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New to dating. Making progress. Feeling hopeless.

K

keith74

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I would like to thank you for helping me understand this condition many months ago -- I still have the site bphope.com bookmarked on my computer. Haven't been on it in months - but back then it was a wealth of information and was written in a very positive way... Thanks again, you're the best!!
Thanks for the kind words! bphope is indeed a great resource.

This forum has helped me so much so it is a pleasure for me to be able to give back.
 
Y

yololoyo

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Sounds like a good plan. Best of luck!

One last thing (though it may be a discussion for later down the road) is that for the best chance of relationship stability, both partners need to be involved and committed in helping the bipolar spouse. This was the one big mistake that I made in my relationship. After she disclosed and I saw how well she manages her moods, I was like "cool" and just left it up to her. Even though she did a great job on her own, I should have been more involved. We are coming up on our 10 year wedding anniversary but it was only during her last manic episode in the fall of 2020 when I actually starting learning about the illness with any detail. Basically when I joined this forum in fall of 2020, I was totally clueless. I had no clue what meds she took or how they worked. I only had a vague idea of what her triggers were. When she was hospitalized, her doctors would ask me all these questions about meds and details of her previous episodes and embarrassingly I would just be like "hmm... i don't really know". I have since been obsessive about learning more since then (which is why I still love visiting this forum) and realize that if I knew then what I know now, I could have not only dealt with her last episode much better (I would have easily seen some of the obvious triggers and taken appropriate action), but I should have been more supportive by being more involved in helping her with her mood maintenance. Definitely when both partners in the relationship work together (in a positive way) to help the bipolar spouse maintain stability, the outlook for the relationship can be really good. It can be tough because in my case, part of the reason why I left her alone with it is because she could be a little sensitive about it if I kept bringing it up. But now we are 100% on the same page and it is awesome. She has totally kept me in the loop on her treatments and moods, and likes to get my insight and opinions. This is really the optimal scenario - that you are totally open to keeping her in the loop, and that she is open to learning more about bipolar and doing her part to support you the best she can. It can take some time to get there but if you do, things can work out really well.
It is good to hear you have grown so much from your spouse's recent mania and also that you were doing so well without the growth, too! Perfection is something I never expect to achieve and I hope relationships can be more forgiving than I at times fear for someone with bipolar disorder. If I get anywhere with this woman I understand the need for her to have a deep understanding of what is going on with me and to be directly involved in my treatment in a way with healthy boundaries. And I am afraid I'll initiate her too quickly at the moment haha. I think I need to watch oversharing about my manias, especially because I find some level of entertainment value from the stories, which may be off putting, because they perhaps sound more concerning to people who haven't been through some form of mental illness. I have not fully dealt with the trauma of certain parts of my story, like the trauma of my run in with the system and forced long term treatment, but I think I am doing well for what I've been through. I strive to be more open to bringing it up in places where it is safe and smart to, and to just be more vulnerable about it in general. I think it will help people know when something is going off, or has the potential to, like you said. I have my fingers crossed that she'll be open to learning about this disorder and that she will supportive and accepting, too. Thanks for sharing your positive experience.
 
G

Ginger Kitten

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Yololoya, I am going to swim against the tide here. You have only had 3 dates with this woman, so it's very early days yet. I wouldn't think about discolsing to her until you've know her at least a couple of months. As important as informing her is, I really don't think now is the time. And I also think you need time to get to know her properly - it's not all one way, as in, 'Will she accept me?' In my opinion, 3 dates is not long enough to form an accurate picture of someone's character; you will both be going on first impressions atm - and they can be misleading. Sorry to be such a downer, but I think a little caution might be a good idea. I really don't want you to get hurt, especially as this seems a promising relationship. Kind regards, Ginger.
 
Y

yololoyo

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You’re very welcome! I wish you the best! Please keep me updated, if you would like to. I would really like to know how it goes. Sending you love x
Okay, so I have decent news. And a long post. I saw her again today, we watched a movie in the theater and walked around a bookstore, then walked along a dim path along the nearby river. While on the path we talked. It was a low key conversation for the walk in one direction. On the way back I figured I would try to bring up something more serious. I asked what she was looking for in a relationship. I don't remember what she said exactly. Something along the lines of "I don't know, I'm just trying to feel it out." I responded by asking about a comment she made last time we saw each other and wrapping it into what her intentions we so far with us. I had asked to kiss her at the end of our third date and she said "I want to move slow," and politely turned me down. Her body language our whole time dating has been distant, there has been no physical contact but hugs, and she was wrapped into herself cross armed the whole movie so I made no moves. I am fine with all of this as long as we communicate, so I broached the subject, the subtext of what I asked being "Are you not attracted to me?" and she said "Oh no" laughing to herself. I was just making clear she did not want to only be friends. I was like "Cool, I just want to make sure we are on the same page about where we are at and I am fine with moving slow." Then she began to ask about dating history. I gave my answer about saying I had not been in the place to date for years, so I had almost no experience, then I transitioned into disclosing that I am bipolar. I talked about how I was undiagnosed or misdiagnosed or mismedicated for a few years and how that made it hard to date. I was nervous and talked too much but it didn't go poorly. I worded some things counter productively, though. It's a hard conversation to have and my first time having it. But she was open, said she didn't know anybody with the disorder and asked a few questions. I tried to answer, but I am a little upset about how I handled it as I write, I had a few bad lines. I'm just being hard on myself about it I think. But she said I was a great communicator and showed a lot of empathy, saying that what I went through must have been hard. She opened up a bit about having a bad relationship in college, maybe her only, that didn't have good boundaries. I assume that is why she is moving slow. But it wasn't awkward, it just didn't go perfectly. At the end when we got near her car she said, "You know, I don't know where this is going, but I'd be happy to see you again." I think she is a little hesitant to move forward both because of my diagnosis and because of how I handled the conversation, but I am grateful to have had it. I hope to get to know her more and also to be more accepting if she doesn't find me to be compatible with her, for whatever reason. Dating is hard! And it's not even going terribly right now, either! I am upset at having my diagnosis right now, because I feel like it would make dating easier to not be bipolar. But I will practice being positive about it, because its the life I have and that's the best thing I can do for myself.
 
Y

yololoyo

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Yololoya, I am going to swim against the tide here. You have only had 3 dates with this woman, so it's very early days yet. I wouldn't think about discolsing to her until you've know her at least a couple of months. As important as informing her is, I really don't think now is the time. And I also think you need time to get to know her properly - it's not all one way, as in, 'Will she accept me?' In my opinion, 3 dates is not long enough to form an accurate picture of someone's character; you will both be going on first impressions atm - and they can be misleading. Sorry to be such a downer, but I think a little caution might be a good idea. I really don't want you to get hurt, especially as this seems a promising relationship. Kind regards, Ginger.
Well, too late for that! I already disclosed and shared the "short" version of the story in a reply to someone else in this thread. My thinking is 1. that I'd rather find out my diagnosis is a deal breaker now than two months in and 2. that I felt a lot of anxiety about not having disclosed and it was looming over me in out interactions. I also I feel like it is a dishonest bait and switch to not. Not saying these reasons make it the best approach, but I am guessing that going forwarding in dating, that will be my style. It just makes sense to me to disclose in 3-5 dates. I'd love to hear more about your take. Are you bipolar? What is your experience disclosing if so? But as I said in the other reply, I am seeing her again in the next week, so I have that going for me. I am not sure how seriously she will be considering me as a potential partner, but we'll see.
 
O

Orangeade

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Okay, so I have decent news. And a long post. I saw her again today, we watched a movie in the theater and walked around a bookstore, then walked along a dim path along the nearby river. While on the path we talked. It was a low key conversation for the walk in one direction. On the way back I figured I would try to bring up something more serious. I asked what she was looking for in a relationship. I don't remember what she said exactly. Something along the lines of "I don't know, I'm just trying to feel it out." I responded by asking about a comment she made last time we saw each other and wrapping it into what her intentions we so far with us. I had asked to kiss her at the end of our third date and she said "I want to move slow," and politely turned me down. Her body language our whole time dating has been distant, there has been no physical contact but hugs, and she was wrapped into herself cross armed the whole movie so I made no moves. I am fine with all of this as long as we communicate, so I broached the subject, the subtext of what I asked being "Are you not attracted to me?" and she said "Oh no" laughing to herself. I was just making clear she did not want to only be friends. I was like "Cool, I just want to make sure we are on the same page about where we are at and I am fine with moving slow." Then she began to ask about dating history. I gave my answer about saying I had not been in the place to date for years, so I had almost no experience, then I transitioned into disclosing that I am bipolar. I talked about how I was undiagnosed or misdiagnosed or mismedicated for a few years and how that made it hard to date. I was nervous and talked too much but it didn't go poorly. I worded some things counter productively, though. It's a hard conversation to have and my first time having it. But she was open, said she didn't know anybody with the disorder and asked a few questions. I tried to answer, but I am a little upset about how I handled it as I write, I had a few bad lines. I'm just being hard on myself about it I think. But she said I was a great communicator and showed a lot of empathy, saying that what I went through must have been hard. She opened up a bit about having a bad relationship in college, maybe her only, that didn't have good boundaries. I assume that is why she is moving slow. But it wasn't awkward, it just didn't go perfectly. At the end when we got near her car she said, "You know, I don't know where this is going, but I'd be happy to see you again." I think she is a little hesitant to move forward both because of my diagnosis and because of how I handled the conversation, but I am grateful to have had it. I hope to get to know her more and also to be more accepting if she doesn't find me to be compatible with her, for whatever reason. Dating is hard! And it's not even going terribly right now, either! I am upset at having my diagnosis right now, because I feel like it would make dating easier to not be bipolar. But I will practice being positive about it, because its the life I have and that's the best thing I can do for myself.
Thank you for updating me! Im glad it went well with her! It seems she has maybe her own trust issues and is reluctant to open up, but you was open and honest and thats great! Wishing you the best of luck with this relationship x
 
G

Ginger Kitten

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Surrey, Uk
Well, too late for that! I already disclosed and shared the "short" version of the story in a reply to someone else in this thread. My thinking is 1. that I'd rather find out my diagnosis is a deal breaker now than two months in and 2. that I felt a lot of anxiety about not having disclosed and it was looming over me in out interactions. I also I feel like it is a dishonest bait and switch to not. Not saying these reasons make it the best approach, but I am guessing that going forwarding in dating, that will be my style. It just makes sense to me to disclose in 3-5 dates. I'd love to hear more about your take. Are you bipolar? What is your experience disclosing if so? But as I said in the other reply, I am seeing her again in the next week, so I have that going for me. I am not sure how seriously she will be considering me as a potential partner, but we'll see.
I replied to your thread last night, Yololoyo, so your latest post didn't appear here in the UK till 2.20am and I was asleep...

Yes, I have bipolar disorder, have had it probably 30 years and have been diagnosed 10 years. I am always cautious about disclosing it, because I think there is still a lot of stigma and ignorance out there about most mental illnesses, despite the current 'zeitgeist'. Plus, I come from the generation that didn't talk private things!

I don't date any more, partly because I'm getting on and it seems less important than when I was younger, and partly because my last boyfriend was seriously abusive (I'm a woman), which left me very wary of ever getting involved with anyone again. In fact, if I'm honest, it probably developed almost into an aversion to relationships. That's eased a bit over the past couple of years (I find men attractive, I enjoy their company and I've got male friends), but I still feel it's all too much emotional effort.

So if I'm honest with myself, I guess some of that will be feeding into my previous reply to you. It's also why I can identify with your potential gf's desire to take things slowly. However, if I were to date, I probably wouldn't disclose for a couple of months, until I felt sure of the person and the relationship. But that's just me. You've obviously got a different approach and I respect that - you were very clear about your reasons for disclosing to your new significant other. And it looks as if I was wrong and you were right, since she was so accepting of your revelation.

I wish you both all the luck in the world. With kindest wishes, Ginger.
 
Y

yololoyo

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Thank you for updating me! Im glad it went well with her! It seems she has maybe her own trust issues and is reluctant to open up, but you was open and honest and thats great! Wishing you the best of luck with this relationship x
Yea no problem. I feel bad for not asking more questions about her experience, but I think it was smart considering that it might lead very serious subject matter. Thanks for your wishes.
 
Y

yololoyo

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I replied to your thread last night, Yololoyo, so your latest post didn't appear here in the UK till 2.20am and I was asleep...

Yes, I have bipolar disorder, have had it probably 30 years and have been diagnosed 10 years. I am always cautious about disclosing it, because I think there is still a lot of stigma and ignorance out there about most mental illnesses, despite the current 'zeitgeist'. Plus, I come from the generation that didn't talk private things!

I don't date any more, partly because I'm getting on and it seems less important than when I was younger, and partly because my last boyfriend was seriously abusive (I'm a woman), which left me very wary of ever getting involved with anyone again. In fact, if I'm honest, it probably developed almost into an aversion to relationships. That's eased a bit over the past couple of years (I find men attractive, I enjoy their company and I've got male friends), but I still feel it's all too much emotional effort.

So if I'm honest with myself, I guess some of that will be feeding into my previous reply to you. It's also why I can identify with your potential gf's desire to take things slowly. However, if I were to date, I probably wouldn't disclose for a couple of months, until I felt sure of the person and the relationship. But that's just me. You've obviously got a different approach and I respect that - you were very clear about your reasons for disclosing to your new significant other. And it looks as if I was wrong and you were right, since she was so accepting of your revelation.

I wish you both all the luck in the world. With kindest wishes, Ginger.
Thanks for your reply. The timezone difference is something I have been accounting for. And I'm sorry to hear about your trouble with relationships, but it's good to know that you have found some peace in being single—I have not had that fortune, yet! And thanks for sharing about how your past has colored your perspective. Your comments are valuable to me. Waiting 2 months isn't bad advice, though it is probably the longest I would understand someone waiting. But that method just isn't for the person I am today.

As far as her reaction goes, I am a little uneasy about it. It seems like I do have a lot of reason to be optimistic, as she did show some level of acceptance, or at least the intent to learn more before deciding we are incompatible. If I had to guess, she is going to move very slow after this and try to see how I handle myself with a keener eye, along with (hopefully) trying her best to see how my bipolar disorder manifests for me as an individual. That is something to be grateful for, and I am so far, though I'm throwing a little pity party for myself about it all still. Woe is me! I am just going to try to enjoy getting to know her for as long as it lasts and make as few assumptions as possible. I was getting a little ahead of myself I think as far as hopes go, but nothing unhealthy. I want to make sure I am patient and feel comfortable being myself. I have some hard conversations to have with her if we get that far which may serve as deal breakers, but those will not take place in the next month. I think I mentioned elsewhere, but my last time in treatment was about 20 months long and involved legal charges that got dropped. That situation involved me getting fixated on a woman and sending a bunch of long emails proclaiming my "love". The "non-manic" details are out there too—a 79 year old man was grooming me and was trying to convince me he was going to buy me a house as he tried to separate me from my family, and I had a licensed therapist who believed in telepathy and told me I was having telepathy with the guy who was grooming me and the woman I was emailing. Things got weird and its and intense story that is hard to tell. It may be too much for her. But like I said, that conversation may be a month or 2 or so down. Maybe more for all the details. I have no idea what's appropriate! But thanks again for your comment.
 
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flabbergasted

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Yea no problem. I feel bad for not asking more questions about her experience, but I think it was smart considering that it might lead very serious subject matter. Thanks for your wishes.

Proud of you!! Taking it slow is perfect - She definitely showed interest in seeing you again because sounds like she totally volunteered that she'd like to see you again - you didn't have to ask her.....and don't forget, while taking it slow, if it keeps going, you will eventually find out issues from her past that she's dealing with which can make us women very, very cautious about dropping those walls we've built up for protection from being hurt again and allowing us to trust again. In other words, right now, you don't know what issues she's dealing with - and those issues can make us act cautiously toward a new person - but that would not have anything to do with you as a person - so try not analyze things too much. Keep being kinder to yourself, you are a great guy -- keeping my fingers crossed for a good outcome on this....best wishes....
 
O

Orangeade

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Yea no problem. I feel bad for not asking more questions about her experience, but I think it was smart considering that it might lead very serious subject matter. Thanks for your wishes.
You’re welcome! C
 
Y

yololoyo

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Proud of you!! Taking it slow is perfect - She definitely showed interest in seeing you again because sounds like she totally volunteered that she'd like to see you again - you didn't have to ask her.....and don't forget, while taking it slow, if it keeps going, you will eventually find out issues from her past that she's dealing with which can make us women very, very cautious about dropping those walls we've built up for protection from being hurt again and allowing us to trust again. In other words, right now, you don't know what issues she's dealing with - and those issues can make us act cautiously toward a new person - but that would not have anything to do with you as a person - so try not analyze things too much. Keep being kinder to yourself, you are a great guy -- keeping my fingers crossed for a good outcome on this....best wishes....
Thank you! I am proud of myself too—the dialogue was a good step no matter what direction this relationship takes. And I am trying to just focus on that right now, the fact that she initiated the conversation about seeing each other again. I will admit I am constantly nitpicking how our date yesterday went, but that is a positive moment to hang on to.

I think for now I want to let her lead a bit more and really lay back on trying to force intimate dialogues. I don't know at what pace she will be willing to open up and yes, you are correct that I do not know what issues she is dealing with. I can't help but assume something bad by the pace of things and I want her to open up if/when she is comfortable. I am trying to not take things personally like you imply, but I will admit I am. I think navigating the slow escalation of intimacy paired with my insecurities related to my diagnosis will be a challenge, but one I can work to navigate so it doesn't become a deal breaker. I want to be confident about myself so I can be more fun to be around—asking her to define the relationship, or to validate me for being attractive, or to accept me as psychologically stable are all things I want to do, but those actions aren't putting my best foot forward. Maybe they are normal things, I don't know, but I need to move respectfully and consider that she may have gone through tough experiences dating.

I am hoping she is curious and asks me questions. I fear she will do research online and that what she reads will reinforce any fears he has or may develop. If we keep seeing each other I will try my best to be a good communicator so I don't get in my head too much!
 
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flabbergasted

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Thank you! I am proud of myself too—the dialogue was a good step no matter what direction this relationship takes. And I am trying to just focus on that right now, the fact that she initiated the conversation about seeing each other again. I will admit I am constantly nitpicking how our date yesterday went, but that is a positive moment to hang on to.

I think for now I want to let her lead a bit more and really lay back on trying to force intimate dialogues. I don't know at what pace she will be willing to open up and yes, you are correct that I do not know what issues she is dealing with. I can't help but assume something bad by the pace of things and I want her to open up if/when she is comfortable. I am trying to not take things personally like you imply, but I will admit I am. I think navigating the slow escalation of intimacy paired with my insecurities related to my diagnosis will be a challenge, but one I can work to navigate so it doesn't become a deal breaker. I want to be confident about myself so I can be more fun to be around—asking her to define the relationship, or to validate me for being attractive, or to accept me as psychologically stable are all things I want to do, but those actions aren't putting my best foot forward. Maybe they are normal things, I don't know, but I need to move respectfully and consider that she may have gone through tough experiences dating.

I am hoping she is curious and asks me questions. I fear she will do research online and that what she reads will reinforce any fears he has or may develop. If we keep seeing each other I will try my best to be a good communicator so I don't get in my head too much!

The fact that she went on that date with you PLUS the fact that she volunteered that she'd like to see you again is your validation that she thinks you are attractive and is interested....In my younger days I was always second guessing things on the beginning - will they like me, are they attracted, will they call again, are they just using me --- it can drive you crazy, but I think sort of normal when getting to know someone new in your life (when self esteem is not up to par).

You've been validated, so try your best to relax, be confident and have fun...(I know it's easier said than done - but try!lol) Best wishes
 
Y

yololoyo

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The fact that she went on that date with you PLUS the fact that she volunteered that she'd like to see you again is your validation that she thinks you are attractive and is interested....In my younger days I was always second guessing things on the beginning - will they like me, are they attracted, will they call again, are they just using me --- it can drive you crazy, but I think sort of normal when getting to know someone new in your life (when self esteem is not up to par).

You've been validated, so try your best to relax, be confident and have fun...(I know it's easier said than done - but try!lol) Best wishes
Thank you for the continuing positivity, it does make me feel better. I am catastrophizing to be honest and I feel a mild depression about the whole situation due to my pessimism, but I am doing what I can to act hopeful and to be my best self. As long as I am communicating well with those in my life and improving my relationships in general, it is okay if things don't work out with this woman. I am learning a lot about me and dating itself through this experience—I'm working to keep a level head about it, too. I am enjoying my time with her also, so for all it's worth I am enjoying the ride. I'll keep your words in mind and just act like myself and be honest, all while having as much fun as I can. So yes, I am grateful she has extended the invitation to see me again, and I will relax as best I am able and enjoy getting to know someone new a little more. I am grateful also to see that there are areas in me that I can work on, such as feeling like I am more deserving of love/relationships and my general self esteem. I am also noticing that I have a bias that says I will never find a relationship!—which I always knew was there in a sense. Now I get to see it and address it, which is cool. So thanks. I'll try to trust to process more, based off what you said.
 
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flabbergasted

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Thank you for the continuing positivity, it does make me feel better. I am catastrophizing to be honest and I feel a mild depression about the whole situation due to my pessimism, but I am doing what I can to act hopeful and to be my best self. As long as I am communicating well with those in my life and improving my relationships in general, it is okay if things don't work out with this woman. I am learning a lot about me and dating itself through this experience—I'm working to keep a level head about it, too. I am enjoying my time with her also, so for all it's worth I am enjoying the ride. I'll keep your words in mind and just act like myself and be honest, all while having as much fun as I can. So yes, I am grateful she has extended the invitation to see me again, and I will relax as best I am able and enjoy getting to know someone new a little more. I am grateful also to see that there are areas in me that I can work on, such as feeling like I am more deserving of love/relationships and my general self esteem. I am also noticing that I have a bias that says I will never find a relationship!—which I always knew was there in a sense. Now I get to see it and address it, which is cool. So thanks. I'll try to trust to process more, based off what you said.

Try not to catastrophize it (also easier said than done)....you've been validated by her shown interest in you.....keep doing what you can to act hopeful - glad you can also communicate with others in your life too.... and most of all enjoy the ride and have as much fun as you can.....you could worry 24/7 about things and it will still come down to "time will tell" on this, that's just how it works in all new relationships...so, in meantime have fun.....Still proud of you!!
 

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