What Does It Mean If Your Partner Is Bipolar
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition marked by intense mood changes. People with the illness switch back and forth from mania or hypomania to having episodes of depression.
The lifelong condition tends to run in families, although the cause of bipolar disease is unknown. However, it can often be successfully managed through treatment. There are two primary types of bipolar disorder:
What You Can Do
- Tell your partner about your disorder. Do this before you make a long-term commitment to that person. Describe what they can expect when youre experiencing a mood shift. Its also helpful to tell them what you usually do to manage your moods. This way, your partner wont be surprised when you experience a mood episode. They may even be able to help you get through it.
- Stick with your treatment plan. Perhaps the best way to reduce relationship stress is to follow your treatment plan. This can help minimize your symptoms and reduce the severity of your shifts in mood. Discuss your treatment plan with your partner so they can help you keep on track.
- Keep an open line of communication. Tell your partner when you feel a mood shift occurring so theyre not alarmed by a sudden change in your demeanor. Also, be open to them when they tell you that they notice that your mood is different. Many times, others can see changes in our mood when we cannot.
- Be honest. If youre having a severe episode and struggling with your symptoms, dont hesitate to notify your partner and ask for help when you need it. For example, if youre experiencing a depressive episode and dont feel like leaving the house, explain this to your partner instead of making an excuse to stay home.
How And When To Disclose Bipolar Disorder In A Relationship
For people living with bipolar disorder, it is challenging to decide when is the appropriate time to disclose their diagnosis to someone they are dating. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misinformation and stigma related to bipolar disorder. Therefore, some people living with bipolar disorder worry that potential romantic partners may be scared off when they tell them they have bipolar disorder.
When I talk to my clients with bipolar disorder or any other mental health diagnosis, I do not suggest telling people they are dating about their diagnosis right off the bat. The reason is that they need to decide if they like the individual first and want to invest their time and effort in a deeper relationship.
I also process with my clients how to disclose this information to people they are dating and even role play this conversation with them. This can help lessen the anxiety as well as help them create a plan on how they want to address this with their partners. They may even have their partner sit in on a session with their therapist so that they can have a better understanding of what to expect.
While living with bipolar disorder can create unique challenges, it is possible to have healthy and fulfilling romantic relationships when treated and managed with medication, therapy, healthy routines, and having a solid support system.
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Never Put Up With Abuse
This applies with equal force to both parties. The stress bipolar persons put their partners through can be interpreted as a form of abuse. Each partner has the right to set their own boundaries, make their own rules, interpret abuse as they see fit. Ultimately each has the right to leave the relationship if their needs are not being met. If you think you may be a victim of domestic abuse, reach out to a hotline.
Dating Someone With Bipolar Disorder: Need To Knows In 2022
When the person youre dating struggles withmental illness, it can be difficult to remain hopeful and realistic at the sametime about the chance of success for your relationship. With bipolar disorder,many people are originally discouraged from pursuing a relationship, but someeducation and helpful tips can go a long way!
Understanding the illness and learning how to make it work despite its presence is possible. Even when youre dating someone with bipolar disorder, you may not know everything you should about what it is, how it works, and the ways to properly deal with it.
Bipolar May Up The Ante In A New Romance But Success Still Boils Down To Finding A Good Fit
Hope dated several men after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II in 2004, but none of the relationships lasted long enough to make her mental health an issue.
When Hope, 45, developed feelings for a local restaurateur in 2009, she knew she would have to talk to him about her diagnosis before things got serious.
I was excited about this blossoming relationship and enamored with this man, recalls Hope, a freelance communications consultant in Denver, Colorado. But I remember thinking, Hes going to freak out when I tell him I have bipolar disorder.
The when and how decision was taken out of her hands when her new love dropped a bombshell: His soon-to-be ex had bipolar and her illness was one reason they were divorcing.
Listening to her date explain how his wife refused treatment and how the disorder took its toll on her health and their marriage, Hope realized she had to share her diagnosis even though she was terrified he would end their relationship.
I said, I understand if you want to run out the door and never see me again, but Id like to continue our date and tell you everything I can about my diagnosis and how I manage my illness, Hope recalls. His reaction surprised me. He could not have been more positive and agreed to give our relationship a chance.
On A First Date You Wouldnt Know I Live With Bipolar Disorder
That’s because bipolar disorder is often an invisible disability even though it can also be a debilitating one. Instead, youd just see that I have a fulfilling full-time job, financial independence, and an active social life. I work out, eat well, and I even have a morning routine that involves yoga, journaling, and ~hot lemon water.~ Its annoyingly That Girl, I know. But you also wouldnt know because, ever since my last breakup, I havent told anyone Ive dated that I have bipolar disorder.
Before then, I proudly wore my diagnosis on my sleeve. To me, it felt like a personality trait that made me unique. In sharing, I felt like I was breaking down stereotypes and defying the stigma-riddled feeling that it was some shameful secret. But after a series of relationships where my condition was often used to dismiss my feelings and oversexualize me, it became clear just how damaging the stigma around bipolar disorder still is.
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Get Angry At The Disease Not The Person
Its natural to get angry at the person who is causing you pain. When manic, persons with bipolar disorder can be horribly insensitive and inconsiderate. When depressed, he or she may be self-absorbed. Placing the infuriating and frustrating behavior within the context of the disorder can help you place the blame with the disease, not the person. Fight the illness, not your loved one.
How Does Bipolar Disorder Impact Relationships
Living with bipolar disorder, especially when it is untreated, presents unique challenges when it comes to dating and relationships. People with bipolar disorder have higher rates of divorce than the national average in the US.
The partners of people with bipolar disorder can experience emotional distress from the sudden changes or erratic behavior that occurs during a manic episode. Additionally, during a manic episode, people living with bipolar disorder may engage in unsafe behaviors that have consequences that impact their entire family. These may be related to more tangible issues, such as financial losses or legal issues, as well as emotional costs, such as loss of trust.
Similarly, some partners may experience anxiety related to worry that their partner will experience a manic or depressive episode in the future and what the consequences of that might be.
One way to ensure a healthy relationship with a bipolar partner is for everyone involved to become better educated about it. Working with a psychiatrist for medication management in conjunction with seeing a therapist and family support is the most effective approach to treatment. While relapse happens even with people who receive treatment, bipolar disorder can be managed through this multifaceted approach.
Maintaining a healthy relationship also requires that the partners of people with bipolar disorder seek their own care as they may experience increased stress that can lead to burnout or even depression.
Getting Help For Bipolar Disorder
Whether you have bipolar disorder or youre in a relationship with someone who does, finding help doesnt have to be difficult. The first step is learning more about what bipolar disorder looks like. Then, you can find a therapist you both trust and make a commitment to sticking to treatment.
A few other resources available include finding a local or online support group, getting a referral from your primary care physician, reaching out to a mental health clinic in your area, or considering in-person or online therapy.
With the right support and guidance, your bipolar disorder relationships can thrive. You can live the life youve always wanted in a successful, loving, mutually supportive relationship.
The Benefits Of Immediate Disclosure
Chris prefers to discuss his 2001 bipolar diagnosis right away, before hes head over heels about a new girlfriend.
My anxiety over waiting too long to tell them is greater than the worry over how they might react, explains Chris, 24, a college student in Tucson, Arizona. Also, he says, I never want a woman Im dating to think Im hiding something. A breach of trust like that can be devastating to a relationship.
Talking to his girlfriends about the realities of living with bipolar disorderincluding his need to maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoid alcohol, keep up with his meds and attend regular counseling appointmentsalso makes it easier for Chris to stick with his management plan.
Similarly, sharing details about his illness provides a context for his shifting moods and opens the door to conversations about how that might play out in the relationship.
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Constructive Things To Try Before Saying Goodbye
There are several things you can try to preserve the relationship.
First, remember why youre in the relationship. You probably got involved with this person and picked this person because there are lots of things that you like and love about this person, said Dr. Saltz.
She suggested educating yourself about bipolar disorder to better understand the condition. It also helps to learn to recognize signs of depression or hypomania so that you can advise your partner to talk with their healthcare provider if needed.
Dr. Saltz also recommended encouraging your partner to continue treatment and taking any prescribed medications.
Sometimes, when people have been stable for a while, theyre sort of like, Oh, I dont think I need any of this anymore. Usually thats a bad idea, she said.
Dr. Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, said that you can also support your partner by offering gentle, nonjudgmental supervision and guidance and encouraging healthy behaviors.
These behaviors include:
Additionally, he suggested that your partner identify three trusted people to check in with if theyre feeling off.
Let those people then provide an average sort of score, and say, Hey, yeah. You are a little hot-headed, or you are a little down, or whatever they may offer, he said.
Whats It Like Living With Someone Who Has Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can affect different people in different ways. Some people have less severe symptoms than others. Some might go weeks, months, or years without symptoms.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms during active mood episodes may affect your living situation if they disrupt routines, boundaries, and shared responsibilities.
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In Sickness And Health
Mortgage loan officer assistant Alyson Gregory, from Salt Lake City, UT, received a bipolar disorder diagnosis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shed been living with major depression and anxiety for years.
just told me right after her diagnosis, since we were already together 5 years, Jess, Alysons fiancé, says.
I try my best to figure out when to help be the stability she needs.
She was unable to work for 4 months, so I supported her throughout that time. I try to hype her up when shes down and calm her when shes upset.
Rejected Because Of Bipolar
After our breakup, it took me almost a year to feel like I could start dating again. When I finally got back into the dating world, I was very skeptical of people. I went into dates automatically on the defense. My guard was up and still is today. Past experiences with dating also include people asking about my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. On some dates, I have felt more like a therapist or consultant than a woman being courted. I have had men reject me based on my openness about bipolar disorder and tell me they don’t feel comfortable dating someone with “those types of issues.” There have been many dates where stigma plays a role, but I pay no attention to it anymore. These experiences have only made me stronger and more confident.
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Lets Talk About Dating With Bipolar Disorder
Dating, like any noble pursuit, is best approached with honesty and bravery. But as someone who lives with bipolar disorder, ashamed of the mechanics of my mind, sometimes I find its easier to avoid honesty and hide in the shadows of shameat least for now.
ICYMI, bipolar disorder causes dramatic shifts in a persons mood , energy, and ability to function. There are a few different types of bipolar disorders, depending on the severity of your symptoms as well as how often and how long they come up. With bipolar II, the type that I have, a person goes through patterns of hypomania and depression.
I was diagnosed in 2014, when I was 17, after my family and I grew concerned with how I behaved and my frequent outbursts, mood swings, racing thoughts, and recklessness. Now, at 25, after years of cycling through doctors and doses, I am finally in a comfortable place with my treatment.
How To Prioritize Your Health While Dating
Whether the person youre attracted to can handle your bipolar isnt the only thing to consider. Its critical to assess how any new relationship affects your moods and treatment plan.
You have to put your health first, Bloch says.
The heady days of early dating often involve going out to bars and clubs, staying up late and accommodating someone elses schedule. Research published in Behavior Therapy in 2009 found that the disruption of social rhythms, including sleep patterns, diet and exercise, often triggered depressive and hypomanic symptoms in those with bipolar disorder.
If you feel like youre making too many compromises with your mental health and the basics are being disrupted, take a step back and re-evaluate the relationship, Sylvia says.
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Signs You Are Dating Someone With Bipolar Disorder
If youre dating someone with bipolar disorder, symptoms may present themselves. Some common signs that youre dating a bipolar man or woman include:
- Feeling as if youre their caretaker
- Experiencing frequent burnouts from caring for them
- Sacrificing your goals or needs to be with the person
- Frequent mood swings that mimic the symptoms of mania and hypomania in your partner
If you recognize the signs or symptoms of bipolar disorder in your partner, the first thing you should do is get them help. The Banyan mental health program offers a variety of mental health treatments that can help your loved one regain control over their life and learn how to manage their symptoms properly.
Signs Youre Dating Someone With Bipolar
Movies and TV shows often portray mental illness with stereotypes. These stereotypes shape our perception of mental illness to some extent or in some cases, completely. The reality, however, can be far different. The signs and symptoms of mental illness can be subtle and hard to pinpoint.
In simple terms, bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes severe mood swings. Bipolar disorder can vary in severity. If you are dating someone who has this illness, handling them can be tricky, as you could mistakenly assume theyre having a bad day, are being moody, or having trouble at work. Here are 7 signs that your loved one may be suffering from bipolar disorder.
Is It Hard To Maintain Relationships With Bipolar Disorder
Though bipolar relationship patterns may seem more challenging when one partner has bipolar disorder, theyre not impossible.
There are a number of ways to develop healthy patterns so bipolar relationships can be fulfilling and satisfying on both sides. It may take some work, but all relationships need effort and care, and this is no different.
The most important part of establishing functional bipolar disorder relationships is keeping the lines of communication open and being willing to do the work. Being honest and upfront and making an effort to learn are key components in creating a positive, trusting dynamic. Whether its you who is bipolar or you have a bipolar partner, the following are important aspects to keep in mind:
When someone experiences bipolar disorder symptoms, it is important for their support system to be involved and infrequent communication. People diagnosed with bipolar disorders can benefit from having a therapist, a psychiatrist, and if they are in a relationship, even a couples therapist.