Dating can be stressful. You worry about what to wear, what to say, and even how to sit or stand. It’s hard enough telling a date about your likes and dislikes, but what about your health issues, like IBS or IBD?
That’s one of the reasons why Phil Beesley created Gutsy Dating, the world's first dating app for people with digestive health issues.
“I think dating is already stressful on its own,” said Beesley in a recent video interview with the editors of IBS Life. “Add a digestive health issue to it and that increases anyone’s stress and anxiety, which then triggers a flare up.”
An entrepreneur at heart, Beesley began searching for a way to make meeting people a less anxious experience. He joined several IBS support groups and realized that the topic of dating and meeting new people is a recurring subject.
“People with health issues are sometimes too afraid to date,” he said. They don’t know how to explain if they have to cancel a dinner or leave early, let alone end up being in the bathroom longer than average.”
He’s also heard of stories where friends have been dumped because a date found out about a health condition and weren’t sure how to deal with it.
“Someone in a support group mentioned that it would be great if there was some kind of dating app or website that could connect people with similar conditions together,” Beesley recalled. Several months of research, meetings, and conversations with friends led to the creation of Gutsy Dating.
Beesley recalls reaching out to several tech companies to propose the idea of a dating app. Unfortunately, most wanted large sums of money to build the platform. Undaunted, he reached out to one of the self-made tycoons from “Dragon’s Den,” a UK-based reality TV show similar to “Shark Tank.” As luck would have it, the individual loved the idea and invested in developing Gutsy Dating.
“Gutsy Dating was built to eliminate the anxiety people can face,” noted Beesley. “When we remove the big obstacle out of the way, it becomes easier for people to relax, be themselves, and just begin talking.”
Where Gutsy Dating differs from other apps like Tinder, Bumble, or Hinge is the field where users can specify what health condition they may have.
“From a drop-down menu in the app, people can choose which ailment they suffer from, making it easier to find others who are similar to them,” Beesley said.
Today, Gutsy Dating has more than 7,000 users around the world. A recent exposure in the U.S. TV Show, “The Doctors,” helped increase its popularity. The short stint on the show led to a significant rise in subscriptions coming from the United States. According to Beesley, what started as a UK-based platform is now a worldwide app.
Beesley is also constantly looking for ways to improve the product. He’ll reach out or listen to various groups and ask for suggestions. For example, when someone asked if the app could add cyclic vomiting syndrome, a disorder that causes recurrent episodes of nausea and vomiting, he quickly added the category.
“My goal is to make the app as easy as possible for people to meet each other,” noted Beesley.
Gutsy Dating also now includes a blog and information section, giving people more information about their condition. According to Beesley, it’s important that people have an educated understanding of their health.
He remembers the first time he was diagnosed with IBS years ago. Back then, he said, there was little to no information about his health and how that would affect his personal and social life. Today, platforms like his app are giving users the information they need to live their best lives.
Gutsy Dating is available in the Apple App & Android stores. The website is www.gutsy.dating.