How to Talk About Your Migraines in a New Relationship
Follow these four steps to help prevent migraines from coming between you and your new partner.
His favorite food is Italian, while you’re in love with sushi. You’re all about waking up early to seize the day, while she prefers to burn the midnight oil. New relationships are all about navigating the habits, quirks, and traits that make you tick. And while it’s easy to let your partner know where you’re coming from when it comes to favorite TV shows, it can be harder to reveal the more personal information “You’re showing a vulnerable side of yourself, which can be scary,” explains Lisa Brateman, LCSW, a relationship therapist in New York City. “But vulnerable doesn’t mean weak. It’s a big step in a relationship to let a partner know what you need and how they can help.” Here are four steps that may help you talk about migraines — and help make your relationship even closer in the process.
Give Them Advance Warning. The best time to tell them isn’t in the middle of an I need to stay perfectly still and lie down in the dark episode, says Brateman. That way, you’ll be able to answer any questions they might have regarding your migraine symptoms. And remember, everyone has issues—you may have migraines, he may have an overbearing mom. “Think of clueing him in as an experience that can make you closer,” suggests Brateman.
Let Them Know What to Expect. Giving clues into how the migraine affects you—maybe you get sick, maybe you need complete silence—will help them recognize migraine symptoms when they come. It’s unnerving and scary to let someone you care about see you in pain, but giving them an overview on what may happen can take away the shock, and can leave him or her better equipped to help focus on your needs.
Be Specific About What You Need. Maybe you want to be alone or maybe it’d be helpful for them to hold your hand. “We teach people how to treat us,” says Brateman, and being clear about exactly how you need help not only can help make the episode more tolerable, but it also creates a model for talking honestly about what both of you want from each other in everyday life, too.
Be Open and Honest. Bringing up migraines may lead to a conversation about other vulnerabilities each of you have, and that’s all right. “The more you see this discussion as an opportunity to get closer, the stronger your connection will become,” explains Brateman.