There’s this adolescent fantasy or expectation I’ve never been able to shake…that as a guy I should always have a plethora of choices for a lady friend. As my mind went south in my college years so did this expectation and with it my self-esteem.
More than once in my 20s and 30s, I took long breaks between relationships. Most of my insular behavior was the dread in explaining such lapses. Now I realize these are complete canards…people care about you in the here and now. Your past is largely unimportant.
A hallmark of my particular struggle with mental illness is an urge to withdraw. Others are seen as a threat…that I will somehow be “outed”…all my vulnerabilities and failures will suddenly see the light of day.
Like most things that cause anxiety or discomfort, I find they can easily be placated with a modicum of bravery. But if you don’t have someone on board for the encouragement it can be paralyzing.
My suggestion is to emulate those that took the plunge and got into the dating pool…found someone…or not…I find so many of the worries that consume us are very commonplace and shared by many.
People are willing to excuse a questionable dating history if you show great character or are fun to be around. I wish someone had whispered this in my ear during one of my dating droughts.
I started Nolongerlonely.com knowing that many people were like me…having a lot to offer but an incomplete ledger of dating successes. I know withdrawal is a hallmark symptom of mental illness. I see this though as very reversible.
My suggestion is to worry less about the past and make bold steps to the future. I’m amazed daily at the kindness and profound character of the members of my website. I encourage anyone on the fence to find out for themselves.
Jim Leftwich is the founder and CEO of Nolongerlonely.com. No Longer Lonely is one of the only online dating sites that serve the specific niche audience of those who are diagnosed with a mental illness. Jim has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder himself and felt as though there should be such a community created where users can be rest assured that each user on the site is sensitized to the particular challenges of managing a mental illness. Jim established the site in 2004 and has since focused a concerted effort on promoting Nolongerlonely.com!