Debbi FullerFor those of you who are dating and don’t know how to broach the subject of your alopecia with a new person, this is my best advice: You tell them on the third date, without fail!

When you go on a first date with someone, you’re just checking them out and seeing if they are worth getting to know. You definitely should not be getting so close that they need to know about your hair – right?

On the second date you are evaluating them for possible future relationship material. Ask all the right questions; find out if they are good to their Moms, etc.

If you both like each other enough to go on to that all-important third date, then it’s time to tell them about your alopecia.

For one thing, you don’t want them to put their hand on the back of your neck and be surprised that there’s an edge there, but, most importantly, if you wait longer, the alopecia becomes the elephant in the room.

You know that you have to bring it up, but the longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to do. If you let it go until you’re really involved and the person can’t handle it, you feel devastated and miserable because you let yourself get close to someone who, in my opinion, is unworthy of you in the first place. Now you need a shrink to get over the experience!

Don’t do that!

Tell them on the third date. That way, even if you get rejected, the most it takes to get over it is a glass of wine or two! At this stage, you can say to yourself, “Well, I’m sure glad I found out now that this person is so shallow that they can’t see me for the wonderful person I am.”

Anyone worthy of your love and affection needs to be able to cut the mustard. Anyone who would not want to date you just because you have alopecia will disappear at the first sign of trouble on any front. What would happen if you got seriously ill with, say, breast cancer, and had to have a mastectomy? He’d be out the door. You want someone who will truly love you for who you are and won’t judge you if you gain a couple of pounds, wear glasses, have spider veins, a sagging butt, or alopecia!

The best people are the ones who see the real you, the person who is funny, caring, strong, hard-working – all those great qualities that you have!

As to how to broach the subject, don’t make a big deal about it.

Say something like “By the way, before we go out again, I need to tell you that I wear a wig because I have a condition called alopecia areata. Have you ever heard of it?”

If they say yes, then get into a discussion of how and why and find out how much they know. If they say no, then tell them about it.

Tell them that you are totally healthy; that it is an autoimmune condition that only affects your hair; that one out of every 100 people will get the little round patches during their lifetimes; that you are just one of the lucky ones that got totalis!

Be funny; make sure that you don’t make it a big serious thing.

You’ll be able to tell by the way the discussion goes if the person can handle it or not. If they can’t, no big deal; there are plenty of better fish in the sea. If they say “No problem, your hair looks great!” then make another date!

Finally, if you decide to continue seeing each other, don’t wait long before the ‘unveiling’. Anyone that you continue to see will want you to be comfortable enough to take your hair off in front of them. You want to be yourself, hair or no hair.

I know people who have been married and had children who never let their families see them without hair. This makes your life very complicated and stressful when it doesn’t have to be.

You can wear your hair when you want to, and take it off when you don’t! Everyone just adapts to it and, after a while, they won’t even notice if you have hair on or not!

My husband never even notices when I change from long hair to short! He volunteers me to take off my vacuum to show strangers my tattoos! That’s the kind of love and acceptance you deserve.

Don’t live your life in fear of people finding out. Take the bull by the horns and show them! They’ll think you are great and, if they don’t, you don’t need them in your life.

You are worth it!
__________________________

* Reprinted with permission from Debbi Fuller.

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Dear Mountain Gal,

60's is a great age for woman because by this age she is not only really clear about what she wants, but even clearer about what she doesn't want. I have found that with most men and this condition, it's all about 2 things:

1. How you feel about your condition and how comfortable you are with it before sharing it with others.

2. How you present it. Men especially need time to process things a bit differently than women and we need to be conscious of that.  The way you present your information has everything to do with the way the other person receives it. 

Above all, I have felt it is most about the actual connection and the trust you feel is present with that person that matters most which I have found takes time. 

This may or may not happen in 3 dates. Although I appreciate Debbi’s advice and understand her approach,  I don’t believe in the "3rd date" rule always applies as that has not always worked of me.

I have never had a time limit on it. I have always felt that the more you get to know someone, the more insight you receive about them, their level of depth, and the more in control you are to decide when, or if, you want to let them in and the more in control your are to handle any situation that arises.

So don't be afraid to take your time and approach the situation slowly. There is no rush. Nothing works well when we come from a place of need. Desire is always good. Chemistry rocks!  However nothing is more of an aphrodisiac than confidence. That comes in time.

I hope this helps. 

 Blessings,

Amy

Everyone has to handle it in their own way.  Amy is certainly capable of dealing with it in the way she has described.  The reason I disagree is that many women become very emotionally involved with a man after dating for a longer period and then she is devastated when (in certain cases), he rejects her down the road when he finds out 'the truth'.  I still feel that you can avoid a lot of heartache and pain by being upfront more quickly and getting the truth out sooner.  It says a lot about your faith in yourself and your level of confidence when you can approach the subject sooner rather than later.  After all, you have nothing to feel embarrassed about and nothing to be ashamed of.  Just be truthful.  Most people move very rapidly these days with regard to relationships and if someone asks you out 3 times in a row and you are excited about the possibilities it just makes sense to me to get everything out on the table so there are no 'surprises' later to derail everything and throw you into a tizzy.  However, to each her own!

Third date rule? What about a first date? I grew up in Racine, WI. But I've lived in Milwaukee, Wi since 1993. I know that I have or may have missed many many chances over the years because I hid under a wig from age 15 to about 45. But in my world, women have had no use for men with a cond like mine. My hair started falling out when I was about 8 yrs old. I have had aleopecia universalis since I was about 15. I took off my wig about 8 years ago and now women do not know what to make of me. I have never had a girlfriend or relationship in my whole life. I had sex pnce, when lost my virginity at age 48. Before that I had not been within arms lenght of a woman since about 1989. We all have different experiences in our lives. I know that I am partially responsible for being alone today. But by far not totally. Some people are lucky enough to meet someone that will look beyond this condition. I have definitley not. That has been my world and it stinks.
Mark S Hansen

Hi Mark, I still maintain that it's more an issue of confidence. A man with no hair is no more odd-looking than a woman with no hair - probably less odd. If you had approached your life expecting success and love rather than rejection, I think things might have turned out differently. I'm basing this on the other men I know who have not had the same type of difficulties that you describe. I truly believe that people react to the vibes you send out. If they are negative, you will get back the same vibe. If they are positive, you will find people that respond to your positive feedback and then you have the opportunity to make a connection that lasts. I KNOW it's not easy. People are judgemental and prejudiced. BUT, you DO have the option of accepting yourself before you can expect others to accept you in the same loving, accepting way. Also, time has not been on your side. The kids growing up now with alopecia have the benefit of wide knowledge and acceptance by the public in general which you did not have. That being said, don't stop trying. Don't stop believing that you can overcome your own negative feelings or the perceived negative feelings of others.

Hi Debbi
Thanks so so much for this advice. I have developed alopecia at the age of 48 years old, so I am used to dating with a full head of hair. Since being diagnosed my hair loss has progressed and I wear a wig or buff to cover up. I am a naturally confident person so I have managed to transition into wearing wigs OK but... I have not dated anyone since my hair loss began because I could not figure out when and how to tell a guy. Your advice has really perked me up. I am now about over the shock of having alopecia and I feel this summer, armed with your 3 date rule, I can get back into the dating game and live my life to the full once again. Thanks a million. xxxxxx

Thanks Debs! I know you will be a great dater!! Best of Luck! Hold out for a good man.

Wonderful advice!!! I couldn't agree more.

Such great advice, people shouldn't be afraid as there are many partners out there that will accept you hair or no hair. I thought my relationship was over when my hair fell out whilst I was with my boyfriend at the age of 17, 4 years later we are still going strong, he prefers that I don't wear wigs with him in the house as he wants me to be comfortable and he doesn't care if I go out bald in public, with long hair, with short hair or with a scarf. I've had hair for a year, then no hair for 2 and then regrowth and now another fall out whilst with him and it never bothers him. So yes even at a young age where you would think people have still got growing up to do and can be shallow, there are amazing people out there who love you for you and I think everyone has that person out there just waiting to be found.
Good luck and best wishes to anyone in the dating game right now!

Yeah Lindsey!!

Great advice:) my friend with alopecia waited till her third date to tell her date (now her husband) that she had alopecia. She was a little nervous to tell him because she thought he would be upset that she didn't tell him before and maybe he'd be turned off. He realized she was a little quiet and asked her if everything was ok so she told him that she has alopecia. He said "That's all? So why are you so nervous, it's no big deal!". No worries - when it's the right one, nothing could get in the way!

good advice, really, thank you!
the only thing i do not fully agree is that the person who rejects you has better foundation than just "it is only hair" - inheritance factor....some people want healthy kids for sure...so, i kinda understand those who reject.

I guess some people could feel this way but healthy? We are! We only have issues with our hair and that is totally surmountable. When you marry someone, there is always a risk that something could crop up and that everything might not be 'perfect'. This is a risk you take every time you have a child with or without an obvious risk factor. Having no hair is a small thing compared with all the other unknowns there are out there.

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