My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

Hyperhidrosis and Dating

If your hyperhidrosis affects your hands, dating can be intimidating. How are you supposed to address the fact that your hands are sweating when you hold your date’s hand for the first time? Not to mention the fact that I know you’re probably worrying about this scenario long before it even happens, like when you’re getting ready for your date.

One of my readers in Australia (Australia! Isn’t that awesome?) asked me about dating with hyperhidrosis. So, let’s talk about this social scenario that many people with excessive sweating may not like all that much, or may even avoid altogether because of their sweaty relationship to their own body.

Sweating While Getting Ready

For women, this can be a real problem because we’re already trying not to sweat everywhere else while we’re getting ready. The routine for us probably starts with plenty of time to spare. I don’t like to be rushed when getting ready – being in a hurry makes me sweat. We blow dry our hair, and then we might use a flat iron or curling iron, all of which generate more heat than we’d like, especially on the back of our neck. So then the hair on the nape of our neck gets wet again, even though we just spent torturous minutes under the blow dryer to get it dry. Summer with hyperhidrosis is extra challenging with the hair and makeup routine. Ladies, you do get ready with a fan blowing on you and a hand towel draped over the counter for intermittent hand wiping, right? Can I get an amen?

I always stand on a towel when I get ready. Bare floors don’t work too well for me, so I need something to soak up the sweat from my feet. And then there’s always the fun part of picking off all the hair that’s now stuck to your sweaty feet after you’re all done getting ready.

So, you’re nervous about your date (most people are regardless of whether they have hyperhidrosis), you’re trying not sweat as you get ready for the date, and then you arrive for your date, where you’re nervous about the initial meet and greet because you know it will probably involve a handshake. But you’re not sweating because you’re nervous, you’re nervous because you’re sweating. There is a distinct difference between the two.

The Dreaded Sweaty Handshake

In the past when I’ve met someone, I would always apologize for my wet hands right away. But why do you have to be sorry for something that’s not your fault? I usually would just leave it at that, but sometimes you can take the conversation a step farther and actually explain up front why your hands are so wet. I’ve had people shake my hand and remark, “Wow. Your hand is really wet!” Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Instead, you can try, “Yeah, I have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis. It’s excessive sweating that typically affects the hands and feet.” or some derivative of that. Other times, you can bring up the topic later in the date when you’re talking and getting to know each other. Your hyperhidrosis doesn’t have to be the main focus of your conversation, but if it bothers you that much, get it out in the open right away. When you let out your sweating angst, it can set you free.

Talk About Your Hyperhidrosis

You don’t have to tell your entire sweaty story on the first date, but a general mention of it is usually a good idea. If the person you’re on a date with doesn’t receive it well, then that’s the not the person you want to have another date with. It takes a lot of courage to share your hyperhidrosis with someone else. So show up. Show up for yourself first and foremost, which will give your date permission to do the same. No one is perfect, and by sharing a part of yourself that can be difficult to hide you create a scenario for authenticity. You’re saying to the world, I’m real. I have things I don’t like about myself. Yet I’m still here, doing what I can with what I have right where I am.

If you’re like me, your hands don’t sweat ALL the time, just a lot of the time. Tell your date that you’d like to hold hands, but that there may be some times when you need to pull away if they start to sweat. Once your hands calm down again, then you can grasp the other person’s again. Some people may not even care when your hands start to get wet. For me, it makes it worse so I like to let go for a few minutes and get dry again.

Ideas for Less Sweaty Dates

Do not avoid dating because of your hyperhidrosis. Actively seek treatment for hyperhidrosis, and in the meantime, ask for what you need when you date someone. If you prefer indoor activities where you know there will be air conditioning, for example, then do some indoor dates for awhile until you’re comfortable enough with the other person to begin to venture outdoors. Go on early morning or evening dates when it’s cooler out. Go up to the mountains, down to the beach at dusk, up to the lake to watch the sun rise or set, or look for windy days when you know the air flow will be good.

What a Good Date Will Do

Dating is possible with hyperhidrosis. There are people out there who won’t care about your sweating, so it doesn’t have to be an issue for either one of you. Or, they will care about you, and by default care about your condition enough, that they will think of ways to help you cope with it. They will blast the AC and cool the car down before they let you get in. They will run the AC in their house when you are there, or turn on the ceiling fan, or let you sit next to the open window in the room since the breeze is blowing. They will carry your dinner plate through the buffet line at a wedding reception and pile the food on for you because lines, and handling utensils before and after other people, are a trigger for you. They will do a “hand check” and lightly caress your palms; when you ask them why they’re doing so, they will say “Because if you’re sweating, it lets me know that I could be doing something differently to help you.”

How do I know all of this is possible? Because I’ve lived every single one of these scenarios. But here’s the secret to all of this: You, and you alone, must first believe you are enough exactly as you are, hyperhidrosis and all. If you don’t believe it, then how will your date?


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15 Comments

  1. Hey there!

    I love your blog! Would you mind if I shared it on mine?I’ve recently created a blog to promote the awareness of hyperhidrosis in the world. Not many people know what it is if they have never dealt with it before. My goal is to increase the awareness of this disorder so that perhaps someday, the next generation of HH sufferers will not have to hear “Ew, your hands are so wet!”

    Please give my blog a visit, and let me know of any improvements I can make! It is fairly new, and does not have a ton of content yet, but I would love to hear your input!

    http://hyperhidrosis-support.com/

    Thank you,

    Jake Nelson

  2. Natalie Moreton

    July 9, 2014 at 0:00

    Love your blog. Just doing a random internet search for a product which may not exist but hoping it does for gloves and socks I can wear during yoga so I don’t slippery slip all over the mat resulting in a faceplant in downward. So great to hear of similar experiences. My favourites are driving to job interviews/dates with the aircon on and having my hands right against the vents. Or holding my hands against mirrors/windows and fogging them up without touching it. My boyfriend hums the ghost busters song and calls me slimer when its particularly bad – but proof that we can find awesome guys who will put up with our crazy hands and feet 🙂

  3. Great post. I know so many people who don’t date because of illness, and I think they’re missing out. Like you said – it’s a great way to show YOU a red flag on someone you don’t want to date. Really it’s a nice short cut I think. And I’m not just being insufferably optimistic – I got married at 20 and am still happily so, no kids yet, we’re just together because we found each other quickly thanks in part to illness. <3

  4. Glad to know that I’m not the only one. Thanks for posting. I sweat through everything and I essentially have to wear white everything now. Been dealing with it for years. I sweat away 4 pounds after running 30 minutes. 🙁 The only thing that doesn’t sweat is my feet.

    Finally going to see an endocrinologist then a dermatologist. Tired of having a torso. It’s ridiculous. Posts like yours make me feel better. Thanks again for sharing.

    ~R

  5. Hey there, thanks for the blog, only found it today and been reading though, I’m only 18 and suffer from heaving sweating all over, the worse part is during driving lessons and leaving a big wet mark on my jeans and the seat at the end of the lesson, not to mention the massive under arm sweat pacths. I have a question how do you go about just wearing a t-shirt, I have to turn down most offers to go out due to my sweating and am still yet to go out to a club in fearing of sweating and having massive pacths. Your blog makes me feel a bit more normal, knowing there are other people out there who can help. Thank you!

  6. Hi Maria,
    My name is Rick, Im a Masters Design student from Australia and Im doing a research assignment on Hyperhidrosis, for which in the end of the term I need to come up with a design idea (products, apps, etc) for people suffering from this condition.
    I stumbled accross your blog as I’ve been reading a lot about it and I ‘m just starting to understand how much distress people with this condition face in their daily lives, specially when dating, working and socialising.
    I wonder if you could help me understand Hyperhidrosis better in order to find the best design solution for my college assignment. I will need to ask you a few questions soon, nothing very complicated.
    Congratulations on your blog that I’m sure is helping so many people with the same condition out there!
    Kind regards
    Rick Untura
    Sydney, Australia

  7. Wow, I’m so happy that I’ve stumbled across your blog! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts. It always makes me feel so relieved and happy knowing that there are (actually) lots of other people experiencing the exact same issues as me. I could relate to almost all your problems! I wasn’t expecting this but your second last paragraph made me tear up. It’s wonderful to know that there are such compassionate people out there who are so willing to understand and help. I have yet to meet such a person but now I know they’re out there. It would probably help if I let down my barriers every now and then…but it’s hard.

  8. I absolutely love this. I am only 14 and I’ve had palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis all of my life. It makes me socially awkward and I hate shaking people’s hands. I don’t feel comfortable about this. Thank you for showing me there are others like me

    • Hi Camryn,

      Don’t be afraid to tell people what you have. Sometimes it helps if you give a disclaimer about your sweating condition. I remember once when I was in 5th grade I told a boy over the phone that if he decided to hold my hand at the movies, it would be sweaty. I still wanted to hold hands, but it was easier if he knew ahead of time that I really couldn’t help it if mine were wet.

  9. 21yearoldwoman

    June 13, 2015 at 0:00

    Thanks for your blog, it’s really well written and very informative. I can relate to much of what you say.

    I broke up with my boyfriend recently, but am to attest that compassionate people do exist! Over the course of our many months of dating, he would quietly notice things and make his own adjustments accordingly, to make me more comfortable, without any indication from me.
    My hands, feet and body sweats profusely and is always on the forefront of my mind, always. But here’s the thing: He doesn’t sweat the way I do and thus, he is not thinking about my gross hands as they really don’t affect him. He would give the same amount of thought if I had a mole on mt face.

    I worry about my sweating all the time, and when others around me are unaffected and indifferent toward my sweating, I’m always amazed and genuinelt surprised. I try to remind myself that often.

  10. Due to my embarrassment of having HH all my life from very young, sweating as I do from my forehead and head so profusely that it runs down my face, neck and onto my shirt, I have never had a girlfriend, or any kind of relationship with anyone of the opposite sex. I have stood up and given lectures to people in classes of about 3 to 10 people at a time, and sweated through the whole thing, but just wiped it off with my hanky, and told them I had a fever. One young girl said only ‘fat people sweat’ which made it all the worse for me as I am a bit plump having asthma, so that I cannot take normal exercise. If I do my lungs get inflamed and I cannot breathe for days, so all I do is a fast 40 minute walk per day alone.

    Talking about being alone I am now 50. I was an only child and my dad was moving around so much I went to 5 schools, where I was always the new kid. I thus never had any place to call ‘home’ and no circle of friends. It’s not cool to be friends or with the kid that sweats all the time, cannot run as fast as everyone else (as in those days there was no treatment for asthma, which in my case remained undiagnosed until I was about 20 years of age).

    As I grew up I learned that girls found me pretty repulsive, even though I had a symmetrical face and the most perfect leg shape (inherited from my mum) because I sweated so much. One time I was getting bullied by a ginger haired kid in a chemistry lesson. He took it on himself to slap me and punch me in the back and side, with the girls sitting behind egging him on to do more. I had always been taught not to retaliate as you could get in trouble, and in any case he had a host of big brother’s who would beat me up if I hit him back. I’m glad I didn’t retaliate because I was despite my infirmities a lot strong in my arms and upper body than he was having trained myself at home to be strong, forcing myself through bouts of bad asthma to exercise, sweating even more than I did already.

    No one has ever loved me and I can understand why. I will definitely die alone, unloved, uncared for. I think that is my fate. I have left a lot to the Earth though: I create courses on Sustainable Development and small scale renewable energy, and that’s my legacy to humanity. A humanity that only ever hated me, because I sweat and have trouble breathing.

    • Dear John,

      Thank you for your courage to write this comment and for being so candid with how hyperhidrosis makes you feel. I want you to know that your condition is NOT who you are. Your life has meaning, and you are not alone. There are people out there, like me and the IHHS, who understand what it’s like to have this condition. Have you sought treatment for your HH? Have you heard of the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS)? I would start there for next steps and treatments. Please keep your head up. There is hope if you simply look for it.

      Sincerely,
      Maria

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