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LOOKING FOR LOVE THIS VALENTINE’S DAY? WHY VITILIGO SHOULDN’T BE AN ISSUE WHEN DATING

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Looking for love this Valentine’s Day? Why vitiligo shouldn’t be an issue when dating

 Posted on 11th February 2020  7 minute read

I’ve often found as I’ve spoken to more people with vitiligo, the subject of dating is a pretty taboo subject. Its one of those subjects that creates a lot of discussion, divided opinion and for some, can be quite sensitive as ultimately it means trusting someone and feeling comfortable about showing our skin in front of a potential partner. 

Dating can be difficult in general but what does dating look like when you have vitiligo? For some, especially if they have vitiligo extensively, it can overshadow the entire experience, altering what we to choose to wear and possibly, how we come across on the actual date. Speaking from personal experience, I can recall occasions in the past where I’ve been on a date having good conversation and feeling fully engrossed, however, at the back of my mind part of me would be waiting for the dreaded question that felt like it needed a drum roll beforehand “So…what happened to your skin”? and in that single moment, my confidence would suddenly crash as my brain frantically tried to figure out how to answer. 

Vitiligo, or any visible skin condition for that matter, can sometimes make you feel like you can’t be yourself. Aside from simply feeling confident ahead of a date, there is also the added pressure of making sure your makeup is looking flawless (ladies!) and your hair shows up at its best, and for some, one of the hardest decisions to make is what to wear. We often find we ask ourselves internal questions such as ‘do I wear something that covers my patches?‘ or ‘do I dress freely in something that I really like, but carries the risk of me being asked about my skin?’ Again, personally speaking, I was the girl that would always cover-up, often choosing skinny jeans, a blouse with long sleeves with a fitted blazer on top because I was too self-conscious about wearing something that would show the patches on my arms. 

Thankfully, as I’ve got older, not only have I learnt more about dating but my ability to self accept has meant I can dress more freely and be more open with how I want to express myself through fashion because after all to accept me is accepting my vitiligo too! From close male friends that have given me honest opinions, one of the things I’ve finally been able to accept is a potential partners choice as to whether they like you isn’t based purely on what is on the outside. The inside actually counts too! Here’s what I’ve learnt…

Does vitiligo need an introduction?

Urm…no. Your skin is very much part of who you are and for most, who you’ve become. There is no denying that, but don’t let it be the sole purpose of your existence. There is so much more to you than your skin. When you meet someone for the first time, don’t feel pressured to explain what it is, or worry beforehand at the prospect of it becoming a topic of conversation. Talk about all the other stuff that makes you who you are – your love of sport, your passion for laughing or travelling to faraway places because they are the things you love and that make you happy. Let the topic of your skin come up naturally. When it feels right. Don’t make it a subject to be afraid of. Your skin is part of you, it’s not the only thing that makes you, you.

We are responsible for our own happiness

Try not to have the expectation that it’s the other person’s job to make you feel good about yourself. We all love a compliment especially when we’ve spent 3 hours getting ready! We want to know that it’s been recognised by the person we’re on a date with BUT try to avoid feeling as though a compliment is validation that you look good. Just know that YOU look good. I’m guilty of once thinking that it was a guys job to tell me my hair was looking fly or my outfit complimented my figure as a means of making me feel comfortable but I soon realised I’m responsible for feeling good about me and any additional praise is a lovely bonus!

Your date or partner isn’t as concerned about your skin as you might think

Apologies if that is borderline blunt, I just want to build on the point that your skin isn’t what determines who you are as a person. I can’t speak for everyone but honestly; most people are not worried about your skin unless they are super shallow and are solely driven by appearance. Imagine the scenario; you’ve been talking for weeks, you’re feeling each other’s energy and you’re building on the feelings of a really nice vibe between you. You’ve arranged a great meeting spot and you’ve chosen the outfit that makes you feel confident. When you think of everything that surrounds that vision, where does Vitiligo fit in? I’d love if you could honestly say ‘it doesn’t’.

I remember catching a guy staring at my hands once. Honestly, the sheer sight of his eyes transfixed on my bright white hands made me come over with a hot sweat as I started to envisage what he must have been thinking. I wanted to crumble right in the very moment. Seconds later, he took my hand in his and told me how beautiful they were and then proceeded to tell me how his cousin had developed Vitiligo when he was 12 years old. Not only did it make me realise just how negative my thought pattern was, but just how common it is for people to actually know someone with the condition. For me, it really broke the ice in the most endearing way. I valued his honesty and the openness he showed which made me reflect and realise just how important it is to be yourself.

Confidence is an incredibly attractive quality 

Both men and women love to know that their partner is confident. If you look around you especially on social media, there are endless advocates and influencers promoting body confidence and embracing all that they are aesthetically. I’m not suggesting that everyone wants to date someone who has a unique quality, but what guys and girls do like is someone that loves themselves. Loves that they are accepting of themselves and are not too focused on the idea of perfection. They are probably quite fun people to be around! 

If you’re content, comfortable and realise your own self-worth, then your date will see those things shine through. Alternatively, if you are someone who isn’t comfortable in their own skin and you express that, not only can it put pressure on a relationship but it can become hard for you to be persuaded otherwise because you are so convinced your skin isn’t worthy of being beautiful. It’s your skin, wear it with pride.

STOP with the assumptions

Don’t make any assumptions about what you think the other person is thinking. You will never really know unless you are a mind reader, so let conversations take place naturally and enjoy the moment without being paranoid about what might be going through their head. I’ve had dates where guys have asked me about my skin and others where they’ve not asked me at all. I used to find it strange if I wasn’t asked because I naturally assumed they must be curious. Some guys ask on the first date, others might ask on the 5th. Accept everyone is different and for some, it’s not a hot topic that needs to be discussed straight away. 

I’ve stopped looking at it too deeply. If the guy I’m on a date with doesn’t ask, I’m open to the fact it doesn’t bother him. I’m also open to the fact that he might ask another time, but for now, I relish in the fact he getting to know me and my potential as a partner and not my skin. 

Lastly, make a promise to yourself…

The next time you are getting ready for a date focus on the things that are important. Be present in the moment, for example, what you feel like wearing, whether your nails match your outfit and which scent leaves the best trail behind you because they are the things that are instantly noticeable and appreciated.

Nerves are natural and are to be expected – even for the most confident dater. As is, changing your outfit three times because you can’t decide whether skinny jeans look better than trousers, but don’t add Vitiligo to the list of things to worry about. That can come later, but preferably not at all…

Disclaimer: My posts are never written to offend. They are my personal viewpoints based on my own personal experiences. I hope you enjoy reading!

About the Author

Natalie Ambersley

Natalie Ambersley is the Social Media and Community lead at The Vitiligo Society, alongside her role as a Trustee. She joined the Society in February 2017 with a focus on building each of the social media platforms where the Society has a strong presence and makes impact.

Aside from assisting with the day to day running of the charity, Natalie has been involved in campaigns including a collaboration with the NHS and most recently with a leading brand, Vita Liberata, she also oversees the parent support group. She has often acted as a spokesperson for the society and regularly liaises with the media when there is press interest in sharing individual stories.

Natalie Ambersley is the Social Media and Community lead at The Vitiligo Society, alongside her role as a Trustee. She joined the Society in February 2017 with a focus on building each of the social media platforms where the Society has a strong presence and makes impact.

Aside from assisting with the day to day running of the charity, Natalie has been involved in campaigns including a collaboration with the NHS and most recently with a leading brand, Vita Liberata, she also oversees the parent support group. She has often acted as a spokesperson for the society and regularly liaises with the media when there is press interest in sharing individual stories.