Everybody wants to be loved, right? Having someone to rely on, and to be a source of support, is important when you have psoriatic disease.
But dating can be a scary subject. While there are no commandments or set-in-stone rules to abide by when dating with a chronic condition, here are five things that have worked for me.
1. Accept that you hold the key to your own happiness
I used to look for external sources to help fill the gap I had in my life after being diagnosed. I wanted my boyfriend at the time to supplement my happiness, so I looked to him to make me feel better. Once we broke up, I took a year-plus to work on myself and finally realized that I have everything within me to be happy and that I don’t need to rely on someone else to give me that happiness.
Sure, a relationship can bring much happiness to your life, but if you’re looking for someone to make you feel better about yourself and your diagnosis, this isn’t the way to go. I challenge you to look at yourself in the mirror and accept everything about you. Don’t look for a relationship to distract you from the pain you may have; use a relationship to help support you in your already chronically fabulous life.
Read about one of our favorite love stories in the psoriatic disease community.
2. Think about what you want most in a relationship
Before I actively went back into the dating world, I took some time to assess my situation and realized I need someone who understands that support is a key piece to the relationship puzzle. What qualities should your mate possess? Perhaps you need someone who will understand that you spend the majority of your paychecks on medical bills or someone who will stick up for you when you have to cancel plans because you’re not feeling well.
Taking time to understand the qualities you need in a relationship isn’t selfish – it’s actually an extremely beneficial exercise. The last thing we need is to be in is a relationship that will suck all our energy, make us feel guilty about our condition and leave us feeling lonely. Take time to understand what you need.
3. Explore yourself and decide on a game plan that works for you
There is no hard-and-fast rule for talking to your date about your condition. Maybe you want to get it out of the way and talk about it first thing. Perhaps you’d rather wait and see how things go before bringing it up. Before heading out on a date, grab your journal and answer the following questions:
• How do you feel about talking about your diagnosis?
• What scares you about opening up and discussing your condition with someone else?
• How would it make you feel if your date was unsupportive of your condition?
• If your date had a chronic condition, when would you want them to tell you about it?
• If your date had a chronic condition, how would you want them to go about telling you?
Asking yourself the above questions can help you understand what you’re feeling and how to talk about it. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to go about this. It’s a very personal journey that has to come from your authentic self.
Get tips on talking to your date about psoriasis.
4. Never allow your diagnosis to define you
Sure, your diagnosis has helped shape you into the person you are today, but there’s so much more to you than that. Practice coming up with a short summary of who you are that doesn’t include anything disease-specific. For instance, “Hi! I’m Julie. Yoga is my jam, music is my religion, and I basically become a 5-year-old around anything Disney or Christmas.”
I’m not discounting that my health isn’t important to me because, to me, health is everything. The thing is, when I meet someone for the first time, they don’t need to know all the details of why I’m out on disability, why I was on crutches for three-and-a-half years and why I keep a super-strict diet. Sure, there are many people to whom I’ll open up and talk about those things, but it’s not what defines me as a person.
5. Don’t be ashamed of your story
I’ve always had health problems, but it took years to receive an actual diagnosis. Then, once I received a diagnosis, I went through a period of being extremely ashamed. How was I going to meet someone now with this psoriatic disease diagnosis and the fact that I was on disability?
One day I was talking to my Dad about it, and he said, “Jul, if someone can’t accept you for those things, then they’re not who you’re supposed to be with.” I knew putting myself out there was going to open myself up to being hurt and judged based on my situation, but he was right.
It can be extremely hard to get over the fear of putting ourselves out there to be judged, but just remember – everybody has a story. Everybody has something that they could be ashamed about. Everybody has something that someone could judge. We’re all in the same boat!
Each difficulty we face in life is shaping us into the person we should be. No two journeys are alike, but everybody faces adversity. The way you react to adversity is how you’ll be remembered in this world. So don’t be ashamed of your story.
Before you jump into the dating pond, take some time to work on yourself. Realize you hold the key to your own happiness. Explore what you need in a partner. Come up with a game plan for talking about your condition that you’re comfortable with. Realize that your condition doesn’t define you. And most importantly, never be ashamed of your story.
We all deserve love, and we should not accept anything less than the love we deserve. The right person will be empathetic and supportive of your situation. You may come across judgers and naysayers along the way, but that’s just part of the journey.
Julie Cerrone is a Certified Holistic Health Coach based in Pittsburgh who is living with psoriatic disease. We're big fans of her blog.
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