Dating Bipolar: Don’t Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies – Part 1
“Don’t you worry…you’ll find yourself. Follow your heart and nothing else.” –Lynard Skynard
I was putting together a complicated desk lamp that came in pieces and had an unusual bulb. Realistically, the bulb was supposed to simply click into the piece, but it wasn’t. Each time I slid the pieces together, it wouldn’t fit. I tried another way. Nothing. This kept happening, despite me trying to force it. About to give up, I flipped it over and thought I’d give it one more shot. With a click, it all came together beautifully. I thought to myself, this is how dating should be.
My hand hovered over the keyboard. Click. I’d just joined Match.com. I certainly hadn’t planned it an hour ago. It just happened.
“You are going to end up old and alone!”
Yes. Yes, I know. I’ve been told that by everyone I’ve ever dated as I walked out the door.
I decided to date after a long, roller coaster marriage that was in a one year freeze with a separation before permanently ending. I thought I owed it to myself to try it out. In my lifetime I’ve never had a relationship while stabilized. I’ve never dated as diagnosed.
Actually, I’ve never dated.
Every relationship I’ve ever had was one borne from convenience and because I had no one else. My family life was nearly nonexistent for most of my life, and rocky on its best days. I would try to make a relationship that worked…a “create my own family, so fuck you” sort of thing. When it failed, I jumped right into another one. The only relationship that was not that way was my marriage to Jordan. Being that I was from New England at the time and he from across the continent in Alberta, Canada, there was nothing local, convenient or inexpensive about it. A visa, green card, waiting periods, dealing with the immigration nightmare and not being allowed to work in this country put a huge strain on us, but we weathered it. The wrestling and entertainment business was another huge strain. We managed that, too. Moving often, not having family around, no steady paychecks, sharing an office and deciding not to have kids for some of those reasons caused more strain. We actually had to work hard to be together, which is why we lasted so long. Much of our strain united us tighter but some didn’t. I don’t regret a minute of it. However, being undiagnosed with bipolar disorder had its effect on our marriage and everything got blamed on my disorder. This translates to the whole of the failure being solely on me. I’ll readily admit I was no picnic to live with without the meds, but not all that went wrong was the fault of a genetic disease.
By the way, it is never okay to ask a couple when they plan on having babies or why they don’t have kids. That’s akin to asking, “So, how much money do you make? Oh, and how big is your dick?” Just don’t do it. It puts people on the spot and usually one of the two is not completely at ease with the idea of being childless. After a while, I just started to respond, “Oh, gosh…no plans on kids. I like my vagina just the way it is. How’s yours, by the way? Still blown out pretty badly?”
August 2014 marked the one year point since I bought my house. I ventured out into the dating world with major trepidation after waiting six months. How could I explain to people what I do? What I had? When exactly do you bring up the fact that you’re bipolar in a dating situation? After the appetizers so your date can run away screaming before the main course? After sex? Maybe you never mention it and surreptitiously swallow your pills on the side?
What do you do about the fact that the medications that stabilize your emotions make you somewhat emotionless? After a lifetime of making (often irrational) emotional decisions, I was all of a sudden a level-headed, logical being…and I had no idea who the fuck this person was.
Among other things to control my bipolar disorder, I see a therapist, who makes me feel normal. She said as far as relationships go, I should be a delicious cake all on my own, and my partner should only be the icing. He would be complimentary, but not necessary. Wanted, but not needed.
My husband had been amazing. He was one of the kindest, funniest, smartest people I’ve ever met. He was handsome, in great shape, smart, driven and has always been there for me no matter what or how awful I’ve been. He’s the one who encouraged me to write honestly (“Oh, God no. I can’t put this stuff out there. This is more naked than I’ve ever been without clothes. I can’t.” “You should. You need to. It’ll help others.”) Yet I felt something was missing, although I did’t know what. He was (ultra) negative with his personality and it tended to trigger me in a badly. He’d cling to a belief in a close-minded way and never consider any other possibility to the point of insulting anyone who thought differently…religion, politics, workouts… It was his way or no way, and resentment set it. Things became a power struggle. We would bring out the worst in each other. Half the time I’d acquiesce to avoid another fight and hate myself later. I’d come out verbally swinging the other half of the time. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store or gym would degenerate into an argument nearly every time. With my immediate family dead and his in another country, we were all we had, so we stayed together and fought every day.
It was a rather unhealthy co-dependency. We were not a good team, or the icing to each others cake. If we were on The Amazing Race, we wouldn’t have made it out of the first airport.
My (our) therapist’s verdict: “I like both you and Jordan…but I don’t like you together.”
I found I enjoyed living alone once we split. As soon as I got into my house, I felt relief at the peace and quiet. We originally agreed we wouldn’t date others, but months later, I was confused as to what I wanted. I felt stuck in gridlock. I wanted to move ahead but was afraid to let go of him. He accepted me as me, entirely. He was also a good friend and the only family I had left. However, we did a lot of damage to each other and wasn’t sure moving past it was possible, or that I even wanted to try.
I’d never felt more alone than in September while packing by myself while he worked a wrestling show the weekend before we moved. I had spent Christmas by myself, got blamed for an accident with one of our dogs (who tore his knee out on my watch because I’d taken him to the dog park) and dealt with a case of pneumonia alone so strong I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. At the six month mark, I didn’t know if I wanted to be solo full-time any longer.
I’ve toyed with the idea of avoiding relationships and becoming a nomad with a string of guys in various cities (Texas boyfriend. Saskatchewan boyfriend. Irish Tour Bus boyfriend) like some of my male entertainer friends managed to pull off. Being that I’ve been a destructive person-or rather, that I have a destructive disorder-I wondered if it was even fair to try dating again. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was hurt someone else.
However, I missed romance. I missed conversation. I missed the “partner in crime” aspect of being with someone I connected with in some way. I felt life was passing me by…one ComicCon at a time.
“I think I’ll get saddled up and go looking for a woman. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days. I’m not picky. As long as she’s smart and pretty, sweet and gentle and tender and refined and lovely and carefree.” –Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
I watched the movie The Wolverine while at a hotel in Connecticut. Mariko sat across from Logan, who’d stuck his chopsticks upright in the rice. “Don’t do that. It’s a bad omen. It reminds us of incense at funerals.” Later, Logan does it again. Mariko removes the chopsticks and shakes her head sadly. “I don’t expect you to understand. You’re not Japanese.”
How can I expect a man who isn’t in some form the entertainment business to understand what I deal with every day?
When I talked to a couple of my male wrestler & cosplay friends about this, they suggested that dating outside the business is a good thing – to keep the mystery. Just deal with the fans, aches and pains and let them stay in the dark. It gives you more to talk about when you’re not in the same business.
I’d written this excerpt an earlier blog: “I am so fucking fucked, it’s fucked up.
There. That’s about my entire story in a nutshell. I am broken. Completely broken, and like shattered shards of glass, anyone who comes near me walks away bleeding. So, I have become more and more of a recluse, afraid to have friends or relationships, because I know I’ll just end up destroying the people I care about, which kills me inside and makes me—once again—want to kill myself. It’s a fantastic pattern, isn’t it? And that’s what being bipolar is.”
Feeling shattered for so long and like I had nothing to offer, I think I just wanted to see where I stood in the real world-the one without spandex, 28-year-olds hitting on me, and camera lenses.
My first kiss outside of my marriage was with one of the You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out kids who was now about my age. We’d done a convention appearance together and I went out with him after. Then I went on a date with a young marine who had PTSD so bad that he said he couldn’t sleep…instead, he drank. Nothing came of either of those situations other than friendship.
So, on a Sunday night, I clicked JOIN on Match.com. As I was filling out my profile, I decided not to tell people what I do, limiting my career to a vague “writer, comic book model and former athlete”.
This is where a girl goes when she doesn’t frequent bars, doesn’t want to date co-workers, doesn’t want to date out of her age group and doesn’t want people to know who she is until she decides to tell them. For the first time in my life, I’d like to have someone know me before they Google my boobs.
My problem has always been that I’m not attracted to many people. Sure there are a lot of good-looking people around, especially in the Tampa Bay area, but I lean 60/40 towards wit and intelligence. (Sapiosexual. Google it.) If that’s not there, it doesn’t matter how pretty someone is…I can’t get into them. Once I walked around a 3-day comic convention looking to see if there was anyone I’d sleep with if we were the last two people on Earth. Out of all the celebrities, fans, rock legends…not one. That’s not a knock on anyone – it’s just a deficit on my end.
“That’s the trouble with falling in love with a dream girl. They have a habit of becoming real.” -Nicholas Cage, Lord of War
I put up a handful of “me being normal” photos and I was off and running.
Within a few minutes of joining the site, my inbox was flooded with emails. 151 more the next morning. I soon realized I’d have to quit my job if I wanted to go through them all or date.
Most were crap. I felt obligated to write back to most until it got too tiresome and I realized it was screwing up my odds. If you write to people you don’t like, they send you more of that exact type.
Match.com puts all the stuff no one likes to talk about front and center. For me: Wants kids? Probably not. Spiritual not religious. Politics: Middle of the road. Looking for tall, gainfully employed in a real career, witty, loves pets, no smoking, no drugs, athletic and toned. Race? Whatever. Hair color? No preference.
As it were, “athletic and toned” has a broad definition on Match.com. It ranges from bodybuilder to “I played football for a semester in high school”, but it mostly means they worked out twice a week and weren’t serious about it. I realize fitness isn’t the highest priority when you’re dealing with CEO’s, app developers and doctors, so I had to be more open-minded. As with everything, there’s a trade. For this, less fit meant educated, intelligent, traveled and financially stable.
I was still getting emails from 27-year olds, too.
Half the men my age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before. The other half looked like shit. It was a shame. There were some really witty, interesting people who just didn’t keep themselves up.
“Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion.”
— Scott Adams
I created a system for narrowing down all the replies. Any spelling or grammatical errors I crossed them off my list (unless English was their second language). I don’t care how hot someone is. If he can’t figure out ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, no deal. I also crossed people off who took themselves too seriously on their profile, wrote that their spare time was filled watching sports or who wrote an entire profile dedicated to any female reading it. (“My favorite thing? Coming home to YOU.”) Seriously? He wrote that? Piss off. I can’t even imagine the type of woman who would fall for that kind of crap. Wait, yes I can.
Additional cuts: Guys who had no profile photo, guys who only had photos with sunglasses on, guys who only had one photo up and guys who had 11 photos of the same exact selfie in a different shirt. There were also guys who were extremely religious and wrote all about Jesus and church on their profiles. No can do.
Then there were the bad profiles: the ones who were negative, bitter, railed about women who were looking for free dinners or the one guy who insisted he and his date would “go Dutch” so no one got their feelings hurt and to keep it fair. In other words, he didn’t have a job.
I’m the furthest thing from a gold digger, but if I’m taking the time to know someone, get dressed up and meet him, he is damn well paying for dinner or drinks. Call me old school.
Two out of three guys listed “Long walks on the beach” as something they enjoy. Holy cliché. “I enjoy long walks on the beach…after anal.” At least that is honest.
Then there were the…interesting…ones. One guy was a Latino painter with the screen name PassionatePainter and a photo of him reclining on his side – naked – with just his bits covered and a gayer than gay look on his face. His byline: “Do you have passion? Real passion?” He kept emailing me to ask why I didn’t want to meet him and then stated that clearly I was missing out and not ready to experience…Wait for it…passion.
LowSelfEsteemGentleman. (Names have been changed to protect the delusional.) “You probably won’t write back, but maybe you will.” Yeah. I need that headache. I can see the future already: Me constantly reassuring him that my tour schedule won’t include other penises. No thanks.
ChubbyAndCan’tTakeAHint: “I like you. I hope to hear back soon.” (I didn’t write back. Ever.) Day 2-46 a new email each day came through along the lines of this: “I was wondering why I didn’t hear back from you? I think your (SIC) pretty. I hope to hear from you soon.”
ImMuchOlderThanISayIAm: “I read your profile and think we have a lot in common. Here’s my number. We should meet up.” This person usually looked like my grandfather.
IHaveNoShirtOnAndWillBoreYouToDeath: “Sup? We should meet.” That’s all. Nothing else. This guy usually was shirtless, jacked and/or shredded and boring as fuck. I’m sorry. That’s rude. I meant that he was wit-and-charm-challenged.
IHaveNoIdeaHowToTalkToGirls: “How is your day going?” I’ve never met you. Why are you asking me that? I am not lying when I tell you that this type of reply is the majority of what came to me. Eloquence at its best. Guys, there is an entire profile there and most women LOVE to talk about themselves. Try reading it and picking 1-3 things to hone in on and talk about in your intro email. Other than her tits/ass/feet/WhateverItIsYouHopeSheIsWillingToUseOnYou.
HeyArentYouAprilHunter: Shit. Yeah, I got some of those, too. “Why are you even on here??” Um…the same reason you are? In my twenty years in the wrestling business, I’ve dated a grand total of three wrestlers. Before that, I was still in the entertainment business with fitness and modeling and dated mostly “civilians”. One of the wrestlers I dated was also an actor; the attention we got just walking through an airport or standing in line for a coffee was ridiculous. We couldn’t go anywhere without people stopping to talk or snap photos. He seemed unfazed by the attention. I hated it. When I’m not April Hunter, I am not April Hunter.
I even got an email from a guy who went to the same college as I in Pennsylvania. Small world.
“I’ve always liked smart women but it’s been an expensive hobby.” Javier Bardem in The Counselor
Chemistry isn’t compatibility. Chemistry is when you physically click together, regardless of how good or bad you are for one another. Compatibility is generally sharing the same values and balancing each other out. That can occur without chemistry.
That said, if you fill out your Match.com questions honestly, half of that will be taken out of the equation, since you’ll be matched up according to compatibility. So, 50% of the work is pretty much done for you.
“It doesn’t hurt to ask. Sometimes the most beautiful girls are the loneliest.” – Jaws 2
I selected some men in the age range of 37-45 and began talking with them, based first upon their profile photos and what they’d written. Everyone I met, other than two, should have listed “average” as their body type instead of “athletic and toned”.
This is where online dating worked in my favor. I got to know their minds first. They had to write something witty or intelligent enough to make me want to write back.
“The biggest aphrodisiac in the world is someone who likes you and isn’t afraid to show it.” –Mark Manson
First there was a guy I call Jesus & Babies. More on that in a moment. He was my first Internet date and I was fairly concerned he’d be an ax murderer. He wasn’t an ax murderer. He sent a very sweet, bright email about how he was about to quit Match.com, but it sent him my profile and his heart skipped a beat when he read my profile, etc, etc, etc. (I suggest you use this line in the future, guys. It’s a solid one.)
Before we met, he asked, “Do you really look like your pictures?”
“Uh…yeah. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Ha. You wouldn’t believe how many don’t.”
I was surprised when I saw him. He resembled the adult version of a pretty boy band singer (or the twin brother to actor Michael Vartan). Tall, blond hair, blue eyed and extremely fit. He was actually much better looking in person than in his photos, thus ruining it for a good portion of my dates after him, and a ridiculously profound kisser. He looked like the beach volleyball player he was on the side, not someone who spent his days in Tampa General Hospital. Apparently I was okay too, because he hugged me, kissed my cheek and exclaimed in his Louisville, Kentucky southern accent, “My word, you are beautiful!”
I asked who he usually dated, and he rattled off a tirade of frustrations. Most of them were 20-30 pounds heavier in person or who looked a decade older. I would find this to be a common theme for many men. Ladies, don’t lie or put up out-of-date photos. You’re eventually going to meet someone in person, so there’s no point. Plus you never know who is going to like you for you. Some guys are intimated by someone too pretty and prefer a few flaws here and there.
He also said he only dated Latinas. I’m always taken as Spanish. I told him I was Latin, not Latina…he said “Well, you look like you are and that’s what I am attracted to.” He was a wine expert and somewhat of a chef, with a talent for throwing together anything and making it taste incredible. He ate like I did; low carb, high protein and red wine. He also used paper towels torn in half as napkins, something that was just a touch “white trash” and reminded me of home.
However, he was legitimately fucking insane.
After our meeting, I hadn’t even pulled out of the parking lot when he texted me.
Him: “Oh, my. I want to see you again. Like sooner than later. You’re brilliant and insanely beautiful. I’m overwhelmed with my thoughts right now. No one has ever grabbed my attention like this before…you are different. When can I see you? Tonight?” I pretended I was busy for the next day or two and set a time in the future.
My friend Kyle (who met his fiancé on the same site) texted afterward: “How did it go?”
Me: “Better than I expected. Good looking, smart as hell…has a career…he’s probably an ax murderer.” Kyle: “Sounds like he might be ok, but don’t buy the first car you drive.”
Sage advice, my friend.
Jesus and Babies: “I’m yours until you break my heart. I’m pulling my online dating profile.”
Me: “Um…are you sure? That’s really sweet, but we just met…everything is new…” I thought he was rushing everything. And I had no plans to pull MY profile.
Jesus and Babies: “Yes.”
His hot streak was a nice change after a marriage that was lacking in heat and compliments. (My husband rarely (never) said anything nice because he felt my fans said it, so I didn’t need to hear it.) He thought nothing of picking me up and throwing me onto a bar stool or against a wall somewhere for a make out session. However, you know how game recognizes game? Well, I’m pretty sure he was undiagnosed with bipolar disorder, amongst other things. He was sharp as a tack, but in a way that seemed to be looking for weaknesses. He would also flash between happy and outgoing to moody and withdrawn.
He earned his nickname because despite reading “Spiritual, not religious” and “Kids: probably not” on my profile, he insisted on contacting me and then spending our time trying to convince me we should have children who believed in Jesus. (#KentuckyProblems.) During dinner, he had the annoying habit of staying glued to the basketball game, yelling at the TV for Louisville. I couldn’t help but think, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, scream at TV’s.” One day he’d be all over me nonstop, the next two would be silent. I can’t do hot and cold. It’s too much like the household I grew up in. He flipped out on me when I told him.
Me: “Well, maybe we shouldn’t see each other anymore.”
Him: “Really? REALLY? Oh, that’s great. Not again.” Of course it was my fault. Did I mention that he had Mommy Issues and at 39-years old, had never been married?
One day after blowing me off for basketball (“Can’t. Two words for you: NCAA Tournament.”), I’d had enough. I just shut it all off. I have a weird ability to shut down after enough disappointment. When he texted a few days later and asked me to dinner, I no longer cared, had started dating others and had decided to push him as to why he ran cold. “Seriously, just tell me. I want to know. You won’t (can’t) hurt my feelings.” He denied it at first, and then told me he’d decided because I didn’t accept Jesus into my life and didn’t seem to want to have babies (with him), he was not okay with our situation. “I’ve waited long enough for a child. I don’t want to be a 70-year old dad.” He also didn’t like that I wasn’t “low key.” He seemed horribly uncomfortable with women whom he thought would get attention in any way. (The irony is, when I’m not being paid to get people’s attention, I don’t crave any attention.)
I wouldn’t contact a flame-haired comic book model with huge boobs if I had a problem with that. Would you? Thing is, he’s not the first baby crazy guy I’ve gotten. Not even the third. Something happens to guys when they hit a certain age…or I bring out the crazy-for-babies types.
At one of our dinners, I had casually mentioned something about mental health and his response: “Those people get addicted to their meds and really don’t need it. It’s all psychological.” Considering he was in the medical field, I was kind of floored by his comment.
My therapist’s verdict: “Do NOT date this guy. Sleep with him if you want, but don’t date him.” I didn’t end up doing either.
This was my very first online dating experience. Or maybe I should refer to it as my first online learning experience. I felt it was too soon to sleep with anyone after my husband and I wonder if that’s why he was so odd towards me. After Jesus & Babies, I decided it would be smarter to date several men at the same time, not get sexually involved with any of them and keep all at a distance. Just have fun and be straight up about everything.
“I have a lot of boyfriends; I want you to write that. Every country I visit, I have a different boyfriend. And I kiss them all.”
— Anna Kournikova
Onward with the learning experiences!
To Be Continued…Part Two. The Good, The Bad, The Dating, The Ryans. http://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/11/04/my-match-com-experiment-the-good-the-bad-the-dating-the-ryans-part-2/
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