He loved her through her illness; will he now?

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

He's loves me, but he has only known me while I've been sick

Q: I'm in an eight-month relationship with a great guy. Throughout the course of our relationship, I've been suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness that has made my life very difficult in some respects. Recent diagnosis helps and I am hoping that the new cycle of medication and therapy will improve things even more.

However, my BF has known me only during this crazy time. Yet he insists I am wonderful, talks about marriage, etc. There is a part of me that appreciates his acceptance. But another part of me wonders how he can love me knowing only this untreated, ill part of me. Am I overthinking this?

Too Good?

A: No, I don't think so. "Why does he like me?" is a legitimate and astute question to ask — I would say in any circumstances, but particularly in yours.

Fortunately, you don't need an answer immediately. You can give it time and see, over the course of another eight months, 16, whatever, how your health is going and how your relationship is going. If his attachment was to the unstable version of you, then you and he are going to falter — possibly in a specific, predictable way.

Where some see problems, others see opportunity: They gravitate to mates to whom they feel superior. Being troubled can also make people who would normally seem inaccessible — for their wealth, talent, beauty, whatever — suddenly seem accessible. If this explains your boyfriend's interest in you, then he'll see your improving health as a threat.

If on the other hand he just likes you, and saw your instability as a small price to pay for being with you — and if his temperament is such that instability is something he can handle — then you might be unusually well suited to each other. Concentrate on your health and see how the rest plays out.

Tell your mother's family about you, but prepare for backlash

Q: My mother abandoned my family when I was a baby. She started a new family, and I have half siblings I haven't seen for 25 years. They may not know I exist — I could reach out to my half sister but I'm not sure it's a good idea. If she has a good relationship with our mother I could sabotage that. But maybe she would like to have a sister as much as I would. I want to do the right thing and can't decide.

Kansas City, Mo.

A: These are so hard. I would want to know you, but she may not. In the end, I think it's always better to give an adult the facts, and let her decide what she wants to do with them.

Of course, if what she wanted was never to have been told, then, oops — but if life were perfect you wouldn't be asking this question, right?

I advise contact, however, only if you're prepared to offer facts and just facts. If you have any reason to believe this is going to turn into your dumping your anger at your mom onto your half sister's lap, then you need to resolve that anger first.

By the way, if the truth sabotaged their mother-daughter relationship, then that would mean the relationship was built on a lie. That would be Mom's fault, not yours.

He loved her through her illness; will he now? 09/10/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 4:27pm]

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