Dating in 2018 and Having a Mental Illness: 8 Tips & Tricks to Avoid Getting Hurt

Let me begin by saying I am no man expert. In fact, I’m not very good with men (despite having my first boyfriend in Grade 4 – we held hands). I’m terrible at the “game.” Usually, my past boyfriends have started out from friendships. BUT what I do know is mental illness, especially how it interacts with dating. It’s a new world of dating out there but even if you do have a mental illness you deserve love too! That being said, you really need to go out there with a plan, a plan to protect yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually otherwise this new dating game can really derail you! And that’s no fun. Here are some tips and tricks I think will help you before you dive into the crazy world that is dating in 2018.

First, let’s talk about the reality of dating in 2018. Due to technology, people are a bit more disposable (that includes you! No matter how special you think you are). People have hundreds of options literally at their fingertips and for better or worse you can’t necessarily get emotionally involved. Men may not be ready for a relationship or want one, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to message you or sleep with you. You can’t really take what men say to heart.

Timing is also a huge factor – with everyone having access to so many people not a lot of people are doing the self-reflection needed to perhaps take a break and are instead pursuing what they can get – short term pleasure. Technology can also make you feel closer faster, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. It can make you feel safe to let your emotions grow, only to end in heartbreak. And then there is ghosting. Ghosting was really always a thing but instead of ignoring their messages you simply just didn’t call back. Technology now makes that rejection more tangible in a sense (seeing that unread message or seeing them active on social media but ignoring you) and you know he’s likely off to his other choices and you just didn’t make the cut. For all these reasons your emotions can really be toyed with and you need to be prepared.

Make sure you’re strong and in a good place. Looking for reassurance? Support? Someone to help you get your rut? Someone to essentially rescue you? Tell you that you is kind, smart and important? Dating is not the answer. A man will not complete you or save you and if he does this might cause problems down the line. Take the time alone to work on yourself and your mental health. You should never be looking for happiness in a relationship. It’s also important to have a thick skin with the nature of dating in 2018. You cannot go out there being vulnerable.

Know your weaknesses. No one is perfect and we all have our relationship/dating faux pas. For me, I tend to fall too quickly. I’m pretty much that excited puppy dog that wants to play with everyone. As you can imagine that can be a horrible mindset in today’s dating climate. Acknowledge your weaknesses and make sure you’re taking them into account, especially if they can make you susceptible to heartbreak.

Decide what you want. Do this even before you get on the apps or give out your number in person. Assess your situation. Are you looking for fun (totally okay!) or a serious boyfriend? This will cut out a lot of the confusion and really help you sort out your emotions and help you figure out what’s acceptable. It will also help you avoid getting hurt. Personally, I would not recommend dating apps if you are looking for something more serious, try the dating websites for men who are looking for relationships.

Be Realistic. Men are going to ghost. This is the reality. But before you cry tears of loss, stop to assess. Did you really like him that much? Did you even know him that well? Did you have anything in common? Were you attracted to him really or the idea of him? Were there signs it wasn’t going to work anyway? (He might be gay, married, racist, too young, too old, looking for a VISA, of another religion, on the rebound etc. – I’ve been in most of these situations DM me for details) I think there is also a tendency with depression, anxiety and OCD to only see certain facts. It can be overwhelming at times, why are all these men playing games? But have you done any rejection yourself? Look at the entire picture of your dating journey and all the positives and negatives. Learn your lessons and accept it all as an experience.

Listen to what he is saying. There’s a scene in “How to be Single” where the charming womanizing bartender swears you can be honest with a woman and she still won’t hear you. He then walks around the bar to women he’s sleeping with and says things straight up to them such as “I’m really not interested and will never settle down with you.” The women giggle in response and seem oblivious to what he’s saying. Now, it wont’ always be this obvious but a man often drops hints to what he’s looking for. If he’s asking what you think of casual dating or isn’t asking for your number or not setting an actual date to see you – he’s probably not that interested. Listen to what he’s getting at and act accordingly.

Try to look at how you will feel in hindsight. This point is really just about sex. How will you feel about it afterwards, especially if he ghosts? Think twice. Is this the kind of guy who might ghost after sex? Will it devastate you if he bounces? If it will, don’t give up the goods.

Don’t take things personally. This is one I definitely struggle with, especially with my mental health issues. Your thoughts can really spiral out of control, what’s wrong with me? Why didn’t he like me? Am I not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough? Firstly, you have to accept not every guy is going to like you (and you’re not going to like all of them! There is power in realizing that), secondly it’s not always you. Maybe it’s not the right time for him and even he doesn’t know it. Maybe you truly just aren’t a good match, better you find that out sooner than later. Again, don’t take things to heart and you should be fine.

Have fun (Okay, 9 Tips & Tricks). Though dating in 2018 can be daunting, take breaks and enjoy yourself! Delete the apps for a period if you have to and come back to it. It’s also a way to find out what you want in a partner and learn about yourself. You’ll only be single for so long (God willing) so create memories, have jokes and get stories you can tell your children (or warn them about). In the meantime, live your life, your best life, in between these men and put your mental health first! I promise when you do find the one, it will be easy. There will be no questioning, no ghosting and no ambiguity. And the more mentally healthy you are when he comes along, the better!

A Warning: Some men, even though it may have ended badly, will want to stick around as “friends” even some as “friends with benefits” – I kid you not. It is a tempting situation but you really have to ask yourself who this benefits. Is this this a real friendship? Does he add value to your life? Will this deter you from finding the right one? Is he just keeping you around as a spare? Is it contributing to your mental health? Do what is best for you and only that.

A great rule if you’re feeling depressed about a dating situation gone wrong: The 5×5 Rule – if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes upset by it. Trust me when I say you won’t think about most of these guys in 6 months to a year, especially if you keep dating. They will just become a story. Honestly, I give them all nicknames (The Prince, Barrie, Persia etc.), it helps with giving them less value and more hilarity/lesson learned over time.

Some great Instagram accounts that post about dating to give you a chuckle and let you know you’re not alone: @talkthirtytome @justmikethepoet @stevenfurtick

WatchHe’s Just Not That Into You” for dating hilarity and some more hard dating advice. I actually had to re-watch recently to give myself a refresher. I own it on DVD.

Happy Dating! 

Who Is In Control, You or Jesus/the Universe?

I’ve been having a hard time articulating this topic but it’s one that keeps coming up for me and how I approach my life, especially my thought patterns (which is important to my mental health). I grew up in a Christian household, attending church most Sundays until I was about 13 years old. I used to pray more consistently, but admittingly now only do so when times are rough.

These days when I find myself at a crossroads I tend to look at it two ways, Jesus/the universe is trying to give me a sign and direct me on a path OR I need to direct myself on this path that is presenting itself. A fun recent example of this is my romantic life (this is literally happening right now). Having dated a few guys I didn’t click with 100% followed by a classic Toronto fuckboy, a part of me is like okay “Jesus/the universe does not want me dating right now. They want me to focus on my book and career.” Sidenote: I am also working part-time right now, which also allows me more time to focus on the book and what I really want in a full-time job. My point here is, I also have the thought “Forget Jesus/the universe I need to grab life by the balls and make this time my bitch!” I need to take responsibility for my own success! I don’t think there is anything wrong with claiming signs from God, don’t get me wrong love the guy, but for me with my depression I cannot be passive in my destiny or day-to-day care. I cannot hand the reigns to someone else.

There are so many things wrong with this thinking for me personally. Not only does it allow me to kind of pass my responsibility to someone/thing else but it also makes me think everything is up to Jesus/the universe which isn’t always a good thing. At certain parts in my life my depression arose from a lack of stability and control (having a stable place to live, stable support from caregivers etc.) but what I realized as an adult is that I have to create this stability for myself, whatever that means, house, home, spiritually etc. I have to take control. And I cannot have that stability and control if I am handing off the keys to a higher being for everything. I need to choose this time for me. I need to make this decision and stick with it. It won’t be the universe who has made my achievements happen. It will be me.

How has religion affected your mental health? Has it been helpful or hurtful at times?

Is being black depressing me (more)?

Obviously, it hasn’t been a stellar decade for racism in America. Police shootings, Trump etc., let’s just say I’m not running over the border to be black in America any time soon. Naively, I’ve leaned towards the opinion that it’s not as bad in Toronto, Canada. Not here, I’d think in my head (well I mean sort of, at least it’s not vocalized and acted upon). But boy was I wrong.

With a few recent stories coming to my attention, I’m realizing it’s just as bad here as it is there. One of my best friends and lawyer by occupation was recently turned down for a rental condo by the landlord because her and her husband (PhD) looked like someone they had gotten into an accident with. Pardon? Is that even legal? (It isn’t) Another recent and more public story by beloved black city news anchor Marci Ien, on being racially profiled in her neighborhood hit home as well. And lastly, an article covering how black Torontonians are facing a variety of specific health challenges due to racism just floored me.

I just feel like ugh, I have to deal with this, on top of everything else in my life? My negative thinking comes into play. I have that weighty feeling on my chest. I have to analyze my position in society and navigate accordingly? I have to be strategic? I have to overcome and fight racism as it applies to me, a black woman? I have to fight for my right? Ain’t nobody got time (or energy) for that. But then I remember how much I love being black. The culture, the food, the music, the versatility, the resilience, the connection, my family and my friends. I can look at my people and say that we made it through, we made it through the dark times and will continue to make it through, despite the hatred. And that is not something to be depressed about, that is something to rejoice.

Have you ever been discriminated against? How has this affected your mood and mental health?

How I got a Insta-boyfriend, Scammed and then Faded On Part 1

*I have many draft posts I never got around to publishing, this is quite old. April 2017. Still a funny read though. 

I don’t know how I didn’t see this coming. I can usually spot a sketchy guy from far away. I’m out of practice. I fell in love (8 years ago). The game’s changed. Men are different. Hook up apps have changed the game.

He was doing everything I wanted, unlike all the other, as my friend calls it, fuckboys, I had dealt with. The things he was saying to me, about me. The things he was telling his friends and family. I was finally being seen as the catch I thought I was!

After about a month (maybe less) of dating, he insisted I travel with him to Ottawa to attend his close cousin’s 30th birthday. Now being a sensible woman, I hesitated. Were we really ready for a weekend trip away together? With all his romantic speak, I was soon convinced it “felt right” and we should go ahead. Long story short, his credit card was rejected at the hotel and low and behold I had to pay for us. I didn’t think much of it as he assured me he would transfer the money to me once he fixed whatever was happening with his card. I also assumed the hotel wouldn’t charge my card until the end of the trip and we would have solved his credit card issue by then. What happened next I blame on myself, it was naive and stupid quite frankly. I paid for a few of our meals as my “contribution” to the trip, thinking he would pay me back for the hotel.

Overall, the trip was entertaining and fun (except for one major issue, to be discussed in Part II). He was a fun and high energy guy, there was no denying that. When we returned from the trip he started a new job and soon began to pull away. Once I realized he was *fading (oppose to straight up ghosting) I started to ask for my money. I even sent him my email address for an e-transfer and told him it was okay if he didn’t want to date anymore but I would like my money back. He left my WhatsApp messages unread.

How did I not see this coming? There were a couple of odd situations. He would call and text excessively if I wasn’t answering within an hour. And really who goes that fast (other than people in love and there were no “I love yous”)? Sociopaths who take your money, that’s who.

My therapist asked if I was willing to get a lawyer and I can just see me in small claims court a la Judge Judy asking for my $240 back. How did my life turn into Judge Judy?

It wasn’t the money that was the issue. It was the principle. This was a grown 36 year old man. I found myself questioning things, does he even really owe me the money, since he paid for all those other dates? Was this him calling it even?

All I know is I have two weddings, two baby showers and a move coming up and I want my money.

Never again.

*By fading I mean he wasn’t treating me the same, wasn’t messaging frequently like he had previously, leaving messages unread for very long periods etc.

What are your worst/most humorous dating stories?

New Year, New You? Handling New Year’s & Mental Illness

This is a super late post I know! But guess what? It’s still January (a week and a half left I know) but I can still discuss New Year’s resolutions right? Right? Going to anyway. Personally, I was feeling some very tangible anxiety over the Christmas break. A New Year already? Jesus, where did the time go? Did I even accomplish anything in 2017? You mean I have to think of new goals and new sh*t to do AGAIN?

First of all, honestly, it’s a bit arbitrary and overrated. You literally start a new day every 24 hours and  new months, new weeks, new hours etc. You can have a fresh start at any of these points! But yes, people tend to focus on a new year. My advice, is to stick to tangible goals and also put a timeline to it. Lose 5 pounds? By when? How? Meditate and do CBT more often? When? How many times? With who? Make a schedule and try sticking to it. Another thing is, don’t stress. No one is perfect. Reward yourself for progressing as far as you can. Another great trick, is to split your goals up into short term, long term and perhaps weekly. This can help things feel more manageable. I usually post my goals in my kitchen up on a cool glass wipe-board with chalk markers.

Something I also think is super constructive to do for the New Year, is to let things go. Let go of the crappy things that brought you down in 2017, let go of the bad relationships, bad jobs, bad therapy, breakdowns or crappy situations, leave them where they belong, in the past. I know that’s easier said then done, especially when juggling a mental illness, but it can be liberating to give yourself permission to let certain things go.

Do I hate my ex-fiancé?

It’s been 2 years and 8 months since the big break up and I find myself asking, do I hate my ex-fiancé? How do I now feel about him and what he did? It’s a weird feeling I get when I think about this. I kind of awkwardly chuckle to myself. In my mature moments, I think “all is fair in love and war” right? He didn’t love me anymore, so he broke it off. Fair, no? But on the flip side, did he have to propose eight months earlier? No. Did he have to cut things off dryly (would not come home and see me the night of, after he basically broke it to me over the phone)? Those things I would say were unfair, he could have done it with some more finesse but I guess he was hurting too.

So do I hate him? Sigh. No. Hate is a strong word. Can you really ever hate someone you once loved and imagined your life with?

I will say though, that I have grown. I have grown spiritually and emotionally. I am a different woman now. I handle my finances better, I have an amazing job and I have even deeper relationships with my girlfriends/tribe and family (who both went above and beyond their support for me). I believe in myself, my merits, my smarts, my importance. Could all those things have happened while I was still with him? I don’t know. But to be on the optimistic side I will be thankful for those things. Will I ever thank him? Not today.

Is 30 Too Old to Date Casually?

A hot topic among my girlfriends seems to be should I be casually dating someone and how long can it go on for?

Now the guy I’m “seeing,” who I met on Tinder, I’m pretty sure will never marry me. Ever. He’s still in his twenties and a few years younger (which is another story in of itself as this seems to be a very special ‘last hurrah’ time in a man’s life). A lot of my friends seem concerned. Am I wasting my time? Will I get hurt?

With my supposed biological clock ticking (which my journalist girlfriend pointed out is based on old science) and my youthful looks withering, should I only date men that are older and serious about our future? Can’t a girl just have fun, well into her thirties?

Self-Publishing Update

I have two book edits left to do and I can’t manage to force myself to do them. As I previously mentioned, there’s been some ongoing family drama that’s really brought me down. I’ve been really struggling with it and it’s been a challenging time. But things are looking up on the horizon and I really want to get these edits out of the way so I can really focus on marketing and building a fan-base/readership. I’ve wasted so much time getting through the break up that I’m letting time and my dreams slip. I’m giving myself August to really sit down and hack away at this. Wish me luck!

A Jilted Bride Update

It’s been one year, four months and thirteen days since he broke it off and I’m still reeling. Not on the bedroom floor crying (anymore) – thank God – just obsessively thinking about him and his new girlfriend/lady in his life (I’m not sure what she really is and I’m too scared to ask). To be fair I was doing tremendously well until my living situation became out of control and family drama ensued. And just the mere tearing down of my defenses left me emotionally vulnerable. Everything feels so fresh. Our last words, last discussion, the entire freaking relationship really. I keep getting flashes of all the laughter, kisses and embraces. Obviously, that’s not all it was, there were dark times, but that’s all my frigging mind can all of a sudden recollect.

It only makes sense though, that in harder times I’m going to miss him. He’s going to seem like the only one that can solve my issues and help me cope. Now, I would love to argue that it’s the truth and he would make things go poof but for my own survival and sense of self I have to be reasonable. I have to remember, things will change, things will alleviate (without him) and I won’t feel as desperate.

And I think it’s the same for depression. In dire times, you have to keep reminding yourself that things will change. No matter the situation, things will change and you can bounce back to where you were. Like any struggle, there are going to be relapses.