Whether you’re just friends or looking for more romance in your life, allergies tend to complicate things. But have courage! People who’ve dealt with allergies are people who are resilient in the face of danger, and are incredible problem solvers. In my case, the worse the allergies… the better my cooking has gotten… and my general survival skills! We’re the people others come looking for in an emergency, and we’re usually prepared for most situations.
From my food allergy perspective, dating is quite daunting. How can I find a way to let someone new meet me… without being overshadowed by meeting my allergies? I recognize that I am not defined by what I can eat, but would a potential date? Would a guy understand why he can’t kiss me without eating my food for 24 hrs beforehand, since that’s really what the experts recommend? It seems such a strange concept to me, dating without food or kissing involved… so I thought I’d go over some things that I’ve learned thus far. In case you wanted to ask me out… or someone else with allergies!
1) It’s ok.
It’s ok to ask questions.
Knowledge is the best way to prevent a reaction, and I’m happy to answer any question you might have. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll tell you, and maybe we’ll bond over finding the answer together.
It’s ok to be afraid, to feel overwhelmed and unable to help
So… Gentlemen, I know you’re not likely to admit it, but I know that allergies are really hard to cope with. Especially because you *can’t* fix it. Well, you can avoid my allergens, but you’ll have to eat them sometimes! In any case I’m going to put this out there: please, please, tell your allergic date if you’re freaking out internally. I really value honesty and communication, and when it comes to allergies? TOTALLY OK to freak out. I’ve had professional allergy conscious chefs swear in sympathy with my list… it’s ok. It’s normal to be overwhelmed by this.
It is NOT OK to lie to me, tell me that you know more than you really do, to goof around with my food or to joke about my allergies. Be respectful to the fact that food produces an incredible amount of stress for people with allergies, and the paranoia we have around our food is actually healthy, and necessary. Recognize that trust around food is almost impossible. I keep poisoning myself- so if I can’t trust myself… how can I possibly trust someone else? As my friend, or as my date, I need you to be paranoid on my behalf when you’re dealing with my food.
Which brings us to how to balance that fear:
2) Be prepared
Living by the Girl Guide motto has served me well for allergies, and as it turns out astronauts live by it too. They plan, and practice what to do for every different emergency. The same can be true for dating someone with allergies!
Be prepared for a reaction: we all hope it won’t happen, but if it does… I need my date to be ready to help. Ready to call 911, to help me take the epipen if needed. Ready to ditch the date plans to chill in the ER instead. Food Allergy Canada has free online courses on how to recognize & deal with Anaphylaxis, and there are lots of smartphone apps for general first aid, too.
Be prepared for the date: If you invite me somewhere, I will need to know details in advance in order to plan allergy-wise. Are we leaving Ontario? What is the 911 response time where we are headed? What sort of airborne environmental things might I need to be prepared to deal with? Much more importantly… what should I wear??? A girl’s gotta know the dress code!
Be prepared for food: For most people with allergies, calling a restaurant a week ahead is more than enough time. In my case…I have thus far found one restaurant capable of feeding me, and they request a month’s notice. So, because of that, it’s much easier to go on a picnic or eat in. Please remember that food feels very much love/hate for those of us with allergies, and that the words “I want to learn to cook a meal we can both eat” are just about the most loving words I’ve ever heard. That said, I would probably not be comfortable cooking in my date’s kitchen right away… so… that brings us to:
3) Non-Food First Date Ideas
- Mini Golf
- Urban Quest
- Escape Room
- Fly kites
- Scavenger Hunt
- Swing Dancing
- Laser Quest
- Giant Sandcastle or Snow-Fort building
- Winterlude ice slides (tubing!)
- Board game night
- Jigsaw puzzle night
- Canoeing on Dow’s Lake
4) Non-Food Later Date Ideas
Once I get to know you, then these are great date ideas:
- Watch fireworks together
- Multi-player computer games (I have AoE3)
- Hiking- Champlain’s Point, Hog’s Back Falls, behind Parliament
- Roller coaster?
- Little League Baseball Game?
- Wash cars together
- Tree planting
- Clean-up a park
- Star-gazing evening
- Making a meal together
- Concert/ Movie
- Theatre- eg. Shakespeare in the park!
- Archery tag
- Play music together
- Make a care package together for a friend
- Taking a community centre class together to learn a new skill
- Photography mission somewhere in the city
- Quilt show!
- Volunteering together
- Water balloon fight!
And… that’s it. Good luck on your allergic date 🙂 Feel free to ask questions, or comment below with your favourite non-food date ideas!!!