What's More Awkward Than Dating? Dating With Asthma
Dating. Just the thought of going on a date (especially a first date!) can you send you into panic mode.
What should I wear? Will we have anything in common? What if spinach gets stuck in my teeth? It’s all so stressful and . . . awkward. But it’s even more awkward and stressful when you have asthma, knowing you need to navigate the asthma trigger landmine that is a “date.” Below are a few triggers that have interfered with a few of my dates over the years:
Asthma triggers on dates
- Cologne and perfume. Everyone loves to smell nice on a date, and quite often daters go a little overboard when putting on their favorite scent. I enjoy the scents of many perfumes and colognes, unfortunately, they send me right into an asthma flare-up. If I’m around them too long I also get a headache and feel nauseous. Chemical sensitivities are real, yet hard to explain, especially to someone you just trying to get to know.
- Flowers. Ahhh, occasionally, your date is extra thoughtful and brings flowers. Flowers are a beautiful way to make a great impression, but they can also be full of pollen that bring on allergy and asthma symptoms. Fragrant flowers like Oriental Lilies pack a one-two punch; if the strong fragrance doesn’t trigger my asthma the pollen will. What’s sexier than a stuffy nose, puffy face and runny eyes on a date?
- The car. Your date comes and picks you up in the car that was cleaned that morning just to impress you. You hop in the passenger side and the overpowering smell of the brand-new plug-in air freshener nearly knocks you over. This is bad enough on its own, but throw in cologne or perfume and you have a mix of asthma triggers that can send me to the emergency room.
- The date location. A few years ago, a date brought to me to a fancy, top-rated restaurant in San Francisco. We had reservations for months, and being such a foodie I couldn’t wait to try it out. We walked in and I immediately knew I was in trouble . . . the kitchen was bistro-style (open to the dining room) and there was an entire wall of meat spinning on rotisseries over an open wood fire. The smoke from the wood fire billowed into the dining room along with the strong smell of seasonings. I wanted to walk out, but how do you do that when you’ve been on the reservation list for three months and you don’t want to disappoint your date? Before dinner, we visited a museum. I thought this is perfect; we can stroll at a leisurely pace, discuss great art and enjoy the afternoon. This is until he suggested we would take the stairs up three flights because the wait for the elevator was too long. Steps. Anything but steps. Climbing more than a flight will be embarrassing; I will struggle to make it to the top, have difficulty catching my breath and will have to duck into the lady’s room to use my inhaler.
Communication is key!
When you have asthma, the most important skills we learn is how to navigate our world and advocate for ourselves. We become accustomed to not going certain places because the environment will cause symptoms. We stick to our routines in an attempt to keep symptoms at bay. When needed, we force ourselves to have uncomfortable conversations with others to help them understand our condition and ask them to be just a little more considerate when it comes to exposing us to triggers. These conversations are even harder with a possible love interest, complicating the dating process even more.
How have you managed dating with asthma? Please share your thoughts and comments below!
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