ZocdocAnswersHow can I make a burn victim less self conscious about his appearance?

Question

How can I make a burn victim less self conscious about his appearance?

I am a 28 year old woman and I recently started dating a similarly aged burn victim. He's really shy about his looks. How can I reassure him that I'm interested in who he is and not how he looks?

Answer

The fact that you are asking this question tells me that you are already very empathetic, and putting yourself in this person's shoes. People who suffer serious disfiguring injury can have a variety of long-term psychological damage as a result, in addition to the physical damage. They can have insecurity around their appearance which can be very profound. They can have post-traumatic stress symptoms which cause them to relive the moment of their injury and can be incredibly anxiety-provoking. Finally, they can have feelings of guilt related to the circumstances of the accident, particularly around injuries to other people. When approaching this person about their injuries, it will be useful to be mindful of these issues, and to be respectful of the fact that they may not want to discuss the circumstances of the injury or the injury at all. Since you want to reassure this person that you are interested in who he is, demonstrate that by showing a steadfast interest in him as a person. Part of who he is is the experience he went through that led to his injury, and he will most likely suggest to you when the appropriate time to discuss the injury is by bringing up the topic. If you decide to bring it up yourself, allow enough time for trust to develop between you, and be open to the possibility that he may not be ready to discuss it for all of the reasons listed above. If he chooses not to, be respectful of his choice and wait for another time - this is not reflective of you or of your relationship, but rather of the totally normal feelings that he may have related to this accident. These suggestions are not tailored to your individual circumstances, but hopefully they will give you a place to start. If at some point it becomes appropriate and seems necessary, a trained therapist may be able to help the two of you work through these issues in an open and individualized manner.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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