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Jareena Silva

Dating can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. It can be a great way to meet new people, explore new opportunities, and build relationships. However, it can also be a source of stress and anxiety and can have an impact on our mental health.

What is Dating?

Many people might have slight differences in the way they define dating. But, we can probably all mostly agree that it’s an experience a person has when looking to engage in a romantic relationship at some level.

Dating has been around since the beginning of time as an important part of human society. It is a way of connecting with someone, getting to know them, and potentially building a relationship. Dating can be a rollercoaster, as it involves taking risks and possibly getting hurt.

How does dating affect our mental health?

Attachment Styles

There are 4 main attachment styles: anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure. As we enter into new relationships, we may see the effects of our attachment styles come to surface. And, depending on the attachment style of the other person or people, it can cause conflict.

Our attachment styles were most likely formed as a young child. Attachment styles developed in early childhood are based on the interactions between children and their parents. These same attachment styles can be used to explain the dynamics of romantic relationships in adulthood.

Anxious Attachment

People with an anxious attachment style are most fearful of being abandoned. When this fear is aroused, even in minor ways, they can become overwhelmed and respond by panicking. They may constantly worry that their partner doesn't love them and are very distraught when there is conflict in a relationship or when a partnership ends.

Avoidant Attachment

Those with an avoidant attachment style may invest little emotion into a romantic relationship and find it difficult to express their feelings or thoughts. They also tend to prefer to handle conflict quickly, sometimes even outright ignoring it. These people may also have a very difficult time supporting their partner during times of high stress and can pull away.

Disorganized Attachment

The disorganized attachment style is also known as the fearful-avoidant attachment style. People with this style tend to have experienced childhood trauma or neglect. And, as an adult, they may feel they do not deserve a healthy, loving relationship or closeness with other people in general.

Secure Attachment

People with a secure attachment style tend to have long-term healthy relationships. They can typically share their emotions and feelings with other people easily. During times of conflict, they are able to handle it with confidence and are open to conflict resolution. Additionally, those with secure attachment usually have good self-esteem.

Understanding your attachment style and that of your partner(s) can be helpful in navigating your dating life and romantic relationships. There are different ways to navigate attachment styles. For example, journaling can help you identify patterns in your behaviors and thoughts. It can also help you slow down and process your emotions.

How can therapy help with my dating life?

In general, therapy can help with issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma. It can also help with managing stress, improving relationships, and creating a sense of wellbeing. Going to therapy can provide an opportunity to talk with a professional about your issues without fear of judgment or criticism. It can also help to provide clarity and insight into your situation and can help you to develop strategies for dealing with difficult situations.

Understand your Attachment Style

Studies have found that our first relationships in life can often have a significant influence on how we interact with partners in adulthood, though we may not be aware of it. Therefore, therapists who focus on psychodynamic, relational, and schema-focused therapy can be beneficial in helping to uncover and understand these patterns. Doing so can be key in helping to break the cycle of continually dating the same type of partner that is not conducive to a healthy and successful relationship.

Process Emotions

The therapeutic relationship provides a secure, reliable environment for people to share their feelings and emotions and to explore them in more depth. In our everyday lives, we often don't reveal our true feelings, even to those that we trust the most. This is because we often express our emotions in ways that we have been taught. In therapy, people can experiment with emotions they may not have known how to express before, or which they may have felt too inhibited to say.

Improve your Self-Esteem

Having low self-esteem can be the result of past and present events, relationships, or behaviors. By working with a therapist, you can gain insight into the source of your insecurities, and how it has been impacting your life. This can lead to difficulty in setting boundaries, expressing yourself, and advocating for your own needs. Whenever you recognize your own black and white thinking, you can consciously address it and prioritize your own wants and needs.

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About the Author

Jareena is MyWellbeing's Community Manager and is dedicated to supporting MyWellbeing's providers in order for them to offer the best possible care for you. Jareena is a mental health advocate and aims to identify ways to destigmatize discussions around mental health and how to make care more accessible.