The fall is quickly coming to a close and the winter is approaching. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer…and the bed seems to be getting colder. For singles, it simply magnifies the obvious. We are alone. There is no one there to nestle up under the fireplace. Suddenly, the broadcasting on television is filled with heart felt, tear jerking movies about love and triumph. Beautiful families appear to be picture perfect, having family dinners and singing holiday songs. Even if you were singing the praises of single life all summer long… somehow.. some way… the winter has a way of shining the light on the void.. empty space where love used to reside. There is no escaping the feelings of loss, lack and the yearning to feel loved. Who doesn’t want to hold hands while walking through the holiday lights display?
Maybe your story is different. Your children have all grown up and now they have their own families. Your parents have passed away. You are newly divorced. You moved to a new city. No matter the circumstance, life seems to be a little sweeter when you have someone to create memories with.
We chalk up the winter blues as just being or feeling SAD. And guess what? That’s exactly what it may be. According to the mayoclinic.org “ Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.”
These periods of being single or without a partner don't have to feel like the end of the world. It's an opportunity to get comfortable with being alone to work on ourselves while in between relationships. Do an inventory list of the last 3-5 people you dated, make a list of their traits that you admired, then make a list of your traits and see where there is commonality, or if there is a lack. Oftentimes, we are attracted to qualities in others that we are lacking. According to clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, “you're attracted to your opposite because they have some qualities that you feel you kinda suck at. The actual attraction is over a quality you would like to develop or build up in yourself,” he says. So we can use the winter months to develop our own social-emotional intellect to be a better version of ourselves to attract others from.
People are attracted to frequencies and energy. So if you are feeling down and out, or not doing your best during the winter months, it's probably not a good time or season for you to be looking for a serious long-term partner. Attracting someone from that energetic field may end up costing you more than you bargained for. Light interactions, group events and activities, and alone time may be more welcoming. Last thing you need is trying to figure out how to navigate a full-blown relationship and getting to know someone while attending to your mental health, and worse case scenario, if it doesn't work out that will be added debris to sort through.
However, if you should happen to start a new relationship during this time, make sure you talk about each other’s emotional stability and mental health. I recently dated someone, and on the first date he asked about mental health issues or if there was anything he should be aware of. I found this to be a little off putting and intrusive for a first date, but later appreciated his inquiry which gave me the permission to ask him the same. He revealed that he suffers with PTSD and depression especially during the winter. We discussed family history and what the symptoms look like. This was very helpful information early on and enabled me to be more compassionate and empathetic. So if you are dating someone who struggles with mental health issues, ask them how you can support them during their challenges and what their needs are. Keep the lines of communication open and express any concerns you may have. Allow the person to feel empowered and independent, being consciously aware of the possibilities of codependency.
Knowledge is power, educate yourself about your own mental health and emotional wellness before, during and after any relationships. Here are a few suggested readings to start with.
Black Women’s Mental Health, Balancing Strength and Vulnerability, by Stephanie Evans
The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help You Deserve, by Reeda Walker PHD
The Strong Black Woman: How a Myth Endangers the Physical and Mental Health of Black Women, by Marita Golden
Spiritual Self Care for Black Women: A Spiritual Journey for Self Discovery, by Stress Less Press
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