Dating is hard enough with or without a chemical imbalance. People are heavily influenced by stigma which makes it challenging to build a romantic relationship with a girl who has a mental illness. As a young woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I know people struggle to see beyond the label that society has placed on me, so it is important I write this post. If you are dating a girl with a mental illness, toss your preconceived notions aside and get ready to see the world through a much more colorful lens.
17 Things You Should Know About Dating A Girl With Mental Illness
1. It is not expected of you to completely understand mental illness.
She does not expect you to be a book of knowledge about mental illness. Mental illness is meant to be a mystery, and those of us who live with it are the only ones who can truly understand the world that exists within us. It is not expected of you to completely understand, however, it is expected that you support us on our journey. I mean that is a rule in every relationship, right?
2. Mental illness does not define her.
If her mental illness blocks you from seeing her beauty and individuality than it is best to leave her be. People with mental illness are professionals, educated, well traveled, creative, artists and individuals. Do not judge her character based on her condition.
3. Listening is more important than fixing.
Mental illness cannot be fixed. It is not a broken table or flat tire. She does not, or shouldn’t expect you to know how to ‘fix’ her problem. In my experience, when a guy feels like they cannot come up with a logical solution, they become frustrated. It’s as simple as saying something along the lines of, “If you want to talk about whats going on, I’ll listen, but I can’t promise that I will know the answer.” Boom! I am making it easy for you. When it comes to my mental health, the only people that can help me solve my problem are my therapist and psychiatrist.
4. Do not blame all you relationship problems on her mental illness.
This is a biggie! Mental illness causes us to have emotional extremes, however, not every mood change or situation should be blamed on it. She is not a scapegoat. It is important to eliminate mental illness from the conversation, unless it is obvious that its the root of the problem. I accused my ex-boyfriend of cheating on me, and he tried to convince me that I was paranoid, and my bipolar disorder made him a victim. Unfortunately the girl he cheated on me with didn’t get the memo about texting, and turned out I was right about every single suspicious.
She never seemed shattered; to me, she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battle she’s won.-Matt Baker
5. Remember that she is probably self-conscious about her diagnosis.
Why are women with a mental illness self-conscious? Well, isn’t it obvious? Society puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on women to be flawless in every area. No matter how confident we are, stigma still follows us everywhere we go. If you love her, you’ll find ways to shed a positive light on mental illness. If you don’t have anything positive to say about mental illness, then do us all a favor and do not pursue anything further with her.
6. She is not pushing you away on purpose.
I am definitely a pusher! People with mental illness can say hurtful things or act like they don’t care, however, it is meant to protect you rather than to hurt you. Speaking from personal experience, it is difficult to trust others, and let people in to that part of my life. This fear causes me to reject my feelings, and push him away. This does not mean these actions should be condoned, but confronted at an appropriate time. An apology will follow shortly after, and if not she may just be a bitch!
7. She does not want you to hide your feelings from her.
Be honest about your feelings with her. Do not conceal your personal problems and feelings due to your fear that she will get upset. Relationships are based off of reciprocity.
8. Just because she is different, does not make her wrong.
She is probably different than other girls you have dated. Great! You obviously got bored with women who dress, act and think like everyone else. Life would be stale if everyone believed in the same things. Do not reject her because you are unfamiliar with the way she expresses herself. You may not fully understand her way of thinking, but do your best to listen and learn.
There are parts of me that will always remain untamable, messy, and reckless; but I refuse to apologize for it anymore.-Kaitlin Foster
9. Mental illness is a disease, and should be treated as such.
If you believe mental illness is not real, then stop reading this blog post and cancel your next date or don’t move forward in your relationship. Save her from your ignorance. Not to be harsh, but anyone who does not believe mental illness exists is ignorant. If you love her put your personal bias about mental health to the side and educate yourself.
10. She can be overly sexual or not sexual at all.
People with mental illness can be extremely sexual at times. I know some of you are like, Score! However, there will be periods where not much is happening between the sheets. It may be due to medication or simply she is going through an episode of depression. Do not be offended or insecure! Be patient and it will come at its own time.
11. Sometimes she ignores her internal pain.
Contrary to what people believe, people with mental illness are usually the ones helping others with their problems. People with mental illness may try to cover up their internal pain by exerting themselves on the behalf of others. Just remember, do not always be deceived by her smile.
12. She wants to tell others about her mental illness.
The stigma of mental illness makes people feel obligated to hide their condition. She wants to explain her diagnosis to friends and family at her own time. The last thing you want to happen when introducing her to your mom is to hear, “Nice to meet you. Wow, you sure don’t look mentally ill!” It’s happened to me, so trust me when I advise you to let her come forward.
She had been through battle and though no one could her demons. They could see the face that conquered them.-Atticus
13. Like any relationship, there will be challenges.
Challenge is a part of life, whether you are dating someone with a mental illness or not. Do not freak the moment you notice a change in her emotional behavior. Overcoming these challenges will only make your relationship stronger. If it is too much for you to handle, then you may not be the right fit.
14. It is not doomed from the start because she has a mental illness.
Do not set your relationship up for failure. If you go into anything assuming you are going to fail then most likely you will fail. Let me leave you with this line by one of my favorite authors Jen Sincero, “What you choose to focus on becomes your reality.”
15. Support her, do NOT try to save her.
My romantic partner finds out about my diagnosis & BOOM he rips open his shirt with a big ‘S’ on his chest. We don’t want to be treated like victims. You are accompanying her on this journey. In my opinion getting involved in the mental health community is the biggest way to show support. If my boyfriend told me he wanted to do a 5K for Suicide Prevention, I would be so turned on we probably wouldn’t even make it to the event. Trust me, you’ll meet some of the most passionate, empathetic and unique individuals. Your outlook on mental health will change in a good way!
16. Sometimes she will withdraw or be distant.
There is no doubt that at certain points she is going to be mentally distant from you. This has nothing to do with her love for you. It means one of two things-she do not want to bother you with her problems or she needs a moment to reflect. If it continues, there is the option that she is just not that into it anymore. Sorry!
17. Embrace what makes her different.
Just because we are different does not make us wrong. Our truth is what makes us beautiful, so embrace what makes he different and do not fear what you do not understand.
She was never crazy, she just didn’t let her heart settle in a cage. She was born wild,and sometimes we need people like her. For it’s the horrors in her heart which cause the flames in ours. And she was always willing to burn for everything she has ever loved. -R.M Drake
If you are having trouble in your relationship, do not be afraid to suggest therapy. In 2018, counseling is easily accessible through online platforms and technology. Resources such as BetterHelp provide online couples counseling with licensed and professional therapists. There is no shame in reaching out for help if you want to make it work with your partner.