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Dating With Depression: A Male Perspective on Rejection

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Dating today has transformed from an enjoyable process into a nerve-racking activity. It becomes that much harder when one is living with a type of mental illness, which echoes irrational thoughts as an inner voice. Depression can make dating a horrifying part of life by combining one’s fear of being alone with the idea of not being worthy or good enough for another’s love. Each gender and sexual orientation faces their own set of difficulties with this concept, and one does not have it easier than the other. Since I classify myself as a straight male, it is only proper for me to describe the male perspective, or my experiences revolving around how difficult it can be to date with depression.

The first objective is to get out of your house and venture off into some type of social setting. Let’s imagine for a moment that you have completed this step and are in whichever social setting you feel most comfortable. My environment of choice has been a bar; my inner voice became quieter as my alcohol levels became higher. Although I don’t recommend this method, as a male in his early 20s with a fraternity background, a bar is still one of the few social settings I can mentally endure. Sometimes new environments induce sensory overload, which can cause meeting a new person to be the last thing on my mind. It seems that as I get older, my ability to meet new people and socialize has diminished a great amount.

After finding someone, what do you do now? We live in a society where it is the norm for a guy to make the first move. This can be challenging to do because, in my mind, you have rejected me before I have even said hello to you. I immediately think of all the reasons as to why it wouldn’t work. These include the assumption that you are “out of my league,” and the common thought of, “Why would you even like me?” In situations such as these, the inner voice of depression can be very persuasive.

However, the inner voice only wins if you don’t take that chance. These thoughts are common and that’s OK, but you can’t listen to them. I can only advise for you to take that risk, which involves 5 minutes of pure courage. After all, you have nothing to lose; you didn’t know that person before you tried to spark a conversation, but you could walk away with a new friend and the possibility of more.

There are also times where rejection can be a learning experience. If they can’t accept you at face value, then they won’t be able to give you what you need after learning what’s beneath the surface. In that case, it is their loss; you don’t need more negativity in your life. By now you must be wondering if I have ever been rejected, and the answer is yes. The sad reality is that I have probably been rejected more times than not.

One time, I worked up the courage to talk to a woman who was seated across from me at the bar. We talked and I bought her a drink, moving to a smaller area of the bar to continue our conversation. When I took off my coat, she noticed my crest of hope and semicolon tattoo with self-harm scars surrounding it. The tone of the conversation instantly shifted. In actuality, the only part of that conversation I remember is what she said next. She pointed to my tattoo and said, “I can’t do that, I don’t mess with that.” I was puzzled at first, but she went on to explain that she doesn’t deal or like to mess with depression and mental illness. I preceded to take back the untouched drink I had bought her, but instead, she poured it on me and called me rude for trying to do so. I left the bar after that altercation and thought about how I could have gone about things differently.

I continued to overthink until I got home and realized that I wasn’t the problem — she was. If she can’t handle the fact that I am proud of being a survivor, then she couldn’t possibly handle me at my worst. Those people don’t deserve to see the raw parts of our personality.

These types of rejection are a blessing in disguise. If any of you are full of love like I am, then you must realize that someone will come along and love you. They won’t just love you on your good days, but every day you have. They will try to understand and do the best they can to help silence the inner echoes of depression and the inner voice that gnaws at you. Don’t think of rejection as a bad thing. Sometimes it is saving you from making the wrong choice.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via demaerre

Originally published: August 3, 2017
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