Having a visible disease like psoriasis can be embarrassing. Devastating. Isolating.
It also can forge connections like nothing else.
Take Matthew and Cat Kiselica, for example. Psoriatic disease brought the two to a National Psoriasis Foundation online message board years ago. Both have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and shared experiences and tips. But when they met in person at a Foundation conference in 2005, that connection grew. Six months later, their relationship turned romantic. Two-and-half years later, they were married.
Having a chronic illness like psoriatic disease while in a relationship requires open communication and higher level of self-introspection, said Madelyn Petrow-Cohen, a therapist with offices in New Jersey and New York City who works with chronically ill patients. Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, especially when flaring, can limit a person’s ability to be active, social and sexually intimate.
That dose of reality can push relationships to a deeper level, she said.
Katie Morse and Michael Reilly are a great example of how sharing a common bond like psoriatic disease can lead to a romantic bond. Like the Kiselicas, the two met online two years ago in a Facebook chat room for people with psoriasis.
They met in person for the first time at the May 2014 Team NPF Walk in New York City.
“We never thought in the two years we talked that we had more in common than our skin,” Morse said.
Their first date was at a hot and muggy concert, and Morse was wearing a sweatshirt over a halter top and Reilly was wearing a long-sleeved shirt over a short-sleeved T-shirt. They prompted each other to remove their outer layers, psoriasis spots be damned. The two have been dating ever since.
Here are some tips for talking about your psoriatic disease--regardless of if the person you are interested in has the disease or not:
- Don’t wait for the other person to notice your psoriasis. Take the initiative to bring it up so that you can choose when the discussion takes place.
- Talk about your feelings openly, even if they aren’t pleasant at the moment. Shared feelings coupled with good communications skills strengthen connections.
- Explain truthfully why you are attracted to the other person and why you want them in your life. For most people, psoriasis isn't a big deal. Usually, this type of interaction helps people "take back their power" from psoriasis.
- Don't make your psoriasis the focus of your relationship or your identity.
Thank you to our Psoriasis Awareness Month partners: Abbvie, Amgen, Janssen Biotech, Eli Lilly, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer.
Driving discovery, creating community
For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.