Every high schooler has the hope of developing a crush on a schoolmate at one time or another, and if you are lucky, the fantasy inside your head will become a reality. The person you have been crushing on for days, weeks, months, or even years, finally becomes yours. This is a magical time for many high school students; they get to live out their dream of having a significant other. While dating can be a magical experience for many people, for others, it can be a source of extreme anxiety or even be their worst nightmare.
When you are a teenager with food allergies, you tend to err on the side of caution. If you have a food allergy and want to explore the world of dating, it can be extremely overwhelming. You always have your food allergies on your mind. When you are looking for a partner, you need to find someone who will understand what you are allergic to and will work to keep you safe. Once you find that person, you need to find restaurants that you can go to when you are on dates, restaurants that you know have food that you can eat. When your partner goes to kiss you, the thought “What did they have to eat just now?” always goes through your mind as they lean in. It can be exhausting dealing with all of these thoughts, fears, and emotions.
I was lucky enough to have dated my best friend, a young man who knew exactly what I am allergic to and how anxious I get with my food allergies. He knew me very well, and he knew enough to have a basic understanding of anaphylaxis. However, there was much he still needed to learn. He needed to learn that if he ate something I am allergic to and wanted to kiss me, he needed to brush his teeth and wait three hours before kissing. This is something that many partners struggle with at first. I mean, who doesn’t want to kiss their partner at any point of the day? Washing their hands before holding yours is another safety measure. Finding a partner who is that patient with you and your allergies is not easy.
Now I am not saying everyone should date their best friend because that is just not practical. However, I do have some tips on what to look for in a partner if you are worried about finding one who will understand.
The biggest tip I can give you is to know the person well before starting to date them. If you jump into a relationship with someone too fast, it is reasonable to assume that they won’t know anything about your allergies. The more the person knows about you, the more they are going to know about your allergies. Therefore, the more you know them, the better you will trust them in an emergency situation.
Next, when you are talking to a potential significant other, you want them to be engaged in what you are saying. They do not need to be hanging on your every word, but they also shouldn’t be stretched across the couch twiddling their thumbs or falling asleep. They should be listening to what you are saying and asking questions as they arise. For example, they should know how to use and be comfortable with using an EpiPen if needed. Your partner should also be validating your fears about the relationship. Now they do not have to make a giant sacrifice, like completely stop eating your allergen food, but they need to make sure when they are eating your allergen food around you, that they are mindful of your safety. If they are following your conditions and respecting them while being kind about it, you have found a partner who is really trying.
However, for every one good partner, there is also the partner that does not understand at first. With this kind of partner, it’s just going to take a little bit more time. The more you talk to them, communicate with them, and educate them, the more they will understand. The more your partner understands, the safer you are. The safer you feel, the less anxious you are going to be.
To partners of those with food allergies, be patient with us. You might be our very first significant other, and we might not know how to talk to you about our allergies yet. We want you to ask all the questions you have about food allergies. No question is a dumb question when it comes to our safety. If you want to know what you can do for us, just ask! We will have a list of things you can do to make us feel comfortable and, most importantly, make us feel safe. The most important thing though is to treat us like the human beings we are. We might be different from you and eat different things, but we are still just people. Don’t make us feel like we are fragile because of our allergies.
To conclude, my advice to significant others with food allergies, never feel like you are not worthy of love. You deserve to love and to be loved like every person out there. Your allergies do not make you a lesser person, and if someone makes you feel like you’re not worthy of love, they are not for you. There is someone for everyone, just be patient, and that perfect person will find you. It might be today, tomorrow, a week, a month, a year, or ten years from now. No matter the amount of time, that perfect person will find you.