12 Situations That Are Harder In Relationships When You're Facing A Mental Illness

12 Situations That Are Harder In Relationships When You're Facing A Mental Illness

Here's how to identify and counteract common pitfalls in relationships with those who deal with depression, anxiety, or trauma


Love spans our entire selves and the rewards of love are endless. But, it's important that we are able to navigate the difficulties we face in order to have happy, successful relationships.

I would like to acknowledge that mental health is infinitely complex and, as a result, the issues that I discuss and their potential solutions may not hit home for everyone and I don't expect them to. What I do wish for you to takeaway is some insight into potential issues you or your partner may face and a sense that you are in no way alone in your experiences. I've had experience with depression, anxiety, and trauma, and so I've drawn from those experiences. But I've also drawn from my experience as a crisis counselor, family member, and friend, and have combined all of these experiences the best I could. It's also very possible that people without mental illnesses experience these same pitfalls, but I've noticed them more so in those with depression, anxiety, or trauma.

1. Choosing the wrong partners

It's a no-brainer that most relationships don't work out, but oftentimes those with mental illnesses end up in relationships with those who hurt them in similar ways they've been hurt in the past because it feels familiar to them, among other reasons, like feeling that's what they deserve, they're afraid of being alone, etc. Breaking out of these patterns of attraction is essential. Be careful to notice toxic patterns of behavior in potential (or current partners), and avoid getting involved with them like the plague. Write down descriptions of the essentials you need in a partner and the absolute no's in order to judge whether someone is a good fit, with a clear head — spend as much time as you need on this, but make it specific and irrefutable. Remember that you deserve to have someone loving and who treats you well. No matter how hard you work on a relationship, if you are with the wrong person, it's the wrong relationship. It took me years to step outside my comfort-zone and into a relationship with the right person because feelings of familiarity led me astray.

2. Lessening Self-Care

Sometimes in the midst of a new romance, we lapse in our self-care practices and find ourselves lapsing in the mental health arena as well. Relationships tend to spur an immense amount of change in short periods of time, and change of any sort can be stressful. You and your partner may want to spend all of your time together, but needing time alone to recharge, exercise, write, whatever it is that keeps you healthy and feeling okay with yourself, that's very important to do. You may want to spend all your time texting and calling, but if you really need to curl up with a good book, do it. Taking care of yourself and loving yourself are absolutely essential if you want to do the same for your partner — of course, there will be harder periods to get through with your partner, but as long as you keep trying, that's what's most important.

3. Triggers

Sometimes we are reminded of our more hurtful experiences in the form of triggers, which can set off very emotional reactions that can be difficult for those around us to understand. Particularly in romantic relationships. Triggers can seem irrational or silly to some people; however, they are valid no matter the label slapped on them. It can be as simple as not receiving a response to a text for a few hours that sets off a destructive thought spiral — what if they're gonna leave me or don't want me anymore. Dealing with triggers is a two-way street, and we have to remember that. We have to keep working on reducing the impact of our triggers, perhaps with a therapist or with coping strategies, but also communicate to our partners what bothers us. In the texting example, we can ask that our partners let us know when they are too busy to talk at the moment or for just a quick response like I'm at the store right now, but I'll talk to you soon to help some of those destructive thoughts.

4. Leaning too much on a partner

Encouraging support within relationships allows both the relationship and the individuals within the relationship to flourish. The issue arises when we rely too heavily on a partner to make us feel okay with ourselves to the extent that it starts to drain them and strain the relationship. You should absolutely expect your partner to be there for you, but shouldn't expect them to necessarily make everything all better. I have fallen into this trap at times, particularly when I felt insecure with other friends and family members. The key to alleviating this issue is to ask yourself what you want to gain out of support, communicate to those who support you what would be most helpful, and to make sure you have multiple people to reach out to when you're feeling particularly distressed. If you've struck the right balance for support in a relationship, it can actually help increase closeness and emotional intimacy--but too far one way or the other, it decreases those aspects of relationships.

5. Withdrawing or pulling away

Sometimes we're too overwhelmed by the world around us, or we simply need to be on our own for a while. We could feel afraid or distrusting of our partner for warranted or unwarranted reasons that cause us to withdraw. Oftentimes withdrawing can increase emotional distance and cause pain and confusion in our partners, which creates big issues if this is a relationship you want to continue. It's important to notice if this is a common behavior of yours, figure out what drives it, and how to communicate to your partner when it's happening and what they should make of it.

6. Opening up too fast (or too slow)

It's almost cathartic to divulge your entire self at the beginning of a relationship, on the first few dates with someone new, wanting them to accept you and build emotional intimacy and trust between each other fast. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. It's okay to be a bit vulnerable with someone you feel comfortable with, but take it step by step with them as a relationship starts to blossom — or fades away into nothingness. I tend to open up a little too fast, so I know to pull back in these situations; if you tend to open up too slow and are hesitant to be vulnerable with someone, know that it's okay to take small risks in telling personal things about yourself. Ask yourself why you want to say what you want to say. Ask yourself if it's appropriate to tell them something very personal right now, given the state of your relationship. Recognize when the person you're seeing is divulging something about themself and see if you can strengthen your bond by saying something back. It's about recognizing what you're comfortable with, what's appropriate, and what they're bringing to the table as well.

7. Turning a partner into a therapist

Support in our relationships is essential; however, we cannot expect a partner to know how to solve all of our emotional problems. No matter how much either of you want that role to be fulfilled in the relationship, it can turn into a huge stressor and cause issues when we depend on them without being able to return the favor. It starts to feel more like work instead of love that drives the partner to take on the therapist role. And while it's nice to have a shoulder to cry on, you don't necessarily want to be doing that all the time and unable to do the same for your partner — you want support to be mutual and freely given.

8. Staying in your comfort-zone

Fear and other unpleasant feelings drive us back to the familiar, otherwise known as your comfort zone. In order to grow both as an individual and within the relationship, it's important that we are venture out of our comfort zones. It starts with little breakages in our regular routines and what we're used to that allows us to get outside our comfort zones, and that could look a little different for everyone. Of course, there are certain elements of our everyday lives that we would like to keep intact, but opening up to new experiences with another person can lead to a much better future and better times together.

9. Too much (or too little) assertiveness

I've found that in previous relationships I could be a bit more passive and lack some assertiveness because I was afraid of bringing up potential conflict; however, I've also found that developing more assertiveness in my current relationship helped to establish healthy boundaries and standards to allowed it to flourish. I've also found that too assertive partners can create a lot of friction and a feeling of entrapment on the other end, as it can be difficult to have frank discussions about how to negotiate wants and needs when one person is much more pushy than the other. Recognize if you tend to be more or less assertive, and whether you need to push more or pull back when it comes to making decisions in relationships. Just having a general rule of thumb for yourself can help a lot.

10. Expecting the relationship to end

Getting in the mindset that a partner is just going to leave you or that nothing's ever going to work out is completely destructive to the wellbeing of a relationship. Remember that our emotions are always giving us a message, but what that message is can be uncertain--it can take some decoding. Were you in a bad relationship before? Have you been broken up with multiple times? Did a relationship suddenly end without warning? Sometimes we carry these destructive ideas from our pasts to the present, and sometimes these ideas are actually based on what's happening in our relationships. The issue is that expecting the relationship to end can actually lead a relationship to end, an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, where your beliefs about an outcome lead to that outcome. A healthier perspective to reach is that while it's possible that this relationship may end, this is where we're at in the relationship right now.

11. Feeling like your mental illness is a burden

You're not a lesser person for dealing with mental health conditions. The partner you chose chose you too; hopefully they know you well enough to appreciate you from a well-rounded perspective. Sometimes it can feel like your mental illness is some blemish on your body that everyone's always staring at, but you are always much, much more aware of what's happening in your mind than the people around you. It's not as obvious as you think it is to other people, and it's not some huge burden that you've put on your partner--you're just dealing with another health condition, and everyone has something they're dealing with. You bring so much else to the table in your relationship, no matter what you deal with. What can help in this case is learning to express appreciation to each other more often and, as much as possible, give freely to each other in your relationship--in terms of time, emotions, support, etc.

12. Hiding mental illness

At the start of a relationship, it's understandable that you would want to hold off on disclosing any mental illness that you may have. Sometimes that can scare people away when they don't know much about you, and mental illness is part of what little they do know about you. Your mental illness doesn't define you, so of course you can take your time to build trust and have conversations about what it looks like for you and how that would affect a relationship. An issue that sometimes comes up is trying to pretend we aren't depressed, or that we have anxiety or panic attacks, or that a certain trauma keeps playing over and over again in our minds. It's okay to put it gently that you're having a bad period of mental health, even to maybe say that today isn't so great for my depression, so that's why I may not talk as much. You're allowed to cry in front of them when you feel you need to, and it's not a weakness at all. You don't necessarily have to go into detail if you don't want to, but it's okay to tell them a bit about what's going on.

Literally, so hot RN

Literally, so hot RN

According To Astrology, Here’s What Each Zodiac Sign Is Like In Bed

My beginner’s guide to sextrology

Dr King
Dr King

“What's your zodiac sign?" will probably be one of the most common follow up questions when getting to know someone and while astrological analysis tells us about some of the core parts of our personality, it also shows us how those personality traits correlate to what we're like between the sheets.

If you're looking for a unique approach to sex then astrology can help you map out what distinguishes you and others in the bedroom, so scroll through and discover what each zodiac sign says their bedroom vibe.


Capricorns are ruled by the planet Saturn so many of them are naturally cautious about decision making and reserved when it comes to meeting new people.

So it's important that when sleeping with a Capricorn, they will feel their best about the sexual encounter when there's some sort of intimate connection involved.

This earth sign appreciates honesty and boundaries so they'll most likely want to know both of you stand in a relationship or else they may not see things going much further. But fear not. Just because they tend to be more traditional and conservative doesn't mean that the sex will be boring.

They're just romantics at heart and prefer something classic to set the mood. A bottle of red wine and sensual R&B or jazz music in the background would be their go-to.


Ruled by the planet Uranus, those born under this water-bearing sign are natural-born creatives and intellectuals.

This sign thrives off meaningful conversation and mental stimulation before getting intimate. However, don't necessarily take the conversation and shared time as the key to their heart for a potential relationship.

Aquarius people value their independence and freedom so they may be more inclined to look for a "friends with benefits" situationship rather than a full-blown committed partner or at least at the beginning stages of becoming intimate with them anyway.

Sex with an Aquarius may not be the most conventional, but their creativity and free-spirited aura make for a captivating and unforgettable experience.


Ruled by Neptune, those born under the sign of Pisces are spiritual and wise.

Pisces genuinely like to be in tune with their surroundings and thrive when every part of their environment fits into place. They are empathetic to others' feelings and desires, so this is a great thing in the bedroom considering that they're willing to go above and beyond to please their partners.

Also, their dreams are nearly psychic and vivid as can be and this transcends to their imagination in the bedroom as well. For example, a sex playlist is crucial for a Pisces because it especially taps into their sexual aura, curating their endless imagination through the sounds they hear and lyrics they listen to.


Aries are ruled by the planet Mars which is commonly known as the planet of passion and desire.

This fiery persona will definitely make its way into the bedroom. Aries is also the sign of the ram which means that those born under it are blessed with endurance and stamina to last for rounds. People born of the sign of Aries tend to have an aggressive or warlike personality so they prefer a fast-paced and highly intense sexual experience that centers them as the dominant one who calls all the shots.

They enjoy teasing and being able to adequately chase their desired person as if it's a game of love. This doesn't mean that they don't want to be courted, but fawning over them like you're competing to get a rose on their reality love show won't do you any favors either.


Contrary to the fiery personality of Aries, people born under the sign of Taurus are gentle and prefer to savor every moment of a sexual experience.

Ruled by the planet Venus, known as the goddess of love and beauty, those born under the sign of the bull-like to make every moment count to appreciate its essence.

However, don't be fooled by their calm exterior. What a Taurus wants, a Taurus will stop at nothing to get. They are incredibly stubborn and strong-willed. But, they are sensual so they crave exploration of the universal and sexual realm with all five senses.

When having sex with a Taurus, expect some of the most affectionate lovemaking you'll ever experience with special attention on foreplay.


Geminis are ruled by Mercury, known as the messenger of the gods.

Similar to Aquarius, those born under this sign need intellectual and mental stimulation to turn them on. When it's time to get physical, their mercurial minds make for a fun experience because they can easily adopt multiple personas in bed.

Don't be surprised if a Gemini will come up with different ways to explore the moment whether it be through many positions you've never even thought of or the most interesting scenarios for role play.

In the bedroom, their most cherished value is experimentation so the romance and sex is more playful than serious, but their seduction powers are through the roof!


Cancers are ruled by the moon.

This water sign expresses a tendency to be guarded, but when they feel safe and comfortable, the intimacy and loyalty is off the charts. Those born under the sign of the crab are governed by their emotions which naturally makes them inquisitive people who are okay with being in tune with the depths of their feelings.

For Cancer, they value being in love rather than embarking in casual flings so their high level of commitment and emotional intimacy creates a sexual experience that'll appear to be sacred and deeper than just a physical act.

When it gets to the point that a Cancer is secure in the relationship, their walls will crumble and their erotic side will emerge.


Similar to their sister sign Aries, Leo is highly passionate.

They are ruled by the sun so they're blessed with an enigmatic presence that can fill up an entire room. These felines take pride in being the kings and queens of the jungle and their declarative nature translates to the bedroom as well.

The biggest sexual turn-on for any Leo is to not only feel wanted on a surface type of level, but the be desired, ravished and worshipped in bed. They are keen on giving and receiving the utmost seduction and appreciate that seduction in ways that aren't necessarily sex, but very well can be a prelude to it such as romantic dates, tempting gestures and expressions of adoration.

The mere thought of their desired person giving them their undivided attention is what gets them going which will then lead to passionate, dramatic lovemaking.


In traditional astrology, the Virgo constellation represents a virgin, which leads to the false assumption that Virgos are innocent or prudish by nature.

Ruled by Mercury, this sign aroused by clear communication whether that be through humor, stimulating conversation, or wit. They will most likely be interested in some form of romantic writing as well, sexting included.

While they enjoy back and forth discourse, when they finally feel comfortable enough, they will match their actions with their words prior to the act.

Virgos enjoy a fixed schedule so they do prefer to have sex regularly explore kinks within a safe environment that they are used to being in.

Overall, they are precise and calculated in bed, but their willingness to devote enough attention to detail can be a great thing.


Libra is often visually represented by scales, and this is symbolic of the air sign's value of balance in their life.

The same can be said when it comes to their attitude regarding sex. Libra lovers appreciate reciprocity so they do want to give, but they definitely want to receive as well. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus which is the planet of aestheticism.

This is not surprising considering that Libras tend to treat their partners like a muse, adorning their bodies as if they were a work of art.

However, be mindful of the fact that getting a libra to fall in love with you is much harder than it is for you to fall in love with them so it's best that you let them do the chasing if you're interested in them because they long for legitimate fulfillment rather than just being content.


No other zodiac sign is as closely associated with sex than the Scorpio.

These water signs are known for their magnetic charm, seductive prowess, and an insatiable appetite for desire.

There are a few astrological signs that garner potentially false misconceptions (i.e, Geminis being two-faced and Virgos being prudish), but the sexual aura of a Scorpio is a rare case in which the rumors are typically true seeing as their associated physical domain is their pelvic region and genitals.

Sex with them is more than just an act, but includes intimacy that penetrates the mind, body and spirit. Scorpios are no strangers to pleasure and never hold back with experimentation and exploration of any sexual aspect.


Ruled by Jupiter, they are the most adventurous and thrill-seeking sign in the zodiac.

Sagittarius is represented by the sign of the archer so they have a tendency to be more open when trying new things in bed.

As a bonus, they are transparent about their needs so you won't have a hard time trying to figure out what to do with them or how you should do it. They'll tell you plainly whether it's turning them on or not.

All in all, they are naturally spontaneous and take every sexual experience as a chance to go on a brand new and carefree adventure.

Dr King
Dr King

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I Broke Up With My Boyfriend And It Was The Best Thing I Could Have Done For Myself

After four years of giving my body, mind, and soul to him, it was time to tell the truth and in the end, we were both better for it.


I didn't really know if I wanted to write about this. I'm a pretty open person but this began as a painful process that ended in resolution. I think a lot of the times, we begin to open up about what's really going on with us when we let other people see how we feel. I didn't want to slander him because we ended on good terms. But I feel like I need to tell you all how I've been feeling.

About a year ago, a lot of things changed with me and him. We didn't really see it at the time but something was wrong. Circumstances were different for him, his life was being set up exactly as he wanted it, and I was still in school.

That's when I started to see that we were becoming two different people.

I don't think he ever saw anything wrong with us the entire time. I started to feel lesser than him and I think even now, I would still feel that way. It wasn't something that I could shake, even knowing that we were in two different places in our lives.

About three months ago, I started imagining my life outside of school, where I wanted to be and who I could be once I was free. I started to realize that the answer was already there in front of me. My home was picked, the district I would be working in and most importantly, the person I would be spending the rest of my life with.

I had spent my entire college career up until that point with a specific plan in place with no extra time to think. Over time, I felt the walls caving in like I was losing air every minute I thought about the after. I questioned myself being with only one guy, having only ever dated just him. It may have been fate or the universe telling me that we weren't meant to be together, at least not now.

He helped me a lot with school and I'll always thank him for that. He brought me out of a deep dark place, one that gave me anxiety to even think about for months after. I had never thought I would find someone to spend that long a time with but I had. He was my everything but there were a lot of issues that kept bubbling from under the surface whenever things got hard, and they often did for me.

I often got confused as to what I wanted when it came to a relationship. There were a lot of times that I wanted to be alone and there were times that all I wanted was to have someone near me. We both had changed over the years and I think in the end, that's what made it all go away.

He became more independent and more isolated from me in a way that is hard to describe. He had already known who he was for a long time and I am still trying to figure that out today. I believe he wanted someone who could give him everything and I wasn't able to do that for him.

I saw a timeline of my life every time I looked into his eyes and that scared me to no end. The unpredictability of life is what makes it so exciting and that's exactly what I had been missing for so long. People can think that it's childish to want something like that but I believe life is too short to not experience the things that make life so great.

It's so hard to give all of yourself to one person. It makes for a lot of love but also a lot to lose. We had a lot of great times together but I kind of knew that something was very wrong for a long time. I didn't want to deny myself the truth and I kept it up for too long. I wanted to be myself without having to hold someone else back.

I wanted the freedom to choose where I wanted to live and what I could do with the rest of my life. I know now that he was that freedom too. This was a decision that made both of us stronger, just now separately.

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