Are your mental health issues standing in the way of your dating life?

Before we go any further we can establish that just about anyone can be a bad date. You don´t have to struggle with mental illness to be bad at dating, right? But when you are fighting problems such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder then dating can become problematic.

However, dating with a mental illness is not that different than dating if you´re healthy as long as you make sure not to do it when you´re feeling really bad. In the past, dating wasn´t normal. You simply didn´t date, but your parents decided who you were to marry and that was it. Luckily times are different now but this means there is more pressure and that you will need to be observant if you are to find the right partner.

The health of your brain depends a lot on how healthy your interactions are. This is why it´s important that you don´t date when you´re in a very bad state because this can cloud your judgment, leading you to choose partners that will cause even more damage. To thrive in life we need good relationships and we can recognize this even from our early years. The better our relationship was with our family, the more we thrived.

Another reason for why dating can be difficult is because we are bombarded with romantic ideas from the movies, books or other sources of media. It is rare that romantic movies have a lead character with mental health issues. This can lead to a distorted view of what humans and relationships are because it leads us to search for perfection.

People think it is difficult to find the right partner and even if they do and they do get married, there are still very high divorce rates. We have more choices today than we had before and in many ways we probably are happier than we realize, but when we come in contact with so many “wrong” messages it sets us up for failure.

How successful you are at dating depends on how socially evolved your brain is. This means knowing how to read faces, being able to notice social cues as well as being able to pick up on the emotional tone of others as well as knowing when to change your own.  The more insecure you were in your attachments to your parents the more insecure you will be to attach to a potential partner. 

Just like with anything life, you can control your emotions and your mood also when it comes to dating. Don´t believe that if you have problems with yourself than nobody will be able to love you. There is no need to take the myth that you need to love yourself before anybody else can love you, to heart.

Think about yourself as a baby, you were barely aware of yourself and yet you were loved. You will learn to love others and have them love you back, by simply engaging with them.

When you feel bad it is sufficient to sticking to engaging with friends and family and then once you feel a bit better, you can start dating. People with mental illnesses also often feel dependent on others, which can lead them to think that they shouldn´t date before they´re able to take care of themselves fully. But partners take care of each other and it is fine to rely on your partner for your wellbeing.

After all if everything was about you, you, you and you could do absolutely everything yourself than that would mean you´ve probably managed to clone yourself. If you do not believe that you can depend on others and have others to depend you, it will lead you dating people who undependable.  

People with OCD or depression as well as other disorders tend to have lower levels of serotonin. When a human falls in love, serotonin drops further even in healthy subjects but when you´re already low on serotonin…well, you get the picture. Though this does not mean, you shouldn´t date because serotonin goes back to its normal levels once infatuation goes away.

But at the same time if you do rely on SSRI that up your serotonin levels it can make it difficult for you to fall in love. This doesn´t happen in all cases but it can be a good thing to be aware of, if perhaps you´re taking SSRI and then wondering why it´d so hard to find someone you like.

Also, while it´s always good to be honest, don´t think that you have to disclose your mental health issues the first thing you do. Some advice claim that you shouldn´t have to hide, but should is an unnecessary word and besides you are not hiding. You are just leaving private matters for later.

You are more than your diagnoses but because of the stigma attached to mental illness, the other person may get preconceived ideas most of which are probably not true. This is understandable because they don´t know you and they haven´t seen you deal with your mental issues, yet.

Remember to stay safe, especially if you met online and keep the interactions light in the beginning. There is a thing known as TMI, so have that in mind. There is no normal but respect the fact that there are social cues and they play a big role when it comes to dating.

Source: Wired for dating: How understanding Neurobiology and attachment style can help you find your ideal mate by Stan Takin.

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