This post was originally published on HeadsUp Guys.
When fighting depression, it’s pretty common for guys to withdraw from relationships or avoid starting new relationships, but doing so only makes you feel more isolated and alone.
If you’re not in an intimate relationship, but are interested in starting one, it can be hard to get things going if depression is weighing you down. Below are some tips that can help get you into the game.
It’s important to keep in mind that, if you’re severely depressed and having a hard time keeping up with daily tasks, you may want to focus more on your own health before looking for a relationship. Our Practical Tips and information on Professional Services can help.
Here are some tips to consider if you’re looking to start a new relationship:
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
A lot of guys lose confidence when depressed, but that doesn’t mean that other people don’t want to be around you. There are people out there that want to get to know you.
Know that depression doesn’t define who you are – it’s a health condition (like high blood pressure, for example) and it doesn’t make you any less worthy and interesting than the next guy.
LOOK TO MEET PEOPLE IN PLACES WHERE YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE
It could be a coffee shop, a store you like to browse, a neighbourhood pub, or the gym – the point is to put yourself in places where there is opportunity to strike up a conversation. No matter what your interests are, there’s bound to be a group, an event, a team, club, or volunteer opportunity with others who share your interests. Use these opportunities to connect with like-minded people.
ONLINE DATING AND DATING APPS
This is a useful way to connect with others, especially if you are uncomfortable meeting people in social settings.
Ask a friend for help in making up a profile or to take some profile photos.
Online dating and dating apps are different than trying to meet someone in person – people can get overwhelmed with messages so don’t expect to hear back from everyone you reach out to.
REACHING OUT THROUGH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Many relationships start through mutual friends or acquaintances. By letting friends know you are looking or asking if a friend of theirs is single, you increase your chances of meeting a potential partner.
THINK OF CONVERSATION STARTERS
If you have a hard time getting the ball rolling when you meet someone, think of possible conversation starters and follow-up questions in advance (sports, current events, music, school, work) to get a conversation going when opportunities come along. An easy way to start a conversation is to ask someone what brought them to wherever you both are.
LOOK TO MAKE FRIENDS FIRST
It can help take the pressure off if you think of dating as looking to make friends first.
All healthy relationships rest on the foundation of friendship. If things don’t take off romantically but you are still interested in hanging out or getting to know a person, that is good too.
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO HAVE FUN
Often, when we’re not feeling 100%, we feel like we’re not allowed to enjoy ourselves when we’re around others. No one is telling you that you have to “play the sick role” – let yourself relax, play, have fun, and laugh. Don’t feel guilty about having fun or laughing.
KNOW WHEN AND HOW TO TALK ABOUT DEPRESSION
It’s often best to not bring up significant personal issues early in a relationship – especially on the first date. Instead, allow your relationship to progress naturally and then let the person know once you start to get to know each other on a deeper level. When you do decide to talk about it, be thoughtful in how you present it. Let the other person know that it is something that you deal with and manage just like any other illness.
ACCEPT SOME EMOTIONAL RISK
Dating while fighting depression can be extra stressful. Don’t let depressive thoughts spiral out of control, or generalize to thinking things will never work out. It takes effort to find a relationship, so remember to give yourself credit for each step you take – if it doesn’t go as hoped, see what you can learn from the experience and move forward.
There is no secret formula when it comes to dating – the main point is that you won’t find a relationship if you don’t try. Get more tips on sex, relationships and depression.
HeadsUpGuys is a website dedicated to fighting depression in men. The site features practical tips, information about professional services and stories of recovery. It also has a self-check tool that can help determine whether or not depression may be affecting you.