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Food Allergy

Dating with Allergies, a Tricky Business

In the spring of 2002, Shainblum had just moved back to Montreal after 15 years in Toronto. She began corresponding with Mark via e-mail over a professional writers’ website. He was interested in the same things – science fiction, astronomy and history – and she agreed to meet him at a busy west end mall, thinking he’d be a new friend.

After they introduced themselves at the mall’s book sale table, she suggested they buy some Cokes and stroll around the neighbourhood. That’s when Andrea explained to him why they couldn’t meet in a café.

They started dating and six months later, Mark, now 47, threw out everything in his apartment that she was allergic to, including bachelor staples like bagels and peanut butter, and put all his dishes and utensils through the heavy wash cycle of a borrowed portable dishwasher – twice.

“What was the option?” he asks. “I knew I wanted to be with her. We all come with baggage. I had a girlfriend years ago who broke up with me because I wasn’t tall enough. But if you care about someone, you work around these issues. I won’t deny it gets frustrating. But it’s worth it.”

Andrea, whom he married in November 2003, says of his house purge: “I knew he was a keeper when he did that. It was the most romantic thing he could have done.”

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Originally published in Allergic Living magazine.
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