Monthly Archives: February 2015

Dating While Bipolar : To Sex or No To Sex

As Matt and I near the day of our second date, we’ve begin to explore the layers of our Sex-Positions-Silhouettesrelationship, particularly the onset of a sexual relationship.  You might think that the time between dates number one and two is too early to bring up sex.  Like many things, I’m of two minds about this.  Matt and I have a very strong attraction for each other and agree that we anticipate a strong sexual compatibility.  Also, we’ve both been with numerous partners, he’s divorced and I got out of a serious relationship at about the same time his marriage ended.  Essentially, we’re grown and we can do whatever we want, with whomever we want, whenever we want.  But in spite of my sexual freedom and desire, pursuing a more intimate relationship has as much of an effect on my mind as my body.

My previous, and first, hospitalization was due to a manic episode that plummeted me into a deep, unsettled depression.  My mania had been undiagnosed until that point, and characterized by the typical periods of euphoria and risky behavior.  Sex was my risky behavior of choice.  I was in my mid-30s and I felt the increase in sexual appetite and empowerment that women typically experience at that age.  I was a feminist, and I knew that I didn’t need to be in a relationship to have sex.  I’d also dated a series of men who were unsatisfying in bed and I felt like I needed to go ahead and get mine!  In search carnal satisfaction I went to Craigslist, which was all we had to arrange a rendezvous in the dark days before Tinder and mobile apps.  I picked up a few guys in bars.  And I went to a few sex clubs, none of which were as appealing as I’d hoped.  I don’t quite remember how many men I slept with in those days, but I do remember feeling simultaneously out of control and woefully unsatisfied.

Once the bottom fell out of my own personal orgy and I got healthier, I decided to abstain from sex.  I knew that during my manic episode, I’d engaged in the kind of sex that wouldn’t have interested me if I’d been healthy: mostly anonymous, fairly indiscriminate and outside of any sort of relationship.  I learned that I also sought emotional fulfillment from those manic dalliances, even though I set them up specifically to avoid any kind of connection.  Avoiding sex during my recovery was my way to eliminate that tension and to possibly avoid a damaging relapse.

Now, I find myself in a somewhat similar situation. I’m recovering from a hospitalized episode, and a breakup, and in need of some physical attention. Matt and I have discussed what we want from our relationship and even though my brain and my body have given the go-ahead, my heart still sorta thinks one step into a non-committed sexual relationship will send me into relapse.  If I’m honest with myself, I can admit that I do become attached after becoming intimate, at least I have in the past.  If I’m rational, I can admit that my heart has a fair amount of fear.  It also holds the hurt of past relationships in which I got rejected after making love.  But events in my past don’t have to predict my present.

The fact that I’ve both lived and blogged through my undesirable sexual past – and the unfortunate emotional consequences – puts me ahead of where I was a few years ago, or at least I think it does. There’s a possibility that I can enjoy a sexual relationship with Matt absent a commitment.  And doing so can be enjoyable for me rather than traumatic, mainly because I’m aware of both my practical and emotional expectations. But also because I’m considering a physical endeavor with someone with whom I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings.  And at the end of the day, sharing my thoughts and feelings will yield a healthy relationship of any nature.

I guess I’ll let you all know if the sex is any good.

Dating While Bipolar: Messed Up Expectations

I’ve mentioned to you before that I hate dating.  I’m not talking about being in a relationship with someone, but public outings with someone you don’t know well which involve some manner of getting to know each other better, usually through talking.  These pre-arranged outings a deux send my heart into palpitations and are the only activities other than exercise which make my hands sweat.

expectations21So in spite of my hatred, I actually went on a date last night.  His name was Matt.  And it was pretty good.  We talked and laughed enjoyably, we ate and drank, we shared a good-night kiss and he asked for another date.  At least I believe this to be a good time as I think these things go.  I’ve gone on so few good dates in my 30 year dating history that sometimes it’s hard for me to tell.

In fact, talking to Matt last night reminded me of my dreadful romantic past.  While Matt and I recounted our histories I remembered my very first date, one where I’d asked out a boy and he’d brought along his best friend.  And my senior prom which, because I never dated in high school, I attended with a boy that – unbeknownst to me – was actually dating my friend Kate.

Not having dated in college, my first tryst after graduation included my companion getting sick in the bathroom because he tried to impress me by eating extra-hot Indian food.  He wanted to kiss me after that.  I impolitely declined.   After business school, there was the man who showed up 4 hours late and thought we should have sex on my living room floor.  Then there’s Eggbert, the guy that I think had Aspergers but who didn’t think to mention it at any point during our date.

This litany of craptastic encounters would be enough to send a fully healthy person into permanent singledom.  If you add a touch of bipolar and chronic debilitating depression, you can understand why I’ve been single for more years than not during my dating life.  My brain doesn’t process individual romantic failures as unique instances, but rather it turns them into a trend for which I am solely to blame.  It tells me over and over again that I’m not worth of love and companionship.  And it probably sabotages dates that could be good by telling me to be clingy or jealous or just plain odd.

For now, I’m going to keep taking my meds and try to turn off the voices of doubt so that I can get to know Matt better.  In the process, perhaps I can get to know myself better, the self that connects with others and can form new, healthy relationships.  Whether or not it works out, I’m sure there’ll at least be one story for the blog.