The Etiquette of Dating (with baggage)
Statistics now say that 1 in 4 of us struggle with mental health issues in our lifetime.
It’s an issue that seems to be ever-increasing with every generation and a real problem to tackle for the church.
But I think it can also be a real struggle when it comes to our dating lives. Read on for some of my frustrations and questions on the etiquette of dating with mental health issues.
So, let’s dive in… on which date do I mention my 16-year long eating disorder? Do I put on the dating profile, let them know what they’re in for? Do I sit through many dinner dates feeling incredibly uncomfortable but at least not scaring them off? Do I liken myself to Eeyore so they guess I have depression? Do I mention my anxiety before a date so the sweating makes sense? Or do I say nothing but pray they receive a word from God?
These are the real questions in my dating life… the things I need to know! They’re also questions that I’ve asked many of my friends (male and female, Christian and non-Christian). Interestingly, many said that they would want to know pretty early on. I think for some, they wanted to know so they could back out, for others they wanted to be able to support me (you know, go for a walk not an all-you-can-eat buffet!). But perhaps my favourite advice (for purely comical reasons) was from my Gran last year who advised me, “When you meet the person God gives you, don’t tell them about your problems. That’s your baggage and you’ll probably scare them off”. Thanks Gran. Putting it to a generational difference, I quickly decided that probably wasn’t a word from God!
It’s also a question, as single people, we can ask ourselves. Are we ready to date someone with struggles (physical, mental or spiritual)? Are we prepared to love people ‘exactly as they are’? Yes, I am quoting Bridget Jones. And if you do have struggles, are you ready to be vulnerable and open to sharing those with a potential future partner?
So, in the words of a fashionable 90’s wristband, What Would Jesus Do? Well, we can see in the Bible that Jesus teaches us to love, support and pray for one another. To me, this means being vulnerable, open and honest about our struggles whilst supporting each other through love and prayer.
One of my previous blogs spoke about not wasting time while I’m single. One of the ways I’m doing this is by learning to see myself through God’s eyes. Alongside my weekly therapy at an Eating Disorder clinic, I’m also trying to spend lots of time just talking to Jesus. I’ve now found people I can be accountable to and I’m opening up to my new church with a whole new level of vulnerability. And it makes me wonder, until we can see ourselves as worth something, the way God sees us, can we every really truly commit to a real Godly relationship?
I spend a lot of time with married couples (the third-wheel life) and through the years I’ve seen strong relationships and those that perhaps need a little more Jesus. The marriages I aspire to are those of honesty, those where a husband will lovingly challenge his wife, or a wife will be constantly praying for her husband’s growing faith. I am currently working in my time of singleness to reach a level of mental health where I could bring this kind of Godly, passionate and active love to a relationship.
This is a massive topic and this blog is just a taster but I’ll finish by saying this…
If you are struggling with any kind of mental health issues, know first that you are not alone. Take care to find someone you can open up to, especially in your church or small groups. If you don’t feel this applies to you, perhaps reflect and think of the things that could be holding you back from fully committing to a Godly relationship - when the time is right!
I am not an expert, I’ve barely had a date (a story for another blog) so do get in touch if you have any advice on the subject, would love some!
Love and prayers, Char.