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A common trend, unfortunately, seems to be the desire to appear normal, at almost any cost. Particularly, in the Black community, discussion of or admittance to having any sort of wellness offset can be a great taboo. Denial of social, mental, and emotional disorders can have excessive side effects that will impact your life and the lives of those connected to you. It is important to learn to 1. Be honest with yourself about your wellness and 2. Help those you love understand, remotely, what you’re dealing with. Especially your significant other. We cannot expect to build lifelong, committed, and honest relationships with anyone, particularly a spouse, if we have not dealt with our own issues, first. This article will briefly outline key components to working through a romantic relationship while living with social, mental, and emotional illnesses.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your significant other was full of energy and eager to enjoy a night on the town, while you were in no mood to be social? What do you do when you’re battling with yourself about all the things that can go wrong with a situation before you even embark on the journey? Has there ever been a day, week, or significant lapse in time where all you felt was a desire to do nothing at all for a reason you also could not decipher on your own? These are common, examples of the subconscious occurrences of someone living with general anxiety, depression, social anxiety, or some other disorder or ailment. For some who live with these things, as I do with anxiety, we have learned to cope in various ways; we had to seek out and actively apply systems that would help us prevent “episodes” or allow us to be open to support from others while we deal with our pressures of life.

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When dating, it is important to be clear with your partner about your disorders. Consider the fact that you are growing with someone, in hopes of committing to marriage and maybe even raising children down the line. Your mannerisms, at times, will be attributed to your disorder, but how will they know that unless they’ve previously been made aware? How will they know what you need if it has not ever been discussed? Furthermore, how shall you both deal with your children who may inherit or develop a disorder of their own? If you are seriously courting, make one point of conversation your health and wellness. This is not something that we should “spring” on anyone, as it takes time to adjust.

In congruence with awareness, there must also be understanding on our end. We have to be honest with ourselves when being candid with our future spouses: this won’t be easy, and it won’t always make sense. But, it can be overcome. Sometimes, when we get in our moods of depression or are too anxious to make up our minds about anything, and when the right words are far from our lips, we cannot be quick to anger with our partners because of what they may not understand. We cannot grow more anxious, or depressed, or frustrated with them or ourselves when their reaction to or interaction with is has been challenged beyond immediate control or repair. Patience is the name of this game. Express your feelings as fluidly as possible and allow them to ask questions to broaden their knowledge. This openness will incur trust and strengthen the bond between you (or at the least, help you to discern who is your soulmate and who is not).

So, if you’re dating or open to dating and are battling a wellness disorder, remember that you are not a burden, anyone willing to share in life with you as you overcome this struggle is someone worth investing in. Take a chance on opening up and allowing yourself to be loved, flaws and all.