Talking To My Partner About HS (Part 1)
Last updated: October 2022
You’d think I was about to tell my boyfriend I had a sixth toe or something going by how nervous I was to talk to him about my HS. For the most part, it seems that there really is no right time to talk about it, is there?
But here we were, back at his apartment after a romantic date and my heart was beating out of my chest. Earlier in our relationship, I’d mentioned I had this “skin condition thing that wasn’t contagious but was super annoying.”
I wasn't new to talking about my HS
This was about three years ago and at this point, I wasn’t exactly new to talking to other people about HS. I’d posted multiple YouTube videos on my experiences with it and what it was like living with a chronic illness. I’d essentially told thousands of strangers about HS with no problem. But now that he was about to hear everything from me directly, I felt like I couldn’t even get a word out.
These moments can feel so ridden with shame and fear of judgment for those of us with HS. And for some of us, it can be the reason that seeking out romantic relationships may seem to be completely off the table.
Telling strangers is different
I remember sitting on the bed with my boyfriend and slowly coming to terms with the fact that I was going to actually have to explain to him why there were gauze pads under my arms and why I carried a mini first-aid kit with me any time I was spending the night somewhere.
I kept asking myself if he’d get grossed out by it or if I’d end up feeling bad about having HS in the first place. How would I handle things if he didn’t want to deal with someone with HS? Could I ever come back from the shame I would feel?
You see, the thing about uploading YouTube videos talking about HS is that you’re mostly getting feedback from strangers. I likely wasn’t going to meet all those people in person, so if I felt judged, I’d be able to move on from it eventually. This, on the other hand, was someone I had strong feelings for.
We also worked together. So… there was that.
Telling my boyfriend
As we were watching TV, I turned to him and asked him if I could tell him something. I brought up the very brief conversation we’d had earlier about my skin condition and I let him know that there was actually a lot more to it than that.
I started with the usual stuff about HS being a chronic skin condition that there currently isn’t a cure for. I reaffirmed that HS wasn’t contagious or caused by poor hygiene and explained to him that it was normal for me to get painful boils under my arms that would later burst open. I even brought up the pus, the occasional (for me, anyway) odor, the scarring and the need for gauze pads.
He didn’t say a single word the entire time. But I couldn’t tell if he was silent because he was listening to understand or if it was because he was disgusted. And then I started crying. But to be fair, as a naturally sensitive, anxious, and emotional person, this wasn’t too abnormal for me either. But after our conversation, those would later turn into tears of joy.
Check out Part 2 of this series!
When you need to vent about HS, who do you turn to first?
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