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Wrapping Your Head Around the Relationship Game

love2I wrote about manipulation a couple weeks ago and that topic has been on my mind quite a bit the last few weeks.

I’m single, I have been for awhile and these last few weeks have been the first time in a while I haven’t at least had some prospects.

Dating is hard enough but dating with schizophrenia is even harder.

I wrote on this in the NY Times last week and the crux was that I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the process of getting into a relationship. There are so many intricacies of dating and matching your idiosyncrasies with someone else’s is literally the craziest, most complicated thing I can even imagine.

The thing about dating is, and this is where the manipulation comes in, you’re trying to get someone to like you, you’re trying to say and do the right things so as not to disturb or complicate things and to show that you’re a worthy human being, and that just seems so off to me, so dishonest.

I could have it the wrong way that a good relationship is one where you don’t have to put on an act but even when the other person already likes you there seems to be unwritten rules and different methods, different things you have to do or say to initiate a date or a relationship and it just seems like a huge complicated game to me that I’m not sure I even want to play. The guy has to ask out the girl, you have to be careful not to stare or do some other creepy thing like look at their facebook or say something that sounds weird. It’s like no matter what you do you have to follow these rules in order to even approach dating.

As a person with schizophrenia, I’ve gotten pretty good at interacting with the world despite what’s going on in my head but dating is an entirely different animal.

Not just a smile and a joke will suffice, there has to be the right eye contact, there has to be the right way of approaching a girl, you have to be careful not to do something that could be construed negatively and figuring out those rules, figuring out the right way to approach a relationship has been harder for me than getting a column in the NY Times and writing a book, it’s over my head.

There are countless articles on the internet dedicated to figuring out the rules of dating and for good reason, it’s a subject that’s fraught with emotion and strong feelings and everyone experiences love and crushes and it seems like no one knows what to do about it.

The best advice I ever got though was to just be yourself but that was hard because for a long time I didn’t know who myself was. I included the line “Just keep being awesome and you’ll attract the right people” in my NY Times article and it’s been mostly true.

I think another big thing though is letting go of trying to get someone to like you and that’s been my biggest problem, it became so ingrained that these little tricks I use to make that happen became automatic anytime I even talked to a girl.

I’m working on that right now, letting go. Learning to accept the uneasiness that comes with being out of control because relationships are nothing if they’re not a loss of control.

Being vulnerable is essential and if you have to loosen your grip on control to be vulnerable so be it.

I’m still working on it.

Wrapping Your Head Around the Relationship Game

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). Wrapping Your Head Around the Relationship Game. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 7, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Jun 2015
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