I Have Trichotillomania & It Makes Dating Terrifying

For those who don’t know, trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that compels sufferers to pull hair from various areas of the body. I’ve pulled my eyelashes and eyebrows for as long as I can remember — at least 25 years. I’ve gotten great at using makeup to hide the damage from my affliction, but dating is still super nerve-wracking anyway.

  1. I hate talking about it. It’s not something I’m going to bring up on the first date, but eventually even the most oblivious of guys will notice if I’m always wearing false lashes and penciling in my brows. I’m pretty open and honest about most things, but this is one area where I feel extremely vulnerable. It takes me a long time to tell men the truth.
  2. I don’t like feeling like I have to wear a mask all the time. The ironic thing is that I don’t even like wearing makeup. I wear as little as possible otherwise, and then I have to draw on my brows and glue on false lashes. It doesn’t feel true to who I am and it bugs the hell out of me. It’s necessary to avoid strange looks and questions, and it makes me feel better about myself… but at the same time, I feel like it gives a false impression of my personality.
  3. I’m constantly worried about how I look. Even if I don’t notice them, thoughts of my appearance are always in the back of my subconscious. Is my makeup still on correctly? Are my lashes super obvious? God forbid, has part of my eyebrow rubbed off? These are the ridiculous things I have to think about all the time. I only take all my makeup off at night when I’m alone.
  4. I’m paranoid that guys will notice and think I’m a freak. Trichotillomania isn’t commonly discussed enough for people to be used to it. If someone notices it without me telling him first, he probably won’t understand. I’m worried that guys will ghost out on me because they notice and it weirds them out, but I still don’t feel comfortable telling them right away.
  5. I worry that my face will wipe off when we make out or have sex. It’s very difficult to enjoy myself in the heat of the moment when I’m so scared that I’ll inadvertently reveal my secret. It’s very easy to accidentally smudge my makeup when I’m getting busy with someone. Even if they already know about my disorder, I find this horribly embarrassing. The first thing I do after I hook up with someone is run to the bathroom and check my face.
  6. I’m afraid of being rejected over it. I wait so long to tell men about my affliction because I want to be able to trust that they won’t abandon me over it. I want to feel secure enough with them and their feelings for me to reveal my deepest vulnerability. I don’t know if I could handle a guy leaving me because of my trich, even though I would know deep down that it made him the jerk, not me.
  7. I know most guys won’t get it. It’s been hard enough trying to explain this to the people closest to me my entire life. I don’t want to be pitied or treated weirdly. I don’t want to watch people try to process and understand what I’m telling them and come up blank. It sucks. Most of them just can’t get it. I hardly get it and it’s something I’ve dealt with most of my life. There’s not a ton of reliable research yet on what causes it, so I can’t even explain it logically.
  8. I’ve literally never let anyone see me with a bare face. It’s simply out of the question. Even on the rare occasions when I’ve been able to let my lashes grow in fully, my brows are still too sparse to leave alone. When I’m spending the night with a guy, I go to the bathroom, wash my face, and then reapply the necessary makeup without letting him see me. I don’t wear lashes at night but I still wear eyeliner. It’s a lot of work but I don’t feel okay going bare-faced.
  9. Even if I’m doing well, I’m afraid I’ll relapse and have to explain. I’ve had periods of time where my lashes grew in and I didn’t have to explain anything to the guy I was seeing. It’s way easier to keep the eyebrow makeup under the radar, especially if they are partially grown in as well. I’m terrified that I’ll start seeing someone when I’m doing well and then ruin it all. It’s impossible that someone wouldn’t notice if I had lashes and then suddenly started wearing false ones all the time.
  10. I don’t believe that a man will ever think I’m pretty with a naked face. To be honest, I hate even looking at myself without makeup, and I’m used to it. I’m like a totally different person. I want to accept my face the way it is, and I try, but it’s so difficult. I feel like I look strange and ugly and alien. I refuse to let men see me this way, even those who have loved me very much. I can’t imagine them doing anything but pitying me, and that’s the last thing I want.
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 amyhorton.net.