5 Tips to Maintain Your Mental Health While Dating
Relationships can be tremendously rewarding; they bring close companionship, humor and love into our lives. But the pressure to be in a relationship can also be a source of stress and even bring down your self-image as you wonder why you can’t find someone special. The truth is that there are just as many advantages to being single for your mental health as there are to being coupled up.
When you do decide to date, keep these five tips in mind to protect your heart and take care of your mental health.
Stick to Your Boundaries
Don’t allow yourself to succumb to any pressure; you should know and be comfortable with your limits regarding emotional disclosure, physical intimacy and commitment. It’s okay if your partner doesn’t necessarily share the same boundaries, but they should always respect yours and never use anger, guilt or other behaviors to get you to change yours for their sake.
Practice Open Communication
Don’t expect your partner to automatically know how you feel; at the same time, you shouldn’t assume their feelings toward you or anything else about your budding relationship. It can be nerve-racking to ask someone how they feel about you, but being direct and open about what you want and where you stand is the cornerstone of a healthy dating life.
Be Mindful of Self-Disclosure
Opening up too soon puts you at risk of being hurt and taken advantage of. Sometimes, we want to tell someone everything about us in hopes of feeling accepted, but we need time to build trust and intimacy. You aren’t obligated to tell someone everything about your past, struggles or mental illness. Keep things light, enjoy your date’s company and gradually share things over time. Taking it slow also gives you a good opportunity to find out whether this is someone you can trust with your life’s personal details.
Embrace the Possibility of Rejection
It may be hard to imagine the person you’re seeing not calling you back or not thinking you’re a match, but rejection is simply part of the deal when you are getting to know others. Dating someone should not automatically feel like you are in a committed relationship; consider it a chance to get to know someone and determine whether or not you’re compatible.
Just as it’s okay for someone to decide you aren’t a match, you also have the power to call things off. Remember your own power; it’s okay to realize that someone isn’t what you’re looking for in a partner. Likewise, remind yourself that their decision to not pursue a relationship is simply a reflection of their preferences, not your character or worth.
Expectations and standards are not the same thing; you should have a set of values, beliefs and lifestyle preferences that you like in a partner, but you should not demand or expect them to be your soulmate. Although it’s difficult when you really like someone, try to keep your feet on the ground and avoid getting carried away by fantasy and daydreams.
Be on the lookout for a dating partner who seems to rush things and has a very clear vision of the future they’re trying to realize; dating is about living in the moment, connecting with another person and deciding over time if you’d like to build something more together.