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Handling the stigma: Dating and Dual Diagnosis

This topic was inspired by a recent event in my life. I was on a first date with a man I met online and had been in contact with for a few weeks. We knew a lot about each other by the time we met in person. I met him for dinner at a beautiful waterfront restaurant. We were having a great time and the conversation led to an opening in which I decided to share with him the reason I don’t drink. When I mentioned that I am a recovering alcoholic, he admitted he was a little “freaked out” by it. I did not hear back from him again. It was a huge disappointment because I really liked him and thought we had potential. I wondered if I’d made a mistake. I told him I am a recovering alcoholic because I wanted to get it out of the way before things moved forward but it may have stopped everything completely. I have existed in the bubble of AA for so long that I forgot many people still have preconceived ideas about people with addiction and mental health issues. Although it hurt, I can’t hold it against him. People are not educated about addiction and the media portrays it as sad, hopeless people who can’t be trusted. There needs to be more representation of those in recovery who are thriving and productive members of society.

How have you dealt with people judging you? Have you found a healthy and supportive partner and how do you make it work?

4 Replies to “Handling the stigma: Dating and Dual Diagnosis”

  1. Nathaniel says:

    I’ve definitely experienced this in my personal life. I feel like disclosing my diagnosis has the potential to screw up anything I’m trying to get out of a dating relationship – especially if I really like the other person. What I think it comes down to is the stigma of both addiction and mental health issues that continue, which makes the act of disclosing even harder.

    In terms of rejection, and feeling like the other person has shut themselves off from me because of my diagnosis, I’ve realized that if they cant see me as a person – more than my diagnosis – then they probably weren’t worth my time anyway.

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Reese & Nathaniel!

    This is such a tricky subject, and I can’t say I have the magic answer for this. I have struggled with this very situation in terms of my own struggles. It will get easier with time and practice, and as Nathaniel mentioned, there is nothing lost if they did not have the internal resources to see you as a “whole” person.

    However, I can empathize with the pain of not having a romantic interest not work out. I myself have had to kiss many frogs before I found my prince! From my own experience, I have learned that dating is learning about yourself, as well as others. Through my reactions or opinions about someones behavior in a romantic context, I have been able to objectively see my own behavior. Without taking a step back and analyzing each experience as a learning lesson, I would have repeated the same “mistakes” (I also will call them “lessons.”)

    I have learned to trust my gut as to when to disclose sensitive information. I know there may be conflicting viewpoints on this topic, but I am proud of you for moving forward and having the courage to speak up on this topic.

  3. Reese says:

    Thank you for the advice. I have thought about it a lot and I definitely learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes being an open book is not the right way to be. I agree that anyone who does not see the whole person probably was not the kind of person for me. Michael, I am so happy that you found someone who makes you happy!

  4. Sara says:

    I agree with Nathaniel, there are people out there that will love you flaws and all. But the thing that sucks is all the people who can’t see past it that you meet before that accepting person comes into your life. I know for myself I can take it personally sometimes, but it says a lot more about them than it does about me. I know that I am working on my recovery and I don’t have to be that stereotype that person thinks someone living with duel diagnosis is!

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