I have Dependent Personality Disorder, which makes new crushes really difficult

I'm not sure how to navigate being polyam with dependent personality disorder- I’m clingy and I get depressed when my crush flirts with others even though they're also poly. It isn't a problem with my current partner because we live together and I know they love me regardless of potential partners. It’s a me problem that I shouldn't reflect on my crush. Its just...complicated and I'm not quite sure how to subside these depressed and clingy feelings when they don't message back or flirt.

Personality disorders are tricky beasts, and if you have one, you should absolutely be working with a therapist to manage your symptoms and work towards an awesome quality of life for yourself. You deserve it! If you’re currently working with a therapist, please talk to them about this; if you’re not, please reach out for professional help. You can see my resources here.

Second, remember that when you have a mental illness, it can be easy to ‘pathologize’ everything, even when it’s part of the normal spectrum of human experience. On the one hand, I never want to downplay someone’s suffering - if someone has serious anxiety, it’s horrible to say “everyone gets worried sometimes!” But it’s important to note that nearly everyone I know experiences some stress, infatuation, excessive thoughts, sadness, clinginess, and all that fun cocktail of feelings when they are in the throes of a new crush. Butterflies when they text you; despair when they don’t; unnecessary time spent scrolling their Instagram; fussing and analyzing - some of this is just part of having a crush. Let go of the expectation for yourself that you can, or that you must, fully eliminate all these feelings if you are ever going to manage your dependent personality disorder.

The key issue is to make sure that these emotions aren’t damaging to your well being or your ability to live a full life. If they feel debilitating, if they’re distracting from joyful experiences in your life, if you find yourself obsessively checking your phone every thirty seconds or unable to enjoy the rest of the day after a text gone unanswered, that’s a problem. But there are some strategies to help manage them! NOTE: I am not a mental health professional or an expert in personality disorders, so these suggestions are not meant to be a treatment plan, just some brainstorming to hopefully help you springboard your own strategies.

  • Come up with some “distractions” - caring for a pet, making something artsy, watching a favorite YouTube channels, etc. - that you can use to get out of a painful thought-loop

  • Write down a list of how your current relationship makes you feel, and all the tools and strategies you used to get there. Honor the work you’ve already done to be well!

  • Find some self-help workbooks on DPD and work on one when you’re feeling stuck in those feelings

  • Read stories about other people’s experiences with NRE, crushes, and similar experiences

  • Develop a self-soothing mantra like “My relationships are secure” or “I will be okay without their attention” and meditate on it, bead it on a bracelet, paint it on a stone, etc.

  • Think through the worst thing that could happen if you don’t get that person’s attention, and whether you can survive that. Remember previous times when someone didn’t reciprocate your flirting or return your texts, and know that you managed then!

  • Channel some of this energy into your current relationship - plan a nice date with your partner, make something nice for them, do a household chore they dislike, etc.