Why You Should Share Your Mental Health Condition With Your Partner
Mental health has a major effect on our relationships, especially those that are romantic. The ups and downs of mental health certainly affect friendships and family, but the day-to-day nature of romantic relationships inevitably leads to a much deeper understanding of your significant other’s mental health. When one or both people in the relationship have a mental health condition, it becomes a factor in the relationship even more so.
Often, the big feelings of a mental health condition demand to be heard. The more time you spend with someone, the more likely those big feelings are going to happen when you’re with them. It may not be the way you pictured things going or as romantic as the fairytales, but allowing your significant other to see your raw emotions is actually an incredible opportunity to bring the two of you closer.
Instinctually, we feel like we must hide our mental health condition and protect ourselves from being judged. I used to fear that boys I was dating would end things with me if I showed them my negative emotions because they’d think I was “too much for them.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one told confidence is attractive and being insecure will scare away a man. But I find the opposite to be true (with any partner worth having). Showing your insecurity is vulnerable, and vulnerability is the catalyst for relationships to grow. Being raw in front of a significant other allows them to see who you really are and feel comfortable sharing their insecurities with you too - because NEWS FLASH, we all have them.
Everyone has mental health. Even if you have a mental health condition and your partner doesn’t, it doesn’t mean they can’t be understanding of what you’re going through. However, it definitely takes work. In relationships in which one person has a mental health condition, and the other doesn’t, a lot of upfront effort has to be put in on both ends. It can be incredibly difficult for a person without a mental health condition to understand why their partner would hysterically cry because the dinner plans changed (ahem...me). And, it can also be challenging for a person with a mental health condition to open up to someone deeply after closing themselves off from everyone for so long. Learning the details of someone’s mental health condition takes time, long conversations, lots of questions, and lots of understanding on both ends. Sometimes it takes telling your partner “I really just need you to say ‘that sucks’ right now and not try to fix it” or “I know you’re upset, but I really don’t understand, can you tell me what you’re thinking?” Even two people with mental illnesses, heck even two people with the same diagnoses, have to go through the phase of learning the ins and outs of each other’s condition.
Sharing your mental health condition with a partner can be a blessing to your relationship, as it brings you that much closer. Being in that dark hole of living with a mental health condition and having your partner climb in there with you is an affirming experience. And when you’re able to climb out of the hole together, it feels like you made it through a war and your relationship is completely changed for the better. Making it through those scary times knits you together with your partner and makes your relationship so much stronger.
The specifics might look a little different, and it may take a bit more effort, but like any other relationship, it just takes constant communication. Everyone has mental health. Every relationship deals with the ups and downs of mental health - those of us with mental health conditions just deal with it a little more often and more intensely.
Written by Hannah Maine.