While strong, intimate relationships are vital to the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of people living with acromegaly, casual connections can have positive effects in these areas as well. These loose social connections (such as the pharmacists or the barista at your local coffee shop) can keep you grounded and remind you that you are part of a larger community, instilling a sense of belonging. In fact, a study from the University of Essex in England found that “participants with larger networks of weak ties tended to be happier overall.” Furthermore, these ‘weak tie’ or casual friendships or acquaintances provide relaxed outlets for socializing without some of the complexities or expectations that can accompany family members and close friends.

In the full article from which this blog is taken, we divided relationships into two broad categories: casual and intimate. This blog will explore some ways acromegaly may affect your casual relationships and discuss ways to address those possible changes head-on so you can establish healthy, long-lasting social connections. Acromegaly may have changed your life in many ways, including how you relate to and communicate with others. However, by adjusting your expectations and perspective, you can make these relationships work for your life now.

The Effects of Acromegaly on Casual Relationships

While everyone’s broader social network looks a little different, there are specific categories of relationships that most people can identify in their life. Here are some ways that acromegaly may affect these connections:

  • Social friends: You may experience financial instability because of job changes. As a result, participating in certain activities may be cost-prohibitive, and you may feel embarrassed to talk about money, especially if you aren’t as close with a particular friend. People with rare diseases also say fatigue can make it hard to be fully present and engaged in conversations.
  • Work or professional relationships: Coworkers or even your boss might not understand your need to adjust your responsibilities at work due to fatigue or other symptoms such as joint pain, acro-fog, or time off for medical appointments. Or perhaps your colleagues can’t see why you don’t want to attend work happy hours. Your diagnosis may also affect your outlook on possible work choices, such as jobs that require lots of travel, prompting you to evaluate your career options differently.
  • Acquaintances: Chronic fatigue, headaches, or mood swings may keep you from going out as often. As a result, you may go weeks without seeing the friendly barista at your favorite coffee shop, your neighbors, the other parents at your kid’s sports games, or even your pharmacist.

Living With Acromegaly: Strengthening Your Casual Connection Network

While there are many ways to address changing dynamics in casual relationships, here are some ideas for accessible and actionable approaches that you can explore:

Share Your Acromegaly Story

Getting an acromegaly diagnosis takes time. Your casual connections likely knew something was happening at the time but didn’t understand the full scope of what you went through—and are still going through. So, when you cancel plans last minute or decline invites to do physically strenuous activities such as running or hiking, they may not understand why.

While sharing your acromegaly story is a personal choice, doing so can create an open dialogue with your coworkers, book club friends, or coffee crew. Explaining how certain symptoms or situations (such as your monthly injection beginning to wear off) affect you and the activities you can participate in provides perspective for the people in your life. It can even help people have empathy for your experience and remove cognitive biases they have that prevent them from seeing a situation from your perspective.

Set Boundaries

The truth is acromegaly does impose restrictions on what you can and cannot do. However, internal and external pressure may make you feel like you should continue saying ‘yes’ to social outings or work events that leave you exhausted and overwhelmed when they’re over. Setting boundaries helps you put yourself first and lays solid foundations for healthy relationships built on trust and respect. While boundaries are good in every relationship, you may not have practiced setting them with more casual friends or acquaintances. Being clear about what you need and why will help you feel more in control of your health and relationships.

For example, if a friend asks you why you keep canceling Saturday lunch plans, you can say something like, “I really want to go to lunch, but by the weekends, I’m usually exhausted from work and often have joint pain that makes it hard to go out. It’s usually easier for me to go on Sundays.”

Find Groups of Like-Minded People

While sharing your story with friends or acquaintances can undoubtedly be helpful, there’s nothing like being surrounded by people going through a similar experience. Not everyone in your life will understand what you’re going through or be capable of offering support in the way you need, even if you share your experiences with them.

Acromegaly support groups can help you feel heard and validate your feelings and challenges. You can also learn how others who are further along in their acromegaly journey have navigated setting boundaries or changing relationships. Nonprofits and patient-centered organizations, such as Acromegaly Community and Pituitary Network Association, provide access to support, resources, and community forums.

Living with acromegaly can be difficult, but it also provides an opportunity to find new ways to cultivate a well-rounded casual social network that fulfills you and makes you feel seen and heard. Our next post will discuss strategies to help you maintain your independence and build strong relationships for the long haul.

Want to apply these solutions to your own casual relationship challenges? Download this free exercise resource, “Addressing Obstacles in Your Casual Relationships.”

What are some challenges you’ve encountered in your casual relationships?


Addressing Obstacles in Your Casual Relationships
Addressing Obstacles in Your Casual Relationships
Addressing Obstacles in Relationships Worksheet
Addressing Obstacles in Relationships Worksheet

Was this information helpful to you? If so, please share with others and subscribe to receive the latest content.