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Dating and Talking About My Mental Health

Talking about my mental health when dating is tricky because I have bipolar disorder (not to mention generalized anxiety disorder). Do I mention mental health on the first date? How long should I wait before talking about my mental health?

Does it bleed into dishonesty if I wait too long? If I talk about it too soon, will it just scare people off? These are just some of the considerations I make when talking about my mental health on a date.

Dating with bipolar disorder

Chances are fair that mental health may not come up on a date at all. Your date may not have anything to say on the matter or may be private about it, so they just don't bring it up. Your conversation may simply revolve around other things. In this case, you 100% have the choice to bring it up or not.

On the other hand, mental health is a pretty popular topic of conversation right now. People are talking about it more frequently, it's in the media more frequently, and it's more acceptable to talk about things like stress, anxiety, and even depression, either personally or in general. If this happens, you must decide how much detail with which to respond.

Skipping mental health talk on the first date

If you're on a first date and the topic of mental health is not brought up, it seems to me the easiest thing to do is just skip the topic. There's no reason you need to go into your personal health history on a first date.

In my opinion, your health is your business. Moreover, I prefer to let someone get to know me a bit before they find out about my bipolar disorder. I want them to know the actual me before it is (rightly or wrongly) colored with a diagnosis.

But when should I bring up my bipolar diagnosis?

If you get to the third date or the fourth and mental health still isn't brought up, it's a bit of a different matter. While your personal health history is yours alone, you may want to share it before you get too close to another person.

My thought here is that if they’re going to reject me because of my bipolar diagnosis, I'd rather they do that sooner than later when I'm attached. The choice here is yours, but if bipolar disorder is a part of your daily life, it does start to become dishonest, not to mention it at some point.

Do what feels comfortable

If you're on a first date and the topic of mental health does come up, you have an opportunity. You have the opportunity to feel out how your date feels about matters of mental health.

For example, you can determine if your date has a very negative attitude towards the topic of mental health, which may impact if you want to see them again. Too much of a negative attitude can be a red flag when you live with bipolar disorder.

A first date vs. a third or fourth date...

On a first date, you also have the choice to sidestep the topic, change the subject, etc. You don't have to discuss this sensitive topic before you even know the person. If you haven’t talked about your mental health by the third or fourth date, and it does come up in the conversation, I would highly encourage you to talk about your diagnosis in an open and honest way.

Be forthright and encourage questions. Remember, your date may know nothing about your diagnosis except what they've seen in the movies. It's your job to make them see that you are an individual and not a caricature invented by the media.

Being open about your bipolar diagnosis

I think as soon as you start to genuinely care for someone, you need to have the mental health conversation, because that is when it will hurt if they choose to walk away because of it.

Many people will hear the information about your mental health and feel closer to you and even share information about their own struggles. So don't assume it's going to go badly. But don't assume it's going to go well, either. You need to prepare for both, and that's why you don't want to wait too long to have the conversation.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.