Who doesn’t love being in love! Whether its getting ready for a date night, a film and a takeaway on a Saturday night or just being in each others presence knowing that you appreciate your time together…..love is a beautiful thing!
Whilst I love being in a relationship, I remember the days when dating part wasn’t much fun! The part where you meet the guy on a night out with friends, exchange numbers and spend a few days texting was all fine, it was the part when ‘do you want to meet up’? became the obvious next step and I would start to feel uncomfortable with the prospect of meeting up, one to one.
In my early 20’s, I placed so much emphasis on my Vitiligo, that it made it difficult to enjoy the social element of dating. I was obsessed with the idea that my skin would come as a shock and so feeling naturally comfortable and relaxed whilst on a date, was sometimes very difficult.
Days before we were due to meet, the usual questions and scenarios would play on my mind. I would try and work out how I thought my date would react to my skin condition and tried to see my skin through his eyes, which was obviously impossible! I questioned whether it would put him off and if it would create a sense of awkwardness, which was the last thing I wanted someone to feel.
It took a few years before I was able to feel comfortable and less conscious about my skin. I realised that my skin wasn’t actually as noticeable as I thought it was and that people were interested in me as a person, as opposed to what my skin looked like. I started to feel more relaxed within myself and started to block out any negative thoughts or questions. Accepting myself and realising the most important thing was to be myself, eliminated nerves and gave dating a completely new perspective. These days, the only thing I worry about now, like all women, is what I’ll wear. Anything else I deal with later…..
So, with my negative attitude towards dating very much behind me, here are my tips on how to enjoy and make dating memorable for you…..
Don’t hide behind your clothes
Planning your outfit can be one of the hardest dating decisions to make! I’m sure every girl would agree! However, for us girls with Vitiligo, the look we decide to go for can sometimes revolve around our skin because of our desire to disguise it.
My ‘go-to’ outfit was generally always the same – skinny jeans, a top with long sleeves and a fitted blazer and whilst the tailored look is very much my style, I knew my wardrobe choice was based around me wanting to remain covered, as opposed to me having the freedom to wear what I wanted. In my mind, I wanted to ‘sell’ who I was a person, without my Vitiligo being the center of attention.
My desire to stay covered meant I avoided choosing something I felt good in. Covering up became my way of ignoring its existence, even if it was short term and I knew eventually it would come up in conversation. I didn’t want to be judged or disappoint my date so I remained covered until I was comfortable talking about it.
Now, with very little insecurities about my skin and who I am, dating is a lot more interesting! I wear what I feel good in as opposed to feeling the need to covering up, after all if anyone I date doesn’t like me for who I am, he just isn’t the right guy for me!
Don’t spend time worrying about what your date might think
Whether you have a skin condition or any other type of physical insecurity for that matter, chances are you may find yourself worrying about what your date might think. For me, I worried about what he was going to think about my skin and whether it was something that would put him off.
They were unnecessary and irrational concerns because ultimately you can’t really predict how the other person will respond. Don’t think about questions that don’t really need answers because it causes a needless reason to panic and feel nervous. Think about the now, like which outfit makes you feel amazing (for me its normally a skin brightening colour such as yellow!) or which bar serves great cocktails! Your personality is what counts. Allow your date to see how amazing you are without worrying about what he might think of your skin.
Here are my tips on what ‘not to do’
If you want to explain what Vitiligo is, do so.
If, whilst on a date, you want to explain what Vitiligo is, feel free to do so. If you feel like it’s something you want to get out in the open, then confidently bring it up when the time feels right for you. Opening the dialogue shows that you’re comfortable talking about it and are relaxed about answering questions. You may find it’s a ‘weight off your shoulders’ and will help you to relax once you’ve explained what it is.
There is no right time to mention
I always thought there was a right time to have a conversation about Vitiligo. The first few dates felt too soon, but then there was the risk that if I left it too long, he would be wondering or second guessing what was really wrong with my skin….but then I wanted to feel comfortable so maybe date four wasn’t quite right either….
Looking back, I gave it too much thought. There isn’t a ‘right’ time when you should explain what Vitiligo is and how it affects you. You may find it comes up naturally during conversation because you feel comfortable around that person, or because your date openly asks you out of curiosity. He may even say nothing at all, because it isn’t something he feels needs an explanation. Allow it to be something that comes up naturally rather than making it feel forced.
Dating is supposed to be memorable and enjoyable! And regardless of how your skin looks, some dates are going to be amazing and some disastrous! Dating is potentially the very foundation to a lasting relationship and you want it to be memorable. Try not to give your skin too much thought and only see it as an opportunity to let your personality shine through. Remember: You are who you are and Vitiligo is not part of your personality….
Photo: Kaye Ford @ Fordtography