A Guide To Navigating The Unique Hell Of A Dinner Date With IBS

Getting ready for a first date fills me with the same amount of dread as heading to the dentist for a root canal — unless the drugs are really good, I’m not going to have a fun time. 

Every first date option comes with its own set of unsexy hurdles to maneuver. Take a park walk, for example. This is a popular “screener” option, when guys aren’t sure you’re hot enough to be worth an $18 martini, so they have you walk in circles with them on a Sunday morning while they decide. 

Sounds simple in theory, but when does the date end?! A waiter never arrives with the check, meaning you could theoretically be stuck talking about how many siblings you have and your college semester abroad for the rest of time. 

Activity dates are also full of potential pitfalls and unknowns. How do I look sexy playing mini golf? How long until this guy notices I’m barely talking on this hike to hide how bad my asthma is? Am I supposed to make informed commentary on these modern art pieces at the museum? Does he expect me to be an art history major or something?? 

A classic dinner date, while thankfully rare in this economy, presents a unique set of issues for our treasured community of tummy ache girlies. If they were vegan, they could make their dietary needs known upfront, aiding the restaurant selection process. Vegans are polarizing, but they’re also hot, in an Anne Hathaway in WeCrashed kind of way. You’re saying to the guy “look, I’m probably kind of annoying, but I haven’t had cheese in years so you know I look great naked.” 

Telling a dude you’re lactose intolerant, however… doesn’t quite have the same sensual appeal. Which means you’ll probably omit it from these early, banterless Hinge conversations, and end up at a cursed Williamsburg “hotspot” where you can only safely order two things on the menu. 

As a cathartic exercise, we’ve marked up a menu to help us empathize with our IBS sisters and the struggles of watching their date chow down on a steak burrito while they have to pretend they’re super excited about their garden salad with no dressing. 

Emma Sharpe
Emma Sharpe
Emma Sharpe is a New York based writer and marketer. She's a Kardashian apologist and finds a Survivor metaphor for every life situation. You can find more of her pop culture ramblings at