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!