Let’s talk about men. Since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve been out with three men, well four if you count that one lunch I had with a guy I decided not to see again. But I’m talking about three that I actually told about me. All three had different reactions. I met all of them through online dating services. Same pattern too, we’d talk by email, then by phone, getting to know and like one another, and then we’d meet.
With the first, it was instant attraction, boy we really hit it off. We lived in different cities so we took turns traveling back and forth to see each other. This gave us some really concentrated, quality time together when we did see each other. It was after our second meeting, when I returned home, that I began to feel wrong about not telling him the truth about my condition. I mean, it hadn’t caused any problems, but I did have to hide taking my medications from him, and I take them three times a day. Anyway, I thought I might rather break up with him than tell him the truth, it seemed so hard. I just liked him so much and he made me so happy. But somehow, I guess since it was weighing so heavily on my mind, it just came up in the conversation that night and I told him everything. When he had caught his breath, he said he didn’t want to stop seeing me. I was elated. We dated another four months before he was transferred across country. I can’t say things would have worked out. I know he wasn’t pleased with my lack of organization and my wreck of a house (it’s much better now, but still highly disorganized and cluttered). But I think we made each other happy and that’s what counts; I know I was the happiest I think I’ve ever been. But that’s a moot point, isn’t it. The point of this vignette is that telling your story can work out for the best.
The second man I told took it completely in stride as though it was nothing. He had already decided – without even meeting me in person – that he wanted to marry me. He was an Asian American who was looking for a wife to be with him in his later years ( he was only 53). When we met, he never changed his mind. We saw each other for about three months, but my feelings never quite matched his and I had to call it off. Too bad, considering he was offering me not only marriage, but to take care of my special needs as well – without judging me. He was a very kind and giving gentlemen and I will always be sad that it didn’t work out between us.
The third fellow I believe I may have mentioned briefly before. We met on the internet, had long searching talks on the phone and finally met in person. It went well, though not what I would characterize as instant attraction. Still I think we both wanted to continue to see each other as we continued to telephone and text each other daily. Finally, after much badgering by him about why I quit practicing law, I just told him. He had a million questions which I did my best to answer, but which I know were woefully inadequate to convey my situation without at the same time sounding “sick”. He never called again. I called once and we had a good conversation, just regular stuff. Still no calls, so I texted him asking him for some closure. I asked him to do me the favor of letting me know that we were done because of what I told him. I thought it was only fair. He texted back and said he had a lot to think about and would call me. He never has. He got what he asked for, and then ran for the hills. I never expected it of this one.
It just goes to show you, you never know what is going to happen when you open up and bear your soul. But relationships have to be built on truth and trust. It’s unfortunate that our truth happens to be Bipolar and/or ADHD. We have an invisible illness that is hard for others to understand unless they invest some real time and effort. That’s hard to find. Even the first man I talked about didn’t do that. I functioned normally when I was around him and that was good enough for him.
I’ve been talking to someone else lately. I met him online, but not through a dating service. We have a lot in common and we’ve had short conversations over the last couple of years. But lately, our conversations have taken a turn toward the romantic and I really like it. He even invited me to a conference out of state. I was seriously considering going until I found out that, although having serious troubles, he is still married. Definitely not a relationship for me. I’m looking for a husband of my own, not someone else’s. It’s hard enough dealing with Bipolar and ADHD without complicating things like that. So sad, there seemed so much potential there. I really admire his work.
So, are Bipolar and ADHD relationship killers. Yes. And no. It all depends on the man and the relationship. The problem is, you will never know until you take the plunge and bear it all. Is it unfair? Yes. Very. The stigma these illnesses carry alone can submarine you before you ever get a chance to explain your own life. Of course, if you’re like me and you have to justify not working and still explain why you want a relationship (duh) and how you can hope to maintain one, then you’re almost sunk before you start. If your beau is an organization fanatic or neatnick you’re also sunk unless he doesn’t mind picking up your occasional slack. Or better yet, letting you have your own space and learning to look the other way from your inevitable clutter.
The bottom line here is, you really have to fess up at some point in the relationship. You want some foundation laid to give him something to hold on to when you do tell, but you don’t want to be so invested that you’re crushed if he can’t take it. Believe me, I’m smarting over this last guy and all we had was the one lunch and about a month of really intense phone conversations. Be strong, you can get through it. I wish I could tell you it gets easier every time you do it, but it doesn’t. Just like every guy is different, so is every confession. But you’ll get through it. Just remember, honesty is best. You can’t hide it forever, and you don’t want them finding out from any source but you. Good Luck!