How being bullied affects dating.

In this article we will explore how being the victim of bullying is likely to affect your dating experience, and how this awareness can make a major beneficial impact. We shall also address what it is like to date someone who carries the wounds from bullying, so those past experiences don’t undermine your chances of a successful outcome.

Bullying is sadly a widespread phenomenon. It is often devastating. Around one-fifth of all people will experience significant bullying during their years growing up. A significant chunk of those people would have suffered sustained attacks, resulting in lasting emotional harm. People exposed to extended bullying are at much higher risk of depression, anxiety, and distrust – factors that play a meaningful role in dating and relationships.

Bullying comes in varying forms and from a variety of sources: family members, neighbors, teachers – but most often from schoolmates. People cope with bullying in very different ways. Some are able to largely put those negative experiences behind them. Others, however, carry their scars into adulthood. It can affect their confidence in the workplace, their happiness in marriage, and impede a person’s progress during dating.

Why bullying matters.

Of course, bullying is deeply unpleasant and wrong. But it is much more than that: it has the potential to undermine the victim in uniquely harmful ways. Human psychology is highly nuanced. This has been the secret of our great success as a species. Our keen minds make us receptive to stimuli around us, which allows us to adapt. Our brains are designed to absorb input from dozens of sources – temperature, time of day, threat level, etc. – which enables us to make smart choices for our survival and success.

We find it enormously difficult to switch off those sensors. This means that if someone wishes to infect us with toxic inputs, such as cruel words, we find it difficult to close ourselves off from this. Being told to ignore hurtful comments is rarely helpful advice, as most people find that nearly impossible.

Now, just like the body is able to fend off germs, the mind is able to tackle negative comments. But if the person is subjected to a persistent stream of unpleasantness, it is likely to overwhelm the mind and spread its poison. Just as some people are more naturally inclined to catch a cold, some people are more susceptible to emotional harm. In a twist of truly cruel irony, people who are more emotionally sensitive are also more likely to be bullied. So, the people least able to cope with it are the ones who are most targeted by it.

The effects of bullying.

There are two main effects of bullying: insecurity and unconfidence.

The first consequence of bullying is that it leaves the person more insecure. Being the target of continual attack, they become more defensive. Their brains become overprotective, constantly wary of being assaulted. Whereas it is healthy to be open to others, the victim of bullying could end up being more closed. This could get in the way of them forming friendships and effective work relationships, but it is particularly problematic when it comes to dating. Dating requires people to open up and allow themselves to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable does not feel safe to many long-time sufferers of bullying.

For a relationship to turn into a marriage there must be trust. It is vital that one trusts the other person, given the type of commitment marriage entails. But someone who has learned the hard way that people cannot always be trusted can find letting down their guard extremely difficult. So, instead of welcoming the closeness of a flowering relationship, they may perceive it as a threat. Although rationally they don’t think their date is there to harm them, their deeply ingrained defenses act in automatic mode.

The second consequence is that it often renders the person less confident. If someone is regularly put-down, told there is something wrong with them, or repeatedly made fun of, they are eventually going to internalize those attacks. As much as the victim of such attacks feels they are wrong, ultimately, he or she is likely to begin to identify with those insults. The hurtful slings chip away at the person’s sense of self, until the wall is breached and they feel diminished inside.

This is especially true when no one comes to the victim’s defense – which is disgracefully all too common in bullying situations. If no one contradicts those attacks, the target of abuse is prone to think that there must be some truth to them – otherwise, why does no one actively oppose the mistreatment. In the end, the one bullied loses their self-confidence and questions his or her own abilities. Now, even when the bullying has ceased, those negative voices keep ringing in their head: “You are no good, you are less than, you are unworthy, you are incapable.”

It has been said, with a fair degree of truth, that confidence is the most attractive feature. We want to be proud of the person we wish to marry, and we will find that a whole lot harder if the person in question thinks little of themselves. People typically like being around someone with confidence, as it makes them also feel more confident. Entering into a relationship requires courage, and it is easier to lose one’s nerve if one suffers from a chronic lack of confidence. For all these reasons, and others, low self-confidence is detrimental to dating.

The effects of bullying on a person’s feeling of security and confidence are very harmful. The victim of bullying may find dating more difficult, and the one dating them will also be affected. It is important to be aware of how this could play out.

What happens during dating.

Let’s look in turn at the impact on feelings of security and confidence.

If you feel insecure and find it hard to trust another, you will naturally be slow to open up. If this slows things down too much, there is a high risk that the dating will stall and maybe fall apart. If you struggle to let down your guard, this is likely to hold you back from sharing personal information about yourself, which is the number one way to build a relationship. In general, your struggle to let someone into your life may leave you feeling uncomfortable with your date, and you may attribute it to something you don’t like about them, when in reality it is your defenses causing you to panic.

So, if you have been subjected to significant bullying and you find yourself struggling to open up or to get close to the person you are dating, consider the possibility that your mind may be playing games with you. In the name of protecting you from the dangers posed by another person, you are in fact sabotaging your own chances of happiness. If your fears and anxieties are coming from events in your past, you must do everything possible to not let that harm your present and destroy your future.

If you see that you are overly self-conscious, and feel uncomfortable in your own skin during dating, that could be because something has happened to diminish your self-confidence. When you put yourself down or struggle to assert yourself, you may think that this is just you being yourself. But often it is you acting out self-negativity that was injected into you in years gone by.

When it comes to deciding on your future in the relationship you may be paralyzed with uncertainty, lacking confidence in your own judgment. You may be second-guessing yourself to an unreasonable degree because you stopped believing in yourself years ago. You may act too fearful in the relationship, afraid to ask questions and apprehensive about expressing your own point of view. It is important that you identify the kind of behaviors that are appropriate and act accordingly, even if this is difficult.

If you are dating a victim of bullying.

If the person you are dating is exhibiting the kind of behaviors described above, it could be helpful to understand what gave rise to it. If the insecurity or lack of self-confidence is the product of bullying, then it is not intrinsic to the person’s character. In the same way that this person was negatively affected by bullying, they can be positively affected by loving and caring. The best “cure” for bullying is being in a warm and supportive relationship.

As the person dating this person, you have the ability to provide the “safe space” for your date to feel secure and valued. It may at first seem like your efforts are wasted, but eventually, you will see that people are open to change. It would be advisable for you to have an open conversation about those bullying experiences and how this may be playing out during dating. Use that as an opportunity to provide reassurance and explain how important it is to you that he or she feels comfortable opening up. If your date is really struggling, encourage him or her to speak to someone who can help.

Get advice.

It is impossible to address all the details in a single article. If you feel that bullying is holding you back in dating, it is important that you learn how this affects you and how to date effectively. If you see that you are struggling, it is important that you get input from someone with an understanding of effective dating. You may benefit from guidance from a dating coach or a wise shadchan. Don’t underestimate the impact that bullying can have on you. Make sure you are dating with your front foot forward.

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