I want to highlight the importance of mental health and dating. I wasn’t really sure how to approach this subject as it can be sensitive for some but mental health has such a huge part to play in dating, especially in modern dating, that I couldn’t really ignore it. Especially while I’m at a crucial turning point in my own mental health journey. My personal mental health is currently in the best state, generally, that it’s ever been in. Obviously there are still good days and bad days (just like everybody else) but as a whole, I’m more aware of the bad days and how to manage them and I am able to recognise when I’m self sabotaging. Yay me!
Hi, I’m Georgie and I suffer from low self esteem, feelings of low self worth and anxiety (once diagnosed in me as social phobic disorder but now mostly generalised anxiety). This is the bit where I imagine you all to, in complete synchronicity, say ‘Hi Georgie’ like an AA meeting. During my dating life and my journey to conquer love, mental health has played a vital role, not just for me but for some of my frogs as well. The more I’ve tried to look for relationships with other people, the more obvious it’s become to me that I need to have a good relationship with my own mental health. We all do. I know, you’ve heard this all before. So many Instagram pages have ridiculous pictures of oceans or mountains or the night sky glittered with stars; and over the picture there’ll be some sappy inspirational quote about loving yourself first and you’re the most important relationship to be in blah blah blah. As cringe inducing as these quotes and pictures are… it’s true.
I’ve spent years trying to find someone to love me (not that desperately I would like to clarify). Everybody has their own stuff that stems from different experiences in early life. My most significant was of course my Dad leaving. To a toddler, that’s very confusing and caused a lot of self doubt. Then being rejected by him at eleven and again at twenty six strengthened my negative views of myself. It meant I grew up with issues around my self worth. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough and that I never would be for anyone. But I was so desperate to find love and be loved by another person that I wasn’t going to give up. As an adult, I can tend to keep people at arm’s length to protect myself from the same feelings of abandonment that little 4 year old me felt all those years ago. Keeping people distant can cause problems when it comes to dating. Duh George. On the flip side, I can sometimes be too much of a people pleaser to try and make them stay and love me. Also not a healthy way of doing it. Other times I can end up on dates with guys I have zero interest in because I’m scared of hurting their feelings, regardless of my own. On the brink of turning 29, I’m finding the healthy balance of the lot. At least, I think I am.
Dating with low self worth and anxiety can be easy on good days because it doesn’t affect me at all sometimes. When it’s bad, it means avoiding social situations because you feel so convinced that you’re too ugly for anyone to be attracted to you or even talk to you. It can mean wondering what’s the point because you walk into a room and you feel completely invisible (yes I understand that it seems strange you feel too ugly but also invisible. Anxiety doesn’t make sense). Nobody will look up like they do for your beautiful friends. Nobody notices you even walked into the room. The low self worth makes you feel like you’re not good enough for anyone to love or even want to be around. The anxiety part makes you want to avoid all situations like this. It makes your heart race to the point it feels like it might burst through your chest. It can build up to a panic that people are looking at you and judging how ugly you are. You could be feeling good, chatting to a guy one minute, but then because he’s walked off and talked to a different girl you immediately tell yourself it’s because you’re not good enough. He’s spotted someone better. The anxiety will keep your brain moving at 100mph with all different thoughts bouncing through your head, normally negative ones. At one point it got so bad that I couldn’t sleep. My brain was so confused with my deep rooted feelings of loneliness that subconsciously it would be telling me someone was in my house at night. I’d be drifting off to sleep and any noise would cause my brain to go into overdrive, planting anxious feelings that I wasn’t alone in my house, in my room. Then, I’d be awake. Anxiety can play with your subconscious feelings; the ones you don’t even know you have. I didn’t even know I felt that lonely until suddenly my brain was telling me, in the most horrendous way, that I wasn’t alone in my empty house. Anxiety makes dating and relationships a little more difficult. It makes you feel a little more fragile. It makes you question everything; doubt everything. As if dating isn’t hard enough already.
I will always say you should be honest about your mental health with someone. Don’t get me wrong, hold back for the first bit! I’m not saying let it all spill out on the first date for Christ sake. I’m saying that when things start to get serious it’s ok to tell the other person that you struggle some days. They’ll be able to understand more if you let them in. If you’re aware of your mental health state and accept it then you’ll find ways to manage it and have healthy relationships. Listen to me talking like some kind of expert. Where’s my boyfriend again? Oh yeah, single and ready to mingle. Alone and ready to bone. But you know what I’m saying makes sense.
In the past, I’ve dated guys with depression, anxiety, low self esteem and one who was completely narcissistic. Unfortunately because most of them weren’t aware of how to manage their mental health on bad days, I got the brunt of it. I’d have days where the guy I was dating couldn’t touch me or even look at me because he was having a bad day. One made it very clear I wasn’t good enough for him. He was always looking for something better. That’s really great for a girl with low self esteem. One minute you feel on top of the world with someone and your negative issues melt away. The next minute the person you care about or even love, can make you feel like every negative thought you ever had about yourself are all true. But what I’ve learned is that none of that was about me. Every guy who made me feel like that was the one who was struggling more to deal with how they felt. They are just starting out their mental health journey whereas I’m much further along. They’re still at the stage of fighting it rather than accepting it. I was there once too. Relationships will work if both parties are accepting. If one is just learning about their mental health state and still fighting it or looking for a quick fix; your relationship might but probably won’t work. I learned the hard way. But it was never about me not being good enough because another thing I’ve come to realise is that, and excuse me if I sound big headed here but, I’m awesome! If you’ve ever been knocked down by someone who makes you feel less than you are, remember that it’s not about you. That’s them struggling to deal with their own feelings about themselves. Read my lips (or words. You get what I mean). You are awesome! They’re just still growing whereas you’ve bloomed. They’ll get there but you have to keep blooming while they do.
I joke about it with my friends that I’m what you’d consider a grow-er, not a show-er. I’m never going to be some incredibly beautiful woman that turns heads. So I might not be much to look at but when you get to know me, you’ll realise I’m kind, generous, fun loving and if I do say so myself I’m really fucking funny! No matter how much my brain tells me I’m not good enough, I remind myself that actually I’m a good person and I have so many attributes that people would look for in a partner over a Victoria’s Secret model exterior any day. If they would rather the exterior then, are they really the kind of person I’d want to be with anyway? That’s kind of how I realised my ex breaking up with me was a good thing. My mental health was being dragged through the mud and I know that’s not what I want from somebody who is meant to love me.
So if you’re going to love me please know that I am fragile every so often. Please know that my Instagram photos are a sign of low self esteem rather than vanity. Know that I am strong enough, despite my vulnerability sometimes, to support you if you need it and also to know when my mental health is more important than trying to please you. Know that I will make you laugh and cry and I’ll inspire interesting conversation topics. Know that some days I’ll frustrate you because I’ll worry about what day it is but then you’ll remember why you love me and help me feel better. Know that some days I might need a cuddle but I am strong enough to push you away if you choose to hurt me. I will not chase you if you act like a dick. So, if you’re going to love me, know that I may need a little more reassurance sometimes but I know I’m getting there. Fuck me, it’s taken long enough!! But I am getting there. Slow and steady wins the race after all eh?