BY: D.M., a Psoriasis Patient
Talking to your partner about any issue you are sensitive to or a topic you feel particularly strongly about may generally be daunting – no matter the concern. Communicating about a specific health condition you live with may be even more unnerving.
How you approach the topic may depend on how serious your relationship is. Disclosing a health concern like psoriasis may worry a first date, but if you’re talking about a long-term relationship, openness and honesty can only bring you closer together. Just as we ask ourselves questions about the condition and educate ourselves about it, our partner is likely to wonder about the same things and have similar thoughts and questions.
There’s no rush though. Use your own judgment and comfort as a guide to tell you when is the best time to tell-all to your partner. Be ready to be open about the condition, what it means for you, and what your partner can do to support you. You can start by speaking to a support group of your peers, and talk about the issues on your mind. You will find that talking to others with the same condition is a real eye-opener – you will hear about their experience, their worries and concerns, and might very well relate. Talk to your peers about how your condition impacts your day-to-day routine and articulate the concerns related to personal comfort, dating, intimacy, and sexual contact with psoriasis.
Once you’re completely ready to talk to your partner, prepare some links or articles you think are helpful, that you want to share. You can probably explain the basics yourself, that it’s an autoimmune issue that impacts your skin, isn’t catching, and what the triggers are for your flare-ups. You might want to share what it means for your relationship. If you’re not comfortable in short sleeves or flip-flops, this is a good time to finally explain why.
You should expect some of the following questions if your partner knows nothing about psoriasis (you can actually show them this post, it will help better understand and can be a great conversation starter!):
Is it catching? No, it’s not at all, not through food, shared environment, or physical contact.
What caused it? It may have a genetic component, and be exacerbated by your environment or stress.
Is there a cure? No, there isn’t. But this is a good opportunity to explain what your psoriasis is like, and how you deal with it. Talk about how it impacts your regular life. Bring up what you can still do, and what you can’t.
This conversation doesn’t need to be a big deal, just think about Kim Kardashian and how she talks about it as an inevitable part of her life. If you trust your partner, and already know personal details about them, then use that closeness to talk about your psoriasis and other personal issues. It will get easier once you’re on the same page. If you struggle with your appearance or insecurities, talking about it can really make that side of your relationship easier. You won’t need to feel like you have to hide anything, fake comfort when you’re just not comfortable, and dress in a way that’s not natural for you. Everyone, not just people with psoriasis, feels uncomfortable sharing their insecurities with potential long-term partners, and opening up can be the beginning of an honest, open, friendly relationship.
So talk to your partner and anyone else in your life who’s support you rely on. Be open and honest, and ready to answer questions or direct them to someone that can. Tell them you take part in a psoriasis support group, or send them to websites like 7Chairs for more information. Remember, this person cares about you and will want you to feel well and happy after this conversation, just like you want them to feel.