1. Practice what to say
Before you drop a bomb on a potential mate, rehearse your speech with a trusted friend or visit a therapist to talk it through, suggests Ken Robbins, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
"It's good to have somebody as a sounding board in a situation like this," he says. "How you handle this is not something your partner is likely to forget."
Laurie Davis, an online dating expert based in New York and Boston, suggests asking a friend what sounds most intimidating about your condition and getting his or her advice on how to smooth it over. Getting a second opinion can help you decide how much to say (and when and where to say it), and running through your script a few times can make you more comfortable sharing your story.
"You don't want to overwhelm your partner but you want to be sure to give him or her all of the important facts," Davis says. "You should definitely practice before you tell your match, or you'll most likely fumble through the conversation uncomfortably."
Mark Snyder, a 32-year-old writer from New York City, used to dread telling a new boyfriend that he was a recovering alcoholic. "I don't think I was ever able to shake off the feeling I was springing the information on him, usually when we were either out to dinner and he wanted to order a bottle of wine, or at a party where alcohol was introduced," he says. "I often blurted out, 'Oh, I don't drink. Sorry.'"
That changed, however, as he got used to talking about his condition. "As time went on, and I got more comfortable with this side of my life, so did the ease with which I told a man not to expect a tequila-scented smooch at the end of the night," he says. "I realize my blurting-it-out style was my own insecurities about sobriety. I celebrate it now."