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The Mental Health Talk: Dating and Relationships

Published by: RallyUp Mental Health Magazine

Written by: TJ Woodward

You may be someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness or you may be someone who has not been diagnosed but experience anxiety, depression or other mental health related symptoms. Do you desire a relationship but are uncertain whether dating is an option for you? Are you currently in a relationship or dating and want to know how, when, or if you should share details about your mental illness with your significant other? I’m here to tell you that this feeling is normal. It can be difficult understanding your own mental health and the thought of

bringing someone else into your world can cause some anxiety. Don’t stress. There are many people living with a mental illness that have successful and healthy relationships so there’s definitely hope for you.

Having a mental illness doesn’t mean you are unable to have a relationship, but it may require a little more work on your part when considering who you should have in your life. You may have asked your-self some of the following questions: Should I tell my significant other? What or how much should I disclose? Is now a good time to start a relationship? So, what does this mean for you? It means that yes, it is possible for you to have a loving, healthy and long-lasting relationship keeping in mind, there are some things to be considered.

- First and foremost, pray about your relationship. Including God in your decision will ensure that you are not taking this walk alone. Proceed with caution and hear God clearly about what you should do. Ask God for clarity and wisdom and please don’t leave out discernment. These are the most important ingredients to a healthy relationship.

- Take time to evaluate your relationship and the person you are considering dating. This is important because you want to avoid relationships that are toxic, stressful, or challenging as this may contribute to mental health symptoms causing them to worsen. Relationships that are unsupportive, lack compassion, patience, and understanding can lead to an increase in depression, anxiety, and unnecessary stress.

- Be prepared for the outcome once you have disclosed information surrounding your mental health. I say this because your disclosure can reveal the type of person you are dealing with. You can have a person who is understanding and will want to stay for the long haul, or you may have a person who is not so understanding and will no longer be interested in pursuing a relationship. You could also have both where the person may not understand right away but would be willing to learn and support you in your relationship. Either way, it will all work out because if the person chooses to stay then you can look forward to a positive, happy relationship and if not, then it is not the relationship for you.

- Pursue a relationship when you are comfortable and ready. Timing is everything. Having this discussion early on and when you are at best physically, spiritually, and emotionally will allow you to have a clear and honest conversation. It will also give you the opportunity to gauge the response of the other person.

- Communication is going to be key in the beginning and throughout your relationship. Let your person know what they can expect, how you feel, and how they can help. This can ease the process, making you feel more comfortable and making them more aware of your needs. As you share, be open to the response of your significant other.

Listen intently, respect their feelings and be okay with the outcome. Living with a mental illness is not easy and the thought of bringing someone into your life may come with some reservations and hesitation. Remember, your mental illness does not define you and the right person will accept you bringing value and not problems into your relationship. Take your time. Proceed when you are ready. Keep the lines of communication open. Embrace who and what God has for you.

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