When your mental illness impacts your relationships, it can harm your self-esteem and your happiness. From the time we're infants, we are bombarded with depictions of love and belonging, usually in an idealistic film or a sappy novel. It's natural that we stumble into the desire for those same kinds of relationships. We have an innate need for it--we yearn to love and be loved.
Relationships and Dating
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and new relationships create a challenge. We all know borderline personalities have an issue with relationships, but is there a way to make it start out more healthy--can we learn to take it slow? Let's look at the importance of taking it slow with BPD and new relationships, and how borderline can make it difficult to not get caught up in the moment.
People who struggle with mental illness, especially borderline, can have a hard time keeping their own sense of self within a relationship, making heartbreak that much more painful. I know I am definitely guilty of this. How do I not feel lost when I lost such a big part of my life? As I'm still trying to process losing my relationship, I'm being forced to find a new sense of self that allows me to feel safe alone.
Unfortunately, borderline and relationships just don't seem to go hand in hand. Everywhere you look there's talk of how it just won't work and your constant fear of abandonment will only leave you controlling and dependent. Sometimes all you can feel is alone. Relationships with borderline are tough.
In my last post, I talked about my upcoming trip to couples counseling with my boyfriend. I voiced my fears that couples therapy could be detrimental to the relationship because maybe there were more problems than I thought. I realized that rather than us having problems together, we both suffered a lot of trauma separately that created imagined problems in our head. Although I was right about the imagined problems, couples counseling opened my eyes to my own problems and gave me incentive to continue with individual therapy.
Therapy is always a scary thing, but when you're going into couples therapy with the person you love, it can take on a whole new level of intimidating. I have decided to take the step of asking to go to couples therapy with my boyfriend--is going to couples counseling the right decision?
The dating rules for revealing your mental illness are important to know when getting back into the dating scene. In general, dating can be nerve-wracking, but dating with a mental illness can cause even more anxiety (Should You Tell People You Have a Mental Illness?). The stigma of mental illness prompts insecurities and feelings of inadequacy when it comes to dating. Those of us with a mental illness may approach dates with the notion that we are damaged goods. The truth is, most people are insecure about dating. It is important to know the dating rules for revealing a mental illness to prevent added stress. A mental health condition does not make you flawed, or unattractive. It adds an authentic element to your life that challenges you but does not define you.
How do you make a relationship work when you have mental health issues? It's a big question and I've learned some important things via my own experiences throughout the years since being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The first tip I'd like to share is: make sure your partner is well educated about your mental health condition. Do not expect them to understand your symptoms or what you're going through. Keep in mind, most people do not have a good working understanding of mental illness.
If you have mental health problems and you are dating, it can be difficult to be sure when you should tell the person you are dating about your mental health issues. It is a sensitive subject and you generally want to make sure you are with someone you care about and trust before you bring it up. What should you do though when you are in recovery from alcoholism and you are forced to face the issue on a first date?