Dating in an era of social media can be daunting. Dating for people living with schizophrenia is doubly daunting. This is why many people living with schizophrenia avoid relationships of any kind.
The symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person, which is why it’s important to have an open, honest conversation about what someone living with schizophrenia faces. Some of the symptoms include:
- Delusional behaviour: False ideas that are often far from reality.
- Hallucinations: Visual or auditory hallucinations that are extremely real to the person experiencing them.
- Disorganised thinking and speech: Effective communication is often impaired as a person living with schizophrenia may be unable to have coherent thoughts, let alone a conversation.
- Lack of emotions and expression: Commonly known as ‘flat-affect’, a person living with schizophrenia may be unable to express their true feelings through speech or actions. This may result in emotional distance between couples.
These symptoms impact a person’s ability to maintain meaningful relationships, especially romantic relationships. However, with medical progress in treating and managing the symptoms of schizophrenia, it has become possible to date and maintain long-term, meaningful relationships.
Here are some tips to make it easier for people living with schizophrenia, or interested in dating someone with schizophrenia.
- Keep expectations in check – Even if a person’s schizophrenia is well-managed and they feel healthy, dating may result in social anxiety. From the beginning, it’s important to make your expectations known to your partner and possibly engage in therapy to better discuss these expectations.
- Take it slow – Stress is one of the triggers of schizophrenia and makes it difficult to manage the symptoms. Taking it slow is smart when easing into a relationship. Start with low-key activities such as coffee dates, picnics or going for a walk in nature. These activities reduce expectations and give you time to ease into a relationship.
- Go easy on sexual activities – Many schizophrenia treatment options impact the libido. If your medication results in the inability to get aroused or experience an orgasm, speak to your doctor about other treatment options.
- Teamwork makes the dream work – For many people living with schizophrenia, dating can be just a dream. But with the right person and open, honest communication, it’s possible. Go to therapy together. It will help your partner learn about your symptoms from the person that knows you best, your doctor. It also empowers your partner with the knowledge to help should a psychotic episode occur.
Dating with schizophrenia is possible, especially with the right treatment such as long-acting monthly injectables to manage your symptoms. After all, a partner’s support can be one more way to live better with schizophrenia.
- To learn more about schizophrenia, visit schizophrenia24x7.co.za for helpful resources and tips on living with schizophrenia, or join the Our Mental Health Facebook group for a like-minded community of people sharing their experience of living, dating and coping with schizophrenia.