How My Struggle With Trichotillomania Affects My Love Life

I’ve suffered from trichotillomania since I was a little kid. In case you’re not familiar, it’s a disorder that gives a person the impulse to pull out hair. Different people pull from different parts of their bodies, but I’ve always pulled my eyelashes and eyebrows. It’s debilitating, embarrassing and highly traumatic. It’s been hard to deal with in all areas of my life, not least of all the romantic side.

  1. I’m always self-conscious. When there’s something off about your face, people notice. Even if they don’t, I’m petrified that they will. When I’m dating a guy, there’s obviously a lot of close face time, so I get super nervous. Most guys aren’t that observant, but it’s still scary.
  2. I have trouble maintaining eye contact. This issue is both a fear of intimacy and terror that a guy will notice something not quite right when he’s looking into my eyes. It’s stupid because obviously he can still see my lashes and brows when I’m not looking straight at him — it just makes me feel safer somehow. I hate that look of confusion and recognition on someone’s face when they notice my sparse brows or false lashes. I’ve seen it too many times.
  3. I never go entirely without makeup. Whether I’ve messed up and pulled enough to look weird or I’m in the process of regrowth, I can never ever be makeup-free. I’ve been doing this for so long that nothing grows back in the way it should. I realized recently that even if I leave them entirely alone, my lashes and brows will never be normal. It’s horrifically depressing. When I’m dating a guy, I literally never let him see me without at least a little brow pencil and eyeliner on. I even wash my face and then reapply before I leave the bathroom. It’s a pain in the ass.
  4. I’m always worried that guys will notice and judge me. I usually wait until I’ve been dating a guy a while before I tell him. It’s not information that I feel comfortable whipping out right away. Because I don’t say anything, I’m always afraid that they will figure it out and make things weird. I’m in constant fear of being asked, “What’s wrong with your eyelashes?” or “Why do you always pencil in your brows?”
  5. I have a really difficult time talking about it. So the time comes, and I know I have to reveal the truth. Even if I like the guy a ton and trust him, it’s still rough. I can’t ever know for sure how someone will react. He might pity me, dismiss it or be awkward. I can’t blame him, but it makes me nervous to say anything at all.
  6. I’m deathly afraid of rejection. So I finally tell him… what if he freaks out? Granted, this has yet to happen, but I never trust his reaction. Most of the time I think that he’s just trying to be nice about it because he doesn’t want to sound like a douchebag. How could a guy not secretly think that was weird? I secretly think it’s weird. I hate that I do it, so I can’t deal with someone else rejecting me for it.
  7. I avoid getting too close. I don’t mean physically, but emotionally. I’m so insecure about my face that I tend to tuck my feelings away inside and avoid being vulnerable in other ways. I’m already such an open wound that I don’t know how to let a guy in. I don’t want to be hurt. It’ll just make me feel repulsive and ugly all over again. I know I have to love myself first, but I haven’t learned how yet.
  8. I think he’s lying when he compliments me. I don’t think I’m pretty. I’ve seen myself without any makeup, and to be frank, I feel like a freak. I’ve been dealing with this for over 15 years and I’m still not used to the way I look. Because I think I appear strange, I can’t trust any compliments from the guys I date. It’s stupid, and I want to believe that they mean it… but I don’t. I think that they must feel sorry for me.
  9. I’m always worried about my makeup, especially in bed. This is particularly infuriating because I’m really not that girl. If I could comfortably go barefaced, I would definitely do it most of the time. As it is, I still wear as little makeup as possible. It sucks that the first thing I think about when I wake up next to a guy in the morning is whether my face has come off on the pillow. I usually get up first thing to pee, but I also check myself out in the mirror while I’m at it. I don’t want to roll over and not know I have half an eyebrow on. It’s so annoying. I can’t even begin to hint at the frustration.
  10. I’m afraid he’ll catch me pulling. This is the absolute worst. Obviously it’s bound to happen eventually if I’m in a long-term relationship. I’ve been doing it for so long that sometimes I don’t even realize it’s happening. It’s horrible when it does happen, because the guy always does something I really hate. Either he rebukes me like I’m a child, slaps my hand away or yells at me. All of those options piss me off and then I get resentful and go sulk in a corner. It’s a no-win situation. I know he’s trying to help, but it embarrasses and shames me.
A former actress who has always loved the art of the written word, Amy is excited to be here sharing her stories! She just completed her first novel, and is also a contributor for Elite Daily, Dirty & Thirty, and Thought Catalog. Amy is the founder of What If Journey and can be found on Twitter @amyhorton18. You can also visit her website at