Explaining Your Mental Illness to Your Date

The hardest part of dating isn't saying hello for the first time. It's not thinking up topics of conversation, choosing a restaurant, or even staying safe when you meet in person for the first time. When you have an oft- misunderstood mental illness (or two or three), the hardest part of getting to know anyone is explaining it-- and hoping they understand.

Last month I met up with a New Guy (yep, the one I had a 14 hour phone conversation with!), and everything seemed great. We had lots in common, he was fun to talk to and he laughed at all my jokes. But I was terrified that none of that would matter when he found out about my Panic Disorder and emetaphobia.

I believe in full disclosure when I start talking to someone new, whether a potential friend or date. It's less painful for both of us if the "eeeew I can't date a crazy girl!" conversation happens right at the beginning, rather than after a few dates. So when we first start talking and it feels like things might be going somewhere, I say, "I feel I should let you know that I'm dealing with [insert illnesses here]. They do [sometimes] impact my day-to-day life, but I am actively working on treatment for them and don't consider them an obstacle to having a happy relationship". Either he'll flee, or he'll be understanding. I've had some people run, of course, but multiple people have told me coming out like that takes guts, and still others have said they have an anxiety disorder (or two), too. 

So this new guy knew about my health issues in advance. I just wasn't sure what would happen when he encountered a panic attack or a borderline episode.

Our first date, like our first phone call, wasn't typical, even though it started out that way. We were going to go out for coffee, and met right near a Tim's, but decided we liked each other enough, felt safe with each other, (and wanted to spend enough time together) that going to his place made sense. So we did. And we ended up talking for hours on end, about silly things, important things, things we're passionate about. We made out. We snuggled. And at some point, I started sobbing uncontrollably. Hello, anxiety. Thanks for dropping by, borderline.

Did New Guy call me crazy? Did he kick me out? Nope. He held me close and told me everything was fine. And now we've been happily together for over a month.

Moral of the story? Don't be ashamed to disclose the fact that you're dealing with (an) illness(es) to potential new beaux. If they're too immature to deal with that, they don't deserve you. Not even close.

Over to you: How has your mental illness impacted your love life?

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

1 comment:

  1. I was afraid of letting anyone know about my depression and anxiety. My previous boyfriend couldn't understand and handle it. But I've been with the same guy for almost 4 years now. I'm so happy he's understanding and accepting of it. I love this article :) love you!

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