Dating Don’ts: 5 Tips For The Highly Allergic Dater

Spring is in the air – and in your nose. You sneeze, ooze, and actively resist the urge to claw your itching eyes out. That is, if you’re allergic like me. I cope with an assortment of antihistamines and avoidance tactics: yes, I’m totally fine NOT going outside today, or for the next three weeks! My brother jokes that he should build a portable bubble for me to live in during pollen season, and some days I really would prefer to hibernate in a hypoallergenic biosphere for the entire spring and summer. It’s just that I’m single. So I can’t. There are dates to be had.

Living with allergies, I’ve learned to avoid any of the following: cats (or people in coats covered with cat hair); shrimp, oysters, and any other annoying member of the shellfish family; fresh strawberries and apples. Damn farmer’s market! Having allergies is simply part of who I am – who needs to go apple picking anyway? But to a non-allergic person, like that Jon Hamm lookalike who asked me out, I fear coming off like a human science experiment. For highly allergic people everywhere, here are some tips for navigating your spring/summer dates:

1. No Dates in the Park. Or on a hayride, or anywhere near a horse farm or apple grove. Sure, I’d love to do coffee, you say, with just the right level of nonchalant excitement. Then he suggests you take a casual stroll through Central Park. Nooo! Check the weather and schedule the date for a rainy day instead, it’ll be the perfect excuse for staying inside a pollen-free cafe, gazing into his green-flecked eyes over your soy cappuccino. Oh yeah, because you’re allergic to dairy too.

2. Avoid Guys Who Like Cats. You know that box on his dating profile about pets? Read it carefully. If it says “likes cats/dogs” he likely has or wants to have a) cats, b) dogs, or c) some other hairy creature. Same goes for any guy posing in a picture with anything four-legged and furry.  Non-allergic people can cuddle up to their kitties and puppies in bed, whereas the rest of us are happy talking to our goldfish in less toxic environments: on a table, in a bowl, safe from making our eyes bulge into something from a scene in “Hitch.”

3. No dinner reservations with potent allergens on the menu. For me, that means no dates at the Red Lobster, not that anyone has ever asked me to Red Lobster (no offense, lobster people). Or a sushi bar for that matter, where nine out of ten things on the menu might make your throat constrict. And who looks good eating sushi anyway? A sushi roll is too big for one, elegant bite and all that seaweed unravels into a mess on your plate. If it’s time for a wine and dine date, suggest a place where you can safely pick at least three dishes off the menu, and you don’t have to start a sentence with, I’d really love shrimp cocktail, but it might kill me.

4. Down Bedding? No Gettin’ Down. You’ve bonded over your love of the same obscure ’80s songs and it’s all sexual chocolate between the two of you. Awesome. But can you survive a roll on his sofa without an inhaler? Or in the bed? That depends, has he vacuumed? Are his sofa cushions made out of hypoallergenic fibers? The fluffier the pillow, the heavier your breathing – for all the wrong reasons. Asking these things in advance could get awkward. Um, so do you have a cleaning lady? Take his loving self to your place instead, an animal-dust-carpet-free haven of spotlessness, where you can enjoy getting naked without getting hives.

5. Be honest, be you. Hey, allergic is part of who I am. My skin turns red if I have to peel a raw potato, but I still love to cook – wearing gloves. And I sniffle a little more than you do and take Zyrtec with my cornflakes, but I can still dance until dawn and bake brownies from scratch. Blow your nose (before the date), and go for it. The right guy will be out there, and he has pocket-sized Kleenex in his jacket, just for you.

[Photo from Shutterstock]