New relationships are scary. When you have eczema, fear can sometimes stop relationships before they get started. In an email interview, Abby Lai, who has lived with eczema for most of her life and educates others about eczema and nutrition through her blog, Prime Physique Nutrition, said “The most difficult thing about dating with eczema is being self-conscious about how the other person will think and feel about you once they find out that you have this condition. Thoughts like, ‘Will they still like me or love me if they find out I have this?’ and ‘Will they still find me attractive?’ are very common feelings to have.” Some people with eczema are afraid to enter a relationship or when they do, they worry that their partner will leave them.
Talking to your partner about your eczema
You may be afraid to talk about it because you fear your partner (or potential partner) will recoil in disgust or run away. You worry that having a flare (and by the way, worrying can contribute to triggering a flare), will turn your partner off. During a flare, you don’t feel your best, you are uncomfortable, itchy and possibly in pain. You may be irritable and tired. You might not want to be touched, you might be sensitive to temperature.
But these are all the reasons why you should talk to your partner. There may times when you don’t want to be touched or cuddled. The environment or touch could cause pain. “Don't be afraid to bring it up. If you know the subject will bother you and you feel uncomfortable, then get it out of the way early so you aren't constantly thinking about your skin. Break the tension and you will both feel closer because you have shared this side of you,” Kortney Kwong Hing, the founder and author of the blog, AllergyGirlsEats.Com, explained in an email interview. Assure your partner that if you request to not be touched, it isn’t that you don’t want to, it is that it may be painful to be touched right now.
Even so, talking about it can be scary, Abby explains, “Bringing up the subject of eczema can be a very touchy subject to talk about. I would recommend bringing it up at the beginning of the relationship so that your partner is aware of what you are going through and you do not have to hide. It is always great to be upfront and to be honest so that your partner can walk with you, support you, and help empathize with you along the way.”
What you can do
Whether you are in a relationship or just beginning one, it is important to accept that someone can love you. Your fear may push someone away before the symptoms of eczema do. Give people a chance. If they say they like (love) you, take them at their word.
Be kind to yourself. The best way to attract people who are kind to you is to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself as you want other people to treat you. Forgive your mistakes, be tolerant of your set-backs, focus on your good qualities. Pay attention to your diet and your skin routine. Self-care is an important aspect of caring for your eczema according to the National Eczema Foundation. Choosing the right partner means being comfortable with who you are.
Kortney’s advice for dating with eczema:
“It can be difficult when I have a flare to be close or touched because I don't want to be hot or it hurts. It's important to share that it isn't a sign that you don't want to be intimate. Make sure to be open with how you are feeling so your partner knows why you may need some physical space.”
Abby’s advice for dating with eczema:
“My advice would be to enjoy your relationship and try not to worry and fear that your partner will leave you because of this. I often receive e-mails from people who are afraid of their partner leaving them, and I think this is rarer than most people think. It takes away your ability to enjoy your relationship. And most partners are more supportive and want to help you, more than you think. Remember to be honest with them about what you are going through so that they can help you through this.”
Remember that eczema doesn’t define you. You have many qualities that your partner was attracted to in the beginning. Your partner, or potential partner, chooses to be with you because they enjoy spending time with you.