What’s crackin’ Dr Nerdalicious?
Was wondering if I could ask you a question on a potentially sensitive issue; to cut a long story short, I’ve recently been diagnosed with Complex PTSD after experiencing a very troubled and traumatic childhood. Whilst I’ve made a lot of improvements over the last few years thanks to getting professional help and challenging myself to become a better man, the one thing I’ve struggled with the most is with dating. Now there’s a whole lot of reasons for that which I’m working through in therapy, but given that you deal a lot with people writing in for dating advice and as someone who also has experience with mental health issues, I’m interested to hear your views on when it’s appropriate to disclose to a potential partner about mental health issues.
From a personal view, I feel conflicted about when is the best time; not that there may ever really be a ‘best’ time for this discussion in the first place. On one hand, I would like to let somebody know as early as possible so that they are able to make a decision about whether they feel comfortable being in a relationship with someone that needs a lot of support, as well as avoiding the possibility that somebody begins to feel emotionally attached but then feels hurt when they learn that I may not feel emotionally ready to do all the things they want me to do with them. At the same time however, I’m aware that my willingness to be immediately open about having C-PTSD may be interpreted by potential dates as a warning sign that I am not ready to take responsibility for my own well-being and looking for a partner to depend all my happiness on, a sign that I have attachment issues (which in all honesty I have the wonderful combination of being avoidantly attached at first with people, then anxiously attached when I trust them, but is something I’m actively working on and I feel that any relationship will be difficult if I don’t admit that and talk through my fears stemming from never having a secure attachment with anyone) or that it’s a red flag for someone who will use his past misfortunes as a manipulative tactic to try and keep a woman in an unhappy relationship. I’m also mindful that whilst I want to protect others as much as possible, I also need to protect myself and declaring something as personal as having a diagnosis may encourage the advances of abusive people.
So what do you think dude? Should I be waiting for a certain level of emotional intimacy before telling someone? Get it out of the way by making light of my situation and writing an amusing anecdote about it on my dating profiles? Make first dates painfully awkward by introducing myself with “Hi my name is Sandy Ravage and I have C-PTSD. On a scale of 1 – 10, how does this affect my chances of getting in your pants”?