A Guide to Introducing Your New Partner to PsA

Dating with psoriatic arthritis is tough. It can be hard to pull yourself together for dates when you're flaring. Or worse, canceling dates because the pain is unbearable. But even once you're past that part, there are more hurdles. Namely, when do you tell someone you have arthritis?

When to spill

Admittedly, I didn't date very much before meeting my long-term boyfriend. But when I was dating, it was pretty consistent that I opened up to someone about my condition around the second or third date. I've always felt that was the best point to tell because I've become more comfortable with the person and have a better idea of their character. It's also a point in which you haven't invested too much time and energy into the relationship yet, so it's easier to part ways if you don't like how they react.

Of course, sometimes it happens sooner than you'd expect. Maybe the person you're on a date with brings up their love of mountain climbing and invites you to go over the weekend. In my opinion, it's better to tell them right then and there that you deal with psoriatic arthritis, and a hike might be too intense for you. It's not worth pushing yourself to impress someone, nor is it good to make up excuses to hide from them.

How to do it

It can be hard to find the right words to tell someone that you're chronically ill. In my experience, I tried to bring it up if the topic of health came up. I remember a person I briefly dated had a couple of food allergies. After he explained more about his health, I felt comfortable enough to bring up my arthritis.

You might casually bring it up as part of an answer to a question. For example, if they ask what activities you enjoy, you might say you do yoga because it helps your psoriatic arthritis. That way, it can open up a conversation on your condition, how it affects your life, and what you're doing to help.

It might also come that you need to bring it up out of nowhere. It can be intimidating- especially if the person is extremely athletic or health-conscious. Try not to be intimidated: the start of a new relationship is both an exciting and kind of scary time. It can help to incorporate telling them in a way that is comfortable to you. Maybe you could talk about an activity your arthritis brought you too, an awareness blog you started, or a story of personal triumph. My personal favorite icebreaker was about how arthritis brought me closer to art.

What happens now?

Some people take it well, some don't, but most don't really understand what I mean at first. While I have been ghosted right after telling someone I have arthritis, it's extremely rare. Most of the time, people kind of accept that you have arthritis but don't know what it means.

It helps to be honest in your new relationship and give it some time; let them see you take breaks while walking, or even using an assistive device. You might have to be patient, but it's worth it to start being open early on. The right one will stick around and will want to be there with you.

They're a keeper

You know you have a keeper when he says, "I Googled 'psoriatic arthritis' last night." Or when they surprise you with your favorite brand of arthritis cream. Honestly, even just asking if you need a break while you're on a date is a sign of someone who will be supportive of you.

A relationship where a person simply tolerates your arthritis isn't going to do well in the long run. There are lots of compassionate people out there who will be there for you, in sickness and health. It might take a while to find them, but don't settle for someone who doesn't fully support you.

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