Author Topic: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?  (Read 7706 times)

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girlysprite

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2012, 09:11:17 AM »
Second or third date I'd say. I know what DID can be like (is in the family) and it might indeed be a dealbreaker. It may not feel fair for you, but not everyone is equipped to handle such baggage, and I know that in some cases DID stand in the way of leading a 'normal' life.
But first date is too early - it might chase people off. If someone agrees on a second date, they are comfortable enough around you and chances are they will take the news well. If they don't want to continue, at least they didn't invest tons of time and effort.

earthgirl

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2012, 11:40:15 AM »
I always waited till about the third date to disclose my mental health issues -- long enough to give them a chance to see who I really was without having the mental illness label cloud their judgment, but soon enough that they wouldn't feel like I had been hiding anything from them. 

And...I did have a lot of people turn their backs on me after that third date, and it definitely hurt, especially if I felt like I was really connecting with someone.  But I told myself that if they couldn't deal with it, then they weren't right for me anyway.  And I met plenty of men who could handle it, even if they had preconceived notions or were uneducated about my diagnosis, knowing ME was what mattered to them, not the DSM-IV code. 

Softly Spoken

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2012, 01:28:42 AM »
Just wanted to add my vote for the developing "3rd date's a charm" idea.

First date? No way, no matter how well it goes.
Second date? You're still feeling each other out and getting past ice breaking/jitters.
Third date - by then you should know them pretty well and they should know you pretty well. If it feels like a 4th date is looming you don't want to have either party get any more emotionally entagled without clearing the air.

FWIW, my last BF dropped a huge bomb on me on our 3rd date. Any sooner and I wouldn't have been able to handle it. Any later and I would have been furious with him for keeping it from me. As it stood I had the option of staying or walking away fairly clean (or running away screaming as he put it  ::)). I chose to stay. Even though it ultimately didn't work out for other reasons, I was glad he was a) honest with me and b) honest with me at the right time bc our relationship couldn't have continued successfully without full disclosure.

Lesson learned: Telling too soon or too late may be bad, but not telling at all is far worse. Also, telling too late is worse than telling too soon - if you wait too long they can end up feeling like you lied to them.  :(
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girlysprite

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2012, 04:09:32 AM »
I want to clear some things up regarding people 'turning their back on you' after hearing what's wrong; it's not always because of preconceived notions and a sort of discrimination. Of course, a fair share of people do that for such reasons, but I know of myself that I wouldn't be able to handle everything, no matter how nice the person is. I wouldn't be strong enough to deal with every mental illness in a partner. On top of it, some mental illnesses really affect plans for the future - like children. Just wanting to say that people don't always deflect because they are stupid/short sighted.

wolfie

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2012, 12:30:28 PM »
I want to clear some things up regarding people 'turning their back on you' after hearing what's wrong; it's not always because of preconceived notions and a sort of discrimination. Of course, a fair share of people do that for such reasons, but I know of myself that I wouldn't be able to handle everything, no matter how nice the person is. I wouldn't be strong enough to deal with every mental illness in a partner. On top of it, some mental illnesses really affect plans for the future - like children. Just wanting to say that people don't always deflect because they are stupid/short sighted.

I agree with this. My So is agoraphobic. It is really really hard to deal with. Should I ever be in the dating scene again I wouldn't be willing to date someone with those issues again because I know what to expect and I am just not willing to go through this again. It doesn't make me cold, or heartless, or bigoted or any other negative things. It means that I know what will make me happy and I am not willing to take on more then I can handle just to avoid hurting someone else's feelings.

earthgirl

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2012, 12:35:59 PM »
I want to clear some things up regarding people 'turning their back on you' after hearing what's wrong; it's not always because of preconceived notions and a sort of discrimination. Of course, a fair share of people do that for such reasons, but I know of myself that I wouldn't be able to handle everything, no matter how nice the person is. I wouldn't be strong enough to deal with every mental illness in a partner. On top of it, some mental illnesses really affect plans for the future - like children. Just wanting to say that people don't always deflect because they are stupid/short sighted.

I guess that's kind of what I mean though -- without getting to know me, how would anybody know how my mental health diagnosis affects me and possibly them, as a potential partner? I don't think it has anything to do with being "nice".  If the symptoms I do have are what turns someone away, that's understandable.  But not everyone with the same diagnosis acts the same way or has the same symptoms.

I probably wouldn't be strong enough to deal with various issues in a partner either, but I'd like to think that I would be more interested in how they manifest themselves in the person, rather than what I knew about it from a book or a TV show or what my cousin's roommate's brother did. 

WillyNilly

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2012, 12:39:13 PM »
My mom is mentally ill as is my best friend's mom. I simply cannot for my own health take on voluntarily another stress like that. I don't harbor any negative thoughts towards the mentally ill, I just already am tapped out in providing support in that dept and in fact in a long term partner am looking for someone who will help *me* shoulder the stress.

Everyone comes with baggage. Just because someone can't deal with one particular type of issue in a mate doesn't mean they are 'running for the hills' it just means they aren't a good match.

girlysprite

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2012, 04:41:47 AM »
I want to clear some things up regarding people 'turning their back on you' after hearing what's wrong; it's not always because of preconceived notions and a sort of discrimination. Of course, a fair share of people do that for such reasons, but I know of myself that I wouldn't be able to handle everything, no matter how nice the person is. I wouldn't be strong enough to deal with every mental illness in a partner. On top of it, some mental illnesses really affect plans for the future - like children. Just wanting to say that people don't always deflect because they are stupid/short sighted.

I guess that's kind of what I mean though -- without getting to know me, how would anybody know how my mental health diagnosis affects me and possibly them, as a potential partner? I don't think it has anything to do with being "nice".  If the symptoms I do have are what turns someone away, that's understandable.  But not everyone with the same diagnosis acts the same way or has the same symptoms.

I probably wouldn't be strong enough to deal with various issues in a partner either, but I'd like to think that I would be more interested in how they manifest themselves in the person, rather than what I knew about it from a book or a TV show or what my cousin's roommate's brother did.

Of course, if someone would tell me that they have issues, I would ask how it manifests, how it affects their lives, maybe what the prognosis for the future is. But in the dating scene people quickly leave when they have doubts. People act more on their gut feelings, and if they aren't sure that something will work out, they are quite quick to leave. But that is a whole another discussion I think, as it doesn't just include mental illnesses, but a lot of other factors which people use to quickly form an opinion.

fountainof

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2012, 10:36:24 AM »
I think 3 dates is a good time too.

I think all things that are a part of/affect who you are need to be discolsed early on.  Things like children you have, medical issues, etc.  For medical issues some people may just not be able to cope and I think that is fine.  For example, my DH has diabetes and has many long-term health consequenses (blind and kidney transplant) and while I am glad I married him(years before these issues came up but still he is only 42) I was totally naive about the illness when we met.   I kind of figured diabetes was "cured" with insulin.  I think the same with MH issues, there can and probably will be challenges not everyone is equiped to live that life (and there is nothing wrong with that, we all know what we can bear), you might as well weed those people out sooner than later. 

In the OPs case the MH issue is severe, so disclosure is necessary.

blarg314

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2012, 08:22:22 AM »

We could call this the new 'third date rule'. I like it better than the old one.

I echo PPs who say that if someone can't handle dating someone with a serious mental illness, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are shallow, or mean, or a bad person. Living with a serious mental illness is a major, life altering thing that has a profound impact on day to day life.  So is being in a serious relationship with someone who has one, and if someone says that they can't handle a relationship under those conditions, then we should take them at their word, just as if they said they didn't want to date someone who was divorced, or had kids, or or any of the myriad of other deal breakers people have.

Further,  when you go on a date with someone, you have no obligation, even for politeness, to stick with it in the hopes that you might feel better about X (whatever X is) after you get to know the person for a while. Even if X is something as nebulous as "I don't feel a spark" or "I'm not attracted to them" or "I hate the way they laugh".

What it does mean, though, is that on-line dating can be difficult and very frustrating for anyone who has something that tends to turn people away on first meeting. That can be a mental or physical condition, or kids, or having a stutter or social anxiety, or being overweight, or middle aged. The ones that are immediately obvious on the dating profile will scare away people before they even meet you, others, at the first date. In those cases, I think you either have to develop a thick skin when it comes to immediate rejection, or try to meet people in environments where they can get to know you a bit before starting a romantic relationship, so they can look past what could be a deal breaker on a dating website. On-line dating tends to be very list oriented, and people tend to quickly drop anyone that they have any doubts about at all.

heathert

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2012, 04:43:02 PM »
My mom is mentally ill as is my best friend's mom. I simply cannot for my own health take on voluntarily another stress like that. I don't harbor any negative thoughts towards the mentally ill, I just already am tapped out in providing support in that dept and in fact in a long term partner am looking for someone who will help *me* shoulder the stress.

Everyone comes with baggage. Just because someone can't deal with one particular type of issue in a mate doesn't mean they are 'running for the hills' it just means they aren't a good match.

My brother is mentally ill also and I understand this sentiment. It's no different than knowing you do not want to be with someone who has kids from another relationship or that they are a couch potato or unemployed. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this would be a dealbreaker without knowing any further specifics.

TurtleDove

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2012, 04:47:56 PM »
And I met plenty of men who could handle it, even if they had preconceived notions or were uneducated about my diagnosis, knowing ME was what mattered to them, not the DSM-IV code.

I think that if a mental illness is so severe that it affects one's daily life, that would be obvious within 3 dates.  If it isn't, I don't think one needs to label oneself.  By making it an issue and divulging the DSM-IV diagnosis, I think the OP would be making a big issue and raising a red flag that probalby would not need to be raised.  I would be casual about it, unless, of course, as I said earlier it is a major component of your life, in which case I would think it would be obvious in your observable behavior and there would be no need to have a revelatory "by the way, I have been diagnosed with ____."

Ms_Cellany

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2012, 04:51:52 PM »
I think that if a mental illness is so severe that it affects one's daily life, that would be obvious within 3 dates. 

Not necessarily. I'm bipolar, and well-controlled with medication. About once a year I'll have a bad spell, and about every 3-4 years the wheels fall off badly enough that I need to go into the shop for a week.

But day to day, you wouldn't know.

ETA that the third date rule sounds about right to me, too.
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TurtleDove

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2012, 05:04:26 PM »
Not necessarily. I'm bipolar, and well-controlled with medication. About once a year I'll have a bad spell, and about every 3-4 years the wheels fall off badly enough that I need to go into the shop for a week.

But day to day, you wouldn't know.

ETA that the third date rule sounds about right to me, too.

Perhaps I am just having a difficult time envisioning how the conversation would go.  I think that if the mental illness is well controlled, there is no reason to make a giant issue out of it.  More like a casual happenstance mention of "my happy pills really help keep me on an even keel!" over "sit down cuz this is a doozy...I suffer from a mental illness and you probably don't want to be with me anymore."

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: When do I tell potential partner I have a mental illness?
« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2012, 05:23:07 PM »
I have to say, personally, it's an issue of frequency and severity.  How often do your incidents happen, and of what magnitude are they?

Because if they're frequent and severe, then the third date might be too late.  You definitely want to make the issue known before the issue makes the issue known.

However, if you think you can get through two without anything happening, then I'm going to go with third date too.
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