Dating can be an emotional roller coaster for many of us. Even when both partners are in good physical, mental, and emotional health, dating can still be a challenge. But adding mental illness to the equation can make the highs and lows in romance much more extreme. In extreme cases, untreated mental health conditions that place a strain on a relationship can be dangerous to both partner’s emotional and physical health.
Studies have found that being in a stable relationship has a positive impact on a person’s health, and can even lower a person’s stress levels and their risk of becoming depressed. But a bad relationship can cause anxiety and also increase a person’s chances of suicidal ideation. For single people, their physical and mental health levels are better than a married or coupled person in a strained relationship. The research bears out that poor mental health can strain a relationship, and a strained relationship can increase poor mental health.
You might have taken an extended vacation from dating because you found it overwhelming, frustrating or you couldn’t relate to or communicate with men. You might experience a large amount of anxiety on dates or find the thought of going on dates uninteresting and exhausting. Nobody enjoys getting rejected by a man, but it might feel terrifying to you rather than understanding that it’s just part of the process when you’re struggling with poor mental health.
The issue is, dating can be overwhelming and stressful for people who aren’t dealing with mental health disorder symptoms. It’s like trying to compete in a sport or go ice skating with a sprained knee. Untreated mental health conditions can make the dating process even less likely to go well.
People with untreated anxiety or depression might find themselves drinking too much on a date, to curb their emotional distress. To someone who doesn’t drink to excess, this type of behavior can seem like a red flag to a healthy dating partner. It’s unlikely that a person will get asked out on a second date if they drank too much on the first one and said something embarrassing or rude. Mental health symptoms can also make a person seem irritable or easily agitated on a date. That’s definitely not ideal for getting asked out again.
Being sick can also cloud a person’s judgment when dating. They might end up with a person who isn’t good for them, or who can sense that they aren’t in their right mind and they might take advantage of them in other ways.
Untreated, manic bipolar swings can cause someone to spend recklessly, engage in unsafe sex, or participate in other risky behavior. In some cases, a dating partner might be incredibly intrigued by a person’s vivaciousness. But when someone comes down from a manic phase and enters into a depressed phase, their personality can take an abrupt turn. This can lead to a breakup, which is not good for an already struggling person’s mental health. It’s just not a good idea to try to connect with others when your life isn’t stable.
On top of all that, lousy relationships or traumatic breakups can worsen symptoms, and lead to people avoiding dating and relationships for fear they will make a mental health disorder worse. Some of the most common symptoms of poor mental health in dating include:
- A lack of interest in sex, or a high libido that is abnormal for that person
- Aversion and wanting to avoid a partner
- A fear of intimacy, emotional and physical
- Frequent arguments and fights with no discernible cause or trigger like infidelity
- Increased neediness, or wanting constant reassurance
People who live with mental illness are often concerned about whether they can make a relationship work. Will it be too much work to have a relationship and deal with mental health issues? Will my partner get tired of my issues and leave me? Will I get rejected when I tell my partner about my mental health struggles? These are common concerns that many people struggle with.
Having a relationship isn’t for everyone with mental health challenges, but many couples can find love and success. Being diagnosed with a chronic mental health condition is not a romance death sentence.
So, how can someone with a mental health condition find love?
First, get treatment for the disorder. This will help you be able to discern your relationships and find the right partner and attract the right person to you. The second most important thing to do is to find the right partner for you and be honest with them about your struggle. A good way to look at it is to realize that mental health issues are common, regular, everyday occurrences and millions of people are diagnosed every year, and deal with them every day. If your partner had a physical condition that needed monitoring and treated, like diabetes or hemophilia, you’d want to know, right?
The right person for you has to be open to mental health issues and willing to learn more about your condition and how it is managed. You need someone willing to be patient and understanding when you’re not feeling your best. Chronic illnesses will flare up from time to time even with a steady treatment regimen.
Treating the condition before embarking on the dating journey will eliminate a lot of heartache during the dating process. 1 in 5 adults is diagnosed with a mental health condition each year. But millions of them are in happy, fulfilling relationships. People with chronic illnesses find love every day, and it’s possible for you too.