Online dating starts with one thing: a picture. A two-dimensional representation of yourself that acts as your lure. Dating apps are inherently weighted toward physical appearance when you’re encouraged to swipe left or right at first sight.
When you have a visible skin condition like psoriasis, online dating can introduce some tricky questions: Do you show it in your photos? Do you mention it — and if so, when? How do you address it if you have lesions showing on your first date?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all response to these questions, I’ve rounded up a few people who have generously shared their experiences. Learning what’s worked for them might help you decide what feels right to you.
Especially if you’ve recently received your diagnosis, it can be hard to put yourself out there knowing that some people may judge you by your condition. And there’s no getting around that — some will. Let me tell you: They are not your people.
There will be plenty of others who won’t pass judgement. If you’re ready to meet someone, don’t let psoriasis stop you from signing up for dating apps. There are lots of people with psoriasis who’ve met their significant others online, so why not you?
Jassem “Jas” Ahmed, 30, received a diagnosis of plaque psoriasis at 19 years old.
At first, he said, he overcompensated by becoming more sexually active to prove to himself that women were still interested in him. He soon discovered, though, that in person the condition was rarely a concern.
Ahmed also started to realize that one-night stands weren’t satisfying to him. He wanted something more meaningful, which meant opening up to a deeper connection.
Then he met Serena. She accepts that Ahmed has severe psoriasis flares that leave him bed-bound for months at a time. During those times, she’s his caretaker as much as she is his partner.
Before meeting Serena, Ahmed didn’t know that kind of love was possible. Now the two are engaged.
At different stages in life, you may be looking for different things. It’s valid to search online for whatever suits you right now, whether that’s a purely physical relationship, an emotional connection without sexual involvement, or anything in between.
Psoriasis can add sexual roadblocks if you have genital pain or itching or just a generally bad flare that’s making you uncomfortable or not “in the mood.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to go without love. Know that there are people who will be accepting of that or even prefer a less sexually charged relationship.
Some people with psoriasis suggest using pictures in your profile or in chats that show your lesions. Maybe not your worst flare, but something — just so it’s not a surprise later.
Ahmed said that he always used to send photos of a bad flare to a prospective date via chat before meeting in person.
“One of two things would happen,” he said. “Either they would look and then block me, or they’d write back, ‘Oh, that looks so painful. You OK?’ The moment they responded back, I’d know I hadn’t scared them away, and I could say, ‘I’m OK. I don’t look anything like this right now, but sometimes it gets like …….