Tips from the experts: How to avoid dating your mental health

Dating can be beautiful and stressful. A couples therapist will tell you how your search for love does not become a complete failure for your mental health.

Dating and mental health. Is there a connection and if so, why?

Eric Heijman: We can experience the adventure of dating in very different ways. Excitement, palpitations, laughter together….Dating should be fun and good for both parties. Anyone who does not adhere to “dating etiquette” is not only impolite, but also harms the psyche of the other person. One of the typical “red flags” is ghosting – sudden, unexplained loss of contact during the introductory phase.

According to a study by Parship, more than 25 percent of those looking for a partner have already tried this. Those affected often complain that after that it became difficult for them to trust new contacts. Unfortunately! Of course, this also makes the search for a future partner much more difficult. It is much more fun to show genuine interest and commitment when dating. And if this is not appropriate – it is better to put your cards on the table and explain your feelings in a conversation. This way, the other person knows where they are and can engage in the next flirtation positively and without guilt.

When does dating become a risk factor for our mental health?

Heigman: Anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable dating or is treated unfriendly will, of course, get hurt. You feel sad and don’t want to eat anymore and find it difficult to sleep. Pure heartbreak! You should avoid this tension when searching for a partner and courtship carefully from the start. Your gut feeling often points you in the right direction.

If you suddenly hear nothing from the other person, it is very frustrating. However, one must draw conclusions from this behavior and try to clear one’s mind again. Nobody deserves to be treated like this. The next appointment will definitely be more positive and appreciative. It is also important to act in an appreciative manner towards others and to communicate one’s intentions transparently. In this way, disappointments on both sides can at least be reduced.

How do you spot the red flags that may hurt you when dating?

Heigman: First of all, it is important to have enough “green flags” in dating. This is exactly what makes up the happiness factor and is the important basis for a potential relationship. We should feel safe on the date, laugh with each other and be ourselves – on all sides. No one should pretend to be different. It also makes sense to explore common moral concepts and life perspectives. Also, does it match the question, “Do I want a long-term relationship or just a short one?” Red flags are not a concern.

In the Parship study, for example, many singles called parallel dating a red flag, that is, if someone was pursuing other connections. If this behavior turns into stalling tactics like sitting down, which means putting someone off, that’s definitely a red flag. It takes self-reflection, reasoning, pauses now and then to assess warning signs and not rush into a situation that, on closer examination, is not all that helpful and promising.

How do you know that a person might not be doing you any good?

Heigman: If the new person is creating more fears than positive feelings inside of you, this is definitely the first indication. A look at your resume is often helpful: Do I keep finding similar types that trigger or create painful memories? This includes questioning yourself over and over, as well as the new person’s intentions, communicating a lot, and also having the courage to share feelings. Texting for weeks is often a sign of not having the courage to actually check a positive first impression so you don’t get disappointed. It’s best to arrange a video appointment or walk early, for example.

How do I track my mental health while dating?

Heigman: It is not dating itself that sometimes harms us, but the behavior of our contacts. It’s not the dating app that ghosts, it’s other singles that do. But what about ourselves? We should also think about our behavior from time to time in order to experience dating in a positive way. Do we treat a potential partner with the same respect we expect of ourselves?

IMPORTANT: We like to flirt with all our heart and confidence even after negative experiences. So let’s keep our curiosity about new contacts and not always expect the worst. Let’s take a look at the opportunities available today when looking for a partner. This helps in not being alone in seeing dangers. In short: keep an optimistic outlook. Which, by the way, has a lot to do with the success of finding a partner, because good attracts good.

(For the said study, Parship, with market research institute INNOFACT AG, asked 1,329 company members ages 18 to 69 how comfortable they currently feel with their dating life. The survey was conducted online in April 2022.)

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