Chances are, either you have allergies yourself, or you’ve been on a date with someone who has some. Allergies can pose a very real risk of someone getting hurt. And not the typical dating hurt of feelings getting hurt.
Hives. Trouble breathing. Anaphylaxis.
My experience has been of being the allergic person in the room. I had allergies early in life, before allergies became trendy. Before everyone actually understood them. Before people grasped that lying about having eaten a Snickers bar a few hours ago so you can get that goodnight kiss can really do some damage.
But, as with all awkward dating moments, I have some truly awkwardly hilarious moments surrounding my allergies.
To fully disclose, I have had a nut allergy since I was a little kid. I’m allergic only to tree nuts, but with peanuts being processed so closely with them, I’m allergic to peanut chunks by default. But…smooth peanut butter is ok. As is if I shell peanuts. And peanut oil is a-ok. However, these caveats confuse the fuck out of any normal person, so I just say I’m allergic to all nuts. I’m also allergic to fruit, carrots, and peas…but this is only in the last 8 months, so even I am still getting used to these.
First dates are always the hardest. You always want to present your best face, and allergies are so difficult to bring up. I usually spend half of the first date trying to figure out how to smoothly disclose this fact. And in case you haven’t noticed from my other posts, I’m not exactly a smooth operator.
Here are some examples of the awkward moments.
One of my more memorable experiences was a few years ago. I knew the guy was coming to our first date from a café, which made me nervous that he could have eaten a nut-laden goodie. We went for a walk and wound up sitting in a park. It was clear he was working up the nerve to kiss me, and I was trying to figure out how to ask if he had eaten nuts that day. He finally just dove in and I pulled back saying “wait wait wait!!” but he was just going for it. I mean, kudos to him. I finally resorted to putting my hand in between our mouths. He was mortified. I explained about my allergy and he said gruffly “I have the same allergy too—can I just kiss you now?!” He hated that story. We went on to date for 7 more months and that story came up frequently when people asked about our first date. He also benchpressed me on that date to show how manly he was. I think I hated that story more than he hated the kissing part.
So with people who are outwardly men, it’s usually the ‘what have you eaten today’ factor that I have to worry about. With women, I also have to ask exactly what chapstick they use. So many chapsticks have almond oil in them. Good times. I should be a fucking professional detective by now. Or at least an interrogator.
Women tend to use allergies as a subtle hint that the date isn’t going well. One woman I went out with a few weeks ago ordered a coffee drink and put almond milk in it, and we had already had the allergy conversation. Her first drink didn’t have almond in it, so when I said something, she fidgeted for a minute, and then said, “yeah…that was my hint for I don’t think we have a great connection and we are clearly not kissing at the end.” Ouch. Check please. And a shot of whisky for my ego.
Another time, I was out with a guy who ordered a quesedilla that had almond slices in it. As he ordered, I blurted out “you know, I’m allergic to that.” His response was “you’re not the one eating it.” I felt so rejected and confused and out of sorts. I thought the date was going really well, and took it to mean that he didn’t want me near him. At the end of our date, he leaned in for a kiss. I was surprised, and told him that since he ate almonds, I couldn’t kiss him. His perfect response: “oh shit! You move fast! I just wanted a hug!!” It covered the awkward moment wonderfully and we both laughed and were able to joke about it for a while after. He offered to go buy a toothbrush so we could kiss…but we both knew the moment was long gone, and we had just created one of our first stories.
Fuck—dating is hard enough without having to track all of your date’s food and drinks on a date! But if handled with kindness and humor on both ends, it can be the thing that makes you bond a bit.
For instance, I recently had a new dating buddy make dinner for us. He texted to see what my allergy list was, knowing it was large. When I apologized for being such a pain, he said that he was looking forward to the challenge of finding yummy things to make that I could eat stress-free. What a relief.
Then there’s the person who used to sit and list off all of their food for the day so I could screen it. My favorite line: “uh…a bagel…and…a Starburst. Let’s get it on!”
Some days I wonder if I’ll ever get allergic to dating, or if each date is like getting an allergy shot and it gets more tolerable over time.
Tho it’s still helpful to carry the EpiPen of dating: humor.