Dating With A Mental Illness

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Dating is tricky at the best of times. You have to navigate apps, profiles, meetings and feelings. It can be one giant headache. And it’s an even bigger headache if you’re also navigating a mental illness.

I’m currently in the best relationship I’ve ever been in, but even that doesn’t escape my fucky-little brain.

Furthermore, when dating, the amount of times my mind messed up my exploration of the scene is too many to count.

So how does mental illness affect dating and how can you combat it so that you can find your way to a healthy and fulfilling relationship successfully?

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Selling Yourself

When you put yourself out there into the dating world, you’re virtually turning yourself into a walking, feeling advert. You have to put your best points across. You have to tell your prospects all of the amazing things you know about yourself.

But what if you don’t know any good things about yourself? What if you feel like you’re just repeating what kind people have told you?

How can you write a dating profile or partake in the first date interview with confidence if there’s nothing nice you can say about yourself?

I’ve been there many times. When I’ve arranged a date and suddenly get hit with a bad case of body-image issues but still have to try and be on top form when meeting someone. It’s hard!

So How Do You Combat It?

In this instance, getting those kind people who say kind things about you to help you write your profile or boost you before a date is the best idea. Hopefully, once you’ve repeatedly heard all of the kind things, a slither of them will sink in so you believe them yourself, too.

Anxiety Over Meeting

Oh MAAAN have I been there. In fact, I cancelled a date with my boyfriend because I looked at his WhatsApp profile picture, thought to myself, ‘Damn he’s far too good looking/cool for me,’ and had a major wobble.

Sometimes, you can be really excited about meeting someone that the excitement boils over into worry and anguish.

Am I good looking enough? Will I be fun enough? Where is the venue? Is it easy to get to? Do I have enough money to spend?

These are all first date wobbles that can set anxieties off if we’re not in a good head-space.

So How Do You Combat It?

Part of me thinks I should’ve just told the boyf that I was cancelling out of nerves. Because I could easily have lost out on meeting him by flaking out. And surely, anyone who’s worth it would understand.

If you don’t feel like this is an option, then perhaps suggest a relaxed meeting place that is comfortable for you to begin with. If it’s your favourite coffee shop or pub, you’re likely to feel more relaxed and confident from the get-go.

Feelings Of Inadequacy

I can talk about this one because it’s what I’m going through right now.

My boyfriend is the best person I have ever met. Funny, successful, driven, gorgeous (if I do say so myself), kind and brilliant. Well guess what? That can sometimes make ME feel unfunny, useless, lazy, ugly, mean and the opposite of brilliant (dull?)

Why that is I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because during my low confidence moments I feel like he deserves better than me? WHO KNOWS.

These feelings aren’t permanent and have only reared their head when I’ve been feeling shit about my hair/eyebrows/ever-sagging tits BUT they can make dating and being in a relationship tricky.

So How Do You Combat It?

I am currently seeking help via my GP for my mental health problems. I feel like I need help to manage my emotions and feelings and this has been a positive step so far.

The feelings of inadequacy I have are obviously rooted somewhere in my past and discussing them with a counsellor will hopefully be a good way to address them.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing lots of self-carey bits to make myself feel buffer AND also doing lots of career-y things to help myself be more motivated and feel more successful.

Building yourself up is hard but necessary. As is listening to the person you’re dating when they tell you they love you or that you are amazing. Hard, but necessary.

These are just some of the things we have to deal with when dating with a mental illness, can you think of any others?

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  • Liz says:

    Love this post! I definitely experienced all of these when dating my now-husband. My ex had struggled to cope when my mental health had been at its worst, so with a new partner it was hard for me to 100% trust that they would cope with me being unwell, which then made it hard to 100% commit to the long term future of the relationship in my head.

    There was no quick solution to that one really, although it helped to be honest with him about it and talk things through. Luckily it had a happy ending (in terms of the relationship): after a year, I did get unwell and he was brilliant.

    Not sure what the moral of that story is! Maybe that it takes time sometimes!

    Liz x
    Distract Me Now Please</a

  • Emily-May says:

    Oh i needed to read this. I get so nervy about meeting new people and really badly work myself up normally resulting in panic attacks. I’ve recently popped on bumble and even that got a bit much for me (maybe because I haven’t dated in about 5 years ?) Hopefully with time and help I can work on that.

    Emily-May x

  • Danielle says:

    I cannot even imagine how hard it must be. I struggle with OCD and depression and I know how hard it can be on my other half!

    Danielle xx

  • Emma-Hope Newitt says:

    I can relate to this post on so many levels Vix, I remember all of the times I struggled to date because of my anxiety to the point that I held off meeting Jordan on a few occasions because I let anxiety get the best out of me. I think I told Jordan about my anxiety quite early on and I think that was the turning point on whether he’d hang around and stuff.

  • Renáta says:

    Hi! Thanks for such an understanding and deep message. This gives support and hope to other people experiencing mental illnesses. It hasn´t been that long since I could relate to some conditions that you have. I suffered from severe depressions, panic attacks and found dating difficult.
    Fortunately, about a month ago I found a webside run by a very clever and skillful man who helped me out of this nightmare in quite a short time. His impact on my psyche was tredemdously positive and therefore I think that everyone should have access to his help. You can have a lokk and check it out here:

  • Wendy says:

    This is so me. If I actually manage to go out on a date I just go really shy, to the point that my brain just switches off and I have no idea how to hold a conversation. But I generally don’t get to the date stage as I’m too shy and feel inadequate and not worth it. Think I might just keep it me and my son and then become a crazy cat lady when he leaves ?

  • Siobhan says:

    Love this. I have decided to take a break from dating and focus on me due to my mental illness(es). I am pretty empathetic and giving and keen to be fair (which is also why I get freaked out about commenting on one blog post and not all the others so sometimes don’t for months) and this means I can find the process emotionally and mentally draining. On top of that, I have family stuff going on left, right and centre that requires my emotions and attention.

    So I’m taking a break to do things to make me feel better. Sorting out my health issues, my diet and sleep and snoring and all sorts else and not letting dating fill all the spaces in my mind. It allows me space to be mental (obvs) but it is getting me closer to being able to actually deal.

    So I would add stepping the fuck away if it is exacerbating everything as another way of dealing with dating with mental illness. I may date again but now I am not putting any deadline on it.

  • Martha Molly says:

    I have had a similar post on my ‘to write’ list for some time now, as being in a relationship with another person is hard when you struggle with a normal functioning relationship with YOURSELF. I definitely need to try and use adopt some of these behaviours at I have spent the past few months fighting against myself more than ever (and having been in a semi-normal relationship for 5 years means that it’s getting a little bit tiresome!)

    Thanks for sharing pumpkin, YOU ROCK. X

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