Dating is a battle in itself without the added weight of fighting depression. The process of finding and setting up dates is exhausting, and dating sites have actually been linked to an increase in lowered self-esteem. Such a daunting premise is tough even for a mentally healthy person, but if you’re struggling with depression, it’s downright horrifying.
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s certainly true that it can hold you back from certain opportunities in the dating world. But don’t let that stop you from seeking that wonderful partner! Here, we’ll cover five tips for dating while battling depression, so you don’t have to fall victim to the game.
1. Be Open About Your Condition
First and foremost, you have to be open to the fact that you have depression. Not only do potential partners deserve to know what kind of behavior they might experience while dating you, but you should also set reasonable expectations and boundaries from the start. Not everyone knows how to navigate a depressive episode, and some people simply don’t want to.
That’s ok—don’t fault them if they don’t want to learn about depression. While it would certainly be a better world if people were more open-minded about depression, we can’t expect that from everyone.
Explain to potential partners what you’re doing to manage your depression as well. Some would argue that people with depression have no room to be dating until they’ve addressed their problem, and while there’s some truth to this, it’s not entirely factual. You should take steps to address the issue before you get involved with someone out of respect for their happiness and yours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t date anyone if you haven’t sought help.
Be mindful of your symptoms. If they’re intense and frequent, maybe dating isn’t the best plan right now. Dating someone with depression can be challenging.
2. Accept That Not Everyone Will Understand
One of the hardest things to accept about dating with depression, and about the condition in general, is that not everyone will understand. Unfortunately, mental health still carries with it plenty of stigma, and there simply aren’t enough resources (or a willingness to learn from the population) to properly educate everyone on depression and mental illness.
Some people won’t understand what having depression means for dating. Some won’t even take the time to learn about it. Some will flat-out ghost you when you bring it up. Be prepared for all of these possibilities, and remember not to take it personally. It takes a very strong empathetic person to successfully date someone with depression.
3. Don’t Settle For Someone Who Doesn’t Make An Effort
In the age of online dating, it’s easy to settle for the quick and easy rather than the slow and challenging. The problem with this is that you usually end up settling for someone who doesn’t truly understand you or try to make an effort to understand you. If you’re already battling depression, dating the wrong person could actually make your symptoms worse. You need love and support, not ignorance and judgment.
Don’t settle for someone just because you feel alone. It’s COVID time! We all feel alone! Being stuck in the house away from people can lead to poor decision-making. Don’t let the COVID blues lead you into a bad situation that might make your condition or its symptoms worse. You are not alone, and you certainly don’t need a one-night-stand or temporary partner to make you feel better.
4. Seek Professional Help
If you’re considering bringing a partner into your life, you have a duty to address your mental health in a professional setting. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. You don’t want to be depressed forever, and even the most caring, empathetic person shouldn’t (and can’t) handle depression for years at a time. It’s our responsibility to ensure our mental health is in check before we bring new people into the fold.
This ensures a strong and healthy relationship, as well. Your condition is not a burden, but it can be a lot of work. Relationships take work to maintain, but you must do your part as well. You can’t expect your partner to hold you up all the time—that’s simply not fair.
5. Know Your Symptoms
Finally, you should be well-aware of what your depression symptoms look like. This is so you can effectively manage them and so that your partner knows what to look for. Depression can cause things like mood swings or sudden anger/irritation that your partner might think is directed at them. Sudden behavioral changes can be frightening for someone who didn’t know to expect them or doesn’t know the cause of them.
Work to keep your symptoms in check as much as you can, and be open about them with your partner. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to mental health.