Relationships and arthritis – how to strike a healthy balance

Family walking in the country side with a dog.

Arthritis has an impact on many aspects of a person’s life and the lives of those around them. Although relationships can change because of arthritis, and long-term conditions can present specific challenges, it doesn’t have to be negative.

If you or someone you love has arthritis, it can be hard to explain how you’re feeling. But many people find that they become closer by discussing things openly, and that their relationship becomes stronger as a result. In fact, one in four (24%) people with arthritis recently told us that their relationship improved with open and honest conversations.

A good relationship with friends, family or a partner can help you to cope better with your condition.

Here are our top tips for relationships and arthritis:

1. Don’t expect others to be mind readers

Communication is important in any relationship. It can be just as hard to ask for help as it can be to know how to help. Talk to each other and try to understand where you’re both coming from. The more openly you talk about your struggles the easier it’ll be to work together and address the challenges you’re facing.

2. Encourage others to ask questions and don’t be scared to ask

Do you really know how those close to you feel about your condition and what worries and concerns they have?  If you have arthritis try to encourage others to ask questions, as the better they understand what you’re going through the easier it’ll be for them to help. Keeping people at arm’s length to protect them from the details won’t help in the long term.

Likewise, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. If someone you know has arthritis try to ask them questions and understand all aspects of their condition.

3. If you don’t want to talk

Sometimes you might not want to talk about your arthritis, and this might be the same for the special people in your life. That’s ok, talk when you need to and be there for each other when the time is right.

It’s important to know there are other resources out there which can help provide support. You might prefer to use our online community, read information on our Facebook page or website about living with arthritis. There’s some great blogs out there too, for example, Arthur's Place for young adults.

4. Prepare for good and bad days

Arthritis is a condition that can fluctuate and it helps if your relationship can adjust to what each day brings.  Let others know how they can help you on your worst days, maybe you want extra support or maybe you prefer your own space.

Whatever you prefer, make time to work out the bad day things you can do together as well as the good day things. Why not get into your pyjamas, enjoy your favourite food, have a relaxing movie night or just disconnect from the world and light a few candles.   

5. Don’t let arthritis define your relationships

It’s important to make time for the little things and to not be afraid to put yourself out there and do something exciting. Whether it’s going out on a date, having a sleepover with friends, enjoying a date night with your other half or simply making some time for a family board game. Make sure you do what matters to you.

Don’t lose your self-confidence or worry about meeting someone new. While doing new things could seem daunting, it’s important to not let your condition define your relationships. Look after yourself first and take any relationship at the pace you need.

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