Dating and Depression — Waiting Until Not Depressed to Date?
Dating and depression don't mix very well. When you feel terrible about yourself because of depression, it's not the best time to meet new people and try to develop healthy connections. But if your depression is longstanding, does that mean you shouldn't date? Can you successfully date while depressed?
Dating and Depression Symptoms Don't Mix
Depression brings with it symptoms that don't lend themselves to dating. These include (but are not limited to):
- A lack of interest in activities
- A lack of experienced pleasure
- Weight gain
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Thoughts of suicide
Can you imagine getting all dolled up, screwing your courage together, and then meeting a stranger for a good time? It sounds pretty much impossible.
Chronic Depression and Dating
The problem is that some people experience chronic depression. In this case, the definition of chronic depression is depression that lasts longer than two years.1 Just imagine waiting a year for your depression to pass, only to find that it didn't. Then imagine waiting two years, only to find the same thing. Should people in these situations really be told never to date until the elusive state of remission occurs? What if remission doesn't occur for five years or 10? Yes, some people face that reality. Should they be alone that whole time? I say no.
It would be like saying to anyone with any other chronic illness that they shouldn't date. At some point, you just have to get on with whatever life you have. This is not an easy thing. No, this is an almost impossible thing fraught with challenges, difficulties, and likely failures, and yet, that doesn't mean it isn't worth trying. People do accept others with different chronic illnesses, so why not depression too?
Why Date with Depression?
I'm depressed, and I'm dating. I hate it. (Of course, I'm not convinced I wouldn't hate it, regardless.) I do feel quite worthless and hideous, thanks to my depression. I do feel like I offer others nothing but problems, thanks to my depression. And admittedly, I've been mostly alone for a long time.
But here's the thing: I like certain parts of intimate relationships. I like hugs and cuddles and close conversations. I adore fancy cocktails out and hot sex in. And while I can get all those things from a variety of sources, nothing quite compares to getting them from someone you care about and who cares about you.
The Secret to Dating with Depression
So to date with depression, I employ a strategy that I don't particularly like: fake it 'til you make it.
It's not something I suggest people do all the time, and it won't even work in a relationship that you want to make successful long-term, but when sitting in front of that stranger, sipping a latte, and awkwardly making pained conversation, faking it may be the best a person — any person, for that matter — can do.
And don't forget this: while your depression might be making you feel ugly and shouting that you have no value and insisting that your life means nothing, it lies. It's a bald-faced, lying liar from Liarsville. You're more than smart enough not to believe it. And if you're lucky, being out with someone who can't hear the lies might just reinforce that for you.
Cladder-Micus, M. B., Speckens, A. E. M., Vrijsen, J. N., Donders, A. R. T., Becker, E. S., & Spijker, J. (2018). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for patients with chronic, treatment-resistant depression: A pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Depression and Anxiety, 35(10), 914–924. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22788
Tracy, N. (2023, March 27). Dating and Depression — Waiting Until Not Depressed to Date?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, September 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2023/3/dating-and-depression-waiting-until-not-depressed-to-date
Author: Natasha Tracy
Hi I’m Jennifer and I need help I’ve never been mentally evaluated but I know I have chronic depression long story short I’ve been put through the ringer and And I come from a family that doesn’t believe in mental illness I’m wondering what’s the first step to getting proper evaluated
I'm sorry you've been through the wringer. That sounds tough.
To get a proper evaluation for a mental illness, your best bet is to see a medical doctor (like your family doctor). A doctor can ask you questions and give you a basic screening. They may choose to start treatment at that time, or they may refer you to a psychiatrist.
Keep in mind, that while doctors are very important during treatment, therapy is also very important. You should also look into seeing a therapist who specializes in dealing with clinical depression. Make sure you pick someone you gel with. Ideally, this person should be a psychologist (they have a Ph.D.), but other types of therapists are also available.
I hope that helps.
-- Natasha Tracy