How Having A Mental Illness Affects Dating
Dating and mental health can be a difficult combination. While in a great relationship, you might feel supported and loved through struggles with your mental illness, it can also make dating daunting and exhausting. PsychGuides, a company which provides surveys and guides that shed light on psychological disorders, surveyed 2,000 people to find out how relationships are affected by mental health and, while some of the responses were encouraging, there's still a way to go. A lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about mental health with their partner.
"I can understand why men and women don’t rush to disclose their mental health status," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "There is a real lack of education around mental illness and as a result a big stigma attached to a diagnosis. What many people don’t realize is that someone who is actually diagnosed is likely to be getting better treatment than someone who is walking around undiagnosed. I recommend treating this kind of a diagnosis like all other sensitive, personal information. I would definitely wait a little while to disclose. This isn’t first, second, or third date information. You want to make sure that the person you are dating is actually someone who you are going to have a real relationship with. And then tell them straight out and if you can, provide a bit of educational material for them (written or verbal) so they have a sense of what it is you are talking about. There’s a ton of misinformation out there and you want to let them know the straight story of what you have been struggling with."
Struggling with dating and mental health? You are not alone. Here's what PsychGuides found out:
1. More Than 60 Percent Of Respondents Reported Having A Mental Illness
In case you need any proof that you're not alone: 64 percent of all respondents reported having a mental illness. So far more than half. Not only are you not alone, you're in the majority, so there's nothing to feel embarrassed about.
2. More Women Disclose Their Mental Health Issues Than Men
Nearly three quarter of women have told their partner about their mental illness, while only 52 percent of men have. In an ideal world everyone would feel comfortable enough to, but we're still a long way off of that.
3. And They Are More Likely To Share Their Treatment
The same is true for those on medication or seeking treatment for their mental illness. Only around 50 percent of men and 75 percent of women share this with their partner.
4. It Can Lead To A Lot Of Relationship Insecurities
It can be tough, with the most common insecurity being feeling "not good enough" for your partner, which about 1/3 of respondents agreed with. "Some mental health disorders can greatly exacerbate insecurities," PsychGuides explains. "For instance, relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD), a form of OCD, can cause unwanted thoughts and feelings that prompt certain types of behavior."
5. Support Varied Between Disorders For Men
The amount of support men received from their partner varied. Of those with ADHD almost 80 percent felt supported, but for those with sex and porn additions that fell to 60 percent.
6. And For Women
For women, those with OCD felt the most supported— or at least 78 percent of them did. But for schizophrenia, that dropped to only half of sufferers getting the support that they need.
7. Most People Disclose In The First Six Months
While not everyone discloses, those who do so tend to it within the first six months. But as PsychGuides points out "men tended to wait longer than women to disclose their diagnosis, perhaps reflecting an observed tendency among men to feel more stigma surrounding their mental health struggles." But for men and for women, there's obviously along way to go to get people the security and support they need. Have an open dialogue with your partner.
Images: Fotolia; Courtesy of PsychGuides