I am needing some advice on a potential dating situation. I have been attending a mental health support group meeting for over a year now. Recently a man has joined our group and has been coming for about two months. He is quite attractive and very charismatic and I have noticed that we catch eyes often during our meetings. I was told recently by a mutual friend in the group that he is potentially interested in me. In a normal situation I would entertain the idea of pursing him because I am very attracted to him but under the circumstances of how we know each other I am questioning what the right thing to do is. The factors that I need to consider are he is 18 years older than me, we are both living with mental illness, he has recently experienced a bad break up and we both attend the same support group. The age worries me because I am so cynical and feel that he may only want to pursue me for purely sexual reasons, or as a rebound from his previous relationship. I am afraid that if we were to begin dating our emotional issues would complicate things more so then dating someone who is emotionally stable. Also, if we were to have a falling through or a miss understanding down the road then our support group would not be a safe place for both of us to attend and express our emotions. I need perspective on what you think is ok and not ok about this potential love interest. Should I consider a date if he were to ask? Or should I avoid the situation entirely?
This is a tough question that I think you should break down into two parts. First part, is this is a good guy to date? Whenever you meet someone new and interesting, you take a chance. You can never be sure how a relationship is going to go and so to predict success or failure based on age and baggage, especially with someone you don’t know well, is probably not a very reliable way of judging.
Age can make a huge difference in common interests and relatability, but then again, some of that depends on what kind of a person you are. Are you an old soul? Do you tend to be attracted to men your own age or do you find them to be immature? In my view, age alone doesn’t make or break a relationship. It may, however, present its own unique blends of considerations. For instance, if you are at very different stages in your personal and professional lives, it may affect the activities you like to do or the goals you’ve set for yourself. Keept that in mind.
Then there’s baggage. We all have some (some of us more than others) and again, I think his recent break-up may or may not have an impact on any romantic shenanigans you get into with this guy.
That this guy is seeking help for his mental health issues is actually a vote in his favor. In my experience, it is very rare to find someone who is self-aware enough to recognize that they need help and to take that further step to seek that help out. As it turns out, we have very little way of telling whether someone is emotionally stable early in a relationship so your chances of knowing a little more about this guy’s state of mind is actually better than you’d have with a stranger. And, in theory, you’ll be dating someone who can empathize with your own struggles.
All that said, I think the critical factor here is whether you are willing to jeopardize your current support group situation in order to date this guy. There is just no way to know how it will go. True love, maybe. Potentially awkward break-up, equally maybe. And if that’s the way it goes, you’re absolutely right, it will make the group environment unsafe for one or both of you. So the real question is, are you willing to deal with the fact that you may end up having to find another group as a result? If the answer is an emphatic no, then I’d say to keep things friendly but professional.
There’s nothing at all wrong with dating this guy, but it is good that you are considering the consequences. If you decide to move forward, be honest about your concerns. Maybe you’ll find that he feels the same way and it will be easier to create a strong friendship without taking the romance route. Or maybe you’ll meet your soul mate. Trust your instincts and give yourself permission to make the decision that feels right for you.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.