It’s a big conundrum. When can you start dating after being diagnosed? For me, I seriously started dating the man I would marry 15 years after getting diagnosed. Sure, I had had haphazard relationships all along throughout my twenties. But I knew myself and I knew my illness by the time I became serious about a man. This will differ for everyone. I recommend seeking therapy for a few years after you are diagnosed to get to know yourself and your illness. Your illness will come and go throughout your life so it is important to understand how you react and realize that the person you date or get into a long-term relationship with will also have to get used to the idea. I would tell your date in the beginning about your diagnosis but don’t get too messy about the details at first. Just lovingly, approach the topic and see how they react. If the reaction is supportive and positive, you know you can proceed in this relationship. If the person gives you grief, acts prejudiced or gives you typical shit like “does this mean you’re good in bed,” consider dropping him or her. You don’t need someone else’s negativity in your life.
Then, there are the times when they feel they have to watch you take your meds. It might be after a relapse or just a sudden burst of emotion on your part. My husband does not like me to express my emotions openly with him or anybody else. I’m someone who experiences the spectrum of emotions on a daily basis, even if I am on my meds. I am constantly explaining to him that I am experiencing real emotions and not a clinical mania or depression—that’s what my meds are for. If someone asks to watch you take your meds, politely explain that this is humiliating and you wouldn’t watch them take meds for a physical illness. Honestly, it’s like watching someone go to the bathroom.
I dated a fellow bipolar back in college briefly. While it was fun experiencing the highs together, we ultimately both ended up hospitalized. Relationships are too hard when both people have mental illnesses. There are so many nuances one must consider in a relationship that it is better to have one stable person to help chart the waters. A good movie to watch about the failure of bipolar relationships with other bipolars is Touched with Fire written by Paul Dalio, a fellow bipolar himself.