Has your IBS/mental health affected your relat... - IBS Network

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Has your IBS/mental health affected your relationship?


I've been with my boyfriend for 4 years and after one year together I got IBS. When having an ultrasound after being 'officially' diagnosed 6 months later I found out that I had a gallstone. Since then I have been doing a PhD and have entered my final year but I'm under a lot of stress and have been experiencing depression and anxiety. I also suffer from emetophobia which makes me rather OCD hygiene wise as I try my best not to get sick.

We've been long distance due to both studying and haven't been able to move in together yet but that is the plan for the end of 2018 when we both finish up.

We had a heart-to-heart last month after a lil tiff and he told me that he's worried about moving in with me because of all my problems (IBS and phobia wise as I cant eat at certain places due to onion and garlic being my triggers and I feel sick every morning plus I wash my hands a lot due to my phobia) and he's worried about his future with me. I used to say to him that once my gallbladder is surgically removed I'll become fatter (I'm a UK size 6 so I'm very skinny) and he said that he's worried about me putting on weight which really hurt my feelings.

I don't think I'm that bad to live with and plus I can't help what my medical conditions do to me...

But what's worse is that recently my gallbladder has started hurting me after I eat so I think it's probably going to be removed within a year. I just worry about what'll happen to my relationship after then. Constantly worrying about if he's going to leave me due to my IBS or my possible weight gain from my gallbladder being removed or from telling him my problems is taking it's toll on me...

Has this happened with anyone else? Has your partner expressed negative feelings towards your illness(es) and how have you dealt with it?

23 Replies

I’ve had depression and anxiety as long as I can remember. I’m 21 in my last couple years of uni and will be pursuing my PhD as well in biochemistry. I also have PTSD, endometriosis, IBS, and PCOS.

I actually just had my gallbladder taken out and I’ve actually lost weight. I’ve been with my fiancé for 3 years now and my health has been poor while with him and he’s never once said anything that your boyfriend has said... if he can’t accept you and your health problems he isn’t worth it.

I know it’s easy for an outsider to say things like that but there are other men who won’t make you feel horrible about your health conditions.. my fiancé has never expressed negative feelings towards my illnesses.

Maybe it is because he understands the depression and anxiety and IBS since he has those too. He has been nothing but supportive and caring. I’ve had 2 surgeries this year (3 if you count wisdom teeth and another coming up next week) with multiple hospital stays and he hasn’t complained once and took care of me each time.. maybe you need someone who is understanding.

After being in the hospital so much these past few months I actually cried and asked my fiancé if he would end up leaving me because of all my problems and he told me, “Hun, I wouldn’t leave you even if you were a stump with no limbs and I had to carry you around everywhere.” You deserve someone with that attitude!

I’m so sorry your boyfriend is being this way. Perhaps it is due to the stress he is under being away from you and school is stressful. Hopefully he didn’t mean the things he said.. sorry you’re having a rough time.

I also hope I did not upset you but I just wanted you to know there are people who will be there for you without making you feel bad no matter what is going on.

Ibs17 in reply to Hidden

Well said

Kweh123 in reply to Hidden

Thank you so much for your comment.

So sorry to hear that you're experiencing so many problems at such a young age! I'm glad that you have someone so supportive to help you out. Your fiancée sounds very sweet :)

I hope he doesn't mean it too as I've invested so much time and energy into our relationship but what he said has really put me off. I need to talk to him again about it and perhaps give him an ultimatum as I don't want to spend the next few years wondering if he's going to stick around or not..

A PhD in biochemistry? Gosh you must be super smart lol. Mine's in microbiology :) Much easier than biochemistry!

Hidden in reply to Kweh123

Yes I would talk to him about this if I were you. It’s not fair to you if he plans on not sticking around because of something like this.

And yes lol I really enjoy the subject. Microbiology isn’t the easiest either! Good luck with your PhD!

Yes, and he is now my ex and we were together for 13 years. You seem young and I will sound so horribly blunt but if he doesnt love you for you, illnesses and all then maybe he is not the right person for you.

You should be excited about this next step not worried and he should be supporting you and helping you with your worries, not making it worse.

Maybe you should take some time to yourself and see how happy this relationship makes you because once I left mine my ibs and anxiety got much better, negative people can cause worse symptoms.

Kweh123 in reply to nixxxi

Thank you for your advice.

Wow 13 years?! I'm 28 so I don't feel so young anymore...that's partly why I'm worried about ending things after spending so much time with him already as it feels like such a waste you know?

I'm very happy to hear that your symptoms improved! It's so true what you say about negative people affecting your health.

nixxxi in reply to Kweh123

I'm 34 so not much older. I have a lovely boyfriend now who is very understanding and it honestly makes life so much better.

I don't want to tell you what to do but I was so surprised at how different I felt without that extra stress and worry.

I really hope you have happiness


Hi there,

I had a 3 year relationship that didn't make it any further, probably because of IBS. Although I put an end to it, it really cut me up at the time - and I wondered if anyone else would ever be interested in me and my health issues.

A few months later I came across someone who was 6 years older than me. Being that bit older he was less worried about the perfect girlfriend. He saw me through my colonoscopy prep, saw me in many very unsexy states, and asked me to marry him anyway. I put on weight, had gas. And we have been together 22 years through thick and thin supporting each other. And thanks to his immense support, I have finally recovered from IBS.

You are young and it is pretty normal that your boyfriend is in that "perfect girlfriend and relationship" mode. And it's good that you had a talk about that. At least it is out in the open. He could also be worried deep down that he will not be good enough at supporting you if the going gets tough. It could be worth talking about that too. Reassure him that you are actively looking for solutions to your health problems, and that you will continue to do so. He may need to hear that. And see how he reacts.

Hope this helps,


Kweh123 in reply to Hidden

Wow your husband sounds so sweet! Gosh 22 years! That's amazing :)

Yeah he turned 30 this year so you'd think he'd be more into settling down rather than looking for the perfect girlfriend. I want to talk to him about it again as we had our conversation so late in the night we had to go to sleep even though I wanted to talk more. I guess I still have a lot on my chest that I need to talk through but I'm worried about doing it before Christmas...it'll have to wait I guess!

Thank you for your advice :) xx

Toni47 in reply to Hidden

Hi Alison,

I'm curious to know, what else aided your recover for IBS?

Thanks for sharing!

Hidden in reply to Toni47

Hi Toni,

There is a lot to say in a short message. There is a lot of info on my blog. This post may be of particular interest to you: sickofibs.com/well-being/3-...


My poor husband has had to put up with my IBS for years now. I am 61 and have been married for 42 years. He loves me so he accepts my little foibles. He has to leave the room if I am using the toilet in our en-suite bathroom. Thank goodness we have a house with three toilets so I have choices. He will eat whatever I eat if I am on my FODMAP diet. I cannot drink alcohol so that's a bonus as I always drive when we are going out. My diet is restrictive but he copes and I can usually work around the menu in restaurants. He has to put up with my moaning and complaining when I am having bad attacks week after week. My stomach gets so bloated that people have mistaken that I am pregnant. Sex is hit & miss as my tummy seems to feel so uncomfortable most of the time. He knows I love him and he loves me too. Your partner is adding to your stress not alleviating it at all. IBS sufferers do our best to keep calm & happy but its tough when we feel ill most of the time. My answer to you is your partner has no empathy IBS will stay but get rid of him sooner rather than later. Trust me you will feel a lot better. He is more worried about himself than he is about you. I used to be a size six now I am a nice rounded 14 so what?

Kweh123 in reply to KC2906

42 years?! That's incredible!

If we do live together I would like a place with two bathrooms for the same reason!

That's so sweet that he'll join you on your FODMAP diet. My boyfriend eats the food I prepare which is onion/garlic free and he doesn't mind it at all.

I just don't know what to do. I think we need to talk it through more and I'll just tell him to hurry up and leave if that's what he's going to do anyway so I don't have to waste what is left of my youth!

Yeah size shouldn't matter! I don't want to put on weight but it is inevitable. I can't stay a size 6 forever lol x

This is when you will know if he really is the one for you. I had some IBS symptoms before I met my husband, but was diagnosed after we married, I now have fibromyalgia, diverticulitis and have just been to,d I have a gallstone too. I have been ill an awful lot since we married and he has stood by me so wonderfully but then I have tolerated his winter sadness etc. It’s about looking after each other. Marriage is slightly different. I wish you well with your PHD concentrate on this first. You may find if they take out your gallbladder that your health will improve. Once you have completed the PHD ask if you can get any help with the OCD, my daughter has the emetophobia, it is difficult but she had some help with her depression and this has helped somewhat with that too. The garlic and onion is it the smell or eating them makes you ill? If it’s the smell there isn’t a lot you can do, my mum had this and would be really ill with migraines if somewhere smelt of it. But there are lots of other lovely places to eat where there isn’t any smell.

I suppose at least he has raised the problem with you before you move in together. Just concentrate on the things for the moment, if he really loves you he will understand and support you, if he doesn’t he will use it as an excuse and leave. You need someone who will support you whatever as this is a hard thing to live with. Hope you sort it out xx Jackie

Kweh123 in reply to Ibs17

So sorry to hear about your problems but that's so sweet that he has stuck around!

Gallstones are awful! How are yours affecting you? I'm wondering if some of my IBS symptoms are actually due to my gallbladder as I've been so much worse recently than I used to be.

Eating onion/garlic makes me really ill. We went out the other weekend and I ate a tiny piece of spring onion which was in a sandwich we bought (but was not included in the listed ingredients) and the next day I had an upset stomach. I wish it was only the smell as I really do miss eating onion.

Thank you so much for your advice Jackie :) I'll try to talk to him more and see what comes out of it xx

Dear Kweh127

I really feel for you. I also feel you are quite young and have the rest of your life to look forward too. Your boyfriend is thinking of himself and I question his love for you if this relationship is not to be there are plenty of lovely considerate men out there who will love you for who you are.

That said lets spilt all your probs down and try to approach them one by one

Ultrasound-who confirmed it was IBS?

Stress/Anxiety-this is an important factor in coping with confirmed IBS you must find a way to calm yourself, yoga/meditation??

Emtetphobia/OCD-The fear of being sick for me in my teens was traumatic I fortunately grew out of it my mum said that when I got my first job it seemed to disappear but it has not been so for you so perhaps you should try hypnotherapy/CBT

Eating out-just say no to the foods that start you off, I do and so does a friend of mine any restaurant wishes you to be a return customer therefore they will help you with your dietary requirements.

I am a UK size 10 and I am in my 60's I have struggled with my weight ever since I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and confirmed IBS-D around 20 years ago but hey ho I am healthy and can rejoice when I put on a pound or two.If you feel too lightweight a dietician may be your answer but do not fret about it.

Please do not give up there is an answer out there for you

Take care and good luck x

Hi! Your story really touched home with me. I’m 18, in uni and been with my boyfriend 4 years also. I am also emetephobic and suffer from bad anxiety and I frequently wash by hands due to fear of getting ill so I really related to your story!

It’s very difficult and while I’ve only had IBS for 9 months it’s definitely had a negative effect on our relationship due to my inability to eat out at restaurants, or even little things like have sweets and watch movies or get takeaways. Also plans often getting cancelled due to me feeling unwell. I often worry that because I can’t go out and party and drink like he does that he’ll eventually just get bored of me you know?

You should know that he really should stand by you and know that this can’t be helped and it’s in no way your fault that you have these medical issues/phobias and anxieties. If he is so concerned about you gaining weight then I feel that really says a lot about him and somebody that concerned on your appearance alone maybe isn’t the right person. You should feel supported as the last thing you need in this horrible medical journey is any added stress from relationships let alone while you’re studying.

The best way to do it is just to speak about it and really go into depth about how difficult your health makes your life and how it is a part of you which he will have to deal with but if he loves you enough, the good things should outweigh that.

Hi Chadd,here I have seen people with OLD, and the different ways it can manifest itself, however it is not always the end of the world,but it can be difficult to come to terms with for a partner, have you discussed going together to see your G.P to find out what the treatment may options are? This course of action could help both yourself and your boyfriend to resolve the issue, because anxiety and depression and OCD can have an effect on a person who suffers from it and the person who shares their lif, the G.P can arrange counselling for both of you which I know would be a difficult step to take because counselling is associated with mental illness, OCD is not a mental illness merely an extension of anxiety and depression, I think you should discuss this with your boyfriend because he too is suffering just as much as you are. I wish you well, chadd 😊

I u understand your struggles, I got sick in my 20's as well. It is wo derful reading these replies, making me tear up a bit. Unfortunately I have found it nearly impossible to have a norm relationship through the years, I have had trouble functioning in a normal capacity because of my illness. It is quite severe and I am sick most days. I am in a relationship currently but it's a bit of him having one foot out , and he has left a couple of times but has come back. I try not to worry about what the future holds (I am unable to work) and just get through the day. Kudos to some of these great people committed to their partners

I am married 42 years and my wife puts up with my IBS -C and my almost constant feeling of being bloated. Miralax on a daily basis has helped me become regular and Phazyme is of some help with the bloating. I am very active and do some Yoga both of which seem to help.

Kweh123 in reply to yogaman

I have a combination of IBS-D and IBS-C but mostly IBS-D. I've give anything to just have IBS-C to be honest but I know how horrible it can be. That's good that you're active. I need to get into exercising myself but I lack motivation

yogaman in reply to Kweh123

Hi Kweh,

I know how hard it can be to get motivated with IBS issues especially with D. But I have found that jogging and walking combination critical for my mental well being in dealing with this.

Our issues have to impact our relationships, but we have an illness and if we are with the right person they will get it!

Kweh123 in reply to yogaman

Yeah, I find the fatigue that comes with IBS makes it hard for me to be active. I love walking but I only do it when I'm with my partner in his area. I live in London so it's not the best place to go walking at the moment with all the crime we're experiencing.

That's true :)

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