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Should People With Bipolar Be In Relationships?

February 11, 2014 Natasha Tracy

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.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2014, February 11). Should People With Bipolar Be In Relationships?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2014/02/should-people-bipolar-relationships



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 BurbleTwitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Todd morrow
says:
June, 13 2019 at 3:53 am
Well I'm bipolar and I totally hate it . At times I'm okay but at times I'm not . I have severe trust issues with people and meds only help so much . I was. Nurse for 24 years got into trouble dui after last breakup and became homeless and started using illegal drugs which don't work for bipolar people and been clean and working last year and hopefully get my life back on track As for relationships I had to give that up have beautiful daughter very supportive but unable to let myself get involved with anyone because after divorce and lived with someone 3 yrs I wanted to kill my self so I can't let anyone ever have that much control over me again It's been really hard Todd
Meg
says:
April, 25 2019 at 8:02 pm
Some people are self absorbed and selfish....and they have bipolar. My husband is medicated... mood stabilizer and wellbutrin. He is still a [moderated]. Medication alone will not help. Cognitive behavior therapy is important! We all have issues. He refuses to accept that smoking pot is not helping him. Bottom line he is addicted to the high. He is not the only one in the relationship that needs emotional support. At this point, he can take his mental illness and shove it [moderated]. Don't feel bad. Only feel bad for those who don't have access to information on how to get diagnosed or how to receive proper treatment. Just because someone has bipolar does not mean it gives them a right to use it as a weapon.
Doug
says:
August, 13 2019 at 12:29 pm
Absolutely. My experience with a person with bipolar disorder was very similar. She smoked weed all the time, pretended to be a healer, only to hook her next victim. She then abuses, verbally, emotionally and physically. The worst part is that she has three boys, and now they are displaying signs of extreme narcissism, she’s was always treating her middle child the worst, and according to the FBI the pathology for violent crime offenders begins in a toxic family environment and I’ve seen it firsthand. Also according to psychology, those horrible traits of bipolar disorder, abuse, lying, cheating, etc are indeed connected. When I see an article like this, written by bipolar people, it always seems to put them in the victim seat. They have the obligation to seek help for their problem, like all people. Those who don’t, use it as excuse to continue being extremely narcissistic and sociopathic so that they can keep the creating victims out of their spouses.
August, 13 2019 at 12:37 pm
Hi Doug,

Certainly, I wouldn't argue with you with regards to your experience. Perhaps this person is exactly as you say.

That said, that is only _one_ person. There are millions of people with bipolar disorder and we certainly aren't all the same. You mention that without treatment we are narcissistic and sociopathic. Well, if that were true, those types of traits would be diagnostically relevant and they're not. Those traits are relevant to narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathic personality disorder. Of course, a person can fall into more than one diagnosis, but bipolar itself, does not have those traits.

Yes, certainly untreated bipolar disorder can be destructive, but I think it's important to know what is part of bipolar disorder and what is not.

- Natasha Tracy
Sandy
says:
August, 20 2018 at 6:46 pm
I was in a relationship with a guy for 9 years that had bi polar and he just dropped me like a hot potato. Not to sure why. I think he just lost interest and it was getting weird. I still love him and I hope he can get it together and come back and possible continue but I am starting to lose hope as each day goes by. I did everything in this relationship and it was not a give and take more like take and receive. I did more for him them myself. I was with him when he had and episode and stood my his side and help him cope with his issue and remember all to well when he called me his soul mate and told all our friends how special I was. I guess this is like a divorce in a way and it just sad that he will not go get the help he needs and try to get healthy. I think my relationship with him is had or done. I cannot even bring myself to show up in the same circle of friends we have. I do more avoiding him and our friends then anything and just cannot seem to bring myself around and mutual club be both belong to. Its just to had for me to cope right know and to see him is to hard. I can only hope there it a shinny glimmer out there that things can heal and and will get better. Not to sure. I guess one day at a time.
michael
says:
May, 11 2018 at 11:57 pm
Hail! I love Bipolar sooooooooooooooooo much. It is all about how I neeeeeeed to control myself and I neeeeeeed to be accountable.

In all seriousness, it feels like I'm holding the whole world up. My mind goes 100miles a minute and I lose track of stuff that I did to someone because it is too painful for me to remember so I block it out. I hate Bipolar for hurting my friends and family, it was only until I had messed up every meaningful relationship I ever had up that I finally got help. Medicated Bipolar is okay... I am now in the driver's seat to my emotions, you see a lot of people don't realize that when I hurt someone I hurt myself because I feel empathy so badly, so I'm hurting myself and there is LITERALLY NOTHING I can do about it. PFFT, being accountable and caring, I am accountable and I care too much, I wish you could feel any feeling so powerful that it takes over your body and makes you a puppet, slave to your own ID all the while you are watching and can do nothing about it.
Doug
says:
August, 13 2019 at 12:34 pm
You do realize that every person you abused and treated horribly can be severely damaged for years before they learn how to rebuild themselves. People who intentionally abuse others, have zero empathy.
Michael
says:
May, 11 2018 at 11:36 am
I'm Bipolar 1, I have lost everything(wife and kids). I can go hangout with them whenever I want and I do a lot. We have been together for 13 years and I love her, I have been trying to earn her trust back after cheating on her beating her getting drunk every night for years, geez what else could a Bipolar psychopath like me do, I was a mean drunk, I was so bad, I am the stigma... sorry bipolar people. She left me obviously. I am also the sweetest person and so caring and loving empathetic and all. I am here to get help from some people who are also bipolar 1. I went manic godlike I felt so amazingly strong, smart, and connected to the spiritual and I was. I could see the good and bad in people, I could see the future and the grand design. God showed me many things and then I told someone how I was feeling and what I was seeing.... hospital time. They put me on mood stabilizers and I was bad to my old self. that was 2 years ago and have been diligent with appointments and medications. I believe that what God showed me was 100% real as a non manic I can now still see evidence of the almighty. He has called me to change the world and gave me purpose. I started reading the bible and one verse stuck out Corinthian 1, 26 in the niv. I have been a good person for 2 years starting out homeless with nothing but what was in my car to now I have a minimum wage job and going to college renting a room out of someone else's how with a change in career and a new goal I am a new man. But all that time undiagnosed and without medication, I have no friends, no girlfriend and no family. I just don't know what to do, do I plague another girl with my love? I am so alone. I know, I deserve it and it is my own fault and I am paying for what I was. I honestly had little to no control , it was like I was back seat to this horrible nightmare. I am paying for another man's mistakes. Will anyone ever love me? What if I beat and mentally abuse the next one? I am so tired of being Bipolar it makes me sick. I wish so badly for a redo and to be rid of this awful disease. I on the depressive side so sorry for that. 3 people have come to me in the last week saying they were suicidal, which is crazy because I haven't let my pain show, which means that the universe is trying to help me. I want a friend and a girl but it is hard to put myself out there and I don't want to hurt anyone anymore. Help?
May, 22 2018 at 8:13 am
Hi Michael,

I know that being unmedicated can destroy a life. Many people have been through that experience. You are not alone in that.

What you might want to do is seek out a bipolar support group. People there will understand what you have been through and you can build meaningful relationships there. Try searching for NAMI or the DBSA on Google. Also, there are many online support groups that might be a good place to start as well.

I think the most important thing is to be really honest with those you form new relationships with. If you're honest with yourself and them, things can get better.

You might also want to look into therapy. The most you know about yourself, the more successful you're likely to be in relationships.

While you have made mistakes, you should realize that we all have. Yes, a person who knows you as you are today could love you. Most of us strive to be better people (mental illness or no) and that's all you're doing -- striving.

- Natasha Tracy
Sackorats
says:
March, 24 2018 at 10:23 pm
Thanks, just what I needed, another in denial bipolar telling me it's all in my head.
arjun patil
says:
February, 21 2018 at 4:28 am
This generation relationship status will be always complicated. It is so popular that even facebook made it one of the options to select. Because the perspective of a relationship has changed. Boys meet girls they date they marry and they love happily ever after. Date part has become extremely non- committal. This is why we talk about relationship labels. If your confused about your relationship status. Labeling kind of works like that it bumps you to the next expectation level, and with expectations come disappointments. Labeling-up somebody before you've gotten to know them is a self-fulfilling prophesy—so tread carefully when rushing to call someone "bae."
Kade
says:
December, 21 2017 at 8:08 am
Dating a bipolar is like dating anyone else. Be careful what you get yourself into. And remember that everyone has their bag of cats.dont let stigma influence your decisions. Make a decision based on the persons actions. If you fall in love with a bipolar then there is obviously something there worth looking into. And remember you never have to stay in a relationship. Just be considerate of folks like me. And try not to judge us harshly simply because we are sick. Make your judgements on an individual basis.
Bipolardandelion
says:
October, 25 2017 at 7:45 pm
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.
Ash
says:
October, 12 2017 at 8:47 am
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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Doug
says:
August, 13 2019 at 12:43 pm
Hey Ash, it has been stated by the psychology profession, that children of a bipolar parent can be affected even if they don’t carry the bipolar gene. Cyclothymia is the abnormal, quickly shifting emotional state in children without bipolar disorder. Basically, their mind has been programmed from the trauma to be just as chaotic.
August, 14 2019 at 7:36 am
Hi Doug,

What you're saying is not accurate.

It's true that children are affected by their parents -- obviously. But cyclothymia is not a result of that. Cyclothymia is actually a type of bipolar disorder. Moreover, while bipolar is partially genetic, science cannot yet pinpoint the genes that cause it and thus have no way of knowing when the genes are or are not present.

Having a person with bipolar as a parent certainly could be traumatic, but it doesn't have to be.

You can read about cyclothymia here: https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-types/what-is-cyclothymia-cyclothymic-disorder-definition-symptoms-treatment

You can read about the causes of bipolar here: https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-information/causes-of-bipolar-disorder-what-causes-bipolar-disorder
Nick
says:
August, 1 2017 at 9:52 am
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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

ian
says:
January, 1 2018 at 6:54 pm
an accident victim may at times require their loved one to actually take time off work to take care of them. It definitely takes a toll on them too especially if a serious situation not to mention time off work for the caretaker may mean hige financial difficulties not to mention time spent in taking care of them that could have been utilized elsewhere. if i decide to do an article on such accident victims and the problems they undergo (the article being about them precisely) do u expect me to also talk, in detail as well, about how whoever takes care of them? how does that help baring in mind the article is nt about them? they are not the target audience and even though other people may read the article, it sounds much better penning down another article that addresses whatever issues that need addressing instead of saying everyone involved be addressed sufficiently. comments as u can see are mostly from people with bipolar. u are doing more harm than good nick. otherwise post ur own article on bipolar caretakers and lovers if u feel very pressed

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Chrissy
says:
June, 14 2019 at 5:56 am
Thank you for speaking the truth!!!
Jessie Welms
says:
June, 19 2017 at 4:32 pm
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.
Wanda
says:
June, 8 2017 at 12:04 pm
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.
Tina M Leslie
says:
June, 1 2017 at 6:17 pm
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?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Michele
says:
December, 4 2017 at 12:18 am
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
Anna
says:
May, 19 2017 at 8:56 pm
Not all hope is lost. A relationship around bipolar disorder can take a lot of work, but in our case, we've learned that less effort is what we needed. My husband and I have been together 14yrs and bipolar is only one in the list; between us there are 6 mental health concerns. We like to joke that his crazy matches my crazy and that's a tool we use a lot; humor. Sometimes it's gallows humor and sometimes it's really bad puns.

Our most important tool, however, is our contract where we have outlined our boundaries and consequences. It's a fluid contract as either one of us can call for a review to add or remove aspects. It also covers our agreement to monitor ourselves and each other to ensure continued treatment.

And a subtle, but no less important tool is space. When one of us needs/wants space, we give it no questions asked and with the understanding that, unless outright told, the request is not personal. This is where the "less effort" aspect comes into play. Any destructive or prolonged behaviors are of course addressed, but we don't try to fix each other's mood. If I'm in a manic, grumpy mood (and safe at home) he doesn't try to cheer me up. If he's anxious and irritable, but not in a full attack, I won't try to talk him through it. When his PTSD has him yelling mission directions and a slew of interesting insults at me, I box my emotions and stay with his roller coaster until it comes to a complete stop. When I'm accusing him of not helping around the house and calling him lazy while I'm on day 2 of maniacally cleaning the place, he knows I'm full of shit and he knows I know it too. When I get to the end he simply asks, "feel better?" We're a team, but we only got that way by making mental health treatment a priority.

If your partner refuses treatment and personal accountability, they are not your partner. Not truly. There's a line between collateral damage and outright abuse. You have every right and should set a limit on how much collateral you'll accept. Unfortunately, it will happen. We're still human and have only so much control even with medication and therapy. There should still be effort to at least minimize the radius and extent. If not, it should be a red flag.

And here's the important part: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER EVER put up with abuse. There is no excuse and if they use their bipolar as one, get out of that as quickly and safely as you can.
Zak
says:
April, 30 2017 at 7:29 am
This is to Hurt posted on January 9, 2017 at 8:56 am.
I'm married and miserably living on the roller coaster for last 12 years. I feel your pain and you are absolutely right in your comments. It's very hard if the spouse is not willing to seek medical help...
Cindy
says:
March, 25 2017 at 6:32 pm
I have been dating a man for 6 weeks it has been an extremely amazing relationship and the feeling grew between us very quickly. He was indicating feeling of love almost immediately. 4 weeks into the relationship went into a "funk" and said he was very stressed out and overwhelmed by a few things going on in his life ( not me). It made sense because he did have a lot going on. We talked about it and things resumed full speed ahead. We were both falling in love. We are both divorced and in our late 40s. A few days later he shut down again. He told me he has Bipolar 2 disorder. He said he has such strong feelings for me and even though its breaking his heart he didn't want to put me through the emotional rollercoaster that was his life. He had tried medication years ago but said he never felt it worked. Since I was already falling in love I said I wanted to stay together. He asked me to research this disease and I asked him to promiseto get treatment for himself whether I will be in his life or not. I have spent countless hours researching every aspect of bipolar 2 and I believe he and I were meant to be together. He has pulled away from me for 2 days since we talked. I have reached out to him but he stopped answering me. I believe he is in a depressive state and I have no idea how long it may last. My heart is breaking because i know how strongly we feel about each other and I think he is pulling away to protect me. I am looking for advice anyone can give me here...I am willing to wait for him to work through this but am I just foolish to think he will come back to me?
JD
says:
March, 2 2017 at 11:29 am
From my experience being a relationship with a BP person.. JoAnne from Feb 16 hit the nail on the head. Wish it was different but in my case it wasn't. An 'exercise in futility' said it best.
Elizabeth
says:
March, 1 2017 at 2:07 am
I've been seeing a guy with bipolar for 4 months. The first 2 months were wonderful. We had fun, he seemed as keen as I was and it all seemed too good to be true. Then almost over night it was like a switch flicked. Two months later I'm in between a rock and a hard place. He's in depression and I never know where I am with him. I'm now suffering with reactive depression and stress. My head says walk but my heart says otherwise. It's so incredibly painful. I find it hard to cope with the total lack of consideration he seems to have for how his actions impact on me. I know I shouldn't take it personally but it's hard not to. I can't get my head around the fact everything is on his terms. So yes very selfish but I guess after reading these posts it seems to be a common theme/coping mechanism.
JD
says:
February, 28 2017 at 7:41 pm
This is for "Hurt" and her comment from January 9, 2017.

I thought I was the ONLY one that was going through a relationship with a BP person like that! I know exactly how you feel. I've been with her for the past 6 years, the first 3-4 years were great! Absolutely fell in love with her.. Year 5-6 got shaky with her "I hate everything and anything, life and everybody sucks", mood swinging the world owes me attitude. And that was a 'good day'.. Then early this past January there was a death in her family. I was unbelievably patient, understanding and supportive (Like I would be for anyone that I care for) and she tore me apart! She was going out-of-her-way to be mean to me.. And just me! The person that was there for her the most - She would be mean to the most. Every LITTLE thing I did or didn't do.. She would lose it on me. Until I finally said "WTF!?" and SHE told ME to leave.. Haven't seen her and have been trying to make sense of it all since. I love and care for her but I knew our relationship was going to make it.. I just wonder when she went from loving to hating the person that was the best to her. Anyway, I feel your pain and if you ('Hurt') ever read this? Know, you are not the only one. Just keep on keepin' on.. That's what I tell myself anyway..
Kathy
says:
February, 21 2017 at 1:59 pm
It is very unfortunate how people are labeling bipolar people as bad. I have bipolar disorder and have been a very good mom and wife. My husband is a very supportive man and we've had a happy marriage together.

It's sad to see shallow people pass judgements and stigmatizing people with an illness. If properly managed with medications, bipolar people are very functional and normal.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

CG
says:
April, 22 2017 at 5:43 am
Did you get pregnant while you were taking lithium? I too am stable on mess but wondering how to make a pregnancy work...
JoAnne
says:
February, 16 2017 at 1:40 am
Of course you don't think you're manipulative, abusive, selfish or self centered. You're ILL and don't have any objectivity when looking at your behaviors. Bi Polar is a relationship killer. Run away screaming........that's what I have been told by a therapist who made me see the last five years I have spent trying to make my relationship with a bipolar partner work has been an exercise in futility. The brutal truth is it will not improve...the illness gets worse over time and it will destroy your love and break your heart. I've made my decision to throw in the towel and I feel like a million pounds have been lifted from my shoulders. I'm sorry you have an illness but I feel bipolars should not get into relationships with anyone unless their partner is also biplolar. That way you won't ruin lives.
sarah
says:
January, 9 2017 at 5:47 am
I think you cant just label people as all the same because they have bipolar disorder.Each person is different so therefore how each person is with bipolar is different.i am 34 and i was only diagnosed last august.i thought i had depression for years but it was bipolar so i was misdiagnosed and on the wrong medication.if i had been diagnosed properly years ago maybe things would have been different.maybe my relationship would have held together.your right saying the person needs to be treated for what they have,its not fair on them or those around them.my issue now is getting well still,its an ongoing process....
Hurt
says:
January, 9 2017 at 2:56 am
I do not like this article and here is the reason why: the author paints this beautiful picture on top of a disorder that wreaks hell and havoc! What I despise about this article is that it doesn't mention any sympathy for those in a relationship with someone with BP. It briefly tells us not to judge and to see them, in summary, as emotional human beings.

I do not judge anyone for having BP. However, I DO judge the individuals that have BP and don't take the necessary medical and personal steps to have some sense of stability in their lives and their relationships (partners, family members, co-workers, peers, etc.). I also judge BP individuals that refuse to acknowledge their harmful behavior, disrespect, emotional abuse and absence.

"Road blocks"? What "road blocks"? Do you mean sinkholes? I have been in a relationship with my BP boyfriend for over four years and from 2016 to present, our relationship has been pushed to the max. This year has turned my life upside down. All relationships are tough but BP relationships are tough when you aren't emotionally prepared or educated, for it.

I have spent countless sleepless and tearful nights trying to figure out the person I've been living with for years, with no success. I'll speak for myself, there is no pleasing my BP BF. He'll want me to communicate with him more, but when I do, it's too much for him. He wants to be trusted, but when he's amidst an episode, he will look you in the face and tell you the sky is neon green. He wants me to be "more caring" but when I do, he wants to figure it out himself. When he's manic, he can be selfish and self-centered. Basically, everything is OUR relationship is determined by HIS current episode.

So what about us! Does anyone with BP know how much it hurts us to love you when you're on an emotional rollercoaster? Do you even care when you tear us down, leave us emotionally broken as we watch you make a new home on the couch depressed and lifeless or as you curse us and leave for hours or days at a time? Do you even care that you push the very people that care for you away and then get upset because you have lost many friends and careers along the way? What about your behavior? What if I did to you what you did to me? What if I spewed hate, did malicious things to make you walk on egg shells, make everything your fault and leave without a care in the world? Do you even realize the emotional murders you commit?

It's been over four years and I've been as supportive, in all ways, as I can be. But at some point, you can't sugar coat it and you have to acknowledge the severity of many of these relationships. It's emotionally and financially draining and it's up to the person to seek help and as the partner, don't trust their words, trust their actions. I love the man I fell in love with four years ago but at some point, he has to acknowledge the chaos he caused and work towards stability. I would love to continue the relationship, but at this point, I don't think that's possible anymore. If he were to work towards stability, I wouldn't even be writing this. I'd be lying right next to him feeling like the luckiest woman alive. Instead, I'm wondering where the heck he was last night, who he was with, what he was doing and if he's even alive...

Potential partners: If you aren't in too deep, leave... Or prepare to leave. If you continue to have a relationship with someone with BP do so only if they care about themselves (work with a physician, take medication and/or seek some type of counseling). Be prepared to become estranged with close friends and family members. Be prepared for the social embarrassment of being at rock bottom crying to loved one day and then feeling ashamed when your loved one see you happy with them another. Be prepared for disappointments and be prepared for the guilt they will make you feel and the guilt you will feel. Be prepared to lose your self esteem and find YOURSELF seeking counseling and/or antidepressants. Be prepared to lose yourself...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

jamie
says:
March, 6 2019 at 6:04 pm
Wow Hey hurt
[moderated] You see it is likely that your bf was misdiagnosed as you described Donald Trump leading me to believe he cant have Bi polar. The number one most misdiagnosed illness is bi polar being diagnosed when it is borderline so spouting off at people that may be suicidal over their illness which is not always controllable with meds Lithium for instance is only effective in 33% of cases at controlling depression symptoms so the majority remain suicidal but more calm about it. It also causes renal necrosis and leads to cardiovascular damage and obesity. The drugs are crude tools that have a margin of efficacy and it is a terminal illness that has nothing to do with character or values. [moderated]
sarah moran
says:
January, 6 2017 at 8:26 am
I want a relationship but don't at the same time.im afraid of being alone and not having anyone just to be there for me.im afraid in a few years if my parents go before me ill have nothing to keep me going...
sarah moran
says:
January, 6 2017 at 8:20 am
Relationships are difficult when you've bipolar or maybe its just me.
sarah moran
says:
January, 6 2017 at 8:18 am
I had a long term relationship which lasted four years.I became depressed and the relationship died.Couldnt speak to each other in the end.I haven't had anything serious since and that's seven years ago.i don't know am I able or capable of having a relationship,the depression is hard to handle.....
Aquiles
says:
January, 5 2017 at 9:33 pm
Hello everyone. I am gay. I was in a relationship with a man with narcissistic tendencies. I would say he's the man I've loved the most. I gave myself entirely for him. I was always nice, kind, understanding and loving. Always there for him. Then something happened. I was under unbereable pressure from him as well as work and I snapped. So I was diagnosed with bipolar dissorder back in may 2016 after an anger outburst towards my ex. I said some pretty bad things to him that night. My face and eyes changed. I must have looked like some monster because he got incredibly scared of me to the point of throwing me out of his appartment. I was living in his appartment, with no were to go after that. Days after that incident I went manic. Did so many crazy things while manic. Long story short, I have been horribly depressed since July. The way he got rid of me led me to convince myself I'm incapable to be loved, like I don't deserve it. I've cried so many nights thinking same is gonna happen again in my future relationships. I feel miserable. Wish there was a way to prevent this demonic anger from coming out. Thanks for reading.
Chris
says:
January, 2 2017 at 6:57 am
Bipolar syndrome is a mental disease. Anyone who has been diagnosed with it should seek therapy. It is truly unfair to enter into a relationship without disclosing the truth of your disorder. People lives have been destroyed because of this mental illness both those who suffer from it and those who live with someone who suffers. We are all human beings and we all require love. But when Mental illness is involved we need to take a logical security minded approach to how to manage the disorder. Do i think meaningful relationships can take place? of course yes. I would not advise anyone with the disorder to jump into relationships without disclosing the truth and more importantly that person should be on some type of managed care, medication, therapy etc before committing to any type of romantic interest
Richard
says:
December, 30 2016 at 9:11 pm
Hi,

Let me start by saying that I don't think most of these comments reflect how everyone thinks about this, so if you have bi polar disorder or if you are with someone who has, then don't take all this to heart. It's mostly people venting their spleen because they have suffered in some way and all these comments about people with bi polar being 'selfish/self-centred/heartless' are being made by people who don't exactly sound like mother f***king theresa themselves. I have the disorder and I am fortunate, that having fought with it for many years I have one many significant battles, enough to be consistently praised for the good works and inspiration I bring to others. So all this talk of people with Bi polar being some sort of demonic entity is total bull***t.

Secondly, people with bi-polar dont 'destroy lives'. I have served with one of the toughest military units in the world, I can tell you that 'destroyed lives' is a massive overstatement. All very strong and colourful language from people who go to the supermarket and back at most, for most of their lives no doubt. There will be exceptions, I'm just saying.

Thirdly, character and mood disorder is not the same thing. So if you have been with someone who is actually a very nasty and deliberate a**hole who hasnt learned to show consideration or actually delights in your misery, then that is a character issue. It may even be an indicator of ASPD (sociopathy) or psychopathy or extreme narcissism. The one unifying factor in the majority of these disorders is damage and emotional trauma. SO adding to it with your ignorance is not helping is it! Some of you need to grow up. As for those who have lived with and supported those with the disorder, I take my hat off to you, I respect you for your loyalty and your love. The world needs more people like you, full stop (or 'period' as the americans would say). Dont let your experiences shut down your compassion or cause you to become cynical. You are worth more than that and so are the people you love. Anger and prejudice is for the fearful and the frustrated, tough people get to work and they love with strength of heart.

I never knew there was so much stigma and prejudice associated with the condition I have. It's very upsetting, just as a human being, that right when you think maybe people know more about it (so your chances of having loving relationships and winning against the illness are a lot higher) the rest of the world is busy turning their back on you and generally being totally un-compassionate. For modern civilised society this is supremely defeatist and out of order.

I have fought with this for most of my life and I continue to win the battle every day. Some of you dont know the meaning of struggle, you just dont like to be uncomfortable.

For example: As a man, I have been with plenty of women who are at the mercy of their hormones or havent learned to cope with them properly. Having bi polar can be a lot like that. So if youre a woman, maybe you just need to look in the mirror and suck up your own medicine. Hypocrites. ( not ALL women..before you go getting all your knickers in a twist, its just an example, a way of looking at the illness, clearly they are not one and the same totally)

I think some of these comments are disgraceful.. the "I/we have no sympathy" comment is not made by a happy healthy person and should be viewed as such. In fact I bet a lot of the people who commented here only commented at a time of particular difficulty and maybe many of them went on to feel very differently.

Being a human being isnt easy. For anyone. But hatred and ignorance are not the answer.

Some of the greatest human beings to have contributed to the species have been bi polar, many of the greatest psychiatrist and psychologists, who heal people, save lives and promote understanding in the world socially are bi polar. Dont let any of the awful people in this comments section fool you. They aren't right, they aren't 'everyone', they are just bitter and loud.

Finally let me say this, I believe that its all about finding ways through, it's about finding a way to have your super powers (as my autistic friend puts it) work for you and with you, instead of against you. Its about focusing on what works and just mitigating for what doesn't. Yes you've spent many years locked in your own head, isolating yourself and trying to 'fix' yourself or 'going to war' with it ( as I used to say), but the ACTUAL reality is that you CAN and WILL have loving relationships, including ones which last, as you continue to grow and understand yourself, like anyone can hope to expect from a life worth living.

Stay in the ring, fight to win.

Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe.

Love conquers all.

R
Anonymous
says:
December, 29 2016 at 3:14 pm
In comparison to the comments left so far my experience of being in a relationship with someone who is bipolar seem mild. However the situation has left me very hurt and confused. I had a 9 month relationship with a man who has bipolar, he didn't tell me about his illness until we had been together a few months and he felt he had no choice.

I never saw the manic side of his illness, he took medication to control his moods which he said suppressed his emotions. Throughout our relationship he never told me he loved me and when I brought it up, he said he was incapable. He was very much a closed book where his illness was concerned, he didn't really talk about it or how it affected his previous relationships, so I don't know if it was just me he was incapable of loving.

We always got on really well, rarely argued and were content in each others company. Although I never felt a real passion from him, sometimes I felt really alone in his company and as if sex was a matter of routine, despite him telling me he was a passionate person at the beginning of our relationship.

Anyway our troubles began when we were away from each other on separate holidays for 3 weeks. For part of the time he went to stay with his mum and only came back to pick me up from the airport. Things were fine at first then I got a text out of the blue saying he was looking for love but it just wasn't there. I was so shocked and wanted to talk to him in person. When we met he apologized said he didn't mean it and had sent such messages to family members before unintentionally. He admitted that he had stopped taking his meds and had been so happy to be back with his family that he wanted to stay there as he hates his job and flat. He asked me to give him another chance and of course I said I would.

The next few weeks were difficult, he had a depressive episode, he didn't want me to see him in a state but I insisted on seeing him. I didn't know what to do so I made him eat and take his medication and tried to be supportive. After that he went back on his meds and was given another type of medication too. He was very distant with me after this, he made me feel as though he didn't want to see me and that dates were a chore. He stopped seeing me at weekends, I thought he was finding it difficult to cope with being with people because he was depressed but he later told me it was because he was considering our relationship.

After celebrating his birthday, an occasion that was actually good and gave me hope, I received a message telling me he was going back to his mum's, leaving his job and flat and as a result ending our relationship. He put it very nicely but couldn't face me and had no real justification for leaving me. I replied but that is the last I heard from him.

I have very little experience of bipolar but tried to be understanding and feel as though I've had the love and patience I gave him thrown back in my face. I don't know whether to blame his illness or him for what has happened. It is comforting to know that I'm not the only person to have suffered by being with someone who is bipolar but it would be interesting to know if some of the things I have shared sound familiar to others? He never sought any counseling as far as I'm aware for his condition and appeared to have moved around a lot and had a few problems with drugs in the past. I don't know if he has actually has left his job and flat, I'm beginning to wonder whether he used his illness as an excuse although I saw depression for myself so I know it was real.
John
says:
December, 21 2016 at 9:14 pm
Having BPD II and choosing not to be in a relationship is more of my decision. After failed relationships one after another, I always thought it was my fault. But decided to own it and be more personally responsible and help others to realize that it is not your fault and learn to live with it. I become more aware of it by studying it's effects, I do not have a problem telling people about it, but I have learned people are afraid of the negative connotation of it choosing to be ignorant about it. I became more goal-oriented, got my degree, have a career as a Supervisory Engineering Technician. I take my medication religiously and if a manic session tends to be coming on, I have learned to take a time out. Knowing the problem is half the battle.
R
says:
December, 11 2016 at 10:30 am
Ditto
sarah moran
says:
December, 11 2016 at 10:14 am
Living with this knight of blackness
Takes a lot to build the tactness
Of dealing with each minute of the day
The strain to finish what i did say
Id do,to another it wouldnt be much
To me,it was a big undertaking
Does anyone realise,how much im near breaking?
The strengh,the resilience,the torture and pain,
To keep control to try stay sane.
Joe
says:
December, 11 2016 at 2:20 am
Hello all,
I'm writing as a friend to a bp man. First, I've read all the posts here and thank you all for your insights. Graeme, your posts hit home with me the most as the loved one of a person with bp. I consider myself an intelligent man who believes with knowledge comes understanding and forgiveness, but that's the intellectual response. The emotional response, however, is a different story. When my friend, who is remarkably intelligent and creative, is at the pole that allows him to share, the treasures he imparts are phenomenal and enrich my life beyond measure... and also cements my love for him unconditionally.
When he suddenly and most times without warning, swings to the other pole, it's like his body has been taken over by a dark force who whisks him away. He goes silent and won't respond to calls, texts or emails. Of course, in the early stages of our friendship I took this very personally and beat myself up wondering what I had done to cause him to totally reject me.
Fast forward 4 years later and many back and forth swings of his pendulum, I now realize this is what makes him the remarkable person he is. I no longer take this swing to the dark side personally and, instead, let him know that if he realizes that his ability to travel the full spectrum of consciousness from pole to pole is a unique gift, then he will be able to find the treasures of enlightenment that are at each pole BUT ONLY IF he doesn't travel there thinking he is mentally ill. If he goes to the poles in shame then the treasures of creativity or profound introspection cannot be seen or harvested and instead will cause grief for him and those who love him. I have since shared with him the writings of Tom Wooten whose series called 'The Bi-polar Advantage' supports this premise that bp is indeed a gift when when those who have this gift become 'Bi-polar INorder'.
Currently my friend has been a few months gathering treasures at the introspective pole. He has the assurances from me that our friendship is and always will be in tact and to view me as a lighthouse keeper who will show him the way back to shore to share his bounty of treasures he has acquired while 'at sea' in joyful exploration. I don't try to contact him when he is beyond the horizon and continue living a joyful and engaged life with other friends in the meantime.
It's important for me that he knows I support him being who he is and he always expresses deep appreciation to me for knowing he has a friend who 'gets it' and celebrates his gift.
He also accepts that in a romantic relationship constancy is a pre-requisite and his gift doesn't possess that option. So for those of you attempting a standard relationship with a bp person, my thoughts are with you as constancy of involvement and even affection will be hard to achieve even with medication that attempts to keep their natural ability to swing from pole to pole in the unnatural center.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

jamie
says:
March, 6 2019 at 5:48 pm
Brilliant posting- I thank you as a person suffering. I would hold up your understanding as a shining example of how to help and be supportive
Brian
says:
November, 25 2016 at 11:29 am
I have bipolar since around 7 years old. Finally diagnosed correctly around 33. I'm divorced with 2 wonderful children whom I love dearly. Recently I met a wonderful girl who really has time for me. I have realised a tendency of mine to cling to a relationship and get too intense when I'm very attracted. I start to feel really stressed and she sees me as weak and unattractive when I display these tendencies. I don't blame her. We both found the stress unbearable and decided to break up. I'm heartbroken. She is also, but I don't know if there's anything we can do.

I'm pretty stable other than I can't wait for communication from my partner- I get really stressed out of all proportions- to the stage where I'd be immediately better off out of the relationship. It's an awful tragedy because we have such a good relationship otherwise. I'm very patient and generally easy to get along with. I have dealt quite well with my anger issues, which gives me some hope I can beat this too.

Getting text messages/ phone calls from her is like a drug that I can't do without- Constant reassurance that things are going well- and that isn't even enough. I wish there was some strategy to allay my fear. It destroys my independence and makes me feel very weak and unmanly.

If I could beat this stress I think I could have a proper relationship. Any advice?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

jamie
says:
March, 6 2019 at 5:45 pm
Sure as one BP to another- you are enough! yep you must get to that confident place where you believe that even with bi polar you are enough for any good person to be with. If they cant handle it they are not good enough for you. Follow this idea and stay focused on controlling relapses, have a plan for when relapses happen and then work on not over identifying with it. If she cant find one who can or seek open relationships that are committed but wont involve living together. FWB but lifelong committed friends with benefits like Oprah and Steadman. To busy and driven for marriage but not too busy and driven to not be in a committed relationship. Hell they were together something like 30 years before getting hitched and didn't live together but had their own homes.
Kage
says:
November, 5 2016 at 7:32 pm
I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for 10yrs officially. I know it has been apart of me for much longer. I don't remember living life without some symptom haunting me. I have been in relationships during the time I was diagnosed. I had to navigate this disorder on my own. Figure it out by myself. The man I was with wasn't really interested in it but just wanted it gone. Didn't really care about the science. It didn't interest him. He just wanted it fixed and move on. I tried ignoring it. Huh that's really funny now.
Now I'm engaged to a man that tries to understand my bipolar episodes. I have had episodes and he was good. Until the last one.... he says we're distant and I'm unapproachable. He said I can't live like this. He did tell me he wasn't leaving me, followed by I thought about it....... but I'm not. Now for someone who in our entire relationship that has always said he could never leave, said I'm it, put a damn ring on it, told me repeatedly that he's never ever going anywhere, never leaving me!, soulmate kinda love.... he said he thought about leaving me. Leaving me. Evidently I was a unforgivable episode. The worst he had seen in me. I know we can have altered reality but damn I wasn't that bad or that extreme. Is he done? Will the next time I relapse be it? It isn't always possible to prevent a relapse. I will always be bipolar. A life as someone who is bipolar is a life that is (at least in part) dictated by being bipolar. I'm me can't change it. I just hope he realizes it and learns to live this life with me. I hope this isn't the beginning of the end. Any thoughts?

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