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When should you tell someone you're dating about mental health difficulties?

Danny!Danny! Deactivated Posts: 560 Incredible Poster
We all have things in our lives that we find difficult and, even if we wanted to, it would take more than a few dates to tell someone everything.

But the longer you see someone, the more you share together. And, because relationships involve so many different emotions and link us back to past relationships (romantic and sexual; but also family, friends and other people), sooner or later they're likely to get mixed up in anything emotional that we're already struggling with.

When would you tell someone you're dating about difficulties related to your mental health?

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    A lot of it to me would depend on how you met them.

    In the past I've generally been friends with someone before I started dating them, so they'd have known a reasonable amount about me. Boy could probably access all my HR details through work if he wanted to, which would give him some insights

    In our case, it's been a case of things coming out over time. Some of the monsters in my life I think he knew about before we got together, there are probably still things that he doesn't and we've been together over a year. Nothing that I'm going out of my way to hide, but equally if nothing related to it has come up - and I've not had a problem with it while he's been around or in touch then I've not made a conscious effort to sit down and go through every detail of my life so far.

    I guess it depends on a lot on what it is, how you met, how long you've known each other, and what the impact is on your life.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    As soon as possible.

    If they're going to freak out and run away because of my mental health issues, I'd rather it be sooner than later.

    Not to mention they'd probably see the scars as soon as they got into bed with me.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I told my ex when we were getting a little bit more serious but not too serious. It's a massive thing, it's something very personal to you and I think you've got to be certain you want to tell someone. It's kind of like a commitment thing too I think, like when I told my ex that was basically me saying I clearly trust you and care about you enough to let you know the real me and it's scary because it's a big thing to do, but also because of that fear of getting knocked back for something you really can't help. It's definitely not something you should rush into I don't think. There's not really a specific right time though, just whenever you personally feel comfortable and want to tell them.
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    Danny!Danny! Deactivated Posts: 560 Incredible Poster
    Thanks for sharing everyone. Your replies made me think of a couple of things:

    Scary Monster, I really like your point about what the impact is on your life. “Mental health difficulty” (or whatever phrase you prefer) is a really broad and undefined category. What one person might define as a mental health problem, another person might see as a response to past relationship situations, or just a set of character traits. So maybe a more useful (if more complex) version of my question would be “when should you tell someone you’re dating about the various past and present experiences that you feel are likely to have an impact on your relationship?”.

    Butterfly123, I think what you said highlights one of the positive points about of sharing something as personal to you as mental health difficulties. From my own experience, I can think of two important relationships where it was at the point that someone shared something painful and personal with me that I really felt we’d moved from “dating” to “relationship”. So maybe we could see the decision to share mental health difficulties as a positive commitment to a deeper relationship, and therefore one that could feel special to the other person and bring you closer.
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    Danny!Danny! Deactivated Posts: 560 Incredible Poster
    As soon as possible.

    If they're going to freak out and run away because of my mental health issues, I'd rather it be sooner than later.

    Not to mention they'd probably see the scars as soon as they got into bed with me.

    This made me think about the motivation behind telling someone.

    When we make these decisions, there might well be two sides. On the one hand, there's the part that wants to make sure the other person can handle you, and won't reject you at a later stage when they discover certain things.

    On the other hand, there's hopefully also a part that wants to check them out? Are they a person that can be understanding and trustworthy with things that are difficult and very personal to you? Does their reaction tell you about whether they're someone that you'd like to be with?

    I was just wondering whether you feel you fall more on one side or the other?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't think there's actually a right time. But I do think they need to know before it gets serious.
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    **helen****helen** Deactivated Posts: 9,235 Supreme Poster
    Just wanted to bump this thread as it links closely to an article we have written by our friend Helen at SANE - some of you might remember for her from a live chat on the issue :)

    Here it is: http://www.thesite.org/mental-health/looking-after-yourself/telling-your-boyfriend-or-girlfriend-you-have-a-mental-health-problem-5632.html

    Her top tips on when are:
    When do I tell them I have a mental health problem?

    There's no set point by which you have to have told them, or any time when it's too early, either. Every relationship is different. However, now might be the time to tell them if:

    You trust them. The most important thing when you talk to anyone about your mental health is that you trust them to treat you with respect and not to tell anyone else.

    It?s more than just a bit of fun. If you're pretty sure this isn't a fling, and you can see them becoming a big part of your life, you?ll need to be open about your mental health eventually.

    The fact you haven?t told them is bothering you. If you?re that worried you've not told them yet, then it?s probably time you did. Plus, you?ll feel relieved once you do.

    You feel ready. Talking about your emotions and mental health can be painful. If you're not sure whether you're ready to tell your partner, discuss it with someone else first. Talk to someone you trust, or give SANE a call.

    These seem to chime pretty well with what you guys have been saying, but is there anything here you're not sure of or you feel is particularly strong?
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