We Asked Young People What It's Like to Date While Anxious and Depressed

"I convince myself that I can't open up to people because there's definitely a stigma."

by Sheherzad Preisler
Apr 9 2017, 10:05pm

Dating with a mental illness can really fucking suck. Stigmas abound, and often make otherwise promising prospects turn cold.

Guy A. Boysen, associate professor of psychology at McKendree University, recently analyzed two studies that, sadly, bear these stigmas out. In the first one, participants rated people with mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia as having less short and long-term relationship promise than average. In the second study, participants assessed people's physical attractiveness based solely on personal ads that mentioned their disorders. Across the board, mentally ill people were, once again, seen as below-average prospects when it came to building a long-term relationship.

We talked to a handful of young singles about what it's like to date with a mental illness, and the challenges they're still up against.

Matt, 23, Manhattan, NY

"I've always had generalized anxiety and hypochondria. I'd go to the doctor a million times in middle school, and be like, "I have a brain tumor!" In college, I started having panic attacks. After college, I was like, "All right, I need medication." So now I'm on Lexapro and Ativan as needed."

Can you give me an example of when you've felt judged? I was on a random Tinder date or something, and we were out to dinner. I usually take Lexapro around that time, and when I took it, he asked what it was. I said, "Oh, it's just Lexapro," and I could immediately tell he sort of shut down when I said that. It was clear he didn't have any education on mental health stuff. We never followed up, but I didn't wanna go on another date with that person, anyway.

How has your dating life evolved since then? I've noticed a big, big change in who I will trust or even go on a date with. I feel like if I even get a slight vibe from someone where they don't really get mental health issues or understand medication, then they're out—it's just not gonna work. And my Lexapro affects my libido sometimes. So I'll try to take my Lexapro at night after my current partner and I have had sex. It's been a tough thing—he's totally understanding, but I don't think he can relate because he hasn't been on meds that affect his sex drive.

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