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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Right to Know?

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Author Topic: Right to Know?
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 5375

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What do we have a right to know about our partner(s)? How much do we have a right to keep from them? Obviously hiding something like an STD/STI would violate their right to make informed decisions but what about things like a mental disorder?

My last partner recently explained why he cut off contact with me (after nearly a year of being together) last Spring. He's manic-depressive and had hit his first depression in years. At the time I had no idea what was going on and was becoming more and more irate until I eventually just gave up and called it quits.

However, I wonder if I'd have handled the situation differently had I know the reasons behind it then? I think I would have made more of an effort to be understanding and patient and I may not have wound up spending the last few months angry at one of my best friends.

What I'm unsure of is if I had a right to know? He didn't put me in any danger by not telling me and he has a right to privacy of course but I don't know how I feel about not being told something like this.

What does everyone else think? What things are acceptable not to divulge and what needs to be shared?

Posts: 3641 | From: Truckee, CA, US | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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i think mental disorder, such as being manic-depressive is not necessary to tell a partner. i think that it is the privacy of the individual to tell anyone else. mayb he was unsure of how you would react, and afraid you would take it the wrong way... altho i would hope that if he had told you, you would have tried to help him in the best way that you could.

my last partner also was anic-depressive, but he knew before we were dating, and told me about a month into the relationship i think. i didnt ask, but he wanted me to know. he wasnt extrememly comfortable telling me, but he thought that i needed to kno... and in fact he was afraid i would want to break up with him after he told me. it didnt really make a difference at all after he told me... the only questions i had were what was it, and was he getting help with it. from what i could tell when we were going out, it didnt really seem to affect our relationship at all.

he was able to supress the rages or depressions when he was with me, and only after we broke up did i ever see any real rage or depression from him. but... anywat... to answer your question. i think that everything except things that can be spread, are not necessary to tell. the person who has the disease, etc has to be comfortable enough with the situation to share this type of information, a nd they really need to trust the person they are telling.

dont worrie b happie... its like a law! =)

hunt for clothes NOT for animals. =)

Posts: 239 | From: new york, USA | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression) about 3.5 years ago. My partner knows, and he has known from the beginning. I feel that his support has been instrumental in helping me manage my condition through medication and even once that was tapered off.

Yes, I feel like the partner has a definite right to know. Why? Because when you're stuck in something like a depression or a manic episode, you can be very unlike the person that they're expecting. The partner deserves to know that you can get like that, and what they can/should do or look out for to help both you and themselves. If someone's not expecting mood changes or able to look for the signs of them, how can you expect them to deal with your erratic behavior or help you cope with it? If someone doesn't know you're supposed to be on meds, how will they notice when you stop taking them?

I think it's really an issue of everybody's mental and emotional (and heck, sometimes physical) health. damn, ookuotoe, I feel for you. I know that I can be hell to live with, and I can't imagine keeping something like that from my partner - if he didn't know vaguely what to expect, what's he supposed to do?

Posts: 3156 | From: Austin, Texas | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I would think that it would be helpful to know from the stand point that if something were to happen, and said partner ended up in the hospital, it would be nice to know if there are any mental disorders or any medications to go with it, especially if they can have deadly reactions with other things that may be administered.

My significant other has a disease that affects the nervous system. Because of this, he cannot have any pain killers or what not. They would literally short circut his brain. Knowing this, if anything was to happen, I know what disorder he has and what he can and cannot have.

Posts: 2789 | From: The Evergreen State | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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If I find out you've got a mental illness, I can hold that against you, or pass it on to other people who might, like potential employers or teachers. Nasty, but true, and I think that's a lot of the reason people withold information like that. I suspect most people also want to be judged for themselves, rather than for the assumptions a lot of people have certain disorders. There's not really any moral way of making sure that those who are closely involved with someone know everything about that person that might affect them, but it might be a good idea for that person to speak up, if they so dare.


Better living through Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V

Posts: 5122 | From: I *came* from the land of ice and snow | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I have to go in today to a psychiatrist, so she can prescribe me drugs.
The theory is (hers and my mom's, not mine) that drugs are the only things that are going to make me "normal"

I think my partner has the right to know what's going on! This is going to affect him almost as much as it does me.
If something like that was happening to my boy, I'm sure I'd want to know, so for us, it goes two ways.

Posts: 433 | From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Originally posted by Milke:
If I find out you've got a mental illness, I can hold that against you, or pass it on to other people who might, like potential employers or teachers. Nasty, but true, and I think that's a lot of the reason people withold information like that.

That is also a very good point, and why I agree many people would want to hold off on sharing something like this with their partners. However, when the relationship starts to progress and becomes more serious, I think the partner has a right to know, because it really is part of who they are - for better or worse. Also, deliberately keeping your partner in the dark can get tricky if your condition changes and say, like DarkChild said, you need hospitalization or what have you. And like most things, the truth will come out eventually and there is the potential for a lot of hurt ("Didn't they trust me enough to tell me?" etc).

Posts: 419 | From: Tivoli | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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