Your Mental Health: When to Come Out to a Romantic Partner
We've all been there. A new summer romance has added a skip to your step. Your mind obsesses about the wonderful future you will have together. And then, you realize, you haven’t told them about your mental health issues.
So, when is the right time to disclose your mental illness? Is it the same for everyone? Is there ever even a right time to come out about your mental health condition?
Disclosing the Details of Mental Illness
I unfortunately don’t have all the answers to these questions, but I do have a lot of experience in the matter. The most important thing to consider is what you expect from the relationship. If you think wedding bells will be in your future, it may be best to be as open and honest as humanly possible. But if it’s just going to be a fling, then it might not be necessary to air out all of your dirty mental health laundry.
I was with the same woman for much of my psychiatric battles. She knew me inside and out and there was nothing I could hide from her. But once we broke up, after a five-year relationship, I had to start thinking about just how open I wanted to be with potential romantic partners.
For the first few after the breakup of my long-term relationship, it was easy. I didn’t tell them anything. I lied. I made up convoluted stories to explain the many time lapses in my personal story that were filled with psychiatric hospitalizations. But these short relationships were essentially me testing the romantic waters again after psychiatric crisis. I never really had any intention of making them long term, so I didn’t feel guilty not telling the whole truth.
Is This Love?
Then, I met the girl that I knew I was destined to spend the rest of my life with. Within only a few weeks of casual dating, I came out with my entire disturbing story of major depression, suicide attempts, drug addiction, drug-induced psychosis and mania. I knew that I wanted to spend my life with her so I threw all my cards on the table. I remember thinking that it was make or break. Either she will accept me for who I am, or she won’t, and then I will be forced to move on.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only was she understanding and sympathetic, but she was genuinely interested in my story. Interested in the depths of hell that I survived and also interested in my slow, often painful rise up from a state of complete and utter chaos.
So when considering coming out to a romantic partner, take into account both what you expect from the relationship and also their relative degree of empathy. You just may find out that when presented with the information in the right manner, some people are more understanding than you may give them credit for.
Curry, C. (2012, July 9). Your Mental Health: When to Come Out to a Romantic Partner, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2012/07/when-to-come-out-to-a-romantic-partner
Author: Chris Curry
I'm on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to telling romantic partners (or in my case, potential romantic partners).
My issues are really sporadic in behaviour and I can go quite some time without showing signs to somebody OR I can fly off the handle early in.
So...telling them is usually date 3 fodder.
I figure, if they are interested in me, I tell them.
I don't want it to be a massive surprise when I lose it on them 3, 6, 9 months in and send them running because when I blow it's huge.
I warn early and let them make their own decisions.
The way I look at it is that I didn't choose this, I have to live with this but I understand that it is hell to live with and I don't want to inflict it on anybody who isn't prepared. If they can't handle it than best to walk before we're both really attached.
Excellent points Christa. Thank you so much for sharing your courage.
Hey, that's great! I had a similar experience. I'm Borderline, I have scars EVERYWHERE and I was obviously worried about my boyfriend finding out and how he would handle it. However after a few weeks of dating and too much whiskey one night my long sleeved shirt (I tend to layer a lot) had to come off. And would you like to know what he did when he saw the myriad of scars on my arms? He kissed them :) He knows everything now, we're very open and honestly... I never really believed someone like him was out there. Who would have thought :)
Thanks for the lovely words that I'm sure will encourage other Lyssa.
great blog, thank you and keep up the hard work!
Thank you ever so kindly! Glad you are enjoying them!
As a fellow writer at HP I just want to tell you how much I enjoy the content of your blogs. Really great. Thank you for your creativity and perspective!
Well thank you ever so kindly for the pleasant words Natalie!
I agree. It is hard to come out about your mental illness with a romantic partner. When I was single, it was hard for me and when I did come out to someone who did not have a mental illness, he ran away. I think women are more understanding than men. You got lucky! Be happy with her. If you want to know more about my hardships read my book and go to my website and buy a copy. It will inspire you. You can also go to www.outskirtspress.com/survivingmentalillness.