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Should People With Bipolar Be In Relationships?

I’ve been writing about bipolar disorder and mental illness for 11 years. Eleven years. It’s been a long road.

And during that time I have heard a lot of people say a lot of horrible things about people with bipolar disorder. In no particular order, people have accused people with bipolar disorder of being: violent, manipulative, self-centered, selfish, abusive and many other negative things.

Certainly, if I bumped into a person with those characteristics, I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with him or her. However, are people with bipolar really like that? Should people with bipolar disorder be in relationships? (I’m Bipolar: Will Anyone Ever Love Me?)

What Are People With Bipolar Disorder not Like in Relationships?

I, in no way, buy the nonsense that people spout against people with bipolar disorder. I, personally, am not manipulative, self-centered, selfish or abusive, and I strongly suspect I’m not the only one. Nowhere in that list of accusations is an actual symptom of bipolar disorder. While, I admit, anger does seem to be more prevalent in people with bipolar disorder, outside of that, none of those insults have been shown to be true.

There may be many things about a person with bipolar disorder that are different from your average bear, but all that crap isn’t part of it.

What Are People With Bipolar Like in Relationships?

Some argue that people with bipolar shouldn't be in relationships. But why is this? Should we, as people with bipolar, stay out of relationships? Well, we’re people with an illness. So we’re people, plus the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Primarily, this means that we’re people with bouts of depression and hypo/mania. Of course, we might also be euthymic (symptom-free) for long periods of time too.

So, I would say, people with bipolar disorder, are just people with mood issues. If I were to characterize myself, I would say I’m just a person, who often manifests depression (rarely hypomania).

However, what I think is really important to remember is that who we are, is not the disease. The disease lies atop of us like a blanket. If you’re in a relationship with one of us, you need to know and see that.

Relationships With People With Bipolar Disorder

Some people would argue people with bipolar disorder are so broken, they shouldn’t be in relationships. Some people would argue that we can’t have a positive impact on another person because of the disease. Some people would argue that the disease is such a defining factor that it, and it alone, should prevent someone in being in a relationship.

This, of course, is nonsense. I know people with bipolar disorder in relationships. I know people with bipolar disorder in long-term relationships. Are there challenges thanks to the disease? I have no doubt. I have no doubt that any disease would stand in the way of parts of a relationship. I also have no doubt that people can work through those roadblocks.

Did we forget? No one is perfect.

And excuse me, but all those people who say that we shouldn’t be in relationships – are they perfect? Do they bring no problems to a relationship? (It seems to me, that, if nothing else, their hateful close-mindedness would be somewhat of an issue.) Because they would be the first people ever.

So while I, personally, often feel very broken and worry about my influence on others in my personal life, that doesn’t mean that people with bipolar, en masse, should not be in relationships. We’re all different. Relationships are right for some of us and not right for others. Just like everyone else.

I think it’s easy to feel such disease-hatred that it morphs into self-hatred and makes us believe that we’re not relationship-worthy. But that is a logical fallacy. We’re worth everything that anyone else is worth. Are there issues with the illness? Yes, of course there are. Are they insurmountable? No, of course they’re not. We succeed and fail in relationships. Just like everyone else.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or Google+ or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

98 thoughts on “Should People With Bipolar Be In Relationships?”

  1. I myself is diagnosed with Bipolar 2. A little more then a year ago, I found myself beeing arrested by the police and put in a hospital. In the beginning, everything was chaotic. No one told me that I had a psychosis. So my mind kept running in all kinds or directions, telling me all kinds of crazy things. And I believed in it.
    After that horrible, horrible experience Im trying to slowly build up my life. Im taking medications for both depression and for stabilizing my mood.
    As for the relationship part, I have a boyfriend who is amazing to me, even at my lowest. Im afraid although he says he is fine he is not. I have accused him before, for beeing a criminal, and 5 minutes after explained myself and cried Im sorry. I hate my illness sometimes, I don’t wish it on my worst enemy.

  2. I am bipolar, and although it hurts to admit, I agree with the people who have commented. Being with someone bipolar can be scary, especially if untreated. My Step Father is also bipolar, and his mania is uncharted territory. He’s been in and out of jail, has verbally and physically hurt my mother. There has never been stability in their relationship. Finding out I was bipolar was difficult, but I knew that I was for a long time. I’ve been in three serious relationships, and though each one got better, there was still a lot of fighting. I ended up breaking up with my last boyfriend because I felt guilty about the fights. Although he didn’t want to break up, I wanted to. I don’t know if I will ever be able to be in a long term relationship with anyone ever again. I have chosen to remain single and focus all my energy on staying balanced. I have a cat, pets help a lot! I have a lot of friends as well. I do have a great job, car and home and take medication regularly. But I am always on guard, watching my thoughts, managing my moods and making sure I’m taking care of myself. I don’t know why people are always afraid of being single, it’s rather nice and peaceful if it’s right for you. I do think that there are people out there that can be in relationships with people who are bipolar, but they have to understand, at some point, they may end up being caregivers to their loved ones. If they can handle and accept this, then great, but most people are looking for stability when looking for relationships.

  3. I know how old this thread is, but I felt the need to respond to this irresponsibly naïve and intellectually dishonest article.
    First, allow me to say that I’m not categorically opposed to people with a BP diagnosis entering into relationships with informed partners who know what they’re getting into. Patience, understanding, therapy, medication and love can, in many cases, yield healthy, productive relationships regardless of underlying diagnoses in one or more individual. I speak from experience.
    That said, the author has done a tremendous job of burying her head in the sand when it comes to the real effects bipolar disorder can have on those who love its sufferers. She hand-waves away the chaos, bewilderment, cruelty and frustration that can overtake a household with bipolar. It’s one thing to acknowledge that these are symptoms of a disease, and that the carrier is likely in great emotional pain to. But to those who have experienced great psychic (and sometimes physical) injury themselves at the hands of an unstable bipolar, to blithely dismiss the authors of that suffering as merely “people with mood issues” is insulting in its diminishment of their victims’ pain.
    There is societal stigma against the mentally ill, and some of that is certainly unfair. However, it is equally unfair to demonize as “hateful” all those cautionary warning coming from honest people with tales to tell. As I wrote above, I don’t endorse the clearly embittered views of those who would write off all bipolar individuals as evil monsters incapable of love. But there has to be room to observe that loving and living with a bipolar person brings with it a unique set of difficulties, and that those contemplating entering such a relationship deserve some education as to its pitfalls. Natasha, it seems, takes the overcorrective view that any such trepidation must be the product of unwarranted prejudice. Does she realize how close she is treading on victim-blaming territory? I’m sure the last thing she meant to do was excuse or enable abuse, but one could easily come away from this reading with the dangerous perspective that BP is little more than a cosmetic condition and that to reject a relationship with someone because of the disease is morally equivalent to racism. Natasha, I know you’re not trying to gaslight anyone, but I’m afraid that might be precisely the result if we take your sugarcoated sentiments to their logical conclusion.
    Mental illness is not like other disease; my partner’s diabetes or asthma will never turn on me the way bipolar can. And while unwarranted generalizations are, well, unwarranted, it’s not uncalled for to share testimonials when they are in fact illustrative of the dark side of the condition. I can look back on past relationships and acknowledge them without attaching negative moral terms like “evil” or “selfish.” But I won’t shy away from applying honest, neutral, objective observations, not because I still feel the need to get back at anyone from the past, but because I believe truth must always triumph over magical thinking.

  4. I was married to someone diagnosed bipolar and the bouts of depression and hypo/mania were manageable between us for a few years. Then following a deeper bout of winter depression, as soon as spring hit, the mania took over at an all time high and they left and ended the marriage. Though the author here has written about it for 11 years, the article reads as if it has no idea what bipolar is nor mentions the severity or treatment methods. Bipolar is a disease of the brain. Chemicals are not in balance. Research has shown if left untreated, it is degenerative. It is possible for a bipolar person to hold together a stable relationship, but only with awareness, hard work, and treatment. The rest of this article is hogwash. Many of us can speak from direct, actual experience and there are a lot of us both bipolar and not, that can speak to this from real life. There may be varying degrees of bipolar and brain activity and no, it is not the same for everyone, but this article hardly addresses any real issues.

  5. It is really hard to be in a relationship with someone with bipolar. My husband is a runaway and would always leave the house and gone for days, sometimes weeks or months without any trace. Be never had a stable job so all the finan ial burdens go to me. I could not trust his words because they usually change decisions in an instant. When in a manic episode, he would go on spending spree including gambling. There is no stability in the house.

  6. I was dating this guy for a 1yr and half we never argue or fight we respected each other too the fullest. About 6 months ago he was always downing himself and saying I can do better and im too good for him. He loves me and want me in his life but recently everything changed. He said he didn’t want to be with me anymore and he love me and he dont wanna hurt me. I love him regardless I stood by his side I encourage him I talk to him support I did every thing and it doesn’t matter he still feel worthless and not good enough for. He always says hes weak and can’t help. He was diagnosed with bipolar when he was younger he was on 3 different meds for 15 yrs. He took his self off them. Recently he got back on them and he said he needs to get right. But he don’t love himself enough. He’s a nice guy sweet as pie but saying something to him will make him go off. I wasnt going to stand for so I told him to get back on his meds and he did that. But our relationship is no longer because of it. Im sad n hurt?

    1. TINA , my BF of 18 months left me and said all the things that your BF said. Though he was hiding the fact that he was Bi Polar and he was not on any meds. It was an 18 month roller coaster ride for sure because I didn’t understand what he was hiding and I didn’t ever think he was Bi polar. So many events happened after we broke up.. I talked to his ex wife and she filled me in, I finally spoke to his sister and she gave me Insight. 3 months of no contact was strange coming from my otherwise kind and sweet BF. I actually was able to talk with him after those 3 months ( long story about that) but for 2 more weeks we went on a few dates and I decided to tell him I knew all about his Bi polar.. his past life with his X wife.. he was kinda upset I found out about him and him not wanting me to know about his Bi polar. He actually thanked me for understanding why he kept it a secret since he was too embarrassed to ever tell me. I wish he did though I would have understood him better and our relationship . I love him for the person he is but he doesn’t believe he’s good enough . So once again he’s in a cycle in a split second and he’s turned away from me now again and fled. Even after he thanked me for being so kind and understanding. He said he never stopped loving me.. but is now silent towards me. Last I know he said he’s getting into therapy this month and wants to get help now. I made sure his sister is on board now to see it through. I have to back away from the love of my life and it’s very hard loosing someone you care so much about to this disease. I’m the most compassionate person, I think he’s running out of embarrassment and he shouldn’t. He feels he’s not good enough and doesn’t want to burden me or anyone with his issues! He’s a great guy.. good father .. nice family and I even like his X wife. If anyone has this same issue I’d love to talk with you. I could use any support I can get as this is new to me an a shock as well. I’m trying not to take is personally .. as he has told me many times it’s him and not me! Very sad .. mudpies@snet.net

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