Starting a new relationship with self harm scars

I know this is an awkward subject, and there is no precedent, but I want to discuss it and get all you guys feelings’ on it.

Last night, I went on a date, with a man I met on an internet dating site, Plenty of Fish. In my profile, I obviously make no mention of self harm, or indeed, any form of mental illness. Yes, this could be false representation – but lets face it, it’s not a great conversation starter.

So, I went on this date, wearing a cutesy top with short sleeves, covered with a long sleeved cardigan, and jeans. Obviously, without wearing gloves, I cannot cover the burn marks on my left hand, by the cardigan covered the scars on my arms, and the jeans obviously cover the scars just above my left knee.

The date went well – he was lovely, and asked to see me again, but this brings me to the point of this blog post. On the first date, I avoided any topic which could lead to discussion on mental health/health/hospitals/emotional issues etc etc. Obviously, this can’t be avoided forever – also, I can’t hide my body from him for ever either. (Thank goodness for the cooler weather yesterday so it didn’t look strange). I did catch him glancing at my hand (I’m quite savvy about noticing when people are looking at my scars, as most of you are too), but to give him his due, he was tactful and didn’t bring up the subject.

I have tried both ways; One date I went on, a seemingly lovely man, who invited me back to his flat. Sat on his sofa, I felt like I should be ‘open’ with him, so I opened my heart, and told him the majority of things that had happened to me, including showing him my scars. At first, he reacted the way I hoped, he was kind, sweet and didn’t freak out and ask me to leave. That night we slept together, and after I left, I never heard from him again. Thinking back, he probably thought my vulnerability upon sharing this information made me easy, and made his move.

On another date, I decided I would keep quiet. I never mentioned a single thing that would lead the man to think I was anything other than completely, normally, mentally stable. When I finally decided to allow him to see my arms, he freaked out, and blamed me, told me that I had lied to him, I had been seeing him under false pretences, walked out and I  never heard from him again either.

I did maintain a relationship, last year, for six months. (That is, until I woke up one day, and realised I no  longer felt anything for him, let alone the feelings of utter adoration, obsession and love I had been feeling for the past six months). At the start of this relationship, I told him everything, and I also told him he was welcome to walk away and never see me again. That worked that time, and he stuck around, even through my overdosing and cutting, which I did while I was with him, but I doubt it would work for many men.

What is the best way to broach this subject sensitively? How can you tell how a man (or woman?!) is going to take the information. Do I dare mention the fatal words ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ which strike fear and panic into the hearts of all those that hear them, or do I play it down, and say ‘I went through a few issues, had to deal with some shit, but I’m ok now?’

It’s a difficult one isn’t it. Advice would be appreciated!

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14 comments

  1. I have never been in your position but I would probably advise being quite upfront about it, no need to go into specifics unless he asks just that you have had some tough times and did somethings that you wish you hadn’t and bear the scars, if he is a decent guy he will listen and ask questions which you need to answer as best you can (remember it is okay to say I would rather not talk about that) do not allow anything to happen between the two of you the time you tell him that way if he is a decent guy he will want to see you again if he doesn’t it is his loss and he doesn’t deserve you. I know self image can be an issue but please try to believe me when I say from everything I have read hear you deserve someone who will accept you as you are, that you don’t need to hide the truth from and for any relationship to last being yourself is important

    1. Thanks Paula, sometimes it’s hard to see it that way though xx

      1. Even without any real issues it is hard to judge how much to share at first i had one friend who never mentioned she had kids until the third date because she was scared it would send men running for the hills

  2. Jaen Wirefly · · Reply

    Are you self-harming now?

    1. Jaen – I would no longer class myself as a self harmer, although I do have urges, and very occasionally a ‘slip up’. I haven’t needed stitches for over two years though.

      1. Jaen Wirefly · ·

        Give the relationship a month prior to disclosing anything too personal since you’re not sure where this is heading. In a month, decide if you perceive self-harm as being a part of your life. At that point, you’ll know if it’s something you need to discuss.

  3. I don’t have much advice because as you know, I don’t know how to approach these topics either. I guess in the end you’d have to tell them eventually, its their choice to do what they want with the situation. If they can’t get to know you or even stay with you because of it, then they’re not worth it. Love you boo. xxxxx

  4. All I can give you is my advice based on my recent experience with this exact same topic. It may be different with guys, but I figure that we’re all human and all have similar emotions. I wrote a blog post where I explained what happened in my life, but I’ll try and just give you the highlights here. On my first couple of dates with my girlfriend, my arms were still healing and weren’t yet even scars. I just wore long sleeves and never let her touch my arms because I knew she would be able to feel the gauze underneath. After a couple of weeks of her telling me that she wanted to spend more time with me, I knew I had to make the decision on whether I was going to put the brakes on things (and not tell her about what was going on) or I needed to tell her and basically open up the door for her to walk away if she so chose. It wasn’t easy. It tore me up inside. I was still trying to deal with what had happened and now I was going to make myself completely vulnerable to someone I was still just getting to know. But it had to happen. There are some things that people need to know from the beginning. At least that’s how I think. Because they should be given the opportunity to walk away before too many feelings get involved. I wouldn’t recommend throwing everything at the person at once. But in my situation, I knew I had to tell my girlfriend about the scars because if I wanted our relationship to progress, she had to know. She was going to find out one way or the other if we started spending more time together. Telling her about my BPD and medications and everything else took a little more time. But the scars, you can’t hide those forever. I was lucky enough that my girlfriend didn’t walk away. Before I told her about it I said that this information was going to be an “out” for her if she decided she didn’t want to deal with it and chose to leave from the get go. I was lucky enough that she stayed. But in that same sense, if someone isn’t going to stay from the beginning when you tell them, then they’re not going to stay when they find out more about you or have to deal with certain situations later on. Better you know their true intent and they leave at the beginning then grow strong feelings for them and have it hurt a lot more later on when they leave. If they’re someone that interests you, they deserve the truth. At least that’s my opinion. I’m still pretty new with this specific topic. Hope that helps.

    1. Onelove, what a great piece of advice. Thank you for taking the time to post it!

      1. Absolutely! You’re very welcome. Like I said, that’s only my opinion. And lord knows I’m not always the best at advice. But the topic is something very real to me and very recent. So I just wanted to share what I went through and my feelings about it and hopefully it could help. Even if it just gave you a different perspective.

  5. mylifewithbpd · · Reply

    I tend to be open within the first few times talking when I am meeting someone new, I don’t tend to meet women very quickly and tend to talk online for several weeks first as I am shy and I don’t like to put myself out there either. I don’t mention anything in my profiles (when I have one, I am currently dating someone so not looking.) but generally speaking its one of the first things I will start to talk about because its such a huge part of me, and its not possible to hide it. If the other person doesn’t freak out right away and just stop talking, I will try and link them to a couple of positive websites on bpd and explain there is way more false or misleading information on it then most realize and hopefully the websites will help clear things up, and of course I offer to answer any questions one may have, and just try and ease their mind that we are nice people who just have some struggles in life. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but its better to mention it up front before either person gets involved too emotionally.

  6. There’s no right way to tell these things, maybe, at least that’s what I can assume by looking back to my experiences.
    I had a few experiences similar to the ones you describe, I’ve tried to hide, as well as I’ve tried to gently tell the truth, but the only thing that worked with me was spitting all the shit in the first few seconds.
    I am currently on a (hard but true) relationship that started four years ago and the first words I told to my boyfriend were “You’d better leave me alone, I am insane, I cut myself, I’m an addict and I hurt people”. What a sweetie.
    Well, in spite of this, we became friends for some years, then we fell in love with each other. Maybe one just has to be lucky, once in a lifetime.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that saying what I said that day is the most clever thing to do. Maybe a safer and smarter solution would be taking some time to evaluate if you trust him and want to be more intimate with him. In that case try to use simple and ordinary terms, we are used to clinical terms but it isn’t necessary to use them, at all.

    As regards showing scars, I still have some problems and discomfort at this level, especially because I still cut and I frequently have open wounds. Long sleeves and dark rooms/places are the only things that works in my case :/

    1. I think I might only find a relationship the way you did – being friends first, so I have nothing to hide in terms of my disorder – because there is no pressure or expectation of a relationship x

  7. […] have previously discussed this topic here and reading all your comments has pretty much helped me decide on how to go forward. Basically, I […]

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