The crazy girlfriend. We’ve all had one, been one, or know one. But when it comes to assessing whether a person with a self-disclosed mental illness would be a good partner there are five really dumb reasons to reject them, and one really good reason to do so.
Dumb Reason #1: You automatically assume that she will be unstable 24/7 because she has depression/bipolar/anxiety, etc. Many women with mental illnesses are stable for months or even years at a time. So if a woman actually self-discloses to you that she has a mental illness, and is seeking treatment for it, that’s a pretty good sign that she’s actually more self-aware and stable than a woman who is undiagnosed or, you know, just a jerk.
Dumb Reason #2: You think your future, imaginary, unborn children will be doomed to become mentally ill. Bzzt. Nope. The susceptibility, or risk, of developing a mental illness is inherited, the disease itself is not. Even genetic counselors are divided on the exact factors that lead to a person developing a mental illness, and they go through an extensive process to determine what the odds would be. Not to mention that *you*, Captain Perfect, could be carrying genes you don’t even know about that might make your special snowflake offspring the second coming of R. P. McMurphy.
Dumb Reason #3: You and your potential crazypants partner will get together, make babies, and then she will jump off a bridge leaving you to raise the poor orphans alone. Look. I’m not saying it *couldn’t* happen. And yes, the risk is higher. But having a partner pass away is a risk we all take when we decide to partner up. By the preceding logic, you should also select out anyone who drives to effing work. In fact, you Mr. Man, are three times more likely than your ladyfriend to take that dive.
Dumb Reason #4: You want to be a partner, not a “caretaker.” If you think being a caretaker isn’t part of being a partner, I wouldn’t want to date you either. This goes back to the assumption that mentally ill people are constantly in need of…something. If you need an example of the fact that they’re not, ask my friends and family. Yes, there are times when I’m more needy than others. But there are also times when I, myself, am the caretaker for my husband, our child, my friends, my parents, you get the drift.
Dumb Reason #5: You’re afraid of being stigmatized yourself. If you’re not strong enough to absorb the side-eye from your buddies about your “crazy girlfriend” she doesn’t need you. Feel free to move along to the next woman. Who, by the way, may or may not *tell you* that she has a mental illness or may not *know*. It’s crazy roulette my friend. Place your bets. If it was me, I’d far rather date a person who approached her challenges with honesty and candor, but I’m silly like that.
The Good Reason: You don’t want to. And you know what, that’s OK. If you’ve really thought about it, done a little research, talked to the potential partner who has self-disclosed to you, and you just don’t feel capable of going there that is totally and in all ways FINE. You should not feel guilty about that at all. Not everyone is cut out to be in a relationship with a mentally ill woman. Just understand that you need to make that decision based on who *you* are and who she really is, not on stereotypes of who you believe her to be.
p.s. Did you know that women are more likely to seek help and self-disclose mental illness than men, often leading to better treatment outcomes?