A nervous woman stands at the edge of a conversation between her partner and their parents

Dating with Psoriatic Arthritis: Meet the Parents

Finding a partner who is willing to cope with your diagnosis and is truly empathetic can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. But meeting their parents can feel like another difficult challenge.

Making the decision to share

In a perfect world, families would accept new partners with open arms. And there are a lot who do - which is fantastic! But since we're in the real world, it's okay to acknowledge that there's always a risk that the family will not be receptive to the new partner. And, unfortunately, a chronic illness can further complicate things.

Are they the type of family that accepts everyone as they are? Are they the type that doesn't believe autoimmune conditions exist? Does anyone in the family also cope with a chronic illness? So many things can influence how someone will receive the news and accept it over time.

To reveal or not to reveal?

It's a very personal decision to tell your partner's parents about your diagnosis. Truthfully, it's something you may choose never to reveal if it doesn't seem relevant or appropriate. But it can be a difficult secret to keep, especially as time goes on. Ultimately, it should be your decision.

Talk to your partner, and both agree on when it would be the right time to disclose your diagnosis. Agree on who gets to say it and how much you reveal. You don't have to prepare a speech or make a big announcement, but it's good to feel prepared and confident even if you only briefly mention it in a conversation.

What if it doesn't go well?

It can be confidence-shattering if your partner's family isn't supportive. Or if they seem okay at first and over time become less supportive. There are no definitive next steps to take if the family doesn't take it well. But, I can tell you some important things to remember for the sake of your mental health and your relationship.

  • Talk to your partner! It would help if you talked to your partner about this. Just because they're related, it doesn't mean your partner will share the same opinions and biases as their parents.
  • This is not the end. It does not have to mean the end of your relationship. Again, your future/current in-laws' opinions are not necessarily the same as your beloved's.
  • Respect, always. Regardless of what happens, you deserve to be treated with respect. You are a human and no less worthy of love than anyone else, regardless of your health.

Where to go from here?

I've heard it asked time and time again, is it worth being with someone even if you don't get along with their family? And the answer is always: it depends. I've heard lots of conflicting advice and anecdotes. For some, it will be a dealbreaker. For others, it's not a big deal.

Is your partner very close with their family? Will you be expected to see them frequently, participate in events that may be difficult for you, or go on vacation together? Or is your partner not very close with their family and only visits occasionally on holidays? How does the family treat you while you're around? Only you can decide what's comfortable for your situation.

Here's my own experience

Thankfully, in my experience, announcing my condition hasn't usually hasn't been a big deal when I choose to do so in past relationships and my current one. Generally, I'd say others are neutral most of the time.

To be transparent, I have had a negative experience with an ex's family being not so understanding. But while the judgment passed on me did hurt, it wasn't the main reason why we parted ways. I'd be lying if I said my diagnosis hasn't made the family raise an eyebrow from time to time.

Sometimes, there were some painful questions and conversations, such as how having arthritis would affect my ability to work or be a parent in the future. But for me, it's worked out because my fiance is incredibly supportive and always has my back, and that's what counts.

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