If You Want To Tell Your Dates About Your Mental Illness, Here's When To Do It

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Dating usually involves a deliberation game of when to tell the person you're seeing things about yourself. Some people hold off on revealing intimate parts about themselves until months and months have passed, while others lay everything on the table early on in the ~courtship~. Something possibly at the forefront of your mind during dating is when you should tell your dates about your mental illness, if you have one, and how they'll possibly react after you tell them.

Keep in mind that you don't owe your date any explanation. Just because they showed up and split a round of drinks with you doesn't mean they automatically earned the right to learn anything particularly personal about you. That's a privilege that comes with time. You should share information about your health only if and when you feel comfortable.

I spoke to co-founder, Cognitive Behavioral Consultants and Professor of Psychology, Yeshiva University Lata K. McGinn, PhD, and founder of Miami Shrinks and Licensed Psychologist Erika Martinez, Psy.D., CDWF about the topic. Here's what they had to say.

If you see the person in your life for awhile, consider telling them.

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Martinez suggests if you see a future with this person, you may want to tell them about a mental health condition you have.

"The best indicator is the amount of trust that the couple has cultivated with each other," Martinez tells Elite Daily. "While there's no hard-and-fast rule about this, I've found that sensitive topics like this usually come up in somewhere between six- to nine-month range in healthy, developing relationships."

McGinn says that while she thinks there is not a certain amount of months you should wait before telling your partner about your mental illness, you don't necessarily want to "hide" the information, either.

"Once it is clear that you are in a regular, monogamous relationship, and have been able to share other confidences with success, and feel comfortable that this person is someone you want to be with for a longer period of time, then it may be time to share the news," McGinn tells Elite Daily.

If you notice they're an empathetic person, you may feel safe telling them.

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Both Martinez and McGinn say to look out for how empathetic your partner is toward mental health – in response, to say, news or television shows – as an indication of how they may respond to you.

When a TV show or movie discusses mental health, Martinez says that "[these] are great opportunities to ask more profound questions of someone you're getting to know and gauge their reactions. Questions like 'Have you ever known, dated, worked with someone that has {insert condition}?' and 'What was that like for you?' are good a good starting point."

Finding out their potential history of either working, platonic, or romantic relationship with another person who had a mental illness may help you know ahead of time their experiencing engaging with these issues.

"You want to make sure they are not being judgmental and not stigmatizing it," McGinn says.

Understand it may take them some time to understand.

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Some people may have never dated someone who has a mental illness before, so when you do decide to share that information with them, understand it may take them some getting used to. Help them understand what to expect, so they can be the best partner they can to you, and support you however you need.

"In some cases, providing your partner with additional information (like books or blogs) may be helpful," Martinez says. "Some people even ask their partners to join them for a therapy session or two so the partner may ask the therapist questions."

If your partner isn't supportive, you don't need them in your life.

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If you've told your partner about your mental health, and even gone to greater lengths like giving them resources to learn about your condition or attended therapy sessions together, and they're still not supportive, you may want to consider ending your relationship.

"If time doesn't help, and the relationship deteriorates afterward, then it might not be a good relationship to stay in," Martinez says.

McGinn adds, "They are not right for you and don’t deserve you."

Your health is important. Remember, relationships should make your life easier and happier — not drain your resources. If your partner isn't able to be supportive, you don't need them around.