A-Z

Alopecia (young people)

Friendships, relationships and alopecia

Lots of people talked about their friendships and relationships as an important part of their lives. Although meeting people and explaining about alopecia can be tricky, many felt having alopecia had strengthened their friendships and relationships. Michael thinks he’s “made better friends since having alopecia. I see who my true friends are”. 

Being around friends who accepted them for who they were helped some people gain self-confidence previously affected by alopecia. Friendships and relationships could be a source of reassurance and comfort as well as practical help. Grace says it’s nice when people compliment her on a new wig. Emily appreciated it when her friends helped shave her hair off because “offering to shave someone’s hair off is quite a big thing and they were just really nice about it”. Some found their friends were protective of them if strangers made comments or asked questions about their hair loss.
 

Michael’s close friends have “always been there” for him.

Michael’s close friends have “always been there” for him.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 13
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
In Year 8, when I first told my friends, they were all ridiculously helpful, and like amazingly nice, really. Some of them didn't know what it was, so I did explain to them. But from then on they were just helpful, and always there for me if I needed to talk to someone. My friendship group has changed significantly since then, but my closest friends have always been there for me. And I, I always know that they're going to be there for me, as well.
 

When she went to Reading festival with friends, Grace didn’t wear her wig and felt very supported by her friends.

Text only
Read below

When she went to Reading festival with friends, Grace didn’t wear her wig and felt very supported by her friends.

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 10
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And then I went to a festival with my friends, I went to Reading festival, and I didn’t want to take my wig with me because it was… as I said the festival was in the August, and I must have got my wig in the May, so it was only a couple of months old, and I was like, "I don’t" and because it was quite a significant amount of money. I was like, "I don’t wanna take, I don’t wanna take this wig to the festival cos I don’t wanna ruin in, and then what happens if I come back from Reading and I don’t have a wig, and I can't go out?" and stuff like that. Because it was quite towards the end of the holidays, so I was like, "Oh I'll have to go… what would I do at that school?" So, I didn’t wear my wig at Reading festival I wore kind of bandanas and stuff like that. But I think, because we went in such a big group – there was about twenty of us – I kind of had that support network round me. So, we kind of made a fun… made fun and games out of it and, I think that through that it was kind of like a security blanket, that I had all these people round me, and if anyone kind of said anything funny, everyone would be like, "What do you think you're doing?" So, I'm very…I'm very, very lucky, I'm very blessed to have those people round me to kind of support me through that. But I think without that I would have been very self-conscious.
 

Annie Y’s friends are “really protective” of her. She doesn’t usually tell people about her alopecia until she knows them well.

Annie Y’s friends are “really protective” of her. She doesn’t usually tell people about her alopecia until she knows them well.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 3
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
My friends have just been so amazing about it. I think they're really protective and I think they just had my back in situations where they would never even tell me, but I imagine that people must have asked them at some point. Because people are interested and they probably didn’t want to ask me directly, but if they did, I don’t know; like they’ve never… I can only image them sort of, you know, telling them to like, “Get a grip”, and, “Why are you so interested?” or whatever. So, yeah just be, just be really supportive but don’t treat-, I just don’t think people want to be treated differently; and nobody's ever treated me differently, so it's always been fine. I think it's like if people are really like feeling sorry for you or you feel like they're viewing you a bit differently. I think the other really big thing for me is that I don’t tell people. I don’t want to be that person who like before I meet people, before they get to know me, I'm ‘this girl who wears a wig’. It's like anything – say your like brother died or something – you're ‘that girl whose brother's died’. Before you know them it's not, it's like a, I don’t want it to be like a defining part of my personality at all. So that’s why I don’t tell people straight away and I might wait for a bit, because it's nice to get to know people like just as yourself rather than having this like little thing that they know about you before.
A few people preferred not to talk about their alopecia with friends. Some said it could be daunting telling friends for the first time and worried they might be judged or treated differently. Beth says, “You don’t really know how people are going to react”. Some people didn’t want to make a big issue out of their alopecia. Rosie thinks “even though alopecia is quite an important thing in my life, it doesn’t necessarily need to affect everybody else around me”. Others didn’t want people to ‘pity’ them, to feel awkward or say something inappropriate, even if they meant well. Krista held back from telling people because she didn’t want them “looking at me and thinking ‘I’m glad that’s not me’”.
 

Annie X says it can be difficult telling people about her alopecia, but that they “don’t really mind” once they understand what alopecia is.

Annie X says it can be difficult telling people about her alopecia, but that they “don’t really mind” once they understand what alopecia is.

Age at interview: 15
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 11
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I remember telling people, a lot of the time I tell people I’ve got alopecia and they’re like, “What?” And then I have to explain to them it all and I’m just like, “Look it up”. That’s the scariest thing. It’s like, this is what I am going through and people don’t understand what it is, because they’ve never heard of it. Because when you say, “Alopecia areata”, it’s like, “Can you speak in English please?” And so, it’s, it was really difficult to begin with and it was especially difficult to get across. Because I don’t really like people feeling sorry for me. So when I was wearing the bandana and people thought I had cancer and like were giving me sympathetic looks and I’m like, “No, I’m fine. It’s this-”, but then no-one knows what it is, so I’ve explained, it was one of the things that I tell people when I first met them, because obviously it’s a big part of me. And I was always scared they’d leave, because I’m in some way weird. But once they understand what it is and what the reasons are, they don’t really mind. So, I think it is hard to begin with to, for people to get the concept, because the only time they may have heard of it is with male balding when you get older. So it’s like, “You’re 15, why?” So, yeah, but no-one had a clue about it, which was interesting.
 

For Hannah, bringing up her alopecia when her friends are talking about hair has been a good way to tell others.

Text only
Read below

For Hannah, bringing up her alopecia when her friends are talking about hair has been a good way to tell others.

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 16
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
No. I didn’t really have, the friends I’ve got now, I didn’t have until two years ago. So they met me when I actually had regrowth and it was quite tricky at first to explain to them that I had alopecia, because my hair started falling out three weeks after meeting them. And I started wearing hats and actually one of my friends wanted to grab my hat and he was like, “Ooh”, he went to grab my hat and I was like, “No”. And I got really protective. And now we laugh about it, because he like thought ‘whoah, you’re biting off my hand a bit’. And now we laugh about it cos he realises that I had like no hair under there. I was just like bald on top basically. But yeah, it was fine kind of once I’d told them, I just tell them really quickly, so I tell people and then I go like, “Oh yeah and I’ve got this wig and that wig.” And, I do it in conversations. So I’ll bring it up in conversation, so if someone’s talking about hair, I’ll go, “Oh yeah, well, I got this wig the other day in blah, blah, blah.” And so it makes it easier. I don’t really talk to them that much about actually not having my hair, I think just because it’s just a part of me. So they don’t see it as anything needing to be spoken about because it’s just me. It’s just Hannah with patchy hair. So [laughs] that’s it, really. 

So would that be new people that you would bring it up into conversation with?

Yeah. I’ll-, depending obviously on what we’re talking about and if I want to tell them, or anything. I normally bring it up in conversation. So I’ll look for a kind of way to get back into a conversation, if I can. So if there’s kind of like an opening to say, “Oh yeah, I have alopecia.” Or, I think, normally I speak about hair and then I kind of put it in with that subject of, “Oh yeah, I actually lost my hair a few years ago, but I’ve got wigs.” And I do it like that, so, yeah, it’s okay. 
Most people found that when they did tell friends, they didn’t see it as a big issue and it could be a relief to tell people. Arti says she wishes she had told her friends earlier because they could have given her more support. When Laurel fundraised for Alopecia UK, more people around her knew she had alopecia and she thinks telling others can “lift a really big weight off your shoulders cos you don’t have to hide it”. 

Spending time with friends and meeting new people

Most people had close friends who they were comfortable socialising with. However, meeting new people can be a source of worry and feeling self-conscious. Some people spent more time trying to cover up alopecia with hair styling and getting ready when going out in public. For others, quickly putting on a wig or going with a bare head meant their routines of getting ready were shorter. Staying over at a friend’s house could also be a worry with hairstyling routines, wearing special products on the hair or putting on a wig. Beth says she doesn’t mind staying at her friends’ houses but often sleeps in her wig, which means she doesn’t get a very good night’s sleep as it can be uncomfortable and a worry in case it comes off.
 

When his hair first started falling out, Ben used a coloured hairspray to cover up small patches on his scalp. The spray could stain furniture and so he had to be careful going to friends’ houses.

When his hair first started falling out, Ben used a coloured hairspray to cover up small patches on his scalp. The spray could stain furniture and so he had to be careful going to friends’ houses.

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 14
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
The hairspray stuff I said I used to use with the brown-, brown in it. I used to be care-, I used to have to be careful with that because the brown used to come off on like furniture. And I felt like I was very conscious about when I went around to other people’s houses or my girlfriend’s house I used to like not lean on stuff properly. I used to either put my hand down here to stop like it actually making contact or-. I do forget that because it seems a long time ago but I used to really be concerned about that and like not lean back on things quite a lot because it was quite difficult.

How often would you use the sort of hairspray?

I think it was for a few months, maybe from, I don’t know, April maybe. Not, not this April, the April before and it used, I used to kinda put that on the back of my head every morning cos when I did my hair I used to put gel on my hair. Cos I just, just liked to sweep it on my face, I didn’t like spike it up but I kinda like sweeped it over. I did the hair just to spray at the back because that’s where the two ones were there and that was pretty obvious. And they, it was rea-, it was really good that, like if you looked you, you wouldn’t have known. And I used to do that, yeah, once a day. It was, it was horrible stuff though. It was sticky and it used to smell. It used to stain anything it touched, you’d have to be quite careful and do it in the shower like not- not stand in the shower and do it, you know [laugh].
Having friends who were very concerned with their image could make people feel more worried about their own physical appearance. Kayla’s friend was a make-up artist and that made her very self-conscious when she was losing her eyebrows. Some people spoke about feeling jealous or irritated when they were facing the challenges of alopecia because their friends didn’t have to worry about their hair in the same way.
 

Becky finds it hard not to compare herself to her friends’ hair when they go out. She likes styling her hair but tries not to mess with it too much because she’s afraid of it falling out.

Text only
Read below

Becky finds it hard not to compare herself to her friends’ hair when they go out. She likes styling her hair but tries not to mess with it too much because she’s afraid of it falling out.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 14
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Every single one of my friends’ absolutely stunning and they’ve always got lovely hair. And it doesn’t bother you so much with your friends, but you know when you do sit somewhere, say you go out for a drink and you’ll sit in a pub and you look round and you’ll think ‘everybody’s hair in here looks absolutely stunning and mine is awful’. And that is one of the worst things, because especially-, I’m not blaming my friends but they’ve all got such nice hair and you, you feel a bit like the odd one out and you feel ‘my hair is like this because I am hiding a massive patch of hair on my head, not because I want it to be like this’. And, so, what I’ve done over-, I’ve tried to have my hair as different as I can. So, I’ve always had like a quiff at the front quite a lot. I’ve done a quiff, because that doesn’t, you can’t see anything with that. I’ve always, as I say, I put it up when I ride a lot but that’s more just in a, in a bobble at the back. When I was younger, I used to change my parting and everything to hide it and have it down a lot. But as I’ve got older, I’ve tried not to mess with my hair as much. So I’ve tried not to scrape it back. I’ve tried not to straighten it, if I can avoid it I won’t blow dry it. And I think that’s just me. I’ve only ever been told once or twice “Oh, you shouldn’t do that.” But in my head, the, the less I mess with it – the less likely it is to fall out. But then you’ve got on the other side that the less you mess with it, the more you hate your hair when you go out because it doesn’t feel as nice as everybody else’s. 
 

For Hannah, wearing a wig when her friends were styling their hair and talking about getting highlights made her feel she was missing out.

Text only
Read below

For Hannah, wearing a wig when her friends were styling their hair and talking about getting highlights made her feel she was missing out.

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 16
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I’ve missed the prime time in my kind of teenage years of combed hair and straightening it and having French braids and doing all of that; I can’t do that. And that gets really I get kinda upset and annoyed. Like all my friends, me and my friends were going out the other day and I just had a bog standard wig that I just stuck on and had to clip back, because like the fringe was falling in my face and that was it, it was done. And then, all my friends were straightening and curling their hair and talking about getting highlights and I got a bit like, not annoying or anything, but it’s just something you miss out on. So you miss that sometimes, or I do anyway, so. 

How do you cope with it in that situation with your friends?

I don’t know. I think just because I had my friends and they, like, they were really understanding and everything – I was fine because the biggest thing-, I know everyone deals with it differently, but I really like playing with other people’s hair, so my friend loves her hair to be played with. So I was just doing all sorts of styles on my friend’s hair. So like kind of added up to it. But y’know, they know, they know that I miss my hair in a way, but I don’t kind of dwell on it for too long, cos I don’t let myself. I think I’ve built up a barrier now, so, I kind of put up that barrier so I can’t let it affect me, because I used to get really excited over regrowth. And then, it would fall out and the disappointment of it falling out was more upsetting than just not having my hair. So I kind of, you build up a natural kind of barrier or way to deal with it, so I just, you know, it’s not too bad.
 

Emma felt jealous of friends who don’t have to worry about their hair. She had an emotional time at university when her hair was falling out, but says her friends were very supportive.

Text only
Read below

Emma felt jealous of friends who don’t have to worry about their hair. She had an emotional time at university when her hair was falling out, but says her friends were very supportive.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 14
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
You do get a little bit jealous. Which is an awful thing, but like I get jealous of my friends that are just like not got anything wrong with them. They’ve not got this extra bit of stress. And they can just go out and they’ve got hair and they can do whatever they want to their hair. They can abuse their hair and like dye it all the time. You just think like ‘well, why can’t I like-, why can’t I just have hair?’ And, as I say, I had to take a bit of time off university and like I did work at university as well. So it did affect like my attendance and stuff. But everyone was really supportive. And there would, there would be times when I’d just burst out into tears on the checkout or whatever at Morrisons cos like I could just see my hair dropping out. And it was just horrible. It is quite embarrassing as well. Cos I’d be at university and we had a lot of like practical days because-, doing physio and stuff. And I’d be wearing like jogging pants and you’d just see like hair like everywhere. And you just think like ‘God, what people, what do people think?’ And like, ‘I’m covered in hair.’ And cos obviously that’s when it just-, it just comes out. You know, like when you’re at uni and it’s all on your back and it’s like ‘ugh’. You feel awful. You just think people are gonna look at you and think ‘God, you’re really dirty. You’ve got hair all over you.’ But, that’s not a nice time. But I mean every-, like all my friends and even people that weren’t necessarily my friends when I went to uni were just all like-, they was all really supportive. And like people, I didn’t say that I’d got alopecia, cos I wore a wig initially all the time. They didn’t even know. Cos the wigs were all really good. But as I say, all my really close friends, they couldn’t have been any better really.
Relationships

For some people, alopecia affected how they thought about relationships and dating. People sometimes worried that hair loss would make them less attractive and they wouldn’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, although most found this was not actually the case. Hannah says when she was younger she “didn’t think anyone would fancy a girl with no hair”. Emily found that being bald meant that other people sometimes made assumptions about her sexuality and she thinks she receives more attention from gay women than before.
 

Emily says her appearance of a shaved head has led some people, including classmates at university, to assume she is gay.

Emily says her appearance of a shaved head has led some people, including classmates at university, to assume she is gay.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 19
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I just explained that I was straight, and then we kind of carried on the conversation and they looked quite embarrassed. But it’s, yeah it’s, I wasn’t expecting it so I was kind of thrown a bit off guard, and they said it and I was like for a second I backtracked through it and was like, “Oh okay, no. Like No.” And I, yeah I have a lot more interest from girls as well when I go out. I get like women hitting on me sometimes, which is very flattering. But it’s also I feel like I’m kind of, again it feels like that whole kind of fraudulent thing about I’m not gay, and I feel like I’m kind of embodying that identity which is, I mean I know that it’s not me, it’s the other people are putting that identity and assigning that identity to being gay, but it’s very interesting that kind of assumption that people make about you based on your appearance. And then me feeling like I need to justify myself to other people when really I should be able to go out in jeans and a t-shirt and be like, “Hey guys, I like kissing boys.” Like, so yeah I find that really interesting. It’s not something that I’ve ever had to think about before it’s definitely kind of opened up a lot of interesting things into how people interact and the kind of identities people assign to people.
 

After some bad experiences with boyfriends, Emilie now has a boyfriend who loves her as she is and doesn’t want to change her.

After some bad experiences with boyfriends, Emilie now has a boyfriend who loves her as she is and doesn’t want to change her.

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 4
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
There was a few boyfriends I had but it would be little things like they don’t wanna hold my hand in public or, “If you’re coming round mine, would you mind wearing a wig?” things like that. And there was one comment made saying that, “With a wig, 10. Without a wig, 8,” and I sat there going ‘okay then’ [laughs]. So for that small amount of time because that person said that and I was with them for a very, very short period of time, it really got to me, really got to me, cos I was thinking ‘well then, why are you with me then if, you know, you prefer me in a wig?’ That ended very, very quickly that kind of relationship, I didn’t count it as a relationship cos it was like Year 11. But I’ve actually been in this relationship for almost two years with this person that I’m in with now, and he, we’ve actually known each other since I was 10 and I completely forgot about him, we both met when I was 10, and the way he introduced himself to me was at a cub camp, he came up to me and said, “My dad’s got no hair too,” and then ran off and that was the first ever meeting I had of someone that I was gonna be with, you know. And then he came to my sixth form at school and we got re-introduced cos he was in the same form as me and within about six months of him being at my school- not, less than that sorry, you know, we started dating, he took me out for a meal and we went out for coffee and, cos we’re both very musical people, he’s an amazing opera singer, not an actual like official opera singer but he can sing that style and he plays all sorts of instruments, you know, he’s very talented and we had a lot in common, including the fact that his dad had alopecia and I had alopecia. So, and when I asked him, this is a very important thing for me, any person who was interested in me I’d always ask them, “Would you prefer it if I wore a wig or not?” and this was the, the kind of trick question. And he turned around and just said, “That’s-”, you know, “That’s a silly question, of course I prefer you without a wig”. And I actually showed him a few of my wigs and he told me that he actually wanted to burn them, which I thought was so sweet, so sweet. He’s so accepting and so understanding but I think its’s because of the way he’s been brought up but also he’s not very judgemental. You know, he judges people on their actions and the way they’ve acted towards other people and the way they’ve acted to him before he even says anything. But anytime I’ve felt, felt insecure about it and it’s like, “Would you rather me wear a wig?” or, you know, [sighs] sometimes I’ll watch someone on TV and think ‘oh, she’s got lovely hair, if I had hair I’d have her hair’, you know and he goes, he’d just go, “No, you’re beautiful the way you are, I don’t want you to change. If you did-, if your hair did grow back then, you know, great for you, but I love you the way you are.” So he’s very, very sweet.
Some people felt that the biggest challenge for them in forming and continuing relationships was the emotional side of having alopecia. Beth thinks “relationship-wise, your self-esteem is really, really knocked by it”. Imogen says her alopecia makes her feel “not feminine” and finds that boys her age are often “childish” and “don’t understand”. Over time, however, many young people with alopecia felt they became more confident and comfortable with relationships.
 

Although Beth found it difficult to tell her first boyfriend that she had alopecia, her boyfriends have always been very supportive and understanding.

Although Beth found it difficult to tell her first boyfriend that she had alopecia, her boyfriends have always been very supportive and understanding.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Boyfriend-wise, I didn't tell- my first boyfriend I had like properly, I did not tell him. Until about eight months in. We were together for a few years. And basically I- like you really worry about it, build up about it, and like I've learned now that it can't become a thing. It's gotta just be what it is. So before, with him, I'd built it up so it was such a big thing to me, about telling him. And in the end my dad was just like, “You should know, Beth's got alopecia.” And he was like, “Why didn't you tell me?” [Laughs] Yeah. And they don't really think- luckily I've never had anybody that's been like, “Oh my gosh, that's gross.” Yeah, the next one was just kind of- I went out to Australia and was like, “Oh by the way, did you know I've got alopecia, so I won't-.” And then he was just like, “What's that?” [Laughs]. Then once I explained, he was like, “Oh yeah, that's fine.” Like, he didn't worry about it at all. And he was really, really supportive about it, like. Yeah. And just like if anything ever happens, or like because events do happen where it's like, it falls off. Or when it's really windy, you kind of like have to hold on for dear life, as well as trying to hold umbrella and bags at the same time, it's not great [laughs]. But yeah, things like that, he was really, really good with. But yeah, it's just- most of the time they're fine. It's always that unknown thing of how they’re going to react, though, that's worse. Yeah. But I don't know whether it's the mentality that I've always been like 'I'm never going to let it get in the way of doing it'. Before, I was probably more like 'oh, I don't really want to tell them.' But now it's like 'well if they don't like me, it's me, they're not worth it, they've got to kind of get lost a bit.' So, yeah. But yeah, it is hard. And obviously you are limited in things that you can do. Like when you're seeing someone, and they're like, “Oh, do you want to go- I don't know - like swimming, or kayaking, and things like that?” It's like 'but what happens if the boat turns over and then my hair falls off?' Like then you've got to think- kind of judge it as to when you have that conversation.
 

Meghan thinks it is hard having a relationship at the same time as feeling anxious about hair loss. She says allowing someone to love you is difficult when you “can’t love yourself”.

Text only
Read below

Meghan thinks it is hard having a relationship at the same time as feeling anxious about hair loss. She says allowing someone to love you is difficult when you “can’t love yourself”.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 10
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I know it wasn’t directly because of the alopecia, but the emotional- like the way it affects you emotionally, that’s hard as well ‘cos you I feel like constant-, the people constantly looking at me or people constantly know and I just get like paranoid about it and I get really like bad anxiety from it and then trying to get put that in a relationship scenario it obviously doesn’t work so you have to get have to deal with that on top as well.

The emotional state that it does leave you in trying to deal with other people who haven’t been there from the start and explaining to new people that is quite hard. So, I mean, I’m, I get quite anxious about it and paranoid, so putting that in a situation where you’re trying to making someone like, trying to let someone love you is difficult when you can’t love yourself and that, that’s what I’ve learned the hard way.
 

Even though he was worried when his girlfriend broke up with him, Ben thinks having alopecia has built his character and made him more confident about talking to girls.

Text only
Read below

Even though he was worried when his girlfriend broke up with him, Ben thinks having alopecia has built his character and made him more confident about talking to girls.

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 14
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I’ve talked to many people as about people think- finding they can’t find partners or people won’t find them attractive. And I, sometimes you do think ‘oh maybe if I had hair I might be-’ you know ‘I might be better off in, in that respect.’ But I think I wouldn’t-, if I had hair my personality wouldn’t be like this. Cos at the moment I have a lot of friends that are girls and things like that but like I thought if I had hair I might be able to like do better. But to be honest, I wouldn’t be as confident talking with girls [laugh] if I had my hair back because I never really did. I just think once you’ve done that it really just builds character. And once you’ve done that you would just have confidence to do everything else cos everything else just is not important in comparison.

I was worried girls wouldn’t give you a chance, you know, cos a lot of it is quite based on looks and attraction and stuff like that. So I wouldn’t think people would give you a chance to know you. But I’ve met quite a lot of girls here and most of my friends are girls. I wouldn’t say-, I mean I’ve like ever since my girlfriend, I haven’t had another girlfriend but I still like meet girls and I’ve been on dates and all that type of stuff. So I’ve been single but I haven’t been like-, haven’t not talked to any girls [laughs] since. But I do think-, it’s what I said earlier, I do think that if I had hair I’d maybe do better with women but then I wouldn’t be like this personality-wise if I didn’t have that. When I say that, by the way, I’m not saying my personality is amazing, I’m saying like I was more confident now.
Most of the people we spoke to have had a girlfriend or boyfriend. It could be a while into the relationship before they spoke openly about their hair loss. Annie Y found it was a “bit of a hurdle” and Meghan says it is a “massive step”.
 

Although being bald is normal for Emma, she found it quite a big thing for her partner to see her without a wig on.

Although being bald is normal for Emma, she found it quite a big thing for her partner to see her without a wig on.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 14
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I think when I first met my partner, like it was a big, quite a big thing to show my head, basically because I think it’s not really classed as like the norm. Where I just think like to me now, like me being bald is normal. But I think when you’re first in a relationship and you’re already bald, I think showing somebody without your wig is quite a big thing. So that was quite a big adaption to me. Which I wouldn’t have to have made if obviously I had hair. But, but, yeah, like it took a while for me to do that, you know, like show, like not wear my wig in front of, in front of her. But, you know, it’s, it was fine and, you know, she’s accepting of it.
 

Kayla’s boyfriend didn’t know about her alopecia for several months. When she told him, it was “not a big deal” for him which made it easier for her to tell other people.

Text only
Read below

Kayla’s boyfriend didn’t know about her alopecia for several months. When she told him, it was “not a big deal” for him which made it easier for her to tell other people.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 4
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I’m still with my first proper boyfriend. Yeah, I never really had any serious relationships before that and he didn’t know for probably like the first three or four months and when I did tell him, it was over text. I couldn’t do it to his face but, yeah, so and it was just kind of not a big deal but, for me, for the first year I still felt like I wish he didn’t know because you just get worried that people are going to look at you differently I think. But yeah, it’s so nice having someone that knows that about you.

And then, after that, it kind of made me easier telling other people as well because it was like I know I had someone who had my back and didn’t care.

He tells me now he thought I had really dry hair [laughs] or a really bad scalp, when he touched my wigs [laughs]. So it’s kind of yeah, he’s only known me since I’ve had my wigs. So there’s that as well but I definitely, I just like stayed away from boys. I was like ‘no’, you know, especially when you’re young. People go through relationships and date all these people. It’s kind of like, it’s not serious, why, I don’t wanna have to tell them. And so then you just avoid relationships altogether but yeah, somehow I ended up with someone and it worked out but I think it’s, and this, I really don’t think it’s a big deal.
 

When Annie Y told her boyfriend of 6 months about her alopecia, it “wasn’t a very dramatic conversation” and she thinks he already knew.

When Annie Y told her boyfriend of 6 months about her alopecia, it “wasn’t a very dramatic conversation” and she thinks he already knew.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 3
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I've had like three sort of serious boyfriends. I've been with my boyfriend now for like a year, just over a year – met at uni. And I always, I would never just tell somebody just straight away. It took me quite a while to just talk about it with him. I'm sure he'd figured it out but like he wasn’t going to ask me until I sort of wanted to like talk about it. And yeah and it is a bit of a hurdle to like, to sort of get it out and-. But I think maybe like I can't imagine like I ever would be seeing somebody that would be mean enough to like have an issue. And if they do then they're not really worth knowing anyway, that’s sort of how I view it. But literally I've only had like people would be so nice about it and like not care. So, I think I'm just really lucky. I don’t really know. It always seems like other people have like a more of a stressful time but I just-, yeah, boys have only ever been really, really nice so.

And what sort of stage would you have brought it up with your current boyfriend?

We did like that thing where you like see each other for ages, cos like at uni it's really like, it was quite like a casual thing, so I wouldn’t have told him then. And then I think I went travelling last summer and then came back in September, and then we were like properly together and we talked about it then. I think I wouldn’t have really told him until like then cos I don’t-, you don’t really want to tell somebody and then break-, then like it finished and then. I don’t know, I think you have to really trust somebody, and I think it took like, I'd say that was about six months.

Mm. Do you remember how you brought it out into the conversation?

I can't remember. It just, something, something just kind of came up that I needed to explain about it and then I just told him. I actually just can't remember. Maybe I just had gone home to get a wig or something, and like just said that’s what I was doing, and then, yeah. It wasn’t like a very dramatic conversation. He obviously already knew. You know like you might not notice on a day-to-day basis but if you're like getting with somebody they like probably would work it out. 
Some people talked about partners who were accepting of their alopecia and supportive. Emily says her boyfriend ‘doesn’t care’” about her hair loss and likes to stroke her head sometimes, which she finds “quite reassuring and positive”. Arti thinks it’s “really good to have somebody who is so supportive around”. Having a long term boyfriend and the support of her friends helped Grace cope with alopecia and manage “better with it”. A few people felt that having alopecia strengthened their relationships.
 

Krista says she and her partner have been through a lot together. She thinks the support he gave her when she was struggling with her alopecia has made their relationship stronger.

Krista says she and her partner have been through a lot together. She thinks the support he gave her when she was struggling with her alopecia has made their relationship stronger.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 22
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I’d say probably the relationship with my partner I think because obviously everything that happened last year I think we were both in a pretty bad, I think probably me more than him, we were both in pretty bad place And I think that probably made us stronger. Me having alopecia because I saw that he was there for me all the way through, so that put us in a better place. I mean there was times when in May I walked out, I took [daughter’s name] and I walked out of our house because I thought that I was doing the right thing by leaving him. Because I, part of me thought is he with me now cos he feels sorry for me I don’t, I thought I don’t look beautiful to him like he used to say so I walked out and I went for three days, three or four days to try and make it easier for him, in my own head I was making it easier for him, he wasn’t feeling sorry for me cos I had no hair. In my mind he wanted to leave me the whole time but obviously he felt sorry for me so he didn’t. So I’d say that was probably a positive it made me look at the relationship again and it made me think well we have been through quite a lot together, we both obviously now had problems and we’ve both been there for each other. I’d say right now probably that’s the positive.
 

Rochelle says her partner was very supportive about her alopecia.

Text only
Read below

Rochelle says her partner was very supportive about her alopecia.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 14
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Sixth form, I went to an all-girls sixth form as well, then by the time I got to uni, you know what – cos I’ve been in a relationship for so long it never-, I was never really worried about guys or anything because only really my partner, and when I started going out with him, I did have alopecia but he was very supportive like ‘oh’. He’s a very-, he just gets on with life, so he was like, “Oh, it happens you know, Rochelle, you just need to do that and do that or try that” and blah blah so it never affected me at all. But when it started growing back, that’s when we were both like ‘oh my gosh, it’s growing back’ so we were both happy. But it’s never, with boys – it's never really affected me cos I just don’t care [laughs].
 

Although it took her a long time to tell him, Laurel’s boyfriend is really supportive and she feels it has strengthened the relationship.

Text only
Read below

Although it took her a long time to tell him, Laurel’s boyfriend is really supportive and she feels it has strengthened the relationship.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 15
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
We’ve been going out for nearly three years and to start with like it wasn’t there and I just had my normal hair. And I think it was, well it was-. We started going out at the start of the year and it came, started in the summer and it took me a long time to tell him, like ages. I remember one time-, I don’t remember what I was doing but I think he kinda seen it and then that was the day that I told him. He was, “Oh I can’t-, I seen it.” But he, he’s supportive, it’s, it’s really weird because you don’t expect like a boy of this age to want to have a bald girlfriend [laugh]. But he’s fine about it. And he actually tells me to take it off when I’m around him now, like my hair. To start with-, actually he’s been like, he’s been perfectly fine all the way through. He kisses my head and stuff now as well. Cos I, I used to just kinda hide it but I don’t anymore and even when I had my hair and it was all the bald bits, it was fine. At the end of the day, he still came up and like kissed it and it was nice cos he’s supportive and he doesn’t mind. It doesn’t bother him. So it’s, we just. I think it’s made it stronger. It’s not, it’s not hindered it.
donate
Previous Page
Next Page