RELATIONSHIPS: Sharing About Your RA in a New Relationship

MKT 00479 Elizabeth and Fiance 1

For many years, when I was deep in RA treatment, on methotrexate and infusions, I had no interest in dating. In fact, my reaction to the medicine made my hair feel very heavy, as strange as that sounds, and I cut it off completely, caring much more about how I felt than how I looked. For about two years, I was single and completely focused on my condition and managing my day-to-day life and responsibilities. However, during a moment of life change, when I thought I could be moving overseas, I found myself transitioning off of many medicines. I felt better and became open to dating again.

It was a little scary getting back into the dating game, and I had a couple of very brief relationships. In one of those relationships, I brought up my RA fairly soon after we had begun going out. His reaction to what I shared was painful. “I know someone with that, and they are so annoying, always acting like, ‘Woe is me,’” he said. 

Truth be told, I can be whiny during flares. As anyone with this condition knows, they’re not easy, and sometimes it’s helpful to express that. Based on the guy’s reaction, I felt I needed to hide my RA—and myself. Needless to say, that was not a long-lasting relationship.

MKT 00479 Elizabeth and Fiance 4

Elizabeth and Taylor

A while later, I met Taylor, my fiancée. When we first started dating, I decided to be a lot more careful in sharing about my condition. At the time, I didn’t know him well enough to know how he would react, and I wanted to trust him before opening up. At the same time, I was unsure if RA or treatments had affected my fertility. I didn’t know how he would feel about being in a relationship with someone with whom he may or may not be able to have kids. I also thought about how scary it might be for him to hear about my condition.

So, although it was in my mind that I would need to tell him if we found ourselves getting serious, I took my time in doing so. We didn’t see each other every day, so I was able to hide the short flares I experienced. He was aware that I experienced migraines and that I had a number of doctor’s appointments, but he didn’t pry or pressure me to share more than I was ready for.

It was when we realized that we were getting serious that I knew that the time was right. The conversation came up organically; we didn’t have a big “moment” where I sat him down to share. Somehow the conversation had turned to my migraines, and I took that moment to mention that I had been nearly bald a couple of years earlier. Of course, he was curious about that and gently asked about how that came to be. I shared about the effect of the medication, and from there, the reason I was on so many medications in the first place.

Taylor’s reaction was completely supportive, so much so that I almost felt bad for waiting so long to tell him. Since we’ve had that conversation, I’ve had some flares, and he’s been as supportive during the flares as he was when I first told him. He goes out of his way to help me, getting things for me or just rubbing my back. He also jokes around a lot to purposely make me laugh, and I’ve found it’s much harder to feel down when I’m laughing and feeling cared for!

Part of sharing about my RA was also sharing about the Vectra test and the valuable information it offers us RA patients as we work to manage our treatments. I also shared how much I love being a Vectra Ambassador and sharing my story with others.

My best advice for anyone with RA who is in a new relationship is to wait until you are ready to share about your condition. You should feel completely comfortable and have no fear about how your significant other will receive the news. I would love to hear your experiences with sharing about your RA in a new relationship. Please join the conversation @VectraScore.

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