we're not always feeling up to doing the big things, but also because just spending time together is really precious to us.
2. We appreciate everything you do
You probably don't realise as much as you should, that we appreciate everything you do. Your support, just being there, and all the little things like wiping away our tears, and listening to us cry when it all feels really unfair is appreciated more than you know.
3. Acceptance is everything
Feeling accepted by you, for everything that we are, baggage included is one of the best feelings. We don't need you to cure us - because that is impossible, but also because it's nice to know we can be loved without being cured, too.
I asked my boyfriend for his input on this post and I think he said it pretty nicely: "Just know that I love you for who you are, and Crohn's doesn't make that any different."
4. We may seem stronger than we feel
We may sometimes push ourselves too hard to do everything that we want to do. It is also common that we will hear "you're such a strong person" - and often, when people aren't looking we feel so much less than that. We will put on a front for other people, because going in depth about all the rubbish things going on with our body right now is often less than ideal.
5. We don't want you to join in pity parties
Pity parties are only allowed on very rare occasions. We don't want you to feel sorry for us too. We want you to pick us up and help us to keep moving.
6. We may need you more than you need us
This is one thing that I will always find difficult. We may need you a lot more than you need us. We may need your support more, your shoulder to cry on more, and sometimes that can make us feel really helpless. Please let us do things for you, too.
7. Bad days are made better with you around
Undoubtedly, we have a fair share of bad days when experiencing a flare up or the neverending list of things associated with IBD. Having you around at these times can help more than you know.
8. We will probably apologise more than we should
We will apologise for all of the things that we can't control. As annoying as it can get, we often feel like a burden. Your reassurance is hugely comforting.
9. We might question why you want to be with us
Of course, along with the apologies there is "why would you want to be with somebody like me? when you could be with someone, you know, healthy?" The anxieties in our minds sometimes take over. But we are so happy that you do still want to be with us, and see us for more than our illness.
10. We will love you endlessly
Lastly, there seems to be few people in this world who can deal with having a partner with a chronic illness. Thank you for making us feel like less of a burden. Thank you for making us feel like the amazing people that we actually are! Thank you for loving us. We will love you endlessly in return.
Post first seen on Chronically Learning in 2015.