Dating is a big sticking point for a lot of people with psoriasis. Psoriasis affects your health, your confidence, your appearance…it has such a detrimental effect on your overall mojo, no wonder dating is a minefield for us.
As always, speak to your GP or counsellor before trying any new medications, treatments or products to ensure they are correct for your skin and mental health. I am not a doctor or counsellor (just someone with psoriasis!) see disclaimer.
Dating is hard. Dating is hard for everyone. It’s the fear of rejection, the ghosting, the tinder catfish, the first date conversation, the nerves – let’s face it, the whole culture surrounding dating can be pretty awkward.
But for people with psoriasis, dating can be even trickier. When do you tell your date about your psoriasis? How do you deal with a negative reaction? Are they going to find you as attractive when they see your skin? Do you ‘warn’ your date early before they meet you? These thoughts fly through your head before you even know if you’ll actually like your date.
Now I am not going to tell you that you have to be in a relationship to be happy because this is not at all the case (I’m sure you know of a few people who would probably be a lot happier if they were single!). I’m also not going to tell you that you have to be happy in yourself before you try to find love (this is something we’re told a lot and as someone with psoriasis, it can be hard to be truly happy in yourself 100% of the time!). What I will tell you is that you shouldn’t let your psoriasis stop you dating, if that’s something you really want to do – you are just as entitled to be loved as someone without psoriasis.
Despite my quite recent psoriasis diagnosis (approx. 2 years), I have some experience in dating with psoriasis and met my current boyfriend during my first bout of UVB light therapy. I go through stages where I am happy and confident and stages where this fades and I am constantly asking my partner, “why are you with me?”. During a really bad flare-up, it can be hard to understand your worth and see past your skin but working on your confidence and keeping on top of whatever skin treatment you choose can help keep the feelings of low self-esteem at bay as much as possible.
Below are some things I’ve learned along the way when dating with psoriasis.
Be honest when the time is right
Your psoriasis is a part of you and your life and sooner or later, your partner is going to need to know about it! If you feel at all anxious about telling someone you have psoriasis, my advice is to just get it over with. There is no point feeling stressed or putting pressure on yourself to find the perfect moment to tell them – chances are someone who reacts poorly is going to react that way in any situation.
I planned to tell my date the first time we met about my skin as it was quite clear at the time but I had a lot of dark blotchy scars left from UVB therapy. However, I actually told him via text in advance of our date and this worked out well for me, as someone who is very anxious- I felt that I didn’t need to worry about my skin during our date. This also gave him a chance to do a bit of research about it and then ask questions when we met. If he had reacted negatively, he could’ve cancelled our date which would have been upsetting but at least I wouldn’t have wasted any of my time!
That being said, don’t feel defined by your psoriasis. You don’t need to tell your date straight away – after all, you might decide that you don’t like them enough to continuing seeing them! If keeping your psoriasis under wraps until you’re sure about your own feelings works best for you, that’s completely sensible.
Your psoriasis is only one small piece of you
This is something that took me a long time to understand. Psoriasis is not a personality trait. You may think you’re just a person with psoriasis but you’re also be the girl with the university degree, or the amazing singing voice or the guy with a hilarious sense of humour or the kindest person your friends know.
This principal applies to your appearance as well; even if psoriasis covers 99% of your body, there are still many other aspects of your appearance that someone will see. We tend to focus on our skin in the mirror and fail to see anything else, while everyone else will look at you as one whole picture. Yes, they may notice your skin at first but that doesn’t take away from your beauty, inside and out, and people who are worth dating will understand that.
Being a person with psoriasis, if anything, is a testament to how strong, resilient, confident and incredible you are.
A negative reaction only shows you the people you don’t want to date
The fear of getting a negative reaction off your date is almost as bad as this being a reality. Psoriasis takes it toll on your confidence levels, as do inconsiderate people in your day-to-day life, so why would you put yourself in the situation where someone could hurt you like that?
You can’t hide your skin forever and you shouldn’t have to. Being in a relationship means being completely yourself, flaky skin and all. My previous partner couldn’t stand the sound of itching skin and made his disgust clear when I was super itchy, making me feel self-conscious and unattractive. If someone reacts badly to your psoriasis, although it can be a horrible experience, all it shows you is that they are not the sort of person you want to be with. It could be a lack of understanding or willingness to learn or listen, a shallowness about appearance or perhaps they just have a bit of a thing about skin – whatever it is, they aren’t right for you and your lifestyle and you don’t need that negativity around.
What if the date progresses?
Being intimate with someone when your psoriasis is flaring badly can be terrifying. But you shouldn’t let that stop you having fun and if things progress and you feel happy, comfortable and safe with your date, then there is no reason why psoriasis should stop you.
If you haven’t told them about your psoriasis, it may be a good idea to tell them in advance, just so you don’t have the stress of them seeing your skin for the first time – your love life shouldn’t be about psoriasis, it should be about you and your partner.
If someone if insensitive, derogatory, cruel or touches you in a way that hurts your skin, you need to tell them to stop and leave the situation.
Dating Hints and Tips:
- Be honest and upfront
- If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, leave the date
- Remember your skin is only a small part of you
- Try to look at a negative reaction to your psoriasis as a tool to help you avoid the negative people – not as a personal insult towards your skin
- Remember your worth and write down all the best things about yourself before a date if you’re having a confidence crisis
- Use your date as a chance to educate someone
- Remember that having psoriasis makes you strong, resilient, confident and incredible and your date is lucky to be going out with you!