Dating can be nerve-wracking for anyone—and having psoriasis just gives you one more thing to be nervous about. Maybe you’re concerned that your date will be turned off by how your skin looks. Or perhaps you worry that you’ll be rejected because your date fears catching the disease. Unfortunately, some people let such concerns stand in their way. In a survey by the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) of 426 people with psoriasis, about one-third said they limited dating or intimacy because of their skin condition. Psoriasis does add an extra dimension to romance. The fact that it usually starts between ages 15 and 35—prime dating time—just adds to the challenge. But it may not be as big of a hurdle as you think. When you’re confident and upbeat, other people will be drawn to you, and psoriasis won’t hold back your true admirers. Make a Strong First Impression People’s first impressions of you are based on surface characteristics. Your skin is one thing that people notice right away. But so is your smile, posture, grooming, and tone of voice. If your overall demeanor is confident and friendly, you’ll make a better first impression, regardless of whether you have visible psoriasis. To project confidence, you need to feel it, and that’s one area where psoriasis can take a toll. In the NPF survey, about two-thirds of respondents said they felt self-conscious about psoriasis. If this is an issue for you, remind yourself that there’s a lot more to you than just your disease. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends who help you appreciate what a catch you really are. Handle Awkwardness with Grace At times, you may still run into awkward dating situations. People are often uncomfortable around things they don’t understand, and that includes psoriasis. You can help them by sharing information. For example, if someone seems ill at ease about sitting close to you, you could explain that psoriasis is a chronic disorder of the immune system. It’s not an infection, and it’s not contagious. Dispute Discouraging Thoughts At other times, the biggest barrier to dating is inside your own head. You may be so afraid of rejection that you talk yourself out of even trying. Watch out for overly negative thoughts—for example, “No one would ever want to go out with me.” Analyze the thought as objectively as possible, looking for evidence that disputes it. Have you been asked out or gone on dates before? Do you have lots of great qualities to offer? Then replace overly negative thoughts with more realistic—and positive—ones. Don’t Give Up Once you’re dating someone, the better you get to know each other, the less psoriasis should matter. If the other person stays more focused on your skin than on your inner self, you know it’s a superficial relationship. Keep looking. Treat your dates with courtesy and respect, and, in the long run, you’ll get the relationship you deserve.