Speak Clearly: Perspectives on psoriasis
Dating is never smooth sailing. It’s a rollercoaster of nerves, excitement and self-discovery – often it can feel daunting, exhilarating and exposing all at once, and we’re never quite sure if we’re enjoying it or not.
Dating with psoriasis, however, can add a layer of complexity to an already complicated process. So much so that it can sometimes feel easier to not date at all, rather than put ourselves in a vulnerable position in hopes of sparking a meaningful connection.
As I’ve had psoriasis since I was five, dating (especially in my younger years) has always been something I have associated with my skin condition. It has also been at the top of the list of my insecurities for as long as I can remember. If there were ever moments that I could have wished away my psoriasis, my 15-year-old self on my very first date would be screaming to be at the top of that wish list.
However, after some disastrous dates (on my part) I quickly came to realize that, like with most situations, I had two choices: I could let my psoriasis define me, or I could take control of my dating life and own my psoriasis.
Let me tell you, of all the fears I have conquered with psoriasis, dating and everything that comes with the first few months of dating someone new was the hardest.
So, I wanted to share a couple of lessons I learnt along the way:
You notice more than others do
Keep in mind the person you’re meeting is there for you – all of you – not just your skin! Believe me when I say I know psoriasis can make you feel self-conscious and sometimes it can feel as though every person walking by is staring at your skin but remember you’re so much more than your skin. There is a good chance that your date will be so busy thinking about how to impress you or coming up with questions to get to know you better that they won’t notice your psoriasis.
Decide when to tell your date about psoriasis
For all its pros and cons, online dating really helped me overcome the initial hurdle of disclosing my psoriasis. Getting to know someone over messages and video calls means you can present the bits you want to be presented first. It didn’t take me long to raise the fact that I had psoriasis and share parts of it on camera (which added a layer of comfort for me) and I found it meant it wasn’t a big talking point once we got to the physical dates.
Wear what makes you feel most comfortable
When it comes to dressing to impress, the best way to impress is to feel comfortable and confident in the clothes you are wearing. There’s no rule book for how you should dress for dates, and it will entirely depend on where that date is. But if opting for a long-sleeved top to cover the psoriasis on your arms means that you’re going to feel more comfortable bowling or cheering a cocktail, then do that. Your date will remember your smile a lot more than he will remember what you were wearing.
Be open about intimacy
Not only can psoriasis affect your body image, but it can also make you feel self-conscious about being intimate – both physically and emotionally. Psoriasis can appear anywhere on your body and it can be painful, making even a sweet gesture like holding hands feel out of the question. During these moments of discomfort, it’s important to push yourself to have open and honest conversations with your partner about how psoriasis may impact your ability to be intimate. These conversations won’t be easy, but it can be extremely helpful for your date to understand the different ways to approach things as a team and ultimately help you relax.
Get clear with your doctor
You deserve to feel confident in your skin, but how do you have a clear conversation about your psoriasis goals with your doctor? Sometimes speaking up can be the hardest part.
Your voice makes a difference
Be clear about your goals. The power to speak up, feel confident and demand the best care is within you. Sharing your story could be your next step to feeling free from psoriasis—and possibly inspire others to do the same.