Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Dating with Food Allergies: Q & A, Part 1

Recently, we asked members of our Teen Advisory Group (TAG) to post questions for each other about dating with food allergies on Facebook and to offer one another advice based on their own experiences. Here, in our first installment of our Dating with Food Allergies series, we post some great questions and advice.

What is one food allergy challenge you faced while dating?
~Jen, FAAN’s Youth Programs Manager

A challenge I faced with food allergies is the need to have “the [food allergy] talk” with the person you are dating. I dated a guy who wasn’t already in my circle of friends. Because I wasn’t very close with him prior to our first date, I had to talk to him about my food allergies separately. I was sure to have “the talk” with him before the date was over, even though it was extremely awkward. He didn’t seem very understanding of my allergies, so that was the end of that. I have learned that no matter how much I like the guy, if he is not understanding about my allergies, then it’s not worth it.

~Cleo, age 15, allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish

What are you most nervous about when dating with food allergies?
~Jen, FAAN’s Youth Programs Manager

I think I’m most nervous about someone I’m dating seeming to understand my allergies but ultimately not having a complete grasp of them and the emotional impact they can have. In the past, I have known people, both in dating relationships and as friends, who have seemed to completely understand my allergies and take necessary precautions and empathize, but then later turned out to be ignorant and put me in hurtful and dangerous situations. Because of that, I’m always fearful that someone I’m dating will seem to be good about my allergies, but in the end do something that makes me really uncomfortable or jeopardizes my safety. Then again, it always hurts when you find out that someone you care deeply about isn’t who you thought they were. It just stings even more when your safety is at stake.

~Carlo, age 18, allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, eggs, soy, sesame, fish, shellfish, and other foods

If I was to go on a date with someone, that person would need to have a good understanding of my allergy and what to do in case I had a reaction. I have a lot of friends who are very considerate of my allergies, but I do have some friends with allergies whose friends/dates don’t seem to care at all, which is pretty scary. I would never go out with someone who would be unwilling to learn about my food allergies. One time, I was talking to a guy who I was considering going on a date with, and he told me that he thought it would be cool to see me have an allergic reaction, just to see what would happen. Let’s just say it didn’t work out at all.

~Ilana, age 14, allergic to artificial flavors and preservatives

Just like any other friend, I would worry that my date would either not take my allergies seriously enough or that they would take it too seriously. I wouldn’t want my date to laugh it off or make jokes about my allergy because I need that person to know that food allergies are dangerous. However, I also wouldn’t want my date to get stressed out about it and stare at me during the entire date to make sure I wasn’t having a reaction. Both of these situations would make me feel uncomfortable and ruin the date. Still, I know that explaining food allergies carefully can help get around misconceptions.

~Tori, age 15, allergic to peanuts

If you were on a date with a new person, what is the first thing you would say about your food allergies when you go out?
~Reuben, age 12, allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame

It's important to remember that allergies are nothing to be ashamed about. It might seem embarrassing at first, but everybody has their thing. You know that you need to make sure your date understands your allergies, and what that will entail throughout the date. It might take some time, but once you explain your allergies to them, your date will hopefully be able to develop a new awareness of potential dangers to you. From there, it will become second nature. All in all, your date will be understanding and sincere about the whole situation, and if they aren't, well maybe they are not the best person to date in the first place.

~Christian, age 16, allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, sesame, egg, fish, and shellfish
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