Dating the Dark Horse

So many times people question whether or not they should even get involved with someone who lives with mental illness, is a recovering addict, has a dark past, or just plain carries baggage. If you’ve met someone and instantly felt an attraction and believe that you can see through the person’s problems, then yes you can both make this work. But work, it will be.

Dating the Dark Horse

Getting involved with someone knowing about their issues is not lost on the person you are dating. They understand very well that you are not in for a simple relationship. There will be times when they struggle and know you will too. Just knowing that you have made a point of being there and walking with them every step of the way whether they overcome their problems or not does not go unnoticed. People who have gone through trauma or an experienced that has heightened their sense of awareness are sensitive to the fact that you don’t have to be here. They know they could lose you just for being the way that they are, and the love they have for you can be quite genuine – probably more so than someone who wouldn’t know the difference.

Here are some tips on how to help make things easier for you as a couple. Just as any couple, both parties have to work together to make a relationship work. Your partner who has experienced anguish and using their pain as a crutch to get away with not working on your relationship is not acceptable, in my opinion. However, not every couple is the same and some will find tips that may or may not work depending on their commitment.

Auntie Ozanne’s Tips on How to Heal Within Your Relationship

Have patience. Whether you are the one dealing with issues and didn’t feel as though someone would care enough to love you, or you’re the one who’s entering this relationship knowing there is work ahead, both of you need to practice the art of patience. No one deserves it more than the other. Your loved one needs to know exactly what is needed to get them through tough times and to allow them to find their footing in the relationship.

Communicate. Every great relationship is talked about -- by the two people involved! Try waking up together, having your morning coffee, and spending one solid hour alone just talking about light things and having that bond before the day begins. One hour before bed, same thing. If your day has some rough spots, make a commitment to have light conversation when you wake up and before you sleep each day to remind each other that you are there from beginning to end.

Learn about their issues. Read books on their problems. If you’re dating a recovering alcoholic, go to your public library to read about recovery and co-dependency. If you are seeing someone who has an abusive past, look for materials on the type of abuse they incurred or were part of to understand why things might have gone wrong. Just the fact you are investing the time to learn shows that you truly care and you may even be a stronger support for your partner when you can see tell-tale signs that can bring on rough moments.

Offer to join them in counselling. If the therapist welcomes your partner, sit with them to gain insight on what they go through. While they are in the environment of a mediator, more information can be shared and understood. Feelings from both partners can be made clear of what the intentions are to help get through than what they might not believe if they are alone during pillow talk. Sometimes declaring how you feel with someone witnessing your words can mean a lot more.

Use humour. If self-help books seem silly, humour them. You never know if you stumble upon something that might actually work as an activity to try together. Include your partner in your decision to make things work instead of going it alone. If things don’t go as planned, it’s okay to laugh about it and start over. Making a mistake with your partner as opposed to on your own behind their back is much more forgivable, and someone who loves you is willing to see your vulnerable side as they too will be showing theirs to you.

Make sex great. If one partner struggles with intimacy because of something hard to live with, my advice to that partner is not to punish your new partner for the abuse of someone in the past. Your partner is there to love you and show you pleasure the way you were meant to feel it. Instead of shutting them out (or shutting them down completely), find something new to enjoy with your partner to make it your own experience between only the two of you.

To the person who is taking on someone who is dealing with pain, remember that this is your relationship too. You don’t need to go without feeling that you don’t matter. Your partner was aware that a relationship is a two-way street when they met you, and in their own way will show you love. No one said that these relationships needed to last if they simply don’t work out, but without a doubt, some great love can come from it too with some perseverance.


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What Guys Said 13

  • I did this recently but it did not work. I met a girl online and she looked attractive and sounded like a reasonable sane human. We scheduled a date and met. I was instantly attracted to her physically and her personality was engaging. She made a comment that I would probably lose interest when I learned about her baggage.

    After the date, I checked her criminal history (I have unlimited access to local criminal records.) She had a lengthy criminal record for misdemeanors, a DUI, and four arrests for prostitution, but her criminal record abruptly stopped about 10 years ago. Apparently, she had cleaned up and found some answers. I decided that she was worth getting to know and that I would wait for her to reveal her history to me, rather than telling her that I already knew.

    She soon confessed her secrets to me and I told her that I would judge her character on the present and not the past. As we started dating, it became obvious that she was holding back from me, as if she was afraid of taking a chance on getting involved.

    She cancelled dates, postponed dates, and frequently told me that she was just "too tired" to see me. She is 53 years old and in good health; I am 60 years old and in good health.

    She had not returned to drinking or prostitution, but her past had so damaged her self-esteem that she thought we were doomed to failure so she was afraid to move very far into a relationship. After about 6 weeks, we broke up.

    The "moral of the story" is that even if the troubles have been resolved, the history can still affect he present in some very pervasive and powerful ways. An alcoholic who has been sober for 10 years will still be affected by their years of alcoholism. You must be prepared for a very difficult journey if you want to pursue a relationship with such a person.

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    • Reminds me of this girl I met off POF who seemed normal at first and she was very attractive plus we had a lot in common but once I told her what high school I went to, she revealed her baggage of her on and off ex (now boyfriend again) for 6 years.

      She was also very manipulative and whorish. It's like she'd beg for my attention and fight for it when I told her was busy and sent nudes because she was worries I'd ignore her, which was before I met her in person. And then when I showed interest back or would wanna talk to her, she'd act like she wanted nothing to do with me. It felt like she was testing me to see how clingy she was.

    • She also had major baggage so bad that when I asked her to go to a certain bar for our date, she's like I don't wanna run into the ex (who she's back together with) and I said yeah that'd be awkward and she's like no I'll just tell him I'm with a cooler guy and said that I should make fun of him for his babydick. I can't believe I wanted a relationship with her. Part of it was because I had a long dry spell and had never been in a serious relationship before, just hookups and flings. For awhile I thought having a dry spell was so bad but compared to being used as a rebound, the dry spell was nothing. It left a lasting effect on me and put me in her shoes in the sense that I'd date others after her but still not be over her. Not a good spot to be in. Basically her and all the other types mentioned need to get their shit together before they date.

  • "Being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble"
    -Mufasa (The Lion King)

    But as you mentioned "If you’ve met someone and instantly felt an attraction and believe that you can see through the person’s problems, then yes you can both make this work."
    YOU SIMPLY CAN MAKE THIS WORK! They deserve a chance. And maybe we are misconstruing them as a dark horse.

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  • Don't date horses unless you're really loose.

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  • I am a dark horse with positive qualities, any girl wanna date me?

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  • I dont know. Maybe you should ask Mrs. Polk.

    (haha history joke)

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  • Great take. Really insightful. I think the hardest part for many people is that communication is the main issue.

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  • Everyone has baggage, problems, skeletons, defects. I think this is more directed to people with serious, diagnosed problems. I think if you create this environment where you're the sane one who's coping with a partner with issues, you're indirectly perpetuating the issue.

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  • Kudos to anyone with the patience to do this.

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  • I've dated a girl with major baggage and had a date with a girl who was a recovering addict and trust me, these people are best left alone until they get their shit together.

    After being rebounded by the one with major baggage, and hers was major, it wasn't worth it. Might have been fun while it lasted but dating a rebounder is like playing with fire. It can be fun and exciting at first but if you're not careful, you'll get burned. This girl had so much major baggage that she asked me to make fun of her ex his babydick in case we ran into him. She's now back with him and is cheating on him too, but still her doing that left a lasting effect on me that I don't care to repeat.

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  • To be honest, the title of this take is very misleading...

    I thought... You know what, I'll leave it up for you to figure out.

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  • There are 2 things that are absolutely critical in overcoming a whole lot of things thrown at you: Will power and discipline. You can have all the support you could ever get but it is discipline that will keep you fighting. When the last of your hope died and despair have taken your heart, the only thing that will keep you moving is your will.

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  • It's already dark in here. Can you please turn the lights on? I just put my fingers into my sister's eye instead of that switch!

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  • People like this deserve a chance, even if most people wouldn't want to take the chance. Having the close support of a partner can really help them see the positives in life and help motivate them to turn their fortunes around

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What Girls Said 8

  • I ain't dating a criminal or someone with severe mental illness.

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  • Me = a clinically diagnosed "cyclothymic" who has dated a "schizophrenic" + a man
    who is "bi polar"

    MY conclusion = two negatives can never make a positive but the intensity & sex WERE totally amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing x 10000000000000 :)

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  • I actually dated a dark horse that turned out to be one of the best things in my life. Nver had I been treated like this before with any guy, and we even talked about the future and what we wanted to do with it. We were young and stupid but I truly had faith in that dream. His name was Angel and he made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. But then I slowly found out about his past.

    He told me how he slowly got caught up with gangs and how he severely hurt a kid, but he was told that he was doing something right by the gang leader. He didn't know any better and got caught up in the gang life, eventually becoming the leader. I guess he decided to do something with his life when he entered high school but then he just randomly disappeared in October of last year.

    I don't know I he's alive or not but the last time I talked to him, he moved to Puerto Rico to live with his mom. He did this for me because I was worried that he wouldn't be safe in New York. This guy did all that for me and now I don't even know if he's safe or not. It hurts me still now but I'm just trying to forget him. I've come to the point that if I ever find out that he's still alive, I would just feel content with that.

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  • Oh.. so that is what a dark horse is. I kind of knew he would be 'dark' but didn't think of a alcoholic-crack addict. I don't think I could intentionally seek out a person like this, it would be too much to bear, in regards to them having addictions. I had to deal with my family being 'dark horses' in a emotional sense, it isn't fair that a potential boyfriend would be like this. If he had a tough life and addictions are way behind then that is ok but not during his phase, in fact- I avoid all these kind of people. No-one is perfect but a person who is ill should get their life on track not deal with dramas of relationships.

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  • I know the feeling. My boyfriend/soon-to-be fiance went to jail for 6 years.

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    • Well, a detention center but that's pretty much the same thing. Really sweet guy though. Some of the best days of my life I have spent with him.

  • I know that nobody asked for my "life story" so I apologize for sharing so. I've grown up with severe social anxiety that grew into generalized anxiety and severe panic disorder. (I also had depression for 2 years-- I tried to kill myself at 13.) I've dated guys and let my guard down and told them about everything. I mean, it's kind of difficult for me to hide when I get multiple panic attacks per day out of the blue that I feel as though I have no control over. Anyway, some of them stuck with me until the relationships came to a natural end, and others, well, they gave up on me for having a mental illness. My point in saying this is, I think that it's OK to not be able to handle being with someone because you simply feel "dragged down" by their struggles. (Sometimes it's for the best; though it is good to do things for other people, you should also do things for your own good too) However, I also strongly respect all of those who choose to stick with their loved ones despite any dark past or struggles they may currently have.

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  • Its just like dating Christian Grey.

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  • Omg so thats what Katy Perry meant!

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    • I'm not even aware of that song. LOL! I just looked up her lyrics and they just seem fluffy, as in, they have nothing to do with what I meant by dark horse. It was a reference to an "unlikely winner". There was a song I thought of from Amanda Marshall called "Dark Horse" which is about making a relationship work that others thought would fail, which is more of what I thought of when coming up with the title for this myTake. Getting involved with someone who is assumed will not work out, but if given a chance, they just may. :)

    • If you see the muisc video, all the guys who approached her couldnt win her heart so they were dealt with like losers. But yes it has nothing to do with that!

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