When we talk about relationship compatibility, it’s normally a pretty straightforward issue. Do you have the same values? Do you both want kids? Do you both agree that the dishes should be unloaded from the dishwasher rather than being picked out one by one? You know, the big-picture stuff. But there’s another, stranger compatibility element that can affect your relationship in a big way—you can actually be allergic to your significant other.
That’s right. You may think of allergies as something related to cats or peanuts or bees, but it could just be your partner giving you an allergic reaction. The good news? It’s not very common, and you can normally do something about it. So if you’re getting all itchy and watery-eyed—and it's not because of emotion—you don’t need to end the relationship. First, educate yourself, because knowing how this kind of reaction can develop and what to do is a huge help. Brides spoke with Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network, to get info on how you can deal with allergies and your significant other (without dumping them, of course). If you notice that you’re having some allergic reactions and you’re not sure where they’re coming from, here’s what to keep in mind.
It’s Usually Something Your Partner Is Using
If you feel like you’re having an allergic reaction to your partner or if you feel unwell after spending time with them, it’s often because they’re using something that’s has a knock-on effect on you. “Possibility of allergies can come from fragrance, latex, their pet, or foods that touch them and touch you—like peanut butter still on the hands or lips of your partner,” Parikh explains. If you know you have an allergy, look for something that your partner might be using or doing that could spread that to you.
In some cases, however, it could be more directly linked to the actual partner—one particular part of them, in fact. Parikh says, “Very rarely there have been reported cases of semen allergy." That’s right, sometimes it’s in the semen. If you think you have an allergic reaction and you’re not sure what to do about it, always seek out a medical professional. Semen allergies are rare, but they can be incredibly painful, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It Can Cause Mild to Severe Reactions
Sometimes an allergy to your partner isn’t always obvious. Like all allergies, the reaction can be mild to severe, depending on the allergy itself and the strength of the exposure. “If you get itchy, watery eyes, stuffy nose, runny nose, breathing problems such as cough, wheeze, asthma symptoms and/or itchy rashes such as hives or eczema those all may be signs,” Parikh says. “Very rarely severe allergic reactions can occur if a food allergen is involved.” If you know you have a food allergy, it’s important that you are extra vigilant and that your partner is as well. Make sure that they understand the allergy, and how significant the reactions may be. If they don't suffer from allergies themselves, many people don't grasp the gravity of the situation—or how many things contain nuts, for instance. You may need really drive the point home.
There Are Steps You Can Take to Combat the Issue
If you’re worried that your partner giving you an allergic reaction has to spell the end of a relationship, don’t stress—usually, once you’re aware of the issue, you can find easy ways around it. But it may mean your partner has to skip the peanut butter or their favorite cologne. “Depends on the allergen and severity—latex, food, fragrance MUST be avoided,” Parikh explains. So it may be time to clean out those bathroom cabinets and make some changes.
The other options may be that your allergy is coming from your partner’s pet, and there are definite steps you can take to minimize the issues. “For pets there is the option of allergy shots to make you less allergic to their cat or dog, but even that is not a 100 percent guarantee,” Parikh says. “Medications to help manage symptoms range from nasal sprays to antihistamines to asthma inhalers. These must be taken regularly. Also with pets, they should be kept out of the bedroom and air purifiers should also be used.” So keeping Fido off the bed for now is a must.
Being allergic to your partner may sound like a strange idea, but anything from their detergent to cologne to food cupboards may be causing a reaction. When in doubt, always seek a medical professional—because there’s normally a way to keep both your health and your relationship intact.