When Calista\u2019s friend recently set her up on a blind date, she prepared with the usual amount of nervousness and trepidation. Would he like her? Would she like him? If she did like him (and he liked her), how soon would be too soon to tell him about her mental illness? Calista has borderline personality disorder (BPD). As a result, she experiences fears of abandonment, unstable relationships, an unsteady sense of self and difficulty regulating her emotions. All of these symptoms impact social relationships, particularly romantic relationships, and eventually, a romantic partner would become aware of Calista\u2019s issues, even if he wasn\u2019t aware there was a name for them. Her belief was that anyone she dated had a right to know. Jerry sat across a teak table from her at an outdoor oyster bar. They were both nervous and somewhat shy, but after the meal had arrived and the conversation began to flow in earnest, they discovered they shared a great many things in common. Both loved outdoor music festivals and similar indie bands; both loved to mountain bike; and both had Labrador retrievers. Dog lovers connect, but breed lovers connect on a whole other level. The chemistry was palpable from the beginning, and Jerry made the comment that their mutual friend had done a great job; he\u2019d been certain the date would be a failure, but had come along \u201cjust in case.\u201d Instead, both Calista and Jerry were surprised and excited about the possibilities, and Jerry said as much. That\u2019s when Calista grew quiet. Suddenly she could feel the disappointment of a decade of ruined relationships in her wake, and she wasn\u2019t hungry anymore. She could no longer meet Jerry\u2019s eyes. \u201cThere\u2019s something I have to tell you,\u201d Calista said, fumbling with her napkin. After an hour-and-a-half of meeting, Calista disclosed her BPD status to a virtual stranger - granted, one she was having a very good time with, and hoped to have more. Not even their mutual friend knew about Calista\u2019s diagnosis. It wasn\u2019t surprising when Jerry asked Calista, \u201cWhat does that mean?\u201d BPD has a bad reputation in and out of the psychological community, but the fact remains: most people don\u2019t know what it is. She explained her symptoms and how they impact her life. She also explained that she is in therapy and working hard on recovery. But from that point forward, dinner was awkward. Jerry was still polite and gentlemanly, but distant. He walked her to her car and gave her a quick hug, but he didn\u2019t ask for her number. Calista\u2019s drive home was a shower of shame and regret. Why had she told him? Would it have been a lie not to? Would she ever find someone who could understand and accept her despite her mental health status? Dating With BPD First dates can leave us feeling vulnerable and uncertain; we want to make a good impression. Honesty and authenticity are vital to establishing a good impression, which make it difficult to navigate mental health disclosure. Should a potential significant other be warned? Does a date deserve to be told? It is OK to recognize that your mental health status is your business, and no one else\u2019s. It only becomes another person\u2019s business after a degree of intimacy, commitment and trust has developed. That means that you feel safe to tell the person you\u2019re getting to know, and recognize they now have the right to know because of how close you are becoming. This kind of closeness does not develop in a first meeting, and may not have developed even by the 10th - though sometimes it can feel that way. It\u2019s important to know whether the person you choose to tell will be compassionate, understanding and withholding of judgment. You can ascertain all of these things fairly early on, but it\u2019s important to be certain they aren\u2019t the efforts of someone trying to make a good impression. Find out how your date feels about people who are different by asking, and asking again later on. Find out by observing his or her behavior toward others and listening to him or her speak of past experiences. Keep a keen ear open for stories of judgment versus stories of empathy. You\u2019ll know better when is the right time to tell only after you know if the person you\u2019re choosing to tell is safe with the information. Your Recovery From BPD Comes First There\u2019s a saying in the addiction recovery community that holds true for the mental health community: your recovery comes first. Your instincts as an individual with BPD might be to cling to a new relationship over and above your need for acceptance, understanding and compassion, but these are the very things you need in order to recover from your condition, which is, by the way, absolutely recoverable. You will need unconditional friendship and support to help you heal. Putting your healing ahead of everything else allows you to bring your best self into any relationship you may then choose to enter, and this will bode well for both emotional intimacy - a necessary ingredient of closeness and connection - and for relationship longevity. It may sound yawningly clich\u00e9, but your focus should be, at least for a while, on developing this kind of relationship with yourself. Once you have that, your antenna will be more sensitively attuned to whom to trust and when - and whether entering a relationship with someone will leave both of you better off than you found each other, a goal all couples - new or not so new - should strive for.