Having joining a dating site in 2013, I recently met someone online whose guts I don't completely detest.
The man (sounds so odd to say this, but he's my age and I'm 38... I'm a W-O-M-A-N, woman!) sent me a nice message, not mentioning my looks, but rather proving he took two minutes to read my profile. He started with something I enjoy talking about -- my animals. We chatted for a bit online about the basics then he sent his number in a message and said to use it if I feel like texting.
He seemed like a decent person and I didn't get any red flags, so I also gave him my number and asked him to please be respectful if he decided to text me.
It may not seem like a big deal,exchanging phone numbers, but this is a HUGE step for me. In 2011, the life I was living was forever altered by my boyfriend's suicide and I have struggled ever since to make changes for myself, including quitting my destructive drinking, so I can attempt to live again, instead of just barely hanging on by a hair.
Although I am incredibly proud of myself and how far I have come in the last few years, I was extremely nervous about divulging this type of information for a number of reasons. It's difficult enough admitting to yourself that you are an addict with depression issues and PTSD, but its not high on my list of things to blab about with a handsome stranger I wouldn't mind spending time with.
BUT, being honest about my sobriety really felt like the only option. After all, I've spent 582 days (and counting) working hard to remain booze-free. I've come too far to downplay the hurdles I've overcome in order to be where I am today. And for a man, no less? Not happening.
I note in my profile that I do not drink, but that doesn't stop men from repeatedly asking me to Happy Hours, cocktails, drinks, etc. When my new friend asked if I was interested in meeting up, I decided I wasn't going to put myself in an uncomfortable situation by agreeing to meet at a bar. I can be okay in bars, Shirley Temple is my homegirl, but only when it's on my terms.
So, I took the plunge and accepted a meet-up, then mentioned that I do not drink alcohol so it would have to be a coffee date. I sort of expected crickets, but he was quick to reply and said he ALSO was a non-drinker.
Since then, I have been honest about my depression, the fact that I turn into a maniac when drinking and the trauma involved with my past relationship. I figured, this is me -- take it or leave it. It was incredibly liberating.
So far, we have had a total of three coffee dates and one date to the horse races (super fun, I won $8!). I'm not sure if the relationship will be more than a friendship, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he, too, has struggled with when to disclose personal information like mental illness and addiction when online dating.
Since I fully believe that everyone deserves to have love, respect, happiness and dignity, regardless of mental health, I was/am interested in how others in the dating world feel about disclosure. Although I think it's absolutely great that there are dating sites specifically geared to say, people who smoke marijuana regularly or people with mental illnesses, I didn't want to surround myself ONLY with these types of people. Rather, I'm curious to know how seemingly "normal" people feel about finding out this kind of personal information. Would they rather get it up front? Or find out at a later time?
Admitting my personal issues to someone other than my therapist gave me a newfound confidence. I started to take it upon myself to reach out to people online, instead of waiting for the DragonFeets and the DiaperBoyNM's (these are real profile names, people!) to approach me.
I found a few men, my type (tall, kind of nerdy, weird, imperfect) and messaged them. I received responses, gave it a shot and continued the communication. One man asked what I was doing. I told him I was writing this article and he instantly chimed in about what a great subject it was and how more people should be honest up front. We are also meeting for coffee this week, so I am curious if he will feel the same when I lay it all on the line in person.
Don't get me wrong. I don't show up with my hand extended for a shake and say, "Hi, I'm Andrea and I get FUCKING nuts when loaded. And I also sometimes want to die." I will mention it organically, but it's a part of who I am, so it is inevitable that the information will come out. It's just more comfortable for me to be honest early on.
I want to be loved, desired and respected as much as the next person, but I can only achieve these things by being honest with myself and others, no matter how messy it is. I am an addict. I have a shit ton of personal demons that I deal with on an almost daily basis. I am also incredibly loyal, loving, witty and caring, and these are also my truths that I am willing to share.
Would you rather know up front if the person you were potentially going to date has any addictions or mental illnesses? Could you be in a relationship with someone like me, or is it just too much?