Sex & Relationships Successful Spoonie Businesses

Gutsy Dating is Here For IBS & IBD Spoonies to Ensure ‘No More Sh*t Dates’

It’s time for the second piece in our ‘Successful Spoonie Businesses’ series and we’re finding out everything you need to know about Gutsy Dating. Founded by Phil Beesley in 2017, the world’s first dating app for people with digestive health problems is here to ‘connect with those who understand you and your lifestyle’.

How long has Gutsy Dating been up and running?

Gutsy Dating was launched on the app stores in November 2017, however we didn’t officially launch in the UK until June 2018. (We were testing the platform first). We hope to have an official launch in the USA very soon.

What inspired you to start the app? Why did you think it was an important gap to fill in the dating market?

Being an IBS sufferer myself for almost 20 years I know how difficult it is to try and live a normal life. Socialising is difficult at best! Dating is much worse! How do you divulge this info on a date?  What if you unknowingly eat something that makes you feel uncomfortable and you end up rushing to the bathroom 3 or 4 times. Not to mention the stresses that dating itself brings.

It made sense that there needed to be a safe place where digestive health sufferers could come and feel comfortable talking and discussing their issues with potential dates. Understanding someone with a digestive health issue from the beginning is  paramount, and that’s what Gutsy does. It’s all about minimising the stress and anxieties from first dates.

How did you discover there was a need for people with digestive health issues to date others in the same boat as them? Did you have any concerns around implications they should only date people fellow spoonies and not anyone else?

I began to join IBS & Fibromyalgia support groups on social media about three or four years ago. A recurring topic was getting the most interaction. Dating! Stories of people dating, horrific dating stories, people who are just too afraid to date and people with partners who didn’t understand their condition, to the extent that some people were being, for the want of a better word, dumped.

Alarmingly there were also a lot of people that said that they have just given up on dating. It was really upsetting to see so many people struggle to cope with the stresses of dating and finding someone who understands.

There was much chat about a dating app for sufferers and why there was nothing like it in the market. This suddenly made my idea more plausible and the research intensified!

gutsy dating app for ibs and ibd sufferers
PHOTO: GUTSY DATING

There was so much talk about this and how much of a good idea it was that concerns were negated by the community themselves. If people were struggling on regular dating apps then it was clear that there had to be an alternative.

Bumble has a Friends option – would this be something you’d be interested in adding to Gutsy so your community can connect with like-minded others in a non-romantic way?

We have plans to expand the platform in the coming months with some really exciting features. Firstly we will soon be launching our Gutsy Health blog. This will be available through the platform and will have daily advice and articles on health supplements, diets, books, blogs and anything to do with digestive health that is relevant. We have some great contributors already lined up.

Secondly we will be launching Gutsy Travel. This will offer advice to anyone suffering with a digestive health issue who is about to travel or who is planning to travel, i.e. advice on travel insurance, local amenities, which airports accept lanyards, medication and all travel related issues.

travel blog for people with ibs
PHOTO: ANETE LUSINA/UNSPLASH

Eventually we will have an area where you can sign up to Gutsy but can opt out of the dating platform. We want Gutsy to become a safe community for people to come to get information and advice about all sorts of issues. A true spoonie social network.

Do you think that people with other illnesses and disabilities struggle with mainstream dating apps and sites? What plans do you have for the future?

Absolutely! It is becoming harder and harder to find suitable and understandable dates with society’s exacting standards.

We are planning on extending our reach to all people that suffer with chronic pain and all invisible illnesses. As mentioned previously we want to truly create an online world for all spoonies! There’s certainly enough of us!

You’ve reached people across over 80 countries! What’s your proudest achievement so far?

We have now reached 88 countries! Which is a very proud moment for me in itself.

gutsy dating app
PHOTO: CREW/UNSPLASH

Seeing people use the app, match and connect has been fantastic to see! Taking the stress out of dating and helping people come together fills me with extreme pride. We have already created hundreds of matches. And the amount of people spreading the word and writing about us!


Gutsy Dating is available on both Android and iPhone. Download Gutsy on the App Store or get it on Google Play.

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