Now that I am feeling better, I thought I’d try online dating.
It’s a weird and wonderful world out there online, and yes you could try it, but be warned – it’s really addictive.
Anyway, I started chatting with someone really interesting online, and soon enough we were at the stage of “Let’s meet for a coffee.”
Now I have a picture of myself online and I wanted to see one of the person I was planning to meet. My words exactly for wanting a picture before meeting were :
Seeing someone for the first time at a meeting spot almost guarantees it won’t work. You have to reconcile the person in front of you with the picture created in your head from the words you have been exchanging. It takes a bit of time and at a first meeting it just doesn’t happen.
So I got a pic. And we met. And we struck it off really well and the conversation was going swimmingly and, yes, the sparks were there.
Until I mentioned that I write for a website. “It’s a website for manic depressive persons,” said I, blithely.
And then the discussion turned to my being manic depressive. Which I think I handled pretty well. And not too long after that the rest of the evening ended very nicely. Not a bad first contact, I thought.
That is, until I got the e-mail later that night saying they weren’t sure if they could handle a manic depressive person. Very nice, all apologies, very gracious. But nevertheless…
Was I disappointed? – Yes, because I really was attracted.
Upset with the person? – No, because they always have the right / privilege to say no thanks. That’s the whole point of dating.
My real issue is how to navigate the dating waters such that I don’t scare away prospective partners, but at the same time be responsible enough to let them know that I do have mood swings. This matters particularly if you rapid cycle like I do, and the mood changes can happen just a few days down the line.
Well obviously, telling someone on the first date is a bad idea. Stop rolling your eyes – I can be really clueless.
I think what I did was exactly what I tried to avoid by sharing pictures at first. I introduced a new variable / idea / concept that was completely at odds with who I was as a person. I was being charming, witty, personable. A nice guy. To an average person, none of this is compatible with being manic depressive or mentally ill.
I think the discrepancy was the cause of the problems, like a stick in the gears churning out an opinion of me. Everything stopped moving forward after that.
I had forgotten this was possible because being bipolar is now so entwined in my life that it’s almost as irrelevant as my being a guy. It’s there and it clearly affects my decisions, but so what. I’d forgotten that other people might see it as a negative thing, or a problem, or a scary thing.
So now I know. Again.
Which comes back to the issue – When is a good time to tell someone you are bipolar? The second date? After two weeks? Two months? After you have had the first depression episode and confused the heck out of your partner?
I’m thinking that the compromise time could be about 2-3 weeks into the courting. That’s probably long enough for someone to feel that they know you, so they don’t have this “who the hell have I been talking with up to now” disconnect.
In case you think telling someone will turn them off, know that the topic I get asked most about is “how can I help my partner who has mood swings.” You aren’t likely to be snubbed. I think what I did wrong wasn’t in mentioning being bipolar – it was just the timing.
And I also think that you must tell the person you are dating about your mood swings before your next predicted depression episode. I cannot think of anything meaner to do to a person than to leave them wondering why a relationship has just gone downhill for no reason whatsoever.
UPDATE: 21 Jul 09. Got an e-mail this morning from the person asking if we can meet to see what happens next. Pardon me while I do my Snoopy dance.