Author Topic: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?  (Read 7695 times)

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Camarynne

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When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« on: January 14, 2012, 09:14:10 PM »
After 10 years with my GF I find myself single again  :'( . Right now I'm not interested in dating but it'll happen at some point and I need advice. I have a mental illness, one of the big ones...Dissociative Identity Disorder. It does affect my life though I've been through intensive therapy for it.

I know it's not something you bring up on the first date but when do you begin to touch on it? It can get complicated, as in the insider that goes on the date might not definitely be the one who comes home at the end of the evening. We've been known to switch viewpoints on topics during a conversation.

Mostly I can control it though, and like anyone I want to love and be loved, I just want to be honest about it. But bringing it up in the beginning would scare off most people.

I think I would be rude not to bring it up at all though, and that's where the question of when comes in. When I was with my most recent partner it wasn't a problem because we'd been together for a few years when I was officially diagnosed. I know now what it is, I'm sure the diagnosis is true, and I've learned to live with it.

When do I break it to a potential partner? From their view, until they're told it will just come across as indecisiveness or mood swings. Once they're told it could become a dealbreaker. Any thoughts?
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VorFemme

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2012, 09:24:32 PM »
I'd wait until at least a few dates - perhaps about the time that you two go from "feeling each other out and getting to know each other a little to see if you are compatible as a couple" to "this might be someone that I want to get to know well enough to decide if this is going to be something long term".

Or about six to eight weeks - or twelve dates.................whichever comes first.
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2012, 09:29:21 PM »
Having been on a first date with a man who proceeded to tell me he was bipolar and still trying to find the right combination of medication, I would not recommend the first date.   :)  (He also had ex-wife issues - this guy had a whole 747 full of baggage!)

I face a similar dilemma.  I have fibromyalgia and have had melanoma, which puts me at risk for further cancers.  Personally, I let potential partners know three or four dates in.  These have never been the reason for the relationship not working out.

If your date mentions something odd you did or said, then I think that would be your cue.  If that doesn't happen within the first few dates, I'd bring it up.  Good luck!
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Winterlight

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2012, 12:34:43 AM »
I'd vote for a few dates in. That way, the person knows you a little. The first date is too soon- that's when you find out if the person likes tea or coffee (or tequila, depending on where you meet.)
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Ms Aspasia

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2012, 05:55:07 AM »
I'd do it before the first date occurs.  It sounds pretty important.

cicero

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2012, 06:08:00 AM »
as someone who dated and married a guy with severe (untreated) metal illness - i think that you should be upfront as soon as possible. if your ultimate goal in dating is 'for long term /serious/possible marriage' then people should know before going out.  if this is more a casual thing - then at least on the first date. yes, it may be that people are prejudice against people who suffer from illness, and it may be that you are missing out on meeting a potential mate. but OTOH i find it is unfair to have someone go out with you, maybe start to like you, maybe start to think about a future, only to be told after a few weeks that you have certain issues. and if there are certain 'quirks' that are unique to your particular illness - having a potential partner know the information upfront can help the situations that may arise.

you don't have to go into a the whole history - just the bare-bones facts

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HyenaInPetticoats

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2012, 06:27:41 AM »

It's mostly dependent on how much this affects everyday life and how this affects the people around you.

I have suffered from OCD, and whilst I don't have it so much any more, I am still an anxious person. i cope well, and unless i told someone, no one would ever suspect it. Apart from being a bit irritating and hard for my family to sometimes understand, It dosen't really affect the way I communicate and deal with other people.

I believe it is my right as a person to keep it private as I see fit, because I am not dangerous, and it does not give me manipulative tendencies that unfortunately some big mental health problems do. If I want to tell someone, it will because I am close and trust that person. not because I feel I have an obligation to let a person know what they are getting into.

However, if mental illness is quite severe where you really struggle to function, it is best to let the other person know before they get too close to you. . You deserve to have normal healthy relationships just as much as the next person, but the other person also equally needs to be aware of any challenges they may face should they decide they won't to take something further.





Nora

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2012, 08:12:17 AM »
DID is a big one, a very big one, so I think you should tell them on the third date before anything beyond a kiss happens.

You cannot be expected to lead with this, as it would scare off everyone who heard it on a first date (given they know what it is). People on first dates are still so heavy in fight-or-flight mode that telling them something this huge, no matter how in control and together you sound, would be like firing the starting pistol for them to race out of the restaurant. For this reason I think you should get a little time to see if you guys click well enough for something long term. They get to fall for you the teensiest bit first, but then tell them at once. If they still run, then they would not have stayed for your first bad turn either.

Be honest and just be you. I find it statistically likely that there is someone out there who has a you-shaped hole in their life. Go find them!
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WillyNilly

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2012, 11:34:26 AM »
I think part of this depends on how you plan to date. When I was younger an more casual, I'd go on dates with people after only a brief meeting/minimal conversation. As I got older and more serious and focused on dating, I tended to have several conversations via email and possibly phone before even getting to a first date (I used Match.com). A lot of people did not make it to first date, having expressed themselves in email in a way I knew would ultimately mean it wouldn't work out.

In the first type of dating, like when I was younger, I'd say you'd have to tell the by the 3rd date or so. In dating where essentiallly partnered are well vetted before the first date, i'd expect t know by the end of the first date.

Sharnita

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2012, 01:47:49 PM »
I say early.  I also think that if they have children there is even more responsibility to tell them as early as possible because they are not making a decision that affects just them.  Same goes for anybody who might have reposniblities like taking care of a parent or something similar.  As much as they want to, if they have other family obligations already entering a relationship where this would be a factor might be too much.

jimithing

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2012, 11:12:25 PM »
I would say that if the first date is going to turn into a second date, I would do it then. I don't think it's necessary to bring it up on the first date, because you just don't know if there is going to be chemistry or work out. But if there is a possibility it will go somewhere, I think you definitely need to be upfront about it.


Allyson

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2012, 01:39:39 AM »
Obviously depends on circumstances, but I'd use 'during the second date' as a jump-off point. Doesn't have the scary aspect of oversharing on first date, you know that you like each other enough to see each other at least once  more, but it's before anything has really 'happened' in most cases. So there's not really a 'why didn't you tell me'. I'd also do it naturally during conversation rather than when they asked me out again, because that might feel like 'yes, if you still want to see me even after this' which could make for a really awkward situation. Whereas if you tell them conversationally, and they aren't the sort of jerk who'd freak out, but decide that it's not something they can deal with, there can just not be a third date, which could be because of other stuff too.

Nonsequitur

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2012, 01:41:20 PM »
I don't think first date disclosure is required. There are some many mundane reasons a first date goes nowhere I don't think you need to add more. And first dates should be about having fun and starting to get to know somebody, not laying all our cards on the table.

If it goes well, on the second date you might sort of put out a vague reference to some "some mental health issues" and see how she reacts. If she is immediately put out, I think you have your answer without needing to go further, but if she asks for more details, you can disclose more information.

Softly Spoken

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2012, 08:34:14 PM »
Deal breakers are deal breakers and the sooner you find out if there are any, the better. If things start to go well then the attraction will start to entangle both of you emotionally and the longer you wait the harder it will be to tell and for them to hear. If they have a chance of being in your future they deserve to know.

You don't have to open with it, but it is important info to work a relationship around.

Not being told or rather not being told soon enough may be a deal breaker - the other person may feel you were misleading them about who you were.

Of course you deserve love, but you and any potential partner both deserve honest love built on mutual trust and disclosure.

If you want them to love you for who you are you need to make sure they understand who you are.

Obviously you don't have to lead with something this big, but it will loom elephant-like until you can be open and up front about what being in a relationship with you really entails.

Feel out your prospective dates and go with your gut based on how easily you communicate and what their position on things like life in general, relationships in particular, and mental illness specifically, seems to be.
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Calypso

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2012, 09:33:23 PM »
I don't have any suggestions, but I thank your for starting this thread.