Dating can be challenging for most everyone. But if you’re struggling with depression, dating with depression can feel overwhelming and downright terrifying. Not only do you likely feel particularly raw and vulnerable to rejection, but if you are able to connect with someone, you have the added challenge of figuring out how and when to tell them you’re struggling with depression.
Should people with depression date? If the person feels emotionally strong enough, then yes, of course they should date. But the real question is HOW should they date?
4 Things To Keep In Mind When Dating With Depression
1. Take It Slow
There is no need to open up to someone on a first date and let them know that you suffer with depression. In fact, you really never want to overshare deep personal and emotional issues on a first date – unless of course you’re not looking for a second one! 😬 Your best bet is to invest some time to see if this is someone you think you could get serious with.
If, after a few dates, you think they could be someone you’d like to go deeper with, then feel free to test the waters on the topic of depression. But don’t feel you have to get into all the gory details of your struggles; just simply tell them that you live with depression and see how they react.
2. Be Honest
There’s a pretty good chance they may have some follow-up questions immediately or they may think about things for a while and then bring up some questions later. Whenever they do, be honest with your answers. If you try to hide things or paint a picture that isn’ congruent with reality you’re only setting yourself up for future headaches and heartache.
It will be tempting to want to downplay things in order to portray your best self. But being dishonest about your symptoms and reality will backfire eventually. Let them know you have good days and bad and if you are currently taking medications and/or seeing a therapist. Answer as many questions as you feel comfortable with, but when you do, just be sure to be honest and not pretend to be someone you’re not.
3. Learn from Your Past
Everyone has dating pitfalls and patterns, and people with depression are no different. It’s important that you respect past dating failures so you can prevent them from happening again. For instance, did you tend to date people who made you feel bad about yourself? If you find you’re doing it again, call things off and take some time to regroup and explore why you were attracted to them in the first place.
Friends and family are great sources to help explore and identify possible patterns (unhelpful or otherwise) after a relationship as they tend to be more honest about what they saw. Just make sure whomever you’re talking to is willing to tell you what you need to hear, not just what they think you want to hear.
4. Get Help
Life is short and while yes, most of us probably would prefer our dating life to be short as well (because if it is, chances are that means we’ve found the right one), you certainly don’t want your depression symptoms to get in the way and screw things up. Find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help you navigate your behavior and create strategies for coping and a plan of action.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Greater New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.