Dating is hard for the average person. Add in a mental illness & dating can be even more arduous. Here is my short list of the Do’s & Don’ts of dating someone with a mental illness:
DO: Have complete transparency
When I first started dating my current husband I was completely honest with my bipolar disorder. He was ready to jump in headfirst into a relationship which was terrifying for me. I knew that my mental illness could potentially interfere with any future happiness so I had to make it clear & known. I explained my mania & what my depressive states looked like. I showed him letters from my psychiatrists. I also encouraged him to find resources for support.
DON’T: Ghost someone
The age of “ghosting” someone is here. Urban Dictionary defines ghosting as: “When a person cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they’re dating, with zero warning or notice before hand.” This type of behavior can ruin a person’s self esteem. Communication is everything when dating. Don’t be passive aggressive with someone’s heart. It’s harder on someone to never know what happened, than to just explain to someone directly that you don’t want them in your life anymore. Be honest, open & direct with your feelings.
DO: Be supportive
My husband has always been my rock. This is a tough feat for someone to always to be the strong one. I know that this support has to go both ways however. He supports my dreams & I support his. We are a team. We are there for each other during our wins, losses, and everything in between.
DON’T: Talk disparagingly to them
When I first moved to Seattle I entered the dating world for the very first time in my twenties. I had spent most of my life as a serial monogamist- always in a relationship. I was excited to date & meet new people. Unfortunately one of the first people I met when I was dating was not a good fit for me to put it mildly. He constantly belittled me & went out of his way to make me feel stupid. This behavior would send me on multiple Uber rides home where I’d be left crying in the backseat of a car questioning my worth. No one but YOURSELF should define your self worth. Don’t get trapped in the belief that you deserve to be treated this way.
DO: Know that actions speak louder than words
In the beginning of dating there’s always courtship. Many promises are made during this time. Remember actions speak louder than words. Make sure the person you’re dating is actively showing you they care by not just their words. They’re making time to see you & spend time with you. When someone doesn’t show that they care, believe them the first time.
This list can have a million other do’s & don’ts. But be a good person when dating. Remember you are holding someone else’s heart in your hands. Be gentle with it. We gave it to you for a reason.