Get to the bottom of your symptoms with our FREE Root Cause Panel ($100 value) — limited time offer.

Schedule a Call

Select a day to schedule a free 15-minute call with a member of our Care Team.

Schedule a Call

Select a day to schedule a free 15-minute call with a member of our Care Team.

Healthy Living
May 26, 2023

How to Manage Your Relationships Well While Living with Autoimmune Disease

Learn how to effectively manage your relationships while living with autoimmune disease so you can increase your wellbeing.
Medically Reviewed
Written by
Taylor Foster
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Anshul Gupta

There’s more to healing than medication.
Identify ways to improve your autoimmune care and find out if WellTheory is right for you.

Evaluate Your Care
A lifestyle focused calendar
Journal prompts
Bonus tips and discount codes

2 weeks to a more vibrant you. Heal naturally with our 14-Day Challenge.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

There’s more to healing than medication.
Identify ways to improve your autoimmune care and find out if WellTheory is right for you.

A lifestyle focused calendar
Journal prompts
Bonus tips and discount codes
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Evaluate Your Care

Contents

Managing your autoimmune disorder can look like prioritizing sleep, managing stress, or going on the AIP diet but relationships are also an important piece to your overall health. Living with chronic disease isn’t easy, and relationship management can be an added hardship in addition to not feeling or functioning well. An autoimmune diagnosis impacts your health on many levels, and your relationships have the power to support your healing or sabotage it.

Internal stressors such as poor self-image, feeling grief over what life was like before your diagnosis, anxiety, and possibly rage and fear over your body’s reaction to symptoms may make you feel out of control and less able to enjoy, or even benefit, from relationships of any kind. However, it is possible to manage relationships to suit you and your diagnosis while benefiting the other person, too. Read on to find out how you can manage relationships well while living with an autoimmune disease.

a woman smiling

Managing Your Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases have the ability to affect more than one system at a time, causing varying degrees of random and uncomfortable symptoms stemming from excess inflammation. Some inflammatory diseases may cause neurological inflammation and include symptoms such as panic attacks, fear, compulsiveness, forgetfulness, and cognitive impairment. Inflammatory bowel disease may cause severe gastrointestinal upset, making it hard to function and difficult to even leave the house. Rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain and joint swelling, reducing the use of affected joints and making it difficult to be productive and comfortable.

These mental and physical impairments stemming from immune-mediated diseases can truly take a toll on maintaining or forming relationships, and may even be risk factors that lead to relationship destruction over time. It is critical to manage your symptoms as best you can to not only reduce inflammation and feel good, but also to maintain positive relationships that support you and your healing journey. (Source, Source, Source)

There are no cures for autoimmune disorders, but symptom management has been found to be helpful for many sufferers. Controlling environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle, intertwined with immunosuppressive drug treatment options seem to be effective for most, even though disease manifestations in patients vary.

Going back and forth between multiple appointments, figuring out how medication, diet, movement, sleep, and stress fit into your treatment options and plan can mean everything else, like relationships, get put on the back burner. Managing internal stressors as well as environmental factors that affect how you feel and function will impact how you connect with others. Being supported and surrounded with healthy relationships can be a great addition to your health care plan and help you to live better overall. Read on to find out how you can manage relationships effectively while living with chronic illness. (Source, Source)

two hands fist bumping

Relationships 101

Surrounding yourself with healthy relationships affects the way you feel and supports a robust immune system, but will it cure your autoimmune diagnosis? No, unfortunately not — but having the support of people you trust will make living with an autoimmune disease more bearable, while impacting your overall well-being in a big way.

Research has shown that stress may play a large role in the onset of autoimmune disorders, but we know that positive connection with others can be a great stress buster. Having a solid support system of healthy relationships can offer you the strength you need to be or do anything you desire, no matter your limitations. Living with an autoimmune disease has its ups and downs, but having healthy relationships, whether you’re just getting by or thriving, has a huge impact on your overall health and resilience now and over time. We know that relationships are important to our health, but the question is, how can we manage our relationships living with autoimmune disorders? (Source, Source)

people eating a meal together at a table

Building Healthy Relationships

Relationships can be messy and at times can demand more than you’re willing to give, but they can also be very fulfilling. Research shows that building healthy connections and social bonds reduces stress and risk of heart disease and reduces inflammation, lowering the risk for inflammatory diseases as well as depression and early death. Very simply stated, healthy relationships make us healthy!

From an early age we learn how to form and build relationships from the interactions we have with our families, caretakers, and later on, our peers. The relationship behavior modeled for you in childhood will play a role in how you develop and maintain relationships on your own as you age. Positive and healthy relationships will be what you give and expect to get in return if that is what you were shown as a child. (Source)

Did you know that having a glass-half-full outlook on life can actually increase your well-being? In relationships ranging from acquaintances to significant others, we tend to be drawn toward others who are much like ourselves. This could mean sharing similar hobbies and interests, enjoying the same music, reading the same books, as well as having similar outlooks on life in general. This is why it is so important to keep and manage relationships in your life that lift you up — because your health truly depends on it. Are you the kind of person that has a glass-half-full perspective? Begin protecting your health by choosing to flock to others that support you in such a way that you feel grounded, strong, and peaceful while developing and strengthening your own sunny outlook! (Source, Source)

Qualities of a Healthy Relationship

All relationships exist on a spectrum of healthy to abusive, with a gray area of unhealthy relationships that falls somewhere in the middle. Healthy relationships take two or more to thrive, but at the end of the day you can only control your end. If you do not feel safe, heard, protected, and supported in a relationship the connection isn’t as healthy as it could be and may not be worth salvaging. The following are some factors to consider and measure where your relationships exist on the spectrum, and will truly make you think about the relationships you hold and if they are worth keeping around. Ask yourself the following questions:

how to know if your relationship supports your wellbeing infographic

Check in and answer these questions truthfully when thinking about your relationships. Living with autoimmune disease can be stressful and draining, but surrounding yourself with healthy and positive relationships will lift you higher and challenge you to become an even better version of you! (Source)

Your Relationship with Yourself

It’s easy to not feel so great about yourself when struggling with an autoimmune disease or going through a flare, but it’s important to remember that healthy relationships begin with you. What is your personal view of yourself? Are you tearing yourself down with negative self talk, struggling to trust your body, beating yourself up from the inside out? Learning to love who you are and knowing the great qualities you bring to a relationship wherever you are in your diagnosis, is a key piece to having healthy connections with others. Even if you weren’t shown what a healthy relationship looks like early on in life, you can learn how to have fulfilling and healthy relationships at any age. (Source)

a woman leaning her head on her friend

Relationships and Autoimmune Disease

Choose to connect in uplifting, positive, and healthy relationships to support your health and well-being. Keep it simple as you practice being vulnerable with the people you allow to occupy your time. Share your experience of what it is like living with an autoimmune disease, and truly explain how it feels. Leaving your partner, friends, and family in the dark about your truth and experiences with your condition will only stress the relationship and make it impersonal, so open up a little bit at a time. Remind yourself you are an amazing person who is worthy of love and support no matter where you are in life. You bring a lot to the table due to your experiences and unique perspective on life. You are an invaluable resource in relationships and you deserve to be surrounded by healthy relationships, too!

It may seem more difficult to effectively manage and balance relationships to promote, support, and uplift your health, but it is possible. Your autoimmune diagnosis may feel like a barrier when it comes to forming and maintaining strong relationships, but it needn’t be. Sharing your diagnosis with a trusted friend or a supportive family member is an invitation into your world that may deepen and strengthen your bonds as you support and manage your relationships with others. (Source)

two people holding hands on a tabletop

Relationship Expectations

When you’re living with an autoimmune disease you don’t always know how you’ll feel day to day, so planning ahead may be difficult. Informing others of this integral part of autoimmune disease is key in relationship management so the other party does not assume or expect things of you that cannot be delivered. This is true for any endeavor or relationship in which expectations may not be met due to the ups and downs of living with chronic illness, whether it’s with significant others, family, friends, co-workers, or others. Being open and vulnerable about your autoimmune disease is important in managing your relationships.

Managing your chronic illness may be a communal effort at times necessitating support from others, as navigating everyday tasks may become difficult during a flare. Receiving support from others involves opening up about how your autoimmune disease affects you and where your priorities lie. Putting your health first and managing your disease so you feel good and function well, and accepting that setbacks may come, is crucial to living well with autoimmune disease. Prioritize your health and be transparent about your reality, and help the people in your life manage their expectations of what you can handle as you adapt to challenges.

The Bottom Line on Relationship Management and Autoimmune Disease

Surrounding yourself with healthy relationships has the ability to impact the way you feel and to support a robust immune system. Will it cure you? No, of course not, but having the support of people you trust will make your situation more bearable and impact your overall well-being in a big way. Having a solid support system of healthy relationships can offer you the strength you need to be or do anything you desire no matter your limitations. Managing relationships, whether you’re just getting by or thriving, has a huge impact on your overall health and resilience now and over time. Share your diagnosis with a friend and invite them into your world as you navigate living well with chronic disease. You may be just the support someone else is looking for, too!

Work with us
Autoimmune patients have been patient enough. Ready to take healing into your own hands?
Verify My Eligibility
References
Masterclass

How to Manage Your Relationships Well While Living with Autoimmune Disease

Learn how to effectively manage your relationships while living with autoimmune disease so you can increase your wellbeing.
Enter your email to watch the Masterclass.
Submit
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Covered in this Masterclass
Work with us
92% of WellTheory members experienced a decrease in symptoms after just four weeks.
Am I Eligible?
Guide

How to Manage Your Relationships Well While Living with Autoimmune Disease

Learn how to effectively manage your relationships while living with autoimmune disease so you can increase your wellbeing.
Enter your email to download the Guide.
Submit
Click below to download the guide.
Download Guide
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Enter your email to access the Guide.
Enter your email to download the challenge
and join the giveaway.
Submit
Click below to go to the guide.
Guide
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
what’s Covered
Challenge perks
Work with us
Am I Eligible?
Work with us
92% of WellTheory members experienced a decrease in symptoms after just four weeks.
Am I Eligible?
Transformational results start with small steps.
Give yourself the time and space to find out what your ideal routine looks like to support your autoimmunity. Over 75 days, you’ll incorporate new routines focused on diet, sleep, movement, stress management, and lifestyle to make steady, sustainable progress towards reducing your symptoms.”
Ellen Rudolph
WellTheory Founder & CEO

There’s more to healing than medication.
Identify ways to improve your autoimmune care and find out if WellTheory is right for you.

A lifestyle focused calendar
Journal prompts
Bonus tips and discount codes

There’s more to healing than medication.
Identify ways to improve your autoimmune care and find out if WellTheory is right for you.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Evaluate Your Care