Ask Wendy

When Is the Right Time to Tell Him About My Bipolar Disorder?

Reprinted From January 27, 2017
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Wendy,
Sadly, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 27—possibly as a result of several emotionally traumatic events. I’m in my mid-forties, I’m stable, compliant with medication, and have held down my current corporate management job for over 12 years. My colleagues don't know about my condition. My family and close friends do.
When is the right time to tell a prospective partner about my condition? The person I’m seeing lives long-distance. Is it better to get it out there, and if so, when? Before intimacy, after the first time one of us travels [to meet the other]? I would feel deceitful if I let it go too long, but I know there's no avoiding the conversation. What do you think?

Long distance or local, this isn’t something you need to roll out on a first date. You get to share personal information when you’re comfortable and feel safe with this person. I’d say wait until they no longer feel like a stranger to you and they’re someone you have an intimate connection with, but before you have sex with them.

I liked the no-nonsense way you rolled it out for me. You were clear, and left me with enough information on how it affects your life. You can take the same approach with your date and then give them the space to ask the clarifying questions. You might also want to come armed with useful, trusted links they can connect to so they don’t run off and Google “bipolar” and get wildly inaccurate information—you know, like the kind the Internet tends to provide.
Happy dating!

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