I'm Dating A Broken Person: Tips To Make The Relationship Work

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated June 22, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lisa Childers, LCSW

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t choose who you fall in love with,” and to some extent, that’s true. Love isn’t always easy, and it can often be messy. And, it can be challenging to discover that you’re dating a broken person. But whether they were struggling before you met them or didn’t start struggling until you were already dating, these tips can help you make your relationship work.

Understanding With A Broken Partner Looks Like

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There are many ways that a person can feel broken. It could be that they suffered trauma at some point in their life, or it could be that they’ve just always struggled with mental health challenges.

And, it’s not that they are broken; it’s that they are struggling emotionally or mentally. Your partner may have anxiety and depression or other mental health challenges like obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder. You may have a partner with PTSD who continually has to keep traumatic memories from being part of their daily lives. You may have a partner in an abusive relationship before, and it takes a toll on the way they look at your relationship now.

Your partner may struggle with low self-esteem, poor confidence, and just feeling like they’re not good enough. The struggles they face may make them feel unavailable to you and leave you feeling like your relationship is one-sided.

Many times, when someone is struggling, they bounce back and forth in the relationship. They may be able to be there for you one minute and not the next. This can make for an unpredictable relationship. But if you love them, you may be willing to go through the ups and downs with them to have them in your life.

Remember That It’s Not About You

It’s important to remember that the emotional struggle that your partner is going through is not about you. If they deal with a lot of frustration, anger, anxiety, or depression, it can be easy to think that it’s because of you. This can cause you to feel a lot of guilt within your relationship.

It’s important to remind yourself that the emotional challenges that your partner is dealing with are not because of you. This will remove you from feeling like you must change something about yourself or what you’re doing to make the situation better.

One of the exceptions to this is if you did something to hurt your significant other such as lying to them or cheating on them. In this case, your actions were the cause of their emotional pain. While you may not be able to take it away completely, there are things you can do to help ease their hurt.

Take Care Of Yourself

When you’re dating a “broken person,” it’s easy to put all the focus on them. When this happens, you may find that you’re neglecting yourself and your health. This could be through not taking time to do activities that you enjoy, not getting the rest you need, or running yourself ragged, trying to keep them happy.

You must practice self-care if you’re dating somebody broken, so you don’t end up having your own emotional or mental health challenges.

Ensure that you take the time to participate in activities that you enjoy doing, even if your partner cannot come with you. It’s also vital for you to get proper rest and eat a balanced diet. Other parts of self-care to consider are exercise and meditation.

Your self-care plan is not going to look exactly like everyone else says, and that’s okay. The most important thing is making sure to take care of yourself while dating your partner.

Don’t Try To “Fix” Them

Another thing that’s important to remember when you’re dating someone that’s emotionally suffering is that it’s not your job to fix them. If you love them it probably hurts you to see them hurting and struggling, but if you’re always trying to fix them, you can do more damage than good.

For example, if they think that you’re always going to go out of your way to make things better for them, they can start to abuse the situation. Or, if you are always taking the blame for things that they’re struggling with, even if it’s not your fault, they may learn to start blaming you as well.

And, if you’re constantly trying to fix your partner, they can end up feeling even more like there’s something wrong with them. When your partner sees that you’re trying to fix who they are or what they do, it can make them feel like you don’t like them for who they are.

Have Realistic Expectations

In any relationship, it’s essential to have realistic expectations. This becomes even more important when you’re dating somebody that is struggling. If you expect to go out every weekend, be part of the crowd, and enjoy the nightlife, but your partner is depressed and struggling with anxiety, they’re probably not going to want to do that with you.

You and your partner must set realistic expectations for your relationship. This can help both of you not to be disappointed with the way things are going. For example, it’s not practical for your partner to expect you never to participate in activities you like if they don’t feel like doing them too.

Have The Difficult Conversations And Be Honest

Every relationship has awkward conversations that need to take place. This is also true for when you’re dating a broken individual. Avoiding these conversations is not making your relationship easier on either one of you. While you may not want to have these awkward conversations, it can be a crucial piece of helping you both have realistic expectations and know-how their relationship will progress.

During these conversations, you must be honest with both yourself and your partner. If you tell white lies to try to make things easier on them, you’re destroying the foundation of trust that your relationship is built on. This will only do more harm than good.

Don’t Stop Living Your Life.

As mentioned above, you can’t stop living your life just because your partner is struggling. If you try to do this and be there for them at everything they need and give up everything you like to do on your own, it will deteriorate your mental health.

This doesn’t mean that you need to participate in all the same things you did before your partner began struggling, but it doesn’t mean that you need to give them all up either.

It’s essential to maintain relationships with your friends and family members as well. They can be a great support system that can help you with your self-care as you work on your relationship and supporting your partner.

Set Boundaries

It was mentioned earlier that you should make sure that you’re taking care of yourself and not always trying to fix the other person. One way that you can help take care of yourself is by setting healthy boundaries in your relationship.

There are many different boundaries that you can set. Some examples include establishing how often it’s okay for your partner to contact you, how you expect to be talked to and treated in the relationship, and what things you’re unwilling to put up with. When you put healthy boundaries in place within your relationship, it will help your relationship be healthy even though you may struggle with their mental health.

Know When It’s Time To Call It Quits

You might discover that the relationship isn’t right for you long term. It can be hard to admit this, especially if you feel like the other person needs you and it’s your job to care for them. However, for your own mental health, you need to be able to admit when it’s time to call it quits.

Just because your partner is struggling emotionally does not mean that you will reach this place in your relationship. But, if you do, you must act on it instead of ignoring it.

Support Them In Getting Help

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One of the best ways you can be there for and support your partner is to help them get the support they need. This could be encouraging them to talk with a therapist, talk to a therapist with them, remind them to take their medication, or helping them to focus on self-care.

You don’t have to do all these things for them, but you can encourage them to do these activities.

Get Support For Yourself As Well

While you’re helping them get support, you must get support for yourself as well. This could be through family members or friends or even a licensed therapist. They can help you as you navigate, taking care of yourself and being there for your partner as well.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do when you have a “broken partner” is to be there for them. Show up when you say you’re going to and make sure they know how much you love and care about them. Just knowing that there’s someone there that they can rely on might be what they need at the moment.

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