Bipolar Disorder and Infidelity: Why It Happens

Bipolar and infidelity often go hand-in-hand, but why does this happen? Find advice, information and statistics on bipolar and infidelity at HealthyPlace.

Infidelity is common in bipolar disorder, and sadly, it can inflict lasting damage to a bipolar relationship. Of course, there are many reasons for infidelity within a marriage or committed relationship, and it’s important to remember that having bipolar disorder does not mean you can’t be faithful to a romantic partner.

Extramarital sex is often described as a symptom of mania in bipolar disorder, but while these symptoms can explain infidelity, having bipolar disorder is not an excuse to cheat. The more you understand why bipolar disorder and infidelity are so common, the faster you can treat your bipolar symptoms and seek help for this common issue. With this in mind, let's look at why bipolar and infidelity often co-exist and find ways to combat the problem.  

Bipolar and Infidelity: What’s the Truth?

Here’s the truth about bipolar and infidelity: being bipolar doesn’t mean you will be unfaithful to your partner, but it does make infidelity more likely, according to statistics. If you have bipolar disorder, that doesn’t mean you get a “free pass” to cheat – nor does it mean you should chastise yourself if you do have sex outside the relationship. Just like everybody else, people with bipolar disorder have to accept responsibility for their actions while learning from their mistakes.

Infidelity is a little more complicated for people with bipolar disorder, mostly because this kind of behavior is usually fuelled by mania. The cause of the infidelity is not so much about the person but about their symptoms, such as poor judgment, lack of impulse control and hypersexuality – all of which are hallmarks of a manic episode. In fact, “sexual indiscretions” are such a common marker of bipolar illness that this symptom is listed in the DSM-5’s diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder.

Statistics on Bipolar and Infidelity

Although recent statistics on bipolar and infidelity are sparse, a 1975 study that looked at lifetimes of sexual experience found infidelity to be more common among people with bipolar. According to the figures, hypersexuality was reported in 57% of individuals who experienced mania, while 29% of people with bipolar disorder had cheated on their spouse 10 times or more.  

Statistics on bipolar and infidelity can be sobering, and it often feels like the odds are stacked against relationships where mental illness is a factor. Fortunately, the most problematic and dangerous symptoms of bipolar disorder are the easiest to treat. Mania in bipolar I, for example, can be controlled and stabilized with medication, so long as you comply with your doctor’s advice and follow your treatment plan.

Medication might not be the whole answer, however, and it may take a while for you and your doctor to find the long-term drug and dosage that's right for you. If you still find yourself (or your partner) engaging in destructive behavior, such as lying and having sex outside the relationship, you may wish to consider counseling. Whether you go alone or with your partner, a therapist or guidance counselor can help you understand any underlying reasons for bipolar infidelity, while also helping you identify and avoid your triggers.

See Also:

Tips for Making Your Bipolar Relationship Work

Bipolar in Marriage: Can It Work?

 

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, June 19). Bipolar Disorder and Infidelity: Why It Happens, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/relationships/bipolar-disorder-and-infidelity-why-it-happens

Last Updated: June 25, 2019

Signs the Man You’re Dating Has Bipolar Disorder

What are the signs of bipolar in a man? And how do you know if the man you’re dating has bipolar? Discover the signs of male bipolar, here at HealthyPlace.

Signs of bipolar in a man can are hugely variable, and they won't be the same for everyone. While it's true that men and women experience bipolar disorder in similar ways, the effects of the condition may be different depending on hormones, brain chemicals and environmental factors. Men often exhibit symptoms of bipolar differently than women, so it helps to know what to look out for. With this in mind, what are the signs the man you're dating has bipolar, and what should you do if you spot them?

Signs of Bipolar Disorder in Men

Bipolar signs in men, outlined by the DSM-5, are the same as they are for women. However, the symptoms of bipolar disorder may present differently according to gender.

The most common signs of bipolar disorder in men include:

Cycles of mania and depression: Defined by a state of euphoria, fast speech, lots of different ideas or intense anger or irritability, mania affects people with bipolar I disorder. People with bipolar II disorder typically experience cycles of hypomania (less severe symptoms that never reach the full criteria for mania) and major depression.

High self-esteem: High self-esteem or extreme confidence often presents in mania. However, these symptoms can be conflated with expressing masculinity, so it can be difficult to differentiate this from "normal" behavior.

Denial anything is wrong: Some men struggle to admit that anything is wrong when they’re experiencing mental health issues, particularly if they exist in a society (as many still do) where they’re expected not to show emotion.

Poor decision-making and reckless behavior: Risk-taking behavior in men might include hyperactivity, sleeplessness, hypersexuality, abusing alcohol or drugs, excessive spending and other pleasure-seeking behaviors.

Suicidal thoughts/actions: Sadly, suicidal behavior is an attribute of bipolar depression, and it carries a higher risk for men than for women. For this reason, early identification of bipolar disorder in men is essential to intervene, treat, and prevent risk-taking behavior. If you're worried the man you're dating could be suicidal, you can seek support and advice from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

What to Do If Your Man Has Bipolar

If you suspect the man you’re dating has bipolar, it’s important to approach the subject sensitively. The last thing you want is for him to feel you're labeling him or criticizing him for something he can't control. What's more, although we're more accepting and understanding of mental illness as a society, a stigma around bipolar still exists for men, yet bipolar affects men slightly more than it affects women (2.9%, compared to 2.8%).

Try saying something like, "I've been finding out more about bipolar disorder, and it's more common than people think. I think you might have some of the symptoms. Do you want to know more?"

Ultimately, your partner's response to this information will impact how you respond. Although you can encourage him to see his doctor and ask for a referral to a psychiatrist, you can't force him to go. Explain that you don't think he's "crazy" – you just want him to be as happy and healthy as possible, and you feel like his symptoms are getting in the way of that.

Offer to support him by going to the doctor’s office with him or suggest couple's counseling if you suspect bipolar is ruining your relationship as bipolar in relationships can be quite difficult. However you react to signs the man you're dating has bipolar, do it without judgment, and always listen to his point of view.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, June 19). Signs the Man You’re Dating Has Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/relationships/signs-the-man-youre-dating-has-bipolar-disorder

Last Updated: June 25, 2019

Why Do Bipolar Relationships Fail?

Why do bipolar relationships fail? Discover the many complex factors and find ways to avoid common stumbling blocks on HealthyPlace.

What are the common reasons bipolar relationships fail? The answer is rarely clear-cut, of course, and there are many complex factors to consider. Many people with this condition have happy, fulfilling partnerships just like everybody else. Bipolar is also treatable, so most adults with the disorder are good at recognizing their triggers and knowing how to respond. Navigating a romantic relationship can be challenging at the best of times, but everyday issues become more complicated with a mental illness in the mix, especially one as unpredictable as bipolar disorder. So why do bipolar relationships fail, and how can you stop it from happening?

Do All Bipolar Relationships Fail?

Not all bipolar relationships fail. It's important to recognize this, as it's easy to blame yourself or your illness if things aren't working out for you and your partner. Relationships end for all kinds of reasons, and your diagnosis (or your partner's bipolar diagnosis) is probably only part of that equation.

Mental illness does bring its own issues to a relationship, however. The statistics for divorces involving a person with bipolar disorder are substantially higher than the national average. An estimated 90 percent of these marriages end in divorce, according to a 2003 study, compared with just 40% where neither partner has bipolar disorder. So how can you beat the bipolar relationship odds?

Reasons Why Bipolar Relationships Fail

Here are some of the common reasons why bipolar relationships fail:

Unpredictable moods and behavior: Bipolar disorder exists on a spectrum, but most people with either bipolar type I or II experience episodes of mania/hypomania and depression. Both of these mood states can make people behave unpredictably in relationships. Mania, for example, may induce pleasure-seeking behavior such as heavy drinking, partying or excessive spending, while depression can cause people to withdraw and detach from their partners, which can seem as if they don't care. These mood changes are very challenging for people with bipolar disorder, but they can also feel difficult for their partners.

Infidelity: Infidelity in bipolar disorder is a common, and often tragic, consequence of mania. However, this typically occurs in people who have not yet been diagnosed or are off medication for some reason. According to Bipolar Lives, the reasons infidelity occurs in bipolar disorder are as follows:

  • Hypersexuality
  • Impaired judgment
  • Poor impulse control
  • High self-esteem
  • Grandiosity, feeling invincible

The stress of dealing with a partner who has a mental illness: According to David A. Karp, professor of sociology at Boston College and author of The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope with Mental Illness, supporting a partner with a mental illness like bipolar disorder can be more difficult than having a partner with cancer.

Bipolar Relationship Breakups: How to Cope

While not all bipolar relationships fail, we all have to deal with breakups at some point. The end of a relationship can be challenging to cope with for all of us. However, relationship breakups can be especially difficult for people with bipolar disorder, not just because of the emotional instability that ensues, but also because of the change in routine, stress, and loss that can trigger either mania or depression.

Let yourself feel the emotions

Everybody reacts badly when they are hurt or rejected, but when you have bipolar disorder, your reactions can be extreme. These emotions can feel uncomfortable for someone with bipolar disorder, but they are a normal part of a relationship breakup. Give yourself time to work through your feelings one by one, and remember they are a normal part of the grieving process when a relationship ends.

If feelings of depression become overwhelming or you feel suicidal, inform your doctor or seek urgent help by calling 911 or your local emergency number.

Protect yourself

Relationship breakups are hard, so you owe yourself some compassion. It doesn’t matter why the relationship ended or who was at fault – you must not blame yourself for the breakup. Somewhere down the line, you'll learn from any mistakes you made, but right now, the most important thing is to look after yourself and try to avoid engaging in behavior that triggers bipolar episodes.

Ask your doctor for help

When bipolar relationships fail, we often feel like we can’t cope. If your emotions get too much, be sure to ask your doctor for additional support. If you’re going through a particularly difficult patch, your doctor may suggest adjusting your medication or upping your therapy sessions.

Reach out to your support network

Your support network is vital during a bipolar relationship breakup, so be sure to ask for help if you need it.  If you don't have a support network nearby, resist the urge to reach out to your ex-partner unless it's an emergency. You need to heal, and you can't do that if you're always in touch with the person you broke up with. Try attending a bipolar support group instead to help you manage your moods and avoid triggers.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, June 19). Why Do Bipolar Relationships Fail?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/relationships/why-do-bipolar-relationships-fail

Last Updated: June 25, 2019

Tips for Making Your Bipolar Relationship Work

Bipolar relationship tips aren’t easy to come by, so we’ve compiled some for you. Find out how to deal with bipolar in relationships, here at HealthyPlace.

Bipolar relationship tips may seem unnecessary to anyone who doesn't know what it's like to live with this condition. Every relationship has hurdles to overcome, and being with someone who has a mental illness is no different in that respect. However, bipolar disorder has its own unique set of challenges that can make romantic relationships more complicated. If you're struggling with relationship problems because of your bipolar diagnosis or you're not sure how to handle a relationship with someone who has bipolar, read on for bipolar relationship tips.  

Bipolar Relationship Tips: How to Handle a Relationship with Bipolar In the Mix

Are you looking for bipolar relationship tips to help you navigate life and love with a mental illness? Every relationship has its challenges, but bipolar disorder can bring its own set of issues to a romantic relationship. While many people with bipolar maintain healthy relationships, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

Here are five bipolar relationship tips to help you maintain happy and healthy relationships.

Bipolar Relationship Tip 1: Be honest

Find a partner you can be honest with about your condition. Trust is an integral part of any relationship, and being open about your mental health is a great way to clue your partner in on your symptoms, triggers and treatment. Your partner is likely to form a large part of your support network going forward, so it’s vital that you feel you can speak openly about your experience and ask for help when you need it.

Bipolar Relationship Tip 2: Tell your partner early-on

Although no rule says you have to disclose your mental illness to anyone unless you feel comfortable, if you're in a new relationship, it's best to tell your partner before you've made a long-term commitment to one another. Having a diagnosis of bipolar disorder shouldn't change how your partner feels about you, but it may be important to get it out in the open so that they have a chance to consider how it may affect the relationship.

This bipolar relationship tip is discretionary, as only you know when the time is right to tell your partner about your condition. However, there are benefits to opening up early on.

If your new partner is supportive, then you can build your relationship from a place of openness and trust, and they won’t be surprised when you experience a mood episode. If your new partner decides your illness is too much for them to handle, then the relationship was never going to work anyway, and you won’t have wasted your time on someone who’s not right for you.

Bipolar Relationship Tip 3: Avoid blaming the illness

It’s easy to blame your illness for everything that goes wrong in your relationship, but the reality is that people with bipolar disorder aren’t ill all the time. This is one bipolar relationship tip that’s worth paying attention to, as not everyone realizes they’re doing it.

There will inevitably be times when your bipolar symptoms cause problems in your relationship. If you experience mania, for instance, you may have trouble maintaining a conversation, or you might engage in impulsive behaviors, such as heavy drinking or overspending. However, you'll also have to deal with other sources of conflict, and it won't always be the fault of your illness.

Bipolar Relationship Tip 4: Identify and avoid your triggers

If you can identify triggers for bipolar episodes, you may be able to lessen the frequency and severity of manic or depressive episodes and reduce their impact on your life and relationship.

Common mood triggers for bipolar include:

  • Changes in sleep habits, particularly lack of sleep
  • Sensory overload, such as loud noises, bright lights and crowds of people
  • Stress from work, financial trouble or relationship conflict
  • Excitement about an important day or event, such as a wedding or party
  • Changes to everyday routine
  • Quitting or changing your medication
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Switching time zones when traveling or on vacation
  • Changes in weather

Not all of these triggers will be avoidable all of the time, so it’s important to develop coping skills to help you deal with them. Ongoing treatment, such as therapy and/or mood stabilizer medication, can also lessen the effect of episodes when bipolar is triggered.

Bipolar Relationship Tip 5: Keep communicating

Unsurprisingly, communication is a vital part of making a bipolar relationship work, whether it’s you or your partner who has the illness. This is especially important when your symptoms are severe, or when episodes make you behave in troubling ways, such as drinking too much, overspending or skipping your medication. Although your partner may be concerned or upset to hear what you're feeling and how you're behaving, it's best to be honest. Not only does this keep the line of communication open and lead to greater intimacy, but it also holds you accountable for your actions during an episode.

These bipolar relationship tips are helpful whether you're in the early stages of a relationship or you've been with your partner for years. If bipolar disorder is causing severe problems in your home or romantic life, however, you should consider seeking additional help from your doctor and think about seeing a couples' counselor.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, June 19). Tips for Making Your Bipolar Relationship Work, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/relationships/tips-for-making-your-bipolar-relationship-work

Last Updated: June 25, 2019

Bipolar Relationships Article References

Bipolar Relationships: What Makes Them So Challenging?

Healthline. (2019). Bipolar Disorder: How to Manage Romantic Relationships. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar disorder/relationship-guide [Accessed 14 Jun. 2019].

Home. (2019). Retrieved from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2017/Loving-Someone-with-Bipolar-Disorder

Tips for Making Your Bipolar Relationship Work

12 Ways to Help Someone With Bipolar Disorder. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-life-17/slideshow-help-someone-with-bipolar

Legge, T. (2018). Bipolar Disorder: How to Manage Romantic Relationships. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/relationship-guide#when-you-have-bipolar

'So, I'm bipolar': 9 tips for dating with the condition. (2019). Retrieved from https://medium.com/adahealth/so-im-bipolar-9-tips-for-dating-with-the-condition-63615f30f11

Why Do Bipolar Relationships Fail?

Bipolar infidelity. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-infidelity.html

Roberts, M (2007). Partners for Life: Beating the Marriage Odds | bpHope.com. Retrieved from https://www.bphope.com/caregivers/partners-for-life/

Signs the Man You’re Dating Has Bipolar Disorder

Home. (2019). Retrieved from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Montero, H. (2019). Bipolar Symptoms in Men: Does Bipolar Disorder Affect Men?. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/bipolar-symptoms-in-men

Bipolar Disorder and Infidelity: Why It Happens

Bipolar infidelity. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-infidelity.html

Statistics and Patterns in Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhelp.net/bipolar/statistics/

Bipolar in Marriage: Can It Work?

Howard, G. (n.d.) Bipolar Blog: What Marriage Looks Like. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/features/blog-bipolar-love-marriage#1

Borchard, T. (2018). Being Married to a Person with Depression or Bipolar: 6 Survival Tips. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/being-married-to-a-person-with-depression-or-bipolar-6-survival-tips/

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, June 19). Bipolar Relationships Article References, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/relationships/bipolar-relationships-article-references

Last Updated: June 25, 2019

Bipolar Relationships: What Makes Them So Challenging?

What makes bipolar relationships so challenging? Let’s look at the complex factors that can affect a relationship when one or both partners has bipolar.

The term “bipolar relationships” is often thrown around to describe partners that blow hot and cold with each other or who are always in conflict. In reality, being in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder is a lot more complicated than this. Many people with bipolar can and do have successful, fulfilling relationships, but more often than not, the illness presents some problems in their romantic lives. So, what is the impact of bipolar on relationships, and are there ways to avoid the common challenges?

Bipolar in Relationships: What Are the Challenges?

Bipolar relationships can be problematic for many reasons. While no relationship is easy, having a mental health condition can significantly add to the typical challenges of a partnership and test even the strongest of bonds.

These are some of the main challenges of bipolar relationships:

Emotional highs and lows

Bipolar symptoms and behaviors are often unpredictable, and not all episodes follow a specific pattern. This makes it difficult for the partner of someone with bipolar to know where they stand. Symptoms of mania can even be frightening to witness, and it's normal to feel worried about a person's safety if they're acting impulsively or don't seem like themselves.

If your partner exhibits this kind of behavior, you may also feel detached, confused, and like you can't keep up. When bipolar swings the other way, symptoms of depression are also worrying to witness – especially if your partner talks about suicide. Hearing your partner talk this way can be upsetting, but try to remember that it's not personal – it is a symptom of bipolar disorder that requires treatment.

If you're worried that your partner may harm themselves, you should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or dial the emergency services right away.

Irritability and anger

There is a misconception that people in mania are always fun and exciting to be around. However, anger and extreme irritability are also symptomatic of mania, and they can be especially challenging to live with.

Unsurprisingly, abrupt mood changes can lead to communication problems with your partner, so it's important to make yourself aware of their triggers and try to avoid conflict during an episode.

Destructive behavior

Destructive or impulsive behavior is one of the hallmark symptoms of bipolar mania, and it often causes problems in romantic relationships. Examples include abusing alcohol and/or drugs, excessive spending, gambling and engaging in risky sex ("Bipolar Disorder and Infidelity: Why It Happens"). These behaviors, with or without bipolar, would cause strain and conflict in most long-term relationships.

Bipolar Effects on Relationships: Finding Solutions

The effects of bipolar on a relationship are complex and far-reaching, so there is no catch-all solution. What’s more, not everyone with bipolar disorder exhibits the same symptoms. While some people struggle to hold down long-term relationships, others navigate romance and intimacy with few problems – or else they find the challenges posed by mental illness help to bring them and their partner closer together.

If you have bipolar disorder, you may be worried about telling your partner or entering into a new relationship. Alternatively, if you have a long-term partner, you may be concerned that your mental illness will eventually cause the relationship to end.

It’s important to remember that relationships end for a number of complex reasons, and mental health is only part of the picture. The best course of action you can take with any of these scenarios is to be open, honest and self-aware.

What to Do If You Have Bipolar In a Relationship

Having bipolar in a relationship isn’t easy, but helping your partner understand what it’s like to live with the condition can be beneficial.

Honesty is important in this scenario, so be clear about your limitations when mania/hypomania or depression strikes and tell your partner what to expect. You should also stick to your treatment plan and try to involve your partner in your care whenever possible.

Seeing a relationship counselor can help you work through some of the challenges caused by bipolar in relationships, but if your partner doesn't support you, then you may need to accept that the relationship isn't going to work.

What to Do If Your Partner Has Bipolar Disorder

If you find out you're in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder, the first thing you should do is educate yourself. Firstly, learn everything you can about the condition so that you know what your partner is dealing with and how it might affect your relationship. Secondly, be sure to ask about your partner's personal experience, and don't assume to know what they're going through just because you've done your research.

Going forward, patience, support and open communication are the pillars of any successful relationship. Mental illness can take its toll on the loved ones of those affected, so it’s important to have your own support network in place for when bipolar causes strain in your relationship.

See Also

Signs the Man You’re Dating Has Bipolar Disorder

How Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Affect Women Uniquely

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, June 19). Bipolar Relationships: What Makes Them So Challenging?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/relationships/bipolar-relationships-what-makes-them-so-challenging

Last Updated: June 25, 2019

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