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! 

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.

Spoiled, Dating and Depressed

I wrote a post last week about my latest dating adventure and I mention that a certain situation (the man not making sure I had a means to get home) has happened to me before. This is that first situation.

We went to a movie that ended at about 8pm. And decided to walk to his place which was maybe a 20 minute walk (and far from the subway). We ate leftovers at his place, snuggled to a game and at about 11 o’clock I asked him if he was going to drive me home (which was 30-40 mins away). Now I’m not a total nut/diva, he had driven me home before from his place so it wasn’t that far-fetched, not at all actually.

And then he said it “I’m too tired to drive.” Pardon? He just kind of nuzzled into me further. Like guy, this isn’t a burrow. I thought maybe he was joking so I asked again. Nope, he was serious. Or sleepover he said. So I could do the walk of shame to my job the next day in the same clothes? Was he insane?

When I realized he was serious, I started getting ready to leave. The subway was too far away so I opted to take a taxi (a $62 ride, I still have the receipt). I was a grown woman who’d get herself home.

So I’m ready to go and homeboy puts on a hoodie and grabs his keys. For a moment I thought he was going to drive me and I was about to turn my sweet side back on…before I realized he was just going to walk me to the cab at the front of his building.

He hugs and kisses me goodbye before I jump into the taxi. And I will never forget the look on his face as I sped away in that taxi. A lost puppy is what he looked like.

He later messaged me that night with a sincere (as one can get over text) apology and that he’d make it up to me. I ghosted on him and never replied.

The End.

I wanted to write this post because I mentioned the story in a recent post. To follow I will write my thoughts (then and now) about these dating scenarios. I’ll also discuss how this relates to my depression.

Part I to this article When a Man Doesn’t Drive You Home. A Dealbreaker? Hell Yes

How Fast a Man Can Change

This has more to do with my breakup than my depression but I thought I’d throw it out there. Now I’ve only had two major breakups in my life and I can’t help but notice how fast a man can change. To begin with, both men were naturally very kind and caring individuals so it came as even more of a shock when they pulled a 180 after we broke up. The special treatment, the attention and the patience, all vanished. Okay, so you may be saying to yourself “no sh*t, of course it’s all gone, you broke up!” but where did it go? And how did it disappear so fast? Is this a coping mechanism men use? Or is it just the way they were built?

Men, Sex and Depression

The thing with Mental Illness is it’s easy to latch on to things that make you feel better. I can see how alcoholism and depression go hand in hand. You’re looking for a quick way out of the pain, something to help you endure. I’ve never had an addictive personality but now, being recently ‘broken up with‘ (my friend refuses to let me use the word dumped) I can see how my rebounding with men has become a security blanket.

The rush. The glee. The newness. There is nothing like having new firsts with a person you’re enthralled with. Combine that with my OCD and you have me repeating convos and sexual encounters in my head – feeling good, almost high, off the memories. But after several of these type of situations, I’m left feeling empty. The men are gone and I realize I have nothing that even measures up to what I had with my ex. And then what’s left but me, myself and my depression. I feel hollow.

And it scares me. Am I addicted to that feeling that is inevitably fleeting? Am I that broken that that is where I find my happiness? This can’t be my life.

A friend of mine gave me some sage advice. To slow it down. Look at my day, write, edit my book, do simple things – building blocks. So here I am writing, hoping to fill that void. Build myself back up.

I cannot enter into another relationship without finding my own happiness first – maybe this way I’ll avoid the pitfalls of my last. This is my new goal in life.

You Should Date An Illiterate Girl

How clever and beautifully written. Out of all the nonsense on the Internet this is worth your five minutes.

Thought Catalog

Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.

Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into…

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