Are you dating a bipolar man, or have you ever been in a relationship with a person, affected by the disorder also known as manic depression? Last night, I went out with a man in Raleigh from Match.com, who is attractive, creative, successful, extremely intelligent - and bipolar -- which I found out on our first date. According to WebMD, "About 5.7 million adults are living with bipolar disorder in the United States."
Before meeting in person, my date and I chatted by phone and text messaged each other. Over the phone we got along pretty well, and appeared to have a great deal in common. When he invited me to go out to dinner with him I happily agreed. We decided to try a chic little Asian restaurant downtown that happens to be new.
While eating our citrus braised beet salads, my date started discussing his last serious relationship. I picked up my glass of white wine, and as I was sipping it, he uttered three words I will never forget.
"I am bipolar," he said.
I almost dropped the glass of wine.
"Oh really," I responded trying to sound perfectly at ease with his statement.
He began talking about being a bipolar man, but he stated it was not, "that big of a deal." My date also indicated that he is fine, and that he does not take any medications or engage in treatment. After his declaration, I found myself thinking about his statement -- and honestly I was caught off guard. I was unsure what to think or how to feel.
I am not going to pretend to know a lot about dating a bipolar man or the actual disorder. I dated a person with pretty serious emotional issues in the past, and it was certainly not the most peaceful time in my life. Perhaps I am judgmental, but I simply know I am not equipped to act as a pseudo therapist, for a person who needs the guidance of a trained professional.
Respect and Personal Choices
I will say I actually respected my date more for telling me that he is bipolar on our first date. I was appreciative of the fact he was so open, and that he was honest enough to allow me to make a choice about dating a bipolar man. I think that more people should embrace that sort of honesty and openness. I definitely realize that nobody is perfect, so I focused on enjoying the rest of the evening, and getting to know more about him.
Life is all about personal choices, and earlier today after a great deal of thought, I made a choice of my own. I came to the conclusion that I definitely do not want to pursue dating a bipolar man.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide."
WebMD states, "Though the exact cause of bipolar disorder has yet to be found, scientists confirm that bipolar disorder has a genetic component, meaning the disorder appears to run in families. Some research suggests that multiple factors may interact to produce a chemical imbalance in the brain, which results in bipolar disorder's symptoms of major depression and mania. Examples of environmental factors may include stress, alcohol or substance abuse, and lack of sleep."
My Dating Experience
Ultimately, bipolar disorder can be treated, but I am not willing to gamble on someone else's mental health, in the context of my next romantic relationship. I may sound like a harsh individual, but I have been there done that -- and I have no desire to pursue it in the future.
I am very intuitive and also sensitive, when it comes to personal relationships. I do find that depressed people negatively alter my own usually positive well-being. In the typical Piscean manner, I will take a friend's issue and make it my own. It is almost as though, I identify too deeply with what they are experiencing or feeling. Luckily, the majority of my friends are extremely upbeat, "glass half full" people.
I am moody at times, but my mild mood swings are boringly predictable - hunger and PMS.
When I contacted my date today, I again stressed that I had a very nice time with him and I thanked him for a great date. Although I was not exactly sure what to say, I decided to be upfront about my concerns. I told him that I was not sure if I could date a bipolar person, based upon my own dating history. He inquired about the specifics of my last serious relationship, and I said I did not want to go into it. Really I felt like it would be too much information at that point, considering I did not intend on dating him in the future. He then made a statement that actually reassured me regarding my decision.
"They tagged me as a bipolar man. I never believed it. I am actually more of an Aries."
I am not quite sure of the correlation there, but needless to say I am not going to try to figure out what he means while dating him. Yesterday, on our first date, he felt like being bipolar was significant enough to share his disorder with me over dinner. Today he is trying to act like it was a misdiagnosis, and he is just a stereotypical Aries.
I am going with what he initially revealed to me, in order to avoid the likely confusion and "emotional roller-coaster" down the road.
Bipolar, Aries, who knows? I am definitely choosing to not go there in a dating environment. We did agree to continue as friends, and to hang out in the future. He is a good guy, and while I am not willing to take on a romantic relationship with him, I would love to work on just being friends.
NIMH: Bipolar Disorder [http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/what-is-bipolar-disorder.shtml]
WebMD: What causes bipolar disorder?