Relationships and intimacy
Your psoriasis may influence the way other people relate to you, whether they are friends, colleagues or someone special to you. Their reaction may be a response to not knowing or understanding much about the condition, and as such they lack the confidence about how to talk about it with you. No matter what their attitude, questions or behaviour towards you, it is important to try not to let their reactions affect how you feel about yourself.
Your healthcare professional can offer additional counsel and advice in this area.
The following suggestions can help guide you to stay positive and manage your psoriasis in everyday social situations.
- Understand your psoriasis first - Build your own personal relationship and understanding of your condition just as you would with a good friend or family member. Accept it as playing a role in your sense of identity and self-image and explore what the boundaries of that relationship are: what parts of it challenge your self-esteem and which aspects make you stronger as a person. Try to be faithful and honest to this relationship whenever you meet new people.
- Don’t take the blame - People’s thoughtless or misinformed comments about psoriasis could make you feel ashamed or even guilty. Remember that ownership of these comments still falls with the person that made them - not you. Feel secure in your own personal relationship with the condition and ignore other people's possible negative interpretation of it.
- Proactive means positive - Taking the initiative to talk to people you meet about psoriasis communicates some very positive things about yourself as a potential friend: that you can be counted on to be honest and direct, and that you have the courage to discuss areas which might be difficult to you. Being proactive will also help you to feel in control and less ‘under attack’ from the curiosity of others.
- Have some ice-breakers ready - A few key phrases can help to quickly educate a potential friend or date about psoriasis and diffuse any awkwardness before misconceptions form. Say things like, "It's partly genetic," "It's not contagious," and "It's just a part of me".
- Learn to read people’s reactions - Take advantage of early opportunities in a relationship to have an open and healthy dialogue about psoriasis. Their reaction can be viewed as a test that may predict the nature of a future relationship with them. If someone is so afraid of it, they're probably not going to be good for you. On the other hand, if someone approaches a discussion about your experiences with an open mind, they could well turn out to be a loving and supportive friend or partner.
- Try not to live by extremes - Imagining the worst possible outcome at social events and responding by taking extreme action, such as refusing to go out during flare-ups, can make your relationship with psoriasis a negative one. The feeling of wanting to hide is understandable but it’s much better in the long-term to proactively find less extreme solutions that enable you to carry on enjoying your life no matter what is happening with your psoriasis.
- Getting out and about - Don't let your psoriasis keep you behind closed doors. Staying active is an essential part of staying upbeat and positive and is well-known as a stress buster. Playing a sport, going for walks and socialising with friends are simple ways of staying connected to other people. The benefits go beyond lifting spirits and reducing stress; by joining sports teams, clubs and groups as a regular member you will build long-term supportive relationships that allow you to go out and be yourself even in the middle of a flare-up.