The decline of Jiberty: dating and mental health

It’s 11:23, I should be being more productive but instead, I’m in bed with my now cold coffee catching up on Love Island. It’s a programme I have always had a love-hate relationship with because I haven’t supported the lack of diversity nor the impact it can have on mental health. 

When it’s that time of year I try to resist the pressure to watch it despite seeing so much content on Instagram often in the form of memes essentially showing me what I’m missing. It’s just some lighthearted TV after all and sometimes when so much is happening in the world it’s nice to escape into the world of the villa.

Seeing the growth of the different islanders has really had me caught in my emotions especially when it comes down to ultimately figuring out who is or isn’t compatible with someone. It is a competition but they’re still people just trying to find someone albeit with a cash incentive. The truth will always out and every couple has their ups and downs- the same as relationships would if they were out of the gaze of the ITV camera crew and away from our screens. 

Jiberty is a couple that I backed a lot even though I found the exchange of bracelets slightly cringe, the commitment they both had was endearing and melted even my own ice-cold heart. As time has gone on cracks have surfaced around Jake’s authenticity and the impact this has had on Liberty.

Watching episode 53 in a slight haze after a lazy morning really had me thinking about how I have felt when dating. Love Island is a total fantasy reality- in everyday life, you won’t find yourself sat in a villa in your bikini having the time to spend getting to know different potential partners. The only part of Love Island that I actually submit myself to is having iced coffee. 

Dating can be really hard especially if your own mental health isn’t great. Feelings can often be transient and emotions can change at the drop of a comment. We live in a time where it feels like there are limitless options, there is effectively always going to be someone else out there for you if one situation isn’t working.

We all know how it feels to like someone and get those sparks whether it’s reciprocated or not. When you find yourself not knowing what to say or feeling your heart in your chest- it’s overwhelming and hot. It’s exhilarating when someone has that effect on you. That initial excitement though can be so intoxicating, so intoxicating that you lose track of yourself and ignore red flags. 

I’ve been in this situation and it is shit. You can end up excusing behaviors that you would in any other situation tell yourself to run away from or if a friend came to you for advice you’d say “get rid”. It takes a toll on your mental health when you realise that what you thought you wanted isn’t actually what you have and those rosy situations you imagined you’d get don’t happen. It has taken me a lot of self-awareness to finally reach a point with my mental health where I say enough. No niggling feeling of “am I enough” should ever keep you pursuing something that isn’t right for you. As much as attraction should be an integral part of the initial dating process if the emotional element is lacking or someone isn’t giving you enough of what you need, you should feel confident to shut the situation down (even if it is difficult). 

Equally, knowing that you’re justified in how you’re feeling is so important. No one is “too intense” or “too much” and if you’re made to feel that then the energies are simply not matched and that’s ok too. All too often we can place these issues on ourselves and doubt our intentions when sometimes it’s not a you issue it’s a them issue.  

Liberty said, “I do really love Jake and I do want to make it work with him but if it’s gonna be at the cost of me changing myself to make him happy then I’m not gonna do that”.

It’s such a toxic situation when you feel the only way to keep someone is to alter yourself and this doesn’t just go for romantic situations. It has literally taken me till now to understand more about who I am and what I need. A friend said to me sometimes the people that we want aren’t the people that we need and that stuck with me. Time is too precious and who you choose to spend your energy on and with is even more precious.

Shutting things down doesn’t have to be a big dramatic event and some of those moments on Love Island though awkward to see on a microcosmic level have shown that. Having a mature conversation for me is enough.  Meeting someone at my level and setting my standards is how I heal and ensure I’m only letting in those who can complement that energy. Holding onto situations that don’t serve you will only negatively impact who you are even if you want it.

People can only change if they want to and setting up an environment that encourages someone to change against their will to keep their interest is a non-starter. 

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