Dating Diaries: Why Acne Stopped Me From Dating and How To Overcome It
It’s Saturday night and I’m sitting across from a plate of truffle risotto and my Hinge date (side note: I never thought I’d be the online dating type of girl, but where else are people meeting these days?). The food is amazing, my meticulously thought-out outfit is on point, and the conversation is flowing easily. But then the internal dialogue starts…
What if he’s disappointed that my skin doesn’t look like my profile picture?
These are the worst downlights – they’re just emphasising my acne and scars even more.
Is he staring at that pimple on my cheek?
I go on a few more dates with this guy and things are going really well. But then comes the overnight stay and my brain begins to spiral right on cue:
Should I sleep with makeup on, clog my pores and ruin his white pillowcase so he doesn’t see my acne?
But what if he wants to shower together? Do I avoid washing my face? Can shower sex be sexy when I have red, inflamed acne?
What is he going to think in the light of day when he sees me with no make-up on?
From a young age I was brought up in the world of rom-coms, Disney and Twilight novels, where men always fell hopelessly in love with women who had thin figures and flawless skin. I mean take one look at Instagram’s #couplegoals or even the participants on reality TV shows like The Bachelor or Married at First Sight. What you’ve got is a group of stunning women who ALL have unrelatable, flawless skin.
Don’t get me wrong, consuming these types of movies and shows are still my favourite – what can I say, I love love. But how does this translate into today’s dating? All we’ve been taught from when we were little girls, is that a beautiful woman – the one who finds love – is someone who looks a certain way.
Unfortunately, there is just no representation of normal, imperfect skin in the media, making any person who has scars, breakouts or pigmentation believe that what they look like isn’t enough. So despite me being a confident, intellectual woman who can pretty much hold a conversation with a brick wall, as soon as it came to dating, my insecurities around my skin would increase 10-fold.
It’s like a chain – I am so self-confident in all links of my life, but my skin is my weak link. And a chain can only be as strong as your weakest link.
There was a period of time in my early 20s that I refused to date based on how my skin looked; I honestly thought my skin had to be clear before I could go out into the dating world. My self-esteem became a direct reflection of how my skin was at any given time. Good skin = more self-confidence. Bad skin = I may as well live in a swamp alone like Shrek.
I let the quality of my skin dictate whether I was worthy enough to be with a man. And in the end, I was just sabotaging myself.
All the negative thoughts about my skin became a massive block to any relationship – whether in a relationship or starting a new one. But I wasn’t alone in this. Studies surveying people with acne have found that acne itself can be a cause of break-ups, problems in current relationships and difficulties in forming new relationships. And it has a lot to do with a person’s self-esteem and how confident they feel in themselves.
The self-sabotaging thoughts I would have in dating or relationships were just a projection of my insecurities. And it all came down to the feeling of being unlovable or unworthy of love unless I had clear skin. I didn’t think anyone could possibly see me as beautiful with my acne. And you know what, that’s just bullshit.
how do we overcome dating with acne?
For one, any person that can’t see how incredibly beautiful you are inside and out DESPITE the imperfections on your skin is not even worth your time in the first place. Better to weed them out now before you’re really invested.
Secondly, half the time people we’re dating (unless they are completely shallow) will hardly notice your skin. We are our own worst critics and often think people are just as harsh and judgemental as we are.
So when you do brave out into the craziness of the dating scene (which is incredibly vulnerable as it is), consider these steps to master the dating scene regardless of what your skin looks like:
1. Reconnect with your self worth
Has your partner ever given you a compliment but deep down you don’t believe it? If you’re on a date, have you hidden parts of your personality to make you seem more alluring to the person opposite you? Do you make it your mission to always cover up your imperfections on your skin for fear that it will turn them away if they saw the “real” you?
I can honestly say, I did all of those things. And all of them stem back to self worth and how much you value yourself.
No one should ever fill a void in your life. You can’t go into a relationship wanting someone’s love to “complete you” when what you really need is to love yourself first. You are a one-of-a-kind individual. No one has your smile, your sense of humour, your voice, your personality and your passions in this life. You are not here by accident. You are deserving of love, from a partner, but most importantly from you!
So before you consider swiping through bumble, or putting yourself out there, it’s important to take the time and work on loving the only person who can really complete you – which is YOU. Date yourself if you have to – work out what you like, what you want, and what you have to give to the world. Because you are a CATCH girl! And no amount of skin issues can take that away.
2. Build Up Your Skin Confidence
Often women with acne rarely go out without covering up in some regard, whether it be with makeup, clothing or hair. And if we do brave going out without makeup, it can be so hard to hold our head up high because we’re not proud of the way we look.
The hardest part of building skin confidence is putting yourself out there in vulnerable situations. Try going make-up free with your best friends, out for coffee, or just to the supermarket. You’ll begin to see that no one is treating you differently because of your skin. People just accept and love you exactly as you are!
3. Have a Conversation about it
This one takes some confidence and practice. Early on in dating your new someone, try bringing up your thoughts around your skin: how it makes you feel, why it affects you, why you’ve avoided certain activities. The first time I tried to open up vulnerably about my skin, I just cried. Literally sobbed with no words. With the person after, I just pushed it aside like it was nothing and didn’t let them fully see the way it impacted me. With my current partner (who I actually met on a set-up blind date), I was able to be completely open, vulnerable and communicate confidently about how my skin has and still does impact my life. I promise you’ll get better at having those conversations and generally I’ve found the relationship only deepens because of it.
If there’s one thing to remember it’s that any person is LUCKY to date someone like you. You are beautiful and worthy of love regardless of what your skin currently looks like. Don’t let your inner lies sabotage you from stepping out and dating with confidence like you are the most treasured prize in the room. If they like you, they’re going to stay with you regardless of how you look stepping out of the shower or in that fluorescent lighting (I mean who honestly thought that was a good invention). So it’s time to step out into the dating arena as the queen you are. You got this girl!
P.S As always, I love connecting and hearing your stories. So in the comments below, share your own dating experiences with acne (good or bad) or ways that this has helped you. This is a judgement free zone as always.
Disclosure: As a heterosexual female, I wrote this article from my personal experience having acne when dating men. However, the same context can apply to whatever your relationship or gender preference is.