Unfortunately for many people, the issue of mental health is still a taboo subject. Being single whilst coping with the illness, as well as any underlying stigma you may face, can be a daunting prospect. In a 2012 survey, 75% of people who took part said that they would feel scared of telling a partner for the first time about a mental health issue. One in ten also said that it would take them over a year to talk about their mental health issues. However, dating and forming new relationships doesn’t have to be such a burden with the right support and advice. There is no rule book when it comes to mental health and indeed dating but with small steps, the weight will gradually lift.
Everyone is different. If you have lived with a mental illness for a number of years, you will have gradually been able to read friends and family when you have talked to them about your illness. You will know that some are more accepting than others, and some people close to you may not have received the news as well as you would have hoped. When dating, don’t let these thoughts linger in your head. People suffering from depression have a tendency to put themselves down before they have even started something. Try to keep a clear head and remember that everyone is different. You may even find that they have close connections to these problems; after all, three quarters of us have or know someone with a mental illness.
Dealing with anxiety. If you know that you have a problem with anxiety, a good tip is writing down lists of places and situations in which you feel most comfortable in. Then, once it comes to date day, you can then tell your date about a great place you know which is also somewhere on that list. Try going somewhere not too busy so you don’t have worry about what is going on around you as well as the date. However, if a place is too quiet it can feel like the spotlight is on you, so getting the right balance is generally good for the right atmosphere.
What to wear. Wearing something you feel comfortable in is always good advice. However, dressing up a little bit could boost your confidence and won’t leave you feeling self conscious on a dinner date for example. If you suffer from over sweating in stressful situations, a colourful patterned top or black will hide any embarrassment and will leave you with one less thing to worry about.
Relax. Easier said than done, but over thinking about the evening will leave you a mess before the date has even begun. Take a look at your favourite website, have a long bath or watch a film. A good stress technique is to imagine that you are surrounded by your favourite colour. Soak it in and breath.
Be yourself. A cliché I know. However, people with low self-confidence tend to copy the company that they are with in order to feel more comfortable. They can also tend to be more giving in order to please people. Remember, if you aren’t yourself and you give a lot to the other person but don’t receive anything back, this could dictate what your future relationship will be like. You will also feel that you must keep up the pretence even when you do feel more comfortable with that person.
Don’t expect everything to happen at once. Get to know them gradually and try not to be too dependent on the outcomes of earlier dates as this will leave you feeling vulnerable. If things go wrong, it is important to not blame yourself unnecessarily. It is better to be single than be in the wrong relationship.
Laura Comben is a writer from Brighton. Her passions are writing, art, photography and reading up on the latest tech gadgets.