RA and Your Relationships

Medically Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on February 12, 2024
2 min read

How your rheumatoid arthritis makes you feel can affect your social life and relationships. You can manage those issues, feel good, and enjoy time with your friends.

How much you share and who you tell is up to you. Do what feels right.

Sometimes, it’s easier to handle what happens when you can talk about it with friends and family. But some people are more private than others.

You may wonder how to tell the people in your life what’s going on, or wonder if they'll treat you differently once they know. And some relationships may be easier to do this in than others.

It’s worth the effort, and you deserve a good support system. About 1 in 3 people with RA have depression. It's easy to feel sad or alone when dealing with a lasting condition. Healthy connections are one way to help counter that.

Some people are relieved they no longer have to make excuses, like why they don't want to go out or why they need help with things they were able to do before.

You may only want to tell your closest friends and family members, especially if you might call on them for help.

Like anything else in a close relationship, you want to be open and honest. If it’s a big conversation -- like telling them about RA for the first time and they’re not familiar with the condition -- think about whether you want to do that in person instead of by email, social media, or text if that makes you feel more connected and less rushed. Help them understand your condition and how it makes you feel.

If you want to talk to people who know how you feel, join an RA support group. Ask your doctor for suggestions, or find one online.

Because you have ups and downs with RA, it can be tempting not to make plans. That way you won't have to disappoint people by canceling.

But it can help to be active and spend time with family and friends. Laughing and having fun with people you care about helps you stay positive and adjust to the changes that RA can throw your way.

Still, you’ll want to pace yourself so you don’t get worn out.

With RA, it's normal to be tired. But that doesn't mean you should stay home and rest all the time. It's important to get regular exercise and activity. If you don't move, you could have more RA pain.

Whether you're at work, out with friends, or active at home, keep a slow, steady pace. Stop and take a break before you get too tired or achy.