Q: I'd like to slowly establish a romantic relationship. I have been in treatment for anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder for 21 years. I have joined interest groups and tried online dating sites, but haven't found too many people who are reasonably intelligent (I'm in the top 5 percent), don't want to travel, enjoy deep conversation, and can accept a partner who will never lose the "baggage," which can be expected with chronic mental illness. I am introverted and like being alone most of the time. I've been married twice, both times to men with alcohol issues. What to do?
Dr. Pepper Schwartz: It is hard to know what to advise you to do, since you have some emotional difficulties that might be undercutting your ability to attach to someone. There are some dating sites on the Internet for gifted people, such as The Right Stuff (rightstuffdating.com), which is for people who went to Ivy League or elite colleges.
I know you said you didn't do well with interest groups, but one of the best ways to meet someone slowly is to do an activity with them: Help with a political campaign, raise money for sick kids, or do work projects such as Habitat for Humanity. Sometimes if you meet people over a cause or hobby, you get to know each other and things build into romance over time.
You will have to conquer some of your introversion to do any one of these. You can't meet someone if you don't work at it, and staying home alone a lot isn't putting in the hours it takes to make a connection. Obviously, you have been able to create a relationship a couple of times; now you just have to apply the same skills that got you there to men who are not damaged by alcoholism or drug abuse. You can find a partner, but it will take your time, effort and not falling into old patterns and choices.
Photo by Ben Thompson.
Dr. Schwartz answers questions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Submit your question here. Read more of Pepper's columns here . And be sure to follow Pepper on Twitter @pepperschwartz.
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