02/24/2011 06:41 pm ET Updated Mar 29, 2012

Are Bed Bugs Killing Relationships and Romance?

He has a great job -- check! He is good looking -- check! He makes you laugh -- check! He has bed bugs -- check!

Wait! He has bed bugs?

In a world with so many fish in the sea, we never counted on having to worry about getting bed bugs from someone we are dating. Unfortunately, in today's world it has become a reality.

Mary F. from Queens, N.Y. shared, "I met this great guy, and after two months of dating not only did he leave me with a broken heart, but bed bugs too!"

Bed bugs seem to be everywhere. With an increase in infestations, it's no wonder bed bugs have become a sensitive topic. Those experiencing an infestation are more than reluctant to share their pest problem with friends, family, co-workers and especially those they encounter in the dating world! There's no denying that there is a certain stigma associated with the bed bug epidemic. This stigma has plagued hotels, businesses, homeowners and has now crossed over into the dating world, as well.

One of my female clients from Brooklyn, N.Y. shared, "I didn't know what to do when I found out that I had bed bugs in my apartment. I mean, I knew my boyfriend would understand, but the thought of telling him caused me nothing but anxiety. I finally did tell him, and he wouldn't come over for the rest of the summer!"

If you are dating someone who has bed bugs, had them in the past, or is just downright paranoid about experiencing an infestation, here are the facts:

  • Bed bugs are not very particular with where they reside. From the dirtiest of movie theatres to the cleanest of homes, they go where we go regardless of the sanitary conditions.
  • Bed bugs don't fly or jump. They are natural tag-a-longs. They attach themselves to our clothing, material, and hide in cracks and crevices.
  • Bed bugs are not resistant to all pesticides.
  • Contrary to rumors, bed bugs don't carry any diseases.
  • Bed bug bites can be small and red, or bigger, like welts. Some people don't react at all to a bed bug bite.
  • Bed bugs not only feed on humans, but they also feed on dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, mice, etc.
  • Bed bugs are more active at night and in the early morning, but bed bugs sense heat and carbon dioxide, and therefore come out at any time of day to feed.
  • In multi-person households, it is not uncommon for one person to have bites while the others remain bite free. Again, some people react to the bite and develop a mark, and others' skin doesn't show a reaction.
  • Placing clothing, shoes, or handbags in the freezer won't kill any bed bugs.
  • Bed bugs don't only live in beds or mattresses. They're found close to where they feed. Typically, they're found in a bed mattress box spring, bed frame walls, and around the bed. They're also found in electric outlets, switches and behind pictures.

During the beginning stages of getting to know someone, they are most likely going to hide a bed bug infestation from you. Even the closest of couples have a difficult time discussing bed bugs.

Tips for dating in the midst of a bed bug epidemic:

  • When visiting or spending the night at a boyfriend or girlfriend's apartment, take a look at the areas where you spend your time. Do you see any black or red markings?
  • If you are spending the night, bring a bag with you that can easily be zippered. Once you return home, place the bag and all its contents into a clean garbage bag until you wash the items.
  • Purchase an over-the-counter bed bug spray, such as Pronto Plus. It can come in handy in many situations. I recommend spraying the inside of your bag prior to any overnight stay or visit.
  • When taking a romantic getaway, bring an over-the-counter spray with you and spray your shoes, pocketbooks and luggage as per the label.
  • Always remember that when traveling, you can never be too cautious. Bring a garbage bag with you, and place your worn clothing in it. You can easily conceal this by keeping it inside of your luggage. You can close it and bring it straight to your laundry room or laundromat without spreading any bed bug eggs or live bed bugs.

It can be stressful to deal with a current infestation, and scary to think about attracting one. If you are dating someone who has dealt with an infestation, it is best to make sure their belongings have been fully treated by a professional and that you protect you and your belongings before re-entering your home.

If you do believe that you might have a bed bug problem, seek out the help of a pest control professional. One of the first steps many folks are taking is to have a bed bug dog inspection. When choosing which companies to use, do your research and compare pricing.

My company is one that offers a guarantee and provides you with step-by-step assistance. If you decide to do-it-yourself, you can purchase an over-the-counter spray, box spring and mattress encasements, and even heat packs online or at a local retailer. There are many different products on the market, so be sure to read up on the reviews and always follow the instructions.

I think my recent client from Staten Island, N.Y. summed her experience up the best: "I couldn't believe all the bed bugs that my exterminator found behind my headboard. The only thing that was good about having bed bugs was that I met my husband. He was my exterminator!"

Michael Colongione is a spokesperson for Pronto Plus, manufactured by Insight Pharmaceuticals. The advice and opinions he expresses in this article are his own.