Tips For Dating When You're Working On Your Mental Health

Taking care of your mental health is hugely important, whether you're in a relationship or not. Navigating the dating world while you're working on your mental health might not sound like the easiest feat to accomplish. Fortunately, it's very possible to successfully date amazing new people while making sure your mental health is being nurtured. The idea of forcing yourself to hold off on the pursuit of love until your mental health reaches a perfect place is completely unrealistic and unfair. 

Mental health journeys last forever. On top of that, there's nothing linear about anyone's mental health journey, either. In other words, you might feel healed and happy on Monday, but depressed and dismal on Tuesday. Keep in mind that you probably aren't ready to date anyone if you consider yourself to be a hopelessly lost cause. People who aren't ready for a relationship linger in pity parties and resort to self-destructive tendencies all the time. 

As long as you're consistently working on yourself, your self-growth, and your self-development, you should feel comfortable putting yourself out there in the world of love. You don't have to shield yourself from the possibilities of romance because you're fearful of the ways things can go wrong. These are some of the ways you can date successfully while continuing to work on your mental health.

Always prioritize yourself

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you always come first. As long as you're prioritizing yourself, it's difficult for you to go wrong. As soon as you start prioritizing other people, things can get a little murky. The person you're dating might love the idea of the two of you going out for drinks every Friday night. If you know those environments aren't good for your mental health, you have to prioritize yourself instead of giving in to their desires. 

The person you've been texting could be pressuring you to send NSFW pictures all the time. They might try to downplay their request by saying it's no big deal. If you know that sending pictures and videos like that will leave you riddled with anxiety and paranoia, you have to prioritize yourself instead of giving in to their demands. Consider your free time and interests before agreeing to dates with anyone. When you prioritize yourself, you don't bend or break to the will of others. Instead, you protect yourself from others who might not be on the same page as you. Maintain your boundaries and hold firm to your belief system.

Never cancel therapy sessions for date plans

Canceling therapy sessions for date plans is a huge mistake. If you're truly serious about working on your mental health, you don't want to put your therapy sessions on the back burner. If you miss therapy, even for just a week, it can throw off your progress in a major way. This is especially important for people going to therapy to heal past traumas. If you're taking part in a program that includes hypnotherapy or EMDR, consistency is key. 

It's possible for your mental health to keep improving, as long as you're showing up and doing the work. This means it doesn't matter how enticing a date plan might sound if you already have a therapy session scheduled. The person you're talking to can suggest taking you to the beach, taking you on a hot air balloon, or taking you to brunch at a super fancy restaurant. 

It doesn't necessarily matter where they're inviting you if you already have a therapy session scheduled. Someone who truly cares about you and wants to be in your life for the long haul will understand if you have to prioritize therapy sessions over random dates. This is a great way for you to gauge if someone's intentions are pure. Rescheduling date plans for a time that won't conflict with your therapy sessions should be an easy conversation to have.

Choose partners who exhibit patience

As you're working your way through your mental health journey, it's vital that you choose partners who exhibit patience. There are tons of people in the world who don't know the meaning of true patience, even though they pretend to have a solid understanding. Someone who's truly patient is slow to anger, thoughtful before they speak, and accepting of various issues without getting annoyed. 

Someone who isn't totally patient might be able to put on a façade for a little while, but eventually, their true colors will be revealed. It's too difficult for an impatient person to pretend for an extended period of time. Instead of dealing with a partner who doesn't exhibit a good amount of patience, it makes more sense for you to break free from anyone who reveals red flags like these early on. 

You don't want to feel like you're barely being tolerated by the person you're dating. You want to feel completely loved by them, even through the trials and tribulations of your mental health journey. Comprehending the depths of a mental health journey isn't for everyone, after all. People who are patient by nature are a lot easier to mesh with since they'll do their best to take things slow with you over time.

Pick partners who understand compassion

The most loving thing you can do for yourself on your mental health journey is to choose partners who understand the importance of compassion. Plenty of people claim to be compassionate, but they don't really understand what compassion entails. When you're compassionate, you're easily able to show sympathy and concern for others. Compassionate people can put themselves in your shoes to better understand your perspective. 

Compassionate people will never distance themselves from you when you open up with vulnerability and emotion. You can easily tell that someone is genuinely compassionate based on the way they respond when you tell them about things that impact you emotionally. Compassionate people will be there to comfort and nurture you as you open up about things that hurt you. 

Non-compassionate people will shut down or get closed off in those situations. They're unable to handle difficult human emotions without clamming up and getting awkward. You don't want to end up in a relationship with someone who quietly slinks out of the room every time you start shedding tears. It feels better to be with someone who gets closer to you to figure out what's wrong while checking if there's anything they can do to help you.

Don't feel pressured to unload your trauma on new partners

Just because you start up a new relationship with someone amazing, that doesn't mean you should feel pressured to unload your trauma on them at the beginning of the romance. If this is someone who's meant to be in your life for the long haul, you can take your time opening up about all the things that have impacted you throughout the course of your life. When you unload way too many traumatic stories onto a new partner at the very beginning, it can leave them feeling overwhelmed and uneasy. 

Even if they're the type of person who's super accepting and understanding, peeling back all the layers of your trauma at the very beginning might not be the best route to take. Unloading tons of trauma on a new partner too early also poses the risk of scaring them off. The things you're dealing with could be way too much for them to handle when they barely even know you. 

On the contrary, if you wait until the relationship has blossomed a bit before sharing your trauma, their feelings for you will already be a little more solidified. If the relationship has a strong enough foundation, that will be enough for them to want to stick around. Timing is key when it comes to finally opening up about your trauma.

Don't trauma dump on your partner without their permission

You should never trauma dump (which is different from venting) on your partner without their permission. Just because someone is dating you, it doesn't mean they're instantly supposed to become an emotional dumping ground for you at all hours of the day. If you're going through something that's creating tons of anguish and anxiety, you should ask your partner if you can talk to them about it before diving right in. 

Although it's unintentional, a lot of low-vibrational people who aren't genuinely happy will make themselves feel better by trauma dumping tons of their negative energy onto other people. This isn't something done to be evil and malicious. Usually, it happens when one person really needs to vent and another person is there to listen. In the end, the person listening ends up taking on all of that trauma. 

They have to figure out how to emotionally sort it and carry it. Instead of putting your partner in a position where they'll feel forced to take on all of the negativity you've been harboring, you need to ask for their permission before rambling it out. A simple way to go about this would be saying, "Hey, I'm going through something pretty terrible right now. Would it be okay if I vented to you about it?" If they say yes, you can tell them everything on your mind. If they say no, though, you have to respect that boundary.

Don't assume new partners will reject you based on your mental health struggles

Don't get caught up in any form of self-sabotage, including assuming that new partners will reject you based on your mental health struggles. It's a mode of self-sabotage to convince yourself people won't want to be with you if you aren't perfectly mentally healthy. Remember that millions of people deal with mental health issues on a wide scale. We're talking about people struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder to people who get occasional panic attacks. 

It doesn't matter where you fall on the scale when it comes to mental health issues, as long as you're doing everything in your power to take care of yourself and continue moving in the right direction of happiness. When you assume new partners will reject you after learning about your mental health struggles, you cut yourself off from the possibility of finding true love with genuinely amazing people. 

The good news is that when you talk about your mental health struggles with someone who can't handle it, you end up saving yourself tons of long-term heartache and struggle upfront because they won't stick around. When you talk to someone else about your mental health struggles to find that they're accepting of you as a person, you have a higher probability of making things work as a couple. You should never assume anything about anyone, especially when it comes to a topic like this.

Don't assume finding your perfect match will solve all your mental health problems

A lot of people are convinced that their level of happiness will suddenly change in a drastic way when they're finally able to find their perfect match. The reality is that you will still always be who you are, whether you're dating a partner or not. You can't assume finding your perfect match will solve all of your mental health problems. It's true that dating someone who genuinely cares about you will bring loads of happiness into your life, but there's more to it than that. 

You'll spend quality time with someone who has your best interest at heart, go on fun outings, and spend time communicating with someone who makes you feel validated. All of these things are incredibly positive, but that doesn't mean your partner is some sort of magical fairy who can fix everything in your life. In the happiest and healthiest relationships, you might still be struggling with work stress, friendship fallouts, or school pressure. 

In the happiest relationships, you might still butt heads with your partner about certain topics, proving that you're not going to see eye to eye about everything. When things aren't running smoothly in all aspects of your life (including your relationship), it's not your partner's job to come to your rescue and solve every issue that arises. You still have to take care of yourself and understand that true happiness comes from within, not from a relationship.

Consider sober dating, even if you don't struggle with alcoholism

Sober dating is not something that should solely be reserved for folks in the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program. Yes, members of the AA program should definitely be practicing sober dating in new relationships, but this is something that can actually benefit just about anyone. When you opt for sober dating, you avoid drinking alcoholic beverages or going places where liquor is flowing in abundance throughout your dating process. 

Doing this keeps your mind totally clear, so you can make the best possible decisions in your love life. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, which means it encourages people to make bad decisions they wouldn't normally make. You might be the type of person who doesn't want to sleep with a new partner until you've been dating for at least three months. After too many shots of liquor have been thrown back, that standard might go out the window. 

You might be the type of person who always views other people through rose-colored glasses. If spotting red flags simply isn't one of your strengths, your situation will get even worse with alcohol in the mix. Alcohol will have you thinking the person you're on a date with has the purest intentions ever, even if they're actually pretty shady. On the contrary, you'll showcase the best version of yourself while you're sober. You'll be able to easily observe the behavior and intentions of others through sober eyes, as well.

Plan self-care dates

Self-care is something you're already prioritizing by yourself, so why not plan self-care dates with people you're romantically interested in? Keeping up with self-care is beyond important in the midst of any mental health journey. The more you take care of yourself, the better you will feel. The more you pour into your own cup, the easier it will be for you to contribute to loving relationships and friendships. 

Neglecting your self-care is a huge mistake because it's an absolute necessity if you're truly taking your mental health journey seriously. Some self-care dates you can plan with a partner include going on walks, visiting museums, having DIY spa days at home, volunteering for charities, or doing virtual fitness classes together. Other self-care date ideas include reading each other chapters from your favorite books, cooking each other nutritious dinners, and taking instrumental lessons together. 

The options are unlimited when it comes to enjoyable self-care dates to do with your partner. You can choose to keep things simple by staying at home, or you can branch out and head off somewhere that requires transportation. Dating someone who's on the same page with you about going on self-care dates is a huge sign that they have your best interest at heart.

Don't blame whomever you're dating for your continued mental health issues

Even if your relationship has been going on for a few months or years, it doesn't mean that your mental health problems will just disappear. That being said, you can't blame whomever you're dating for your continued mental health struggles. While you know that your relationship certainly brings elements of joy and bliss into your life, there are still a lot of things you have to do by yourself and for yourself to truly be happy. It's not your partner's job to cure every issue all at once on your behalf. Keep in mind that your partner is human, too. 

They might not struggle with mental health issues the same way you do, but that doesn't mean they should be the person you're blaming for your inability to make any progress along the way. This rule doesn't apply if you're in a relationship with someone who isn't supportive of your mental health journey, though. If you're dating someone who shames you, criticizes you, or makes you feel bad about yourself, then staying in a relationship with that type of person will only prolong your mental health healing journey. It's important to surround yourself with people who remind you how lovable you are instead of people who make you feel like a nuisance or a burden.

Avoid partners who want to 'fix' you

Don't get caught up in a relationship with a partner who wants to "fix" you. Some people look at others who are struggling with mental health issues as projects they can fix. These people usually have a lot of skeletons in their own closets that they don't want to pay attention to. They'd rather shift their attention to someone else to avoid worrying about their own troubled realities. Take note if someone is showing a special interest in you based on your mental health struggles. Why is it that they care so much about intervening in your life to make drastic changes? 

Some people who act like this have savior complexes, also known as God complexes. They want to feel good about themselves for helping someone else because they're selfishly seeking the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes along with it. People who have guilty consciences will often subconsciously try to solve problems in someone else's life as a way to assuage their guilt. Don't turn into someone's project, just because they're approaching you in a way that seems super sweet and nice. Do your best to figure out what their intentions are, so you don't end up falling into this trap.

Stay away from partners who make you feel ashamed

You have nothing to feel ashamed of, simply because you're dealing with mental health issues. If you cross paths with a partner who makes you feel shameful about your mental health issues, you need to run far away from them. Anyone who has the audacity to make you feel bad about what you're going through either has no idea what it feels like to struggle with their mental health, or they're projecting self-hatred from similar struggles onto you. Keep in mind that you never asked to have mental health issues. It's not your fault that you're feeling the way you're feeling. 

Remind yourself that you're doing everything you can to improve your mindset and reach a true state of happiness. You're doing everything you can to become the happiest and most healed version of yourself, and you need to surround yourself with kind-hearted people along the way. If the person you're dating is downplaying all of your emotional progress or making you feel bad about having mental health struggles in the first place, they are a toxic person to be around. As soon as you catch a vibe that someone is making you feel ashamed for what you're going through, it's time to cut things off.

Be clear and upfront about your intentions

As you enter into the dating arena as a person dealing with mental health struggles, it's crucial that you're as clear and upfront as possible with your intention. Don't allow yourself to get stuck in a situationship with someone who isn't taking you seriously. That kind of thing can have a negative impact on your mental health. Do everything in your power to avoid getting used sexually by someone if your goal is to settle down in a committed relationship someday soon. 

Dealing with a partner who treats you like a one-time hit-it-and-quit-it can seriously devastate your self-esteem and mental health journey. The best way you can go about avoiding this situation is by being clear and upfront about your intentions with someone new you're interested in. If you tell them at the beginning that you're looking for a relationship, you'll be able to find out if they're on the same page with you or not. People are capable of lying in order to get what they want, so you'll have to use your intuition and discernment when dealing with potential partners you're unsure of.

Understand that dating is easier to do when you're a healed human

The truth of the matter is that dating is so much easier to do when you're a healed and happy human. You certainly don't have to wait until you've reached a hundred milestones on your mental health journey before putting yourself out there, but it's smart to consider the reality. When you are a healed and happy person, you exude confidence, you're more enjoyable to be around, and others are naturally drawn to you. Exuding confidence alone is a big deal because people find it more attractive to see you holding your head high with elegant posture, solid eye contact, and a voice that's eloquent without unsure quivers. 

Being enjoyable to be around is amazing in the world of dating because it makes people want to plan as many dates with you as they possibly can to spend more valuable time in your presence. When others are naturally drawn to you, you don't have to go out of your way to attract attention. People will simply gravitate your way because your energy is so highly vibrational. Being a healed and happy person is a solid goal, regardless of relationship status.