Dating Someone Who Struggles With Their Mental Health
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five people suffer from a mental illness. Due to the stigma that often surrounds the topic, many individuals who suffer from it may find it harder to date and develop meaningful relationships. When they find someone, it is important that he or she is understanding and is willing to build a good relationship, in spite of the condition. Dating someone who struggles with mental health issues may be challenging, but it is possible to construct a healthy relationship with a solid effort and the proper boundaries. Following the best guidelines can ensure that both individuals can find the greatest joy and happiness possible while in a romantic relationship. If one sees that the person that they are dating with mental illness is getting worse or showing signs of suicidal behavior, it is critical to help them get help immediately. Waiting until the other person is comfortable asking for help may never come, so concerned partners should watch closely for warning signs of more serious symptoms. You can definitely be in a healthy relationship with someone who has a mental illness but keep an eye out for when things get unhealthy. Some of the tell-tale signs that might be seen in unhealthy relationships where mental health issues are present are: Violence (verbal, physical, or sexual), inability to control emotions, hallucinations, disrespect, lack of remorse or empathy for people, or animals, and narcissistic behaviors. Let’s learn more about dating someone who struggles with their mental health.
Supporting Someone Who Has Issues With Mental Health
Since dating with mental illness can be challenging, it is fundamental that a partner is understanding and supportive. A partner who can provide wholesome support can prove invaluable on the road to recovery. However, knowingly entering a relationship with someone who has a mental illness only to walk away from them in their time of need can be cruel. What a person often needs when he or she is suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental illnesses is warmth and support from people who genuinely care and have their best interest at heart.
Exercising Patience and Kindness
It can be difficult to avoid frustration and remain patient with the other person when the factors of mental health and dating collide. However, individuals who are patient and kind when dealing with a partner who struggles with psychological disorders can soften the blow of mental illness, and even encourage the other to cope at his or her own pace. Sometimes, a partner who suffers from mental illness may change their personality, or end up on either end of the emotional spectrum on any given day. Unexpected fatigue, mood swings, or a lack of concentration may also occur as a result. It is important for partners to avoid taking these changes too personally, especially if they are direct symptoms of the condition that the individual has. If a romantic partner can exercise the utmost patience and kindness in the face of such changes, then the relationship can be preserved.
Encouraging Open Communication
Quality communication is highly necessary for successful dialogue when dating with mental illness. It can be extremely difficult to voice thoughts and opinions clearly when one’s mind and heart are troubled. If there is a breach in communication, the lack of understanding will make the relationship more difficult for each person involved. However, encouraging open and honest communication is key to ensuring that each person understands where the other is coming from. Being in a relationship with a partner who understands that mental illness may affect actions, words, and feelings can be a relief for the person who is struggling to communicate and be understood.
Granting Space When Necessary
Since caring for one’s mental health and dating can be stressful, romantic relationships may have to be placed on the back burner in order for the person to concentrate on his or her mental health. This means that on some days, one’s partner may want to be alone, and on other days, he or she may be eager for company. A caring and understanding partner is able to give the other person the space that they need for the cultivation of balanced emotions and ample recovery. In some cases, taking time away from a person so that they can focus on rehabilitative care (without being penalized in the relationship) may be the wisest choice for the well-being of a partner who is deeply affected.
Removing Triggers From the Environment
Avoiding the introduction of triggers into the environment that can provoke the symptoms of mental illness in a partner is paramount. If a person is dating someone who suffers from addiction, they must avoid introducing triggers into the environment that may cause their partner to relapse. For example, an individual who is battling with alcoholism or smoking should never be taken to a bar or a wild party where drinking and smoking are openly done. Their partner should also avoid those activities, especially when their significant other is near. Cutting out certain triggering situations that may serve as subconscious triggers may be necessary when the person is the most vulnerable at different phases of treatment and recovery.
Encouraging the Person to Get Help
It is crucial to remember that one should never try to become a personal therapist to someone special in their life who suffers from a mental illness. Attempting to remedy a partner’s psychological issues without the proper training and methods could prove to be a nuisance, or even disastrous. However, helping the person to find the right treatment options is a great alternative.
Sometimes, a person may be in denial of their condition, and may not in a position to seek help without outside motivation. When the individual is not currently seeking treatment to soothe and eradicate their mental condition, symptoms and discomfort may persist and grow more significant. When dating someone who has a mental illness, it is crucial to encourage him or her to get the help that they need to begin to heal and thrive in life. Even if he or she may not feel comfortable confessing the realities of the issues that cause stress, encouraging him or her to do so with a mental health care professional can be crucial on the journey to wellness.
Ending a Relationship While Your Partner Is Having Mental Health Difficulties
If one sees that the person that they are dating with mental illness is getting worse or showing signs of suicidal behavior, it is critical to help them get help immediately. Waiting until the other person is comfortable asking for help may never come, so concerned partners should watch closely for warning signs of more serious symptoms. Many people who suffer from mental illness have a strong desire for a romantic relationship like others do, but it may be not easy to find the right significant other to be with. Being in a romantic relationship with someone who has a mental illness may not be something that everyone can handle, but those who are compassionate, patient, and proactive can build great relationships and influence their partners to take sound steps toward overcoming limitations and getting better. It is possible to develop a loving relationship despite the presence of mental illness in a partner. By showing compassion, patience, support, and consideration in many ways, it is possible to help your loved one find the light at the end of the tunnel, grow in a romantic relationship, and become healthier and more vibrant over time.
Deciding whether or not to end a relationship is a hard decision, and it can be even more difficult when worrying that your ex may sink into a deeper depression post-breakup. Mental illness alone is no excuse to break up with someone. Lots of people with mental health conditions are able to enjoy long-lasting, fulfilling, happy relationships. Just because someone is depressed, doesn’t mean you should write them off. A condition in and of itself is not a reason to break up with somebody. Although, it might be time to be concerned about your relationship, when mental illness symptoms are getting in the way of your day-to-day life, or your safety is being compromised. You can definitely be in a healthy relationship with someone who has a mental illness but keep an eye out for when things get unhealthy. Some of the tell-tale signs that your relationship is unhealthy: violence (verbal, physical, or sexual), inability to control emotions, hallucinations, disrespect, lack of remorse or empathy for people or animals, and narcissistic behaviors. If any of these red flags come up, don’t ignore them. Violence or abuse of any capacity should not be tolerated, regardless of mental illness status. Your safety is important, and that comes first.
In general, having a mental illness is not an excuse to treat someone poorly, with disrespect, or lack of empathy. People with mental illnesses are certainly able to treat others with respect and love, just as people without a mental illness may treat you poorly. If you do decide to end your relationship, be conscious of how your words may affect your partner and be sensitive to the issues they are struggling with. If you or your loved one are struggling with signs of mental health disorders, contact us. We are here to help!
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Published: December 15, 2020
Last Updated: October 31, 2023
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