Dating When You Have Atopic Eczema
When it comes to dating I have two different sides. One part of me is careless, in general. I really just want to get to know people, hang out, have fun. I don't worry too much about anyone's opinion of me or of my skin, body, etc. This is me about 90% of the time, but the other 10% is the hard part.
The other 10% of the time I am nothing but worried. I worry about what people will think. I worry about what people will say, if they will say anything at all. I ask myself if anyone would notice? Is a flare coming soon? Maybe to the "normal person's" healthy eye it doesn't look as bad as it feels.
Dating is a lot of effort!
I have a date coming up this weekend. It's the first date I've been on in a while. I truly have a love/ hate relationship with dating. Mostly hate. Of course, I see the benefit. I want to get to know people and I genuinely do hope to build a future with the people I choose to date, but at the same time, it takes so much effort! Picking out the perfect outfit, perfect hair. I want to be "pretty" but I need to be comfortable. The wrong sweater can cause my skin to get irritated and that certainly doesn't make for a good evening. The wrong perfume can cause inflammation and ultimately land me in a night of stares and awkwardness.
For healthy people, I'm sure dating is just like any other thing, but for those of us living with (multiple) chronic conditions like atopic dermatitis and inflammatory bowel disease, sometimes I can't help to think it's more trouble than it's worth. Realistically I know I need to socialize. I know I need to get out of the house and meet people, but there are times I just take a break from it all. A long break.
Worrying about all the possible triggers
Dating is already stressful enough. With the pressure society already places on women to be a certain size, a certain look, nice hair. On top of dealing with everyday insecurities, I live with the burden of external and internal conditions and symptoms. Right now my condition is pretty tamed. Not that I'm doing anything in particular, just think I've been lucky lately. From backpacking through Europe, to moving. All the environmental changes that could have very easily caused a crazy flare only seemed to irritate my skin a bit. I'm pretty happy about that!
I don't want to go on a date feeling unwell or unattractive, but I try not to allow my skin or anything else to deter my mood so much. It's hard, but we have to understand that our conditions are not who we are, they're a part of us. A very small part. Maybe when we're flaring it doesn't feel so small, but there is so much more to us and the severity of our AD. Most of the time I won't even mention anything about my skin or my condition unless I'm asked. And when I do most people are pretty understanding.
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