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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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