“Keep dating and you will become so sick, so badly crippled, so deformed, so emotionally warped and mentally defective that you will marry anybody,” said Florence King in “Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady.”
All kidding aside, dating can affect your mental health, and having good or poor mental health can affect your dating life. Since many people are actively seeking a long-term romantic partner in life, and dating is part of that process, it’s beneficial to understand the impact mental health and dating can have on each other.
Alicia Munoz, a licensed mental health counselor, licensed professional counselor and a certified Imago relationship therapist, shares information about the complex relationship that exists between dating and mental health for those people who deal with mental illnesses and other mental health issues.
She said that some experts might suggest people with mental health issues work on themselves before bringing another person romantically into their lives.
“It’s true that in a pristine, organized, methodical world, it might benefit people with mental health issues to seek and get treatment before they begin to date,” Munoz said. “Realistically, however, this would be a very improbable recommendation, since part of the way we as human beings seek relief from our mental health issues is by seeking connection with others.”
Getting out and interacting with others is actually a major focus of the treatment process for people with mental disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD and major depressive disorder, since withdrawal and social isolation are some general symptoms.
“Part of the focus of treatment is to encourage clients to reach out, seek human contact, risk sharing their fears, feelings and vulnerabilities, and develop or maintain intimate relationships with other people,” Munoz said.
However, whether dating is beneficial or not all depends on the individual and even certain mental disorders. For example, people with borderline personality disorder might not be able to handle the “highs and lows of dating” without first treating their disorder, and their symptoms could worsen as a result of dating.