Dating While Bipolar: When to Trust Your Feelings

As you may have figured, Matt and I had another date this past weekend.  Again, it was Manic_Episode-2pretty good as far as dates go – there was talking and eating and kissing, all in satisfactory amounts.  After two enjoyable evenings, I’m starting to feel things for Matt.  Happy things.  Scary things.  Years of bad dates and rejection have made me distrust my feelings in the romantic realm.  Years of therapy have made me distrust my feelings and instincts in many realms.  So what am I supposed to do now?

I haven’t admitted this aloud yet but I really like Matt, or at least I think that I could like him a lot in the future, or maybe I just like having a man pay attention to me.  I can say that I like talking to him, I like that he does volunteer work, and I like the way he looks at me when he’s going to kiss me.  He also reads this blog, which couldn’t be a bigger turn-on. Even writing that confession fills me with something akin to guilt, which is a bizarre reaction.  How can one feel guilty about positive emotions?  Apparently it is possible because right after having a warm-fuzzy about Matt I generally feel like it’s wrong for me to feel that way.

That sense of wrongness has some basis in reality, at least for a somewhat cautious lover like me.  I’m very newly seeing Matt – you wouldn’t say that we’re in a relationship – and I don’t feel like it’s in my best interest to care so soon, before I know what he wants from me.  Also, I know that he’s only been interested in casual liaisons since his marriage ended, and while I’m interested in something casual I’ve always been a dating-for-a-serious-relationship girl.  I can’t say that I’ve pictured a future with Matt and me beyond the next date, but I miss some aspects of heavy relationships, like daily phone calls.  And I even feel needy and inappropriate for feeling and admitting that.

Feeling wrong about my feelings also comes from having negative thoughts and the emotions that they engender. Years of depressive thinking have worn a negative rut into my brain, so I’ve learned not to trust my first emotional reaction.  It has taken years of therapy and some nice psychotropic drugs to get out of the negative thinking habit, but not out of the habit of second-guessing myself.  The last time that I used my therapy to solve a relationship problem, it turns out that my first instinct was right. I thought I’d done something to push away my boyfriend at the time because my behavior was pretty unsettling.  I’d gone through some emotion regulation and cognitive behavioral therapy exercises to get a more rational hold on my feelings, only to learn that the boyfriend was cheating on me.

Basically I don’t know how I feel sometimes, and I usually need some time to process my feelings until I can make sense of them.  Which probably means that I need to be less angsty about my feelings for Matt for another week or two.  And regardless of how I feel about Matt, it would be a good idea for me to keep striving toward emotional awareness. Which should be easier without a cheating boyfriend.

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