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Why Dating Can Be Difficult When You Have a Mental Illness

Relationships are a tricky thing for me. Having mental illness complicates being in a relationship – romantic or otherwise – as I become insecure, overcautious of how I present myself and operate out of fear to sabotage anything good happening in these relationships.

Friendships. My longest is with my best friend since our freshmen year of college. It’s been six years and even then, I still don’t feel like I can share everything with her, because I become fearful of what she will say or whether or not she will abandon me. My other longest friendship is three years and counting, but may not be any more if my fears come true. My therapy friends tell me not to read into it because it will lead to self-destruction and self-sabotage, which is the last thing I need right now. This second relationship is one I treasure and I’m struggling to figure out why I can’t seem to just be OK with how things are and why I keep finding ways to ruin and push my friend away.

Romance. After being in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship as a high schooler, I have not been able to step into the dating scene until a year ago when my good friend suggested I give a try. After signing on and going on close to 10 first dates, I finally met someone back in July, seven months after signing on to Match. I thought things would work out. We went on three really nice dates, held hands and even kissed once. Yet somehow my mental illness spoke up and my insecurities took over, telling me I didn’t deserve this relationship, I wasn’t good enough for him and when he found out about my mental illnesses, he would leave me.

I sabotaged myself. I told him I was scared and uncomfortable we were moving too fast and then we never talked again. Now he is in a relationship with someone who I feel is more deserving than myself.

Fast forward to 2017. I went on two dates in the first week of the year. One of the guys I think I’m falling for. However, since relationships are triggering for me based on past experiences, I move with caution. I don’t know what signals to read or how fast to move. I feel as if once he finds out about my mental illness, he won’t like me anymore for what else I have to offer. Do I have anything to offer? I don’t know, I have so much self-doubt.

However, the first date we went on it lasted four hours, long beyond what I anticipated. Our second date lasted another three and a half hours and resulted in a kiss on the cheek and a hug. I feel comfortable, I smile a bit more loosely around him and I like watching him search for things he is passionate about. Our conversations flow, but will we run out of things to talk about? Will he leave me when I bring up my mental illnesses and chronic illnesses?

Relationships are complicated. Mental illness can make it that much more complicated. I just wish there was somebody in my life I could lean on for a shoulder to cry on, somebody to talk to open and honestly, somebody who would love me, mental illness and all.

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Why Dating Can Be Difficult When You Have a Mental Illness