I’ve never liked dating. For me, it’s just a means to an end. I want a partner, I want a family, so I need to date. Of course, you’re not ‘supposed’ to say any of this to the people that you date — it’ll ‘scare them away.’
Now, maybe it’s the borderline in me, but I’m always ready to dive right into a new relationship. Even if it doesn’t technically exist yet.
Hey, you! Yeah, you, cute stranger! You smiled at me and I liked our (brief) interaction. We should get married!
Hey, you, cute woman that I met in treatment. You’re smart, you laugh at my jokes, and I like your face. Plus, we’re both sick! Have my babies?
Actively fighting the thought that anyone I meet might be my soulmate is extremely tiring. And it can make me do some pretty weird things… Like focus all my energy on building one single relationship when we haven’t even been on a date, or she doesn’t even know that I have a crush on her. (True story.)
When someone on a dating site sends me a message and we start talking, I need to make a conscious effort not to put all of my eggs in one basket. Constantly trying to remind myself that I should play the field, be casual, be more aloof. Then quickly over-analyzing everything that happens anyway.
Wait. He took twenty minutes to respond to my text? Did I say something wrong? Did he meet someone else? Am I really just annoying him?
Even worse are the thoughts that circle after I’ve actually been on a date. The stakes feel heightened, and I’m less able to brush off anything that I think is wrong. After she’s actually spent time with me, she’s bound to see all the flaws that I see in myself.
Was it my weight? My voice? Was I too awkward? Too loud? Did I try too hard? Was my desperation for love and partnership written all over my face?
I stopped dating or looking for partners for a year after my last relationship. I think I really needed it. Sick Maddi in a relationship is quite the nightmare. My illnesses and my past work together to craft a terrible combination of insecurity, clinginess, and fear of abandonment. Sometimes I succeed in fighting it back, but at my worst, it sneaks through.
My inner dialogue is fraught with self-doubt already, but when a relationship comes around, my brain turns up the dial. It can be really hard for me to believe that someone really loves me when I have so much proof that people can’t be trusted.
And so far, this has only been on my side of the relationship. What about the other person? They deserve someone who can be there to support them, too. Maybe it’s not fair of me to jump into a relationship when I’m not well. It’s so hard to support someone through mental illness, and how can I really expect that from someone? How’s that fair?
But when will I really be ready? And how will I know?
If not after a full year, then how many years? How long will I have to wait for this part of my life to finally fall into place? I’ve already given up so much.
Sure, I desperately want a relationship, but I’m still not even sure if I can handle it. For good or for bad, any relationship is extra stress and responsibility, no matter how ‘casual’ I pretend that I can be about it. (I can’t actually be casual about it at all.)
Here’s my biggest fear in any type of relationship: being a burden. Taking more than I’m given. And when I need so much support, how can I be sure that I won’t be the worst kind of toxic partner — one who’s only focused on themselves?
Worse still, how do I know how much of my thoughts or behaviours in a relationship are ‘normal’ and how many are just my symptomatic mind?
I think that I have to resign to just not dating, as much as it pains me to say. I’m just not stable enough. And I can’t convince myself that it’s in any way fair to include someone else in my unstable life. I already feel guilty enough about the people that support me now.
If you have any experiences dating while ill, please let me know!