Updated: January 4th, 2017
It’s hard for us to fully understand Trichotillomania ourselves, which makes it more challenging to approach the subject with someone we’re interested in dating. Many are fortunate to receive positive feedback while some often face rejection and ridicule. Since my Trich became most prevalent the past 6 to 7 years, incorporating this discussion into my dating life became imperative. In this blog, I’ll address ways to open up dialogue plus some brief feedback from my boyfriend – once a mere stranger to Trich – about his reaction from the other side.
Note: The following advice is based off similar stories I’ve heard in the past and my own personal experiences. There’s no right or wrong way of going about this, and I encourage you to do what makes you most comfortable.
How to Tell Your Date About Trich
- Address the subject immediately. Some opt to wait until they’re more serious or committed, while others find their Trich to be so noticeable (as mine was) that they’d like to address it sooner. Now, I certainly didn’t start my first date by saying, “Hi, I’m Lauren, and I have Trichotillomania. Do you know what that is? Well let me explain real quick before we sit down.” However, out of the 3 people I dated over this time period, I told them about my Trich by at least the 3rd or 4th date. For those already in a committed relationship, your partner already knows you intimately, so they may be more sympathetic.
- Talk about it in person. This truly comes down to what makes you feel most comfortable. There’s no harm in choosing to disclose your Trich in writing or over the phone. From personal experience, discussing it in person vs. over text closes the window for your story to be dismissed immediately.
- Start your story in an enlightening way. Sharing pain, embarrassment, or any form of vulnerability can provoke others to handle the topic sensitively. However, if you’re not comfortable being emotionally exposed so soon, choose alternative openings that’ll affect the way your message is accepted. Rather than say, “There’s a problem I have that I can’t control, and I’m embarrassed to tell you“, you can approach it as such: “There’s something I’ve been working on for some time, and I’d like to share it with you because it’s really important to me.“
- Come equipped with facts and information. It’s more likely than not your date or partner has no idea what Trich is. The more knowledge you have on hand, the more knowledge and control it shows you really have over the situation, even if you feel like you don’t have any. For example, you can say “You know what’s interesting? 4% of the world’s population has Trich – that’s 240 million people. Even more so, it’s 4 times more common in women.” Along with science behind Trich comes the reality of what it means in every day life, so it’s worth mentioning that your appearance may change over time: varying degrees of baldness, hair replacements, and make-up in affected areas, if not currently in use.
- Be prepared to answer questions. Just as we have unanswered questions about Trich, your date or partner will have more. This is where your knowledge and personal experiences come in handy. If your Trich was triggered by painful experiences or other mental illnesses, share these at your own discretion. If you’re uncomfortable delving into too much personal information, you can say: “It’s a medical mystery why people have Trich. It can range from traumatic experiences (an accident, abuse, loss of a loved one, etc.), a biological imbalance, or simply brought on by stress. I’m still trying to figure mine out as we speak.“
- Share positive measures you’re taking to handle your Trich. Many suffer from unconscious pulling and aren’t aware of it until the damage is done. Others have exhausted treatment options and resources with no significant improvement. With that said, positive measures don’t have to be an iron clad solution to your problem, but rather an opportunity for you to find a silver lining and stay motivated on your search for one. It’s a way to find strength in yourself amidst a painful, vicious cycle. These measures can be anything, from, “I’ve joined a group of like-minded individuals who I can openly share my Trich with“, or “It’s been a challenge because I pull unconsciously, however I’m still looking for methods to control this“, to, “I’m pursuing treatments to rule out any biological factors“, or “I’m participating in research to help specialists move closer to a solution.” If you can, with the utmost certainty, find a positive reinforcement that instills confidence and helps you on your journey, that’s truly worth sharing.
- Be real. Overall, once the topic’s been breached, be real about your Trich. It humanizes you, which is what you want your date or partner to see; that you’re human, just like them.
The harsh reality is that sometimes, no matter what you do, you may still face rejection because of your Trich. That is OK. It’s a clear cut message: that individual is not worth pursuing. You will find the right person who supports every ounce of you. I believe to have found my Mr. Right, who happily shared feedback about his thoughts and experiences with Trich from the other side:
Q: What were you thinking when I told you that I had Trich?
A: I don’t know how to put this nicely – and I don’t mean to be offensive – but I did think it was “weird”, for lack of a better term, weird because it was such a foreign concept to me. You meet someone – who by all standards is normal – and you find out they’re dealing with a disorder that you weren’t aware of. Nobody in my life, to my knowledge, was affected by Trich before I met you. It can be a heavy conversation that takes up part of your day.
Q: Did it bother you knowing I had Trich?
A: Honestly, it didn’t bother me. I didn’t think you were tainted. It was frustrating though, because after hearing your story I knew you didn’t want to pull your hair, but I’d watch you touch your face and knew there was nothing I could personally do to stop it. I think it’s human nature to want to help someone, so even without a strong emotional connection at first, the person on the other end will sympathize and feel compelled to be supportive. That’s one reason why I think your viewers shouldn’t be ashamed to open up. There’s more support out there than you think.
Q: What’s your advice for those who want to share their Trich with their date?
A: Own it. Recognize it’s a part of you and be open about it. Don’t downplay it either. Again, it’s a heavy topic but being honest is the best way to go about it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s not 100% of what makes you “you”. It’s true that some people may consider it emotional baggage, so if your date reacts poorly, forget about them and move onto the next. Seriously, there’s no room for them in your life.
Q: What’s your advice for those who discover their date has Trich?
A: Don’t look at people with Trichotillomania as “mutants”; they’re not. They don’t need you to look for a cure or solve their problems. They just want you to be understanding. In general, being understanding is one of the best things you can do. Take the extra initiative and do some research together, or do it on your own time. You’ll learn a lot more and it’ll help bridge some gaps.
What’s your story discussing Trich with a date? Whether good or bad, there’s always something we can learn from your experiences. If you have any additional advice, share below as well. Until next time!