February 13, 2022 5 min read
Love and psoriasis often seem at odds with each other. If you have, or know someone with psoriasis, you may also understand that it is not only chronic but disfiguring and highly stigmatised by society. It is therefore unsurprising that many struggle to love themselves and build romantic relationships.
This Valentine’s Day, we share the heart-warming story of Todd Bello, founder of Overcoming Psoriasis and his partner of 2 years, Kim. Having met online, they discuss how Todd’s psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis affects their relationship, and how a problem-solving attitude, compassion and empathy help them work through life’s challenges as a team.
Self-love and psoriasis
- Todd, you’ve had psoriasis for most of your life. Has or does it affect how you see yourself?
Todd: Absolutely. Psoriasis has impacted my self-esteem and played into every aspect of my life. This included my relationships… I was always self-conscious.
- How do you feel about yourself now?
Todd: Now because of the medications and the steps I am taking to keep my psoriasis at bay, I feel pretty confident in myself. I do still feel self-conscious when it flares, but I’m thankful that it’s under control. Psoriasis is a chronic disease so we’re never going to be 100% without fear of a flare.
- Chronic skin conditions like psoriasis can really knock people’s confidence. Do you think people with psoriasis are worthy of love?
Todd: Everyone’s worthy of love, right? You have to love yourself in order to find love in a relationship. Put yourself first, get that quality care, and try and get the psoriasis under control so you can get onto finding the love of your life.
Romantic relationships and psoriasis
- How did you two meet?
Kim: We met on the dating site Match about 2 years ago, and we spoke on the phone for at least a month (maybe two) before we went on our first date.
Todd:We met in Captiva and have been together ever since. Every day since then, inseparable.
Kim: We’re together all day long!
Todd: I knew it was going to work because she lost her keys on the first date. I felt really bad and I played it back in my head as to where she could have left these keys. I remembered she had left them on a bench we were sitting on by the water. So, we walked back, but they weren’t there. We ended up finding them on a desk in a rental facility close by, called the right people, and got the keys about 2 hours later. That was our first date! After we ate at the Mucky Duck.
Kim: I don’t remember eating… obviously I was a little nervous. Going on dates for me was traumatic. I was probably more nervous about going on a date than he was with his psoriasis.
- Kim, what do you think about Todd’s psoriasis?
Kim: I didn’t know a whole lot about psoriasis when we first met. Todd told me early on that he had it, so I did some research online. I guess it doesn’t necessarily make a difference to me that he has psoriasis. I have seen him struggle, but it was worse when we first met than it is now. I’ve seen pictures of his skin at its worst… and it was unbelievable. I’m just so happy that he found treatments and products that work and am so proud that he helps others who are going through the same thing. It’s scary because I know the psoriasis could come back anytime but I feel like if it does, we will take the next step with treatment. I love him, so I’m just hoping he never has to go back to where he started.
Todd: I can understand the stress levels that it might cause somebody in a relationship… worrying about the psoriasis coming back. I’m not fearful that it will return to the level that it was. As a couple we eat right (anything anti-inflammatory), so we’re in tune with what keeps the psoriasis at bay.
Kim: Everyone has challenges of some sort… one thing or another. You just have to problem solve.
Todd: A lot of empathy and compassion goes a long way.
- Do you think your psoriasis has affected your relationship?
Todd: For me it has.
Kim: I don’t really feel like it has. He spends a lot of time managing the psoriasis. I’ve learned a lot more about since we’ve been together. But I don’t really think it has affected our relationship. I guess in the beginning when you were having more problems…
Todd: Yeah, with the psoriatic arthritis.
Kim: You’d be in pain and not want to go walking. We did have to cut some things short.
Todd: But it has gotten a lot better with the treatment and products I’m using.
Dating and psoriasis
- For people with psoriasis, dating can be challenging particularly with approaching people they are interested in and building trust in a relationship. In your opinion, how different is dating with psoriasis?
Todd: Well, I met Kim within the first week of going online, and then I had to convince her to go out with me. She said she was complicated, and so I said ‘you need somebody simple like me to ground you’.
Kim: I was like: ‘I kinda like how that sounds.’ I am complicated, I have a lot of things going on.
Todd: But we work through everything together. It has really been a harmonious relationship. I like the fact that she’s the same age because we like the same music, we are both the same sign, and have a lot in common… and her family’s really nice.
Kim: My family loves him. My brother said he’s the first normal guy I’ve been with!
Todd: I heard so much about Match, but I never really went on it. At our age we don’t go to bars, how else are you going to meet somebody? Having psoriasis can change how you date, but I felt that online dating filtered out a lot of the B.S.
- What would be your biggest piece of advice to someone with psoriasis who wants to find that special someone?
Todd: Good question. I would say don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. First and foremost, go to a dermatologist and get your psoriasis under control. In the meantime- go online, talk to people, get a date, and see how it goes.
Kim: I think it’s nice to really get to know someone before you date. I think that was the nice thing about meeting online… we were able to talk for a long time before we met… that was special. I was online for two years and had four dates, and he was online for a week and had two dates a day!
Todd: I had a lot. It was like an interview process. No joke! I was serious. I wanted to find love, a girl that I could spend the rest of my life with. She was married for 18 years and I for 30, so after a while you get to know what you’re looking for. Thank God it worked out… so far. I feel extremely blessed.
Psoriasis never got in our way. Thank God she’s not shallow. Psoriasis kind filters out the shallow people. But we are in a different time, where there are options for people with psoriasis. There is help out there! Before there were no remedies, and now I am at a level where I don’t even realise I have psoriasis, so it is very different.
#psoriasis #psoriaticarthritis #overcominpsoriasis