it’s got to be worth it….

I have had a couple of emails & lots of search terms on the topic of self-harm & dating. I can’t claim to be an expert, but I do date & I’m happy to share my tips.
I’d like to start by saying no one has ever flat out rejected me solely on account of my scars or my cutting. That is not to say that self-harm has never caused a problem in relationships, but no one has run away screaming.
I find that being upfront and forthright has worked best for me. On a first date with someone new I will wear something that allows a little bit of scarring to be seen. This is scary, but less scary than getting to know & like someone all the while worrying about how and when to tell them your secret. It also gives anyone who can’t handle scars or their implications a chance to bail before anyone gets attached. Be prepared for some lingering glances when they think you aren’t looking. It’s also possible that they may ask questions right away, whenever they do ask, I always answer briefly, but honestly. If you develop a relationship with this person any lies you tell will be uncovered. Again it allows either party to walk away if they aren’t comfortable with the route the conversation takes.
I have been internet dating & I deliberately uploaded one picture that shows some scars. I think this is a good idea as wards off anyone who has a real issue with self-harm or scars. As we all know, people can be crueller online than they would be in person, so weeding out the bastards early can only be a plus.
I think once the relationship progresses & people start to care about each, the scars are less of a problem than they actual self-harming behaviour. I’ve had men admit that my scars disturb them a little, make them feel sad or protective, but never enough to stop them wanting to have a relationship with me. I know a lot of people worry that their scars make them unattractive; I use to be scared that mine robbed me of any desirability. I have been reassured by men that I’ve dated that after the initial shock; they mostly cease to really notice them. Certainly no one has ever found them so distasteful as to be turned off.
If you are still actively self-harming relationships can be difficult. Obviously it’s distressing to know that someone you care about is in so much pain. There is no easy way around that. I’m not relationship expert or counsellor, but what I can tell you is be truthful with your partner. Open up, let them support you if they able. Love & self-harm (or any mental illness) are not mutually exclusive. When you meet the right person, it can work.
Having said that, there are pitfalls. Don’t be afraid to walk away, if the other party is detrimental to your mental health. Please don’t feel that you have to change or ‘get better’ for someone. Recovery is a personal journey. It will only work if you’re doing it for yourself. You don’t need anyone in your life that makes you feel guilty. Nor do you want someone who is ashamed or embarrassed of your problems. Remember you are worth just as much as everyone else. Be brave and stand up for yourself if needs be.

In conclusion I would say, go for it. There are kind, decent people out there who will see the whole you. The right person will try to understand. There are lots of wonderful men & women just waiting to meet you. You can have lots of fun trying new people on & seeing who fits best. You’re good enough as you are. Keep telling yourself that until you start to believe it.

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