When the person you’re dating struggles with mental illness, it can be difficult to remain hopeful and realistic at the same time about the chance of success for your relationship. With bipolar disorder, many people are originally discouraged from pursuing a relationship, but some education and helpful tips can go a long way!
Understanding the illness and learning how to make it work despite its presence is possible. Even when you’re dating someone with bipolar disorder, you may not know everything you should about what it is, how it works, and the ways to properly deal with it.
Need To Knows About Bipolar Disorder
Most people have heard of bipolar, but aren’t entirely sure what the disorder actually means. It can be used in a very casual way, like joking about your mood swings by saying “I must have bipolar!” but the disease itself is actually much deeper than that. It’s a complex, unique wiring of the brain and manifests in the person’s moods and ability to think at times.
You can read more about bipolar here.
Statistics & Demographics
Over 2 million Americans, or between 1-3% of them in a year, suffer from bipolar disorder out of the diagnosis that have been made. However, another source stated that almost 10 million suffer from mental illness, yet half never receive treatment, or have a proper diagnosis. It’s difficult to know the exact demographics of how many American’s suffer from the illness.
Other information about bipolar disorder include that it’s not specific towards men or women, but instead even between the two. If your family has a history with bipolar, it’s genetically possible you’re at a higher risk. Symptoms usually begin around the age of 25, but it can be found often in teenagers, too.
Pros to Dating Someone With Bipolar
As intimidating as bipolar seems, the people it affects are not their disease. Those with bipolar disorder are unique, vibrant people with plenty to offer the world. Even between their manic or depressive episodes, they are worth caring for and potentially building a life together.
Whether you’re newly in a relationship, hoping to pursue one, or just looking for information to support a long-term relationship, these upsides to a bipolar diagnosis will ease your worries!
They’re Very Adaptable
After having to deal with their moods giving them a whirl when they least expect it, those with bipolar disorder diagnosis have learned to really roll with the punches. Their personalities tend to be very fluid and it’s easier for them to “go with the flow”. Plus, when you have your own bad moods or hyper moments, they totally get it!
You’ll Be Loved Deeply
Those with bipolar disorder have a surprising capacity for emotional depth and intelligence. Since much of their diagnosis affects the way they process and handle emotions, this could be both a positive and negative thing. They care hard, but get hurt a lot in return… so if they’re treated right, they love deeply in return.
Let’s face it; if your partner has bipolar, it’s never a quiet moment. You don’t really know what to expect, so it keeps things exciting, and that’s for sure! They also have very exciting personalities, with creative and intelligent motivations, and love putting their ideas into action. Being a supportive figure in their life can help them learn how to do things without their mania pushing them to do it.
Cons To Dating Someone With Bipolar
Of course, you probably have a good idea what the potential downsides to this disorder are when it comes to having a relationship. While most of the cons are specific to the person suffering from bipolar, you need to think of yourself, too. Here are the things that can be a harmful quality in your life, while dating someone with bipolar disorder.
Both with mania and depressive states, your partner may act rashly without thinking of them or you. Manic behaviors may include going out for long periods of time for some reason, or losing contact because they forget to call, or even just involving themselves in dangerous things. It can be a lot to worry about when you truly love them.
Since low self-esteem can tie in a lot with many people with bipolar, it’s usually a pretty reasonable assumption they may get jealous easier than most. Plus, they may believe they’re “damaged goods”, or something is wrong with them, which may lead them into paranoia you’ll find someone better. The constant, intense jealousy may be a rough part of them to handle, emotionally.
Frequent Highs & Lows Of Their Mood
Naturally, dealing with their manic and depressive mood swings is going to be rough. You have to remain supportive, watch for triggers, learn how to help them, and stay stable during these times. It’s a lot to put on yourself!
5 Ways To Make The Relationship Work
So… you’re eye is still caught on the person you care for, regardless of their bipolar disorder diagnosis. That’s great! There are so many successful relationships and marriages where one of the partners has a form of bipolar. It can be treated, and it can be worked through as a couple.
If you need a couple of little tricks for how to make the relationship work even through the rough parts of the journey, keep reading. These 5 ways to stick together like glue will be your saving grace the next time an incident happens! It’s also important to remember that all relationships have struggles, and everyone has their bad and good days.
1. Don’t Judge Their Mood Swings
No one knows how hard the mood swings are more than the person dealing with it themselves. Complaining, judging, mocking, or getting mad at their mood swings and episodes is a great way to ensure you won’t work out as a couple.
Sure, it’s harder than it looks! You don’t have to enable them, either. Your partner should take on some responsibility, even during a low or high point, but the more supportive you are, the easier that will be for them. They hate it just as much as you, if not more, so don’t make it worse by rubbing their nose in it ever.
2. Help Them Stick With Healthy Routines & Habits
One thing that is really helpful for those dealing with bipolar is setting up routines to follow. This could include a self-care routine, or maybe a workout regime, or anything that is reliable and set in stone to count on. Healthy habits are also a good idea to get into practicing together.
When a manic episode, or even the depressive ones, comes on, it’s harder for your other half to follow these routines. They are reckless and distracted and dealing with a lot of mental stimulation. Gently keeping them true to the rules and habits they want to follow helps them deal with their episodes better, which benefits you.
3. Compliment Their Strengths, Especially During a Low
A lot of the time, it is easy for someone dealing with bipolar to only see the negatives about themself. This is especially true during a depressive episode. They’ve crashed from their euphoric mania, and now see all the problems they have caused, or all the emotions they didn’t feel during their high. It’s a lot to deal with!
Reminders, as frequently as you can, that they aren’t damaged or messed up is important. When they’re done, remind them of the great things they’ve done, what they’re capable of, how strong their talents are. Words of encouragement go a long way.
4. Give Them Some Control In The Relationship
While it might seem like an easy solution to just be the mastermind in everything you two do, don’t fall into a micromanaging role in the relationship. If you’re constantly limiting things, creating rules, and monitoring your partner’s behavior, it’s destined for disaster. Sure, it’s tempting – you want them safe during episodes!
But what about when they’re just fine? Don’t fall into that controlling pattern. Instead, try to equalize the control and power within your relationship. Give them some sovereignty, and don’t try to “fix them”. Work together, listen to their ideas and needs, and keep it equal.
5. Learn Their Triggers
Many times, manic or depressive episodes in those with bipolar are brought on by something specific. It could be like PTSD patients, where certain sounds or experiences will make them relive past trauma, or it could be stress related. Sometimes, even emotional triggers can send your partner spirling into either a high or a depressive pit.
Listen, watch, learn, and pay attention. Try to recognize patterns, and talk with them about it so you can both have better warning before an episode happens. If it’s a stress-induced thing, work on creating stress-free or relaxing environments. If it’s emotional, help them talk through their feelings about it.
Dating someone with bipolar disorder doesn’t make anyone “unlovable” or “impossible” to date. Many of the stereotypes and cliches that surround those with bipolar can be very harmful, and create the dating scene for them a tricky thing to maneuver. They already feel bad enough about their mental illness, so ultimately, they need a partner who won’t shame them for it.
It’s an intricate disease of the mind that manifests in mood swings. You can have a long-lasting, supportive relationship that is beneficial to you both and healthy by making sure you are remaining caring, educated, and open-minded to their struggles. Dating with bipolar takes some extra work and a bit of a gentle hand, but it’s totally possible! Just keep in mind all the positives and great aspects your partner and follow the 5 tips for a great experience in life together.
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