How To Navigate Romantic Relationships And Mental Illness?


iving with a mental illness makes you re-evaluate many things in your life, romantic relationships being one of them. Whether you’re already in a relationship or are single and dating, it’s normal to wonder what rules apply to you.
The first thing you need to know is that people with severe mental health conditions still have strong, loving, supportive, and long-lasting relationships. Your mental illness is not an impediment; you just have to learn how to approach romantic relationships from your unique perspective.

Telling Your Partner About Your Mental Illness


Although it’s 2021, we are moving towards the positive side of mental health awareness, but stigma surrounding romantic relationships and mental illness is still a reality. That’s why it’s understandable if you feel reluctant to share this information with the person you’re with. After all, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, and that’s a risky place to be sometimes.
But if you want your relationship to be healthy and long-lasting, honesty and communication are key. Your partner needs to know your health information, and vice versa, because this will allow you to support each other. Experts also say it is best to tell a person upfront before the relationship gets fully underway, to enable the potential partner to make an informed decision about whether they want to proceed, and if they do, how they can best support you.

In addition, many people living with mental illness grow weary of having their condition looked upon as the reason for any possible issues in the relationship. For example, just because a person has bouts of depression, or has been irritated on and off, that does not mean it’s their condition playing a factor.
Like most people, depression can hit at any time and wear out with the same energy, as well as melancholy moods. Now, in all fairness, the length of time that a behavior lasts is vital to know if it’s indeed the person’s mental health playing a major role.

How Should I Approach the Topic?


It’s okay to feel nervous about approaching the topic, but remember that the person you’re with already appreciates who you are, and they have been building a relationship with you.
Try not to go in with any preconceived expectations about discussing your mental illness with your partner. Have the conversation when you’re in a good state of mind, and make sure you both have enough time to discuss everything for as long as you need.

You can start the conversation by expressing what you have to say and how important and challenging it is, but you hope they are open-minded and understanding. Then, proceed to explain your condition and describe it to them.
You can go into more detail later and talk about how it affects you and what it has taught you about yourself, how you manage your condition, how they can help, and the people you’ve met in your community. For now, give them time to absorb and understand. If necessary, point them in the direction of valuable books or websites about your condition, so they can understand it on their own time.

“If you’re worried about disclosing, remember that many people with mental illnesses have strong relationships. Your partner probably already appreciates the personality qualities that have helped you live well despite a mental health condition,” reads an article posted on The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
They further emphasized, “By sharing your health history, you share insight into not just your challenges but also your strengths. Because of the fears and misconceptions that surround mental health, even well-meaning people may not know how to react to your disclosure.”

They also suggest you talk with your potential love interest when you are not in the phase of a mental health crisis. “You may also want to use the “sandwich” strategy: sandwiching “bad news” between two pieces of “good news” can help calm people’s fears,” the article on NAMI cites. “Start by saying positive things about your relationship. Tell your partner that because of your love and support, you have to share something potentially difficult. After describing your mental health condition, finish on a more positive note by describing what treatments you’ve followed, what has helped you, and what you’ve learned about yourself and other people due to mental illness.”

How to Start a Romantic Relationship

Though having a mental illness can make dating and meeting people a bit more challenging, mainly because you may feel it’s stressful to connect, but it’s not impossible. “ To attract a new romantic relationship with a mental health condition, think about what qualities you’re looking for in a partner. How can you strengthen these qualities in yourself? Show your positive qualities to the world and you will meet people who share your values. Above all, don’t get discouraged. You deserve a loving, healthy relationship whatever your health history,” NIMI says.

Also, you have to deal with many different things when you have a mental health condition. The symptoms are not easy to navigate, from fluctuating moods, impulsive behavior, isolation, social anxiety, and more. However, following your treatment plan to the letter will make a considerable difference.
Working on yourself is crucial when you’re seeking a relationship. So, before you get into it, think about the qualities you’re looking for in someone else and work towards strengthening those qualities in yourself.

This will allow you to become the best version of yourself and attract like-minded people. Remember, dating requires patience, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet the right people right away.
Put yourself out there, work on yourself, and be prepared to talk about your mental health condition. Most importantly, when it comes to romantic relationships and mental illness, the secret is to be your highest self, have fun and be yourself!

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As part of this site’s policy, many writers are allowed to submit articles and given the opportunity to receive credit for their work. But for different reasons, some choose to remain anonymous. So outside of ongoing editing when needed, the stories submitted in this section are that of actual writers.

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