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The 2 Ways I Respond to Romantic Relationships as Someone With a Mental Illness

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Relationships are hard. You allow yourself to be vulnerable with another person and have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

You need to assume they will not hurt you, that they will love you for who you are and will still find you attractive with your clothes off.

When you have mental health problems, it can be even more stressful and can heavily change the way you respond to a new relationship. I can only speak for myself, but here are the two scenarios that usually come from my being in a relationship:

1. I will get high off the excitement.

I will become attached and dependent. I will want to talk to the person often and will assume the worst if they are out without me. I will feel inadequate and constantly feel the need to change myself. I will change my appearance and hobbies just to be the “perfect girlfriend.” I never once will put myself first. In this case, I tend to miss the warning signs. I won’t know if someone if taking me for granted and I will make excuses for their behavior.

2. I will get bored.

This case is the opposite of the above. I will enjoy the fresh new relationship so much that I only ever want that honeymoon period — the problem with this is I will get bored in weeks. I will play games and manipulate, I will scout out other boys or girls, but I will never ever cheat. I will dress for attention and basically act out. I think this reaction is due to my experience of always being in the shadows and left out, so a little attention can go to my head, although I haven’t been like this since I was 18.

Sometimes these scenarios will cross over. The problem is I care too little or too much. I tend to become obsessive out of fear of being alone.

However there is the third scenario which is my current relationship with my husband.

Firstly I knew I would date my husband the moment I saw him, he was funny and had this aura that told me I could trust him.

He never spoke about sex and made sure we were ready before we did have sex for the first time. This changed the whole situation because in every other relationship, I had been intimate with the person within days. For once I had a man who looked at me as a person, not a body.

He never told me to change and he never judged me, he was always supporting me. He never set rules or controlled me. hHe would express concerns, but never in a aggressive way. I was always used to being told what to wear and who to see by others.

We fit together like two puzzle pieces. We are always on adventures and laughing. We are the opposite, but also very similar and it works. In my past, I went for people who were overly similar to myself.

I never had a single doubt about Harry. I’m still crazy about him and feel so happy in our relationship.

I have been in so many abusive relationships, though. The majority I was at the sharp end, but sometimes I was the abuser, as when you have been let down so often, it can be hard to be kind.

However the right person will support you and never want to change you. You will fit so perfectly into each others’ lives that you do not need to label and find validation every five minutes.

As someone who has had more relationships than I would like to admit and as someone who has felt like all men and women (as I like both) will only ever abuse you — I felt like I was doomed and would end up alone. I would like to say I believe there is someone out there for everyone. They seem to come when you least expect and will work if you are honest with your personal needs.

Unsplash photo via Almos Bechtold

Originally published: May 3, 2018
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