BIPOLAR RELATIONSHIPS: Why Bipolar Relationships Fail & Management (Detailed Guide)


Any romantic relationship has its ups and downs, but when your partner suffers from bipolar disorder in their relationships; it might feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s frustrating and exhausting, not knowing what to anticipate each day. It weighs on the relationships over time. The first supporting step you can take in mending your relationships is to understand why your partner acts out or withdraws at times. Learn what a bipolar diagnosis implies, how it may affect your partner’s behavior; what you can do to keep your relationship healthy and stable.

What does it mean if your partner is bipolar in your relationships?

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric illness characterized by extreme mood swings. Mania or hypomania (an emotional state of being energetic and happy; but also aggressive or deluded) alternates with spells of despair in people with the disorder. Although the cause of the bipolar disorder is unknown, the lifelong condition tends to run in families. Treatment, on the other hand, can often be used to successfully manage it.

Why Bipolar Relationships Fail

Bipolar relationships may not always end in divorce. It’s crucial to understand this because it’s all too tempting to blame yourself or your disease if things aren’t going well between you and your partner. Relationships terminate for a variety of reasons, and your bipolar diagnosis (or that of your partner) is likely only one of them.

However, mental illness brings its own set of problems to a partnership. Divorces involving a person with bipolar disorder had significantly higher statistics than the national norm. According to a 2003 study, 90 percent of these marriages result in divorce, compared to only 40% of couples when neither partner has bipolar disorder. So, how can you beat the odds in a bipolar relationship?

Reasons Why Bipolar Relationships Fail

The following are some of the most typical reasons why bipolar relationships end in divorce:

Mood swings and unpredictable behavior:

Bipolar disorder is a spectrum condition, however, most patients with type I or II have mania/hypomania and depression periods. Both of these mood states might lead to unpredictable behavior in relationships.


Infidelity is a typical and often catastrophic side effect of mania in bipolar disorder. This, on the other hand, is more common in persons who have not yet been diagnosed or who are not on medication for any reason.

The stress of dealing with a partner who has a mental illness 

Supporting a partner with a mental disease such as bipolar disorder can be more difficult than supporting a partner with cancer, according to David A. Karp, professor of sociology at Boston College and author of The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope with Mental Illness.

Emotional Abuse Bipolar Relationships

In relationships where one spouse has bipolar disorder and the other is “normal,” there is a risk of abuse on both sides. In most cases, the abuser uses the sickness to gain power and control over his or her partner. The behavior in an abusive relationship may appear benign at first, but it never stays that way. Some of the warning indicators are listed below.

The “normal” partner: using the club

What may begin as a genuine interest and understanding of one’s sickness can quickly devolve into a weapon of mass destruction. In no time, the “regular” partner refuses to acknowledge the other’s genuine feelings and concerns, dismissing them as a symptom of the sickness.

The bipolar partner: using the excuse

What may begin as the bipolar spouse being open about his or her illness may quickly devolve into an excuse for refusing to accept personal responsibility. The offensive behavior is frequently unrelated to the sickness or any other condition.

The “normal” partner: being the sadist

Staying healthy necessitates a variety of measures, some of which are rather extensive. This may entail arriving early for meetings, taking relaxing breaks, or adhering to strict sleep schedules. The “normal” partner may try to undermine these attempts by using shame and ridicule, expressing frustration, and failing to follow through on agreements.

The bipolar partner: being the prima donna

It’s one thing for the “regular” partner to demonstrate concern for the needs of the bipolar partner. It’s one thing to put up with that person’s egotistical whims. The prima donna always has a bipolar rationale for everything, from setting the thermostat to hogging the remote.

The “usual” partner: dominating the game

People with bipolar disorder are continually questioning how well (or poorly) they are fitting in. Over time, the “normal” partner may be able to help by finding ways to undercut his or her partner’s self-assurance. Typically, the bipolar partner is relegated to the role of “mad,” “deficient,” or “social outcast.” It’s a miracle the “regular” person tolerates him or her at all.

The bipolar partner: dominating the game

Bipolar people paint the Sistine Chapels. People who are “normal” work in offices. Isn’t everyone aware of this? At every opportunity, the bipolar partner may remind his or her “regular” partner of this. The “normal” partner is reduced to the stuck-in-the-mud, the inadequate one, the social misfit in this scenario. It’s a miracle the bipolar one tolerates him or her at all.

Bipolar Relationships Problems

Bipolar relationships can be difficult for a variety of reasons. While no relationship is easy, having a mental health problem may greatly increase the hardships of a relationship and put even the strongest of bonds to the test. These are some of the most significant difficulties in bipolar relationships:

Emotional peaks and valleys

Symptoms and behaviors associated with bipolar disorder are frequently unpredictable, and not all episodes follow the same pattern. This makes it difficult for a bipolar person’s partner to know where they stand. Mania symptoms can be terrifying to observe, and it’s natural to be concerned about a person’s safety if they act erratically or don’t appear to be themselves.

Anger and irritability

It is a common misperception that persons suffering from mania are usually entertaining and fascinating to be around. Anger and severe irritability, on the other hand, are also symptoms of mania, and they can be very difficult to deal with.

Inappropriate behavior

One of the distinctive signs of bipolar mania is destructive or reckless behavior, which frequently causes issues in intimate relationships. Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs, excessive spending, gambling, and unsafe sex are just a few examples. In most long-term relationships, these behaviors, whether caused by bipolar or not, would generate strain and tension.

Bipolar Relationships Cheating

Infidelity is widespread in people with bipolar disease, and it may wreak havoc on relationships. Of course, there are a variety of causes for infidelity in a marriage or committed relationship, and having the bipolar disease does not rule out the possibility of being faithful to a love partner.

Extramarital sex is frequently regarded as a symptom of mania in bipolar disorder, however, having a bipolar disease is not a reason to cheat. The more you know about bipolar disorder and infidelity, the faster you’ll be able to treat your symptoms and get help for this widespread problem. With this in mind, let’s examine why bipolar disorder and adultery frequently coexist and how to address the issue.

What Is the Truth About Bipolar Disorder and Infidelity?

Here’s the truth about bipolar and infidelity: being bipolar doesn’t guarantee you’ll be unfaithful to your relationship, but studies show it makes it more likely. If you have bipolar disorder, it doesn’t mean you get a “license” to cheat – nor does it mean you shouldn’t punish yourself if you have sex outside your relationship. People with bipolar disease, like everyone else, must accept responsibility for their actions while learning from their mistakes.

Statistics on Bipolar and Infidelity

Although there are few contemporary statistics on bipolar and adultery, a 1975 research of patients with bipolar who had a lifetime of sexual experience found infidelity to be more likely. According to the statistics, hypersexuality was recorded in 57% of those who had mania, and 29% of people with bipolar disorder had cheated on their spouse 10 times or more.

Bipolar Relationships Breakups

While not all bipolar relationships end in divorce, we all experience breakups at some point. For all of us, dealing with the loss of a relationship can be difficult. Relationship breakups, on the other hand, can be particularly difficult for persons with bipolar disorder, not only because of the emotional instability that results, but also because of the disruption in routine, stress, and loss that can provoke mania or despair.

Allow yourself to experience the feelings.

When you are hurt or rejected, everyone reacts negatively, but when you have bipolar disorder, your reactions might be intense. These feelings may be distressing for someone with bipolar disorder, but they are a typical part of the process of ending a relationship. Allow yourself time to process your emotions one at a time, and remember that they are a typical part of the grieving process once a relationship ends.

Take precautions.

You owe yourself some sympathy since breakups are difficult. You must not blame yourself for the breakup, regardless of why the relationship ended or who was at fault. Furthermore, you’ll eventually learn from your mistakes, but for now, the most essential thing is to take care of yourself and avoid engaging in behaviors that trigger bipolar episodes.

Consult your physician for assistance.

When bipolar relationships collapse, we frequently feel helpless. If your feelings become overwhelming, seek additional help from your doctor. If you’re having trouble sleeping, your doctor may consider changing your prescription or increasing your treatment sessions.

How to Tell if a Bipolar Man Loves You

“Bipolar people are humans, and therefore display love in the same way as everyone else,” I’m not going to say, since, while people with bipolar disorder are people, they can have mannerisms and behaviors that make them more difficult to decipher than, instance, someone who doesn’t have bipolar disease.

I am the child of a person who suffers from bipolar disorder. As a result, because my experience is familial rather than romantic, I am unable to provide you with any direct guidance or expertise in this area. However, some ideas and concepts may be transportable. The first point to highlight is that when someone with bipolar disease expresses love, they may not do so in the way you may expect, particularly if they are manic.

They may come up with a wonderful concept and try to press it on you until you give in and either go along with it or snap at them. They want to see you happy, therefore they’re doing this. Furthermore, they are unable to recognize that their amazing idea may not make you happy, so they force it upon you.

Even when they are in fits of mania or the depths of melancholy, bipolar persons will always want the best for the people they care about. That’s how you figure it out.

How to Make a Bipolar Relationship Work

Maintaining a solid relationship takes work in any case, but it’s extremely difficult when your partner has bipolar disorder. Payne makes the following suggestions:

Visit Couples Counseling

Couples counseling is critical for resolving the conflict over a bipolar partner’s behavior. Bipolar disorder patients frequently harm and offend their partners. There are typically relational issues that need to be handled when someone is initially diagnosed.

Participate in Treatment

Inquire whether you can participate in your partner’s treatment, which may include going to the psychiatrist together on occasion. Participating in your partner’s treatment has a number of advantages.

Self-Care is important.

Self-care is all the rage these days, but it’s especially crucial when caring for someone with a serious condition like bipolar disorder. Going to a support group, talking to a therapist, or attending a yoga class are all important ways to invest time in your own physical and mental health.


It’s vital to keep in mind that relationships end for a variety of reasons, and mental health is just one of them. In any of these situations, the best course of action is to be open, honest, and self-aware.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bipolar person like in a relationship?

They might cry, or they might feel gloomy and pessimistic. A person’s sexual desire may be reduced, or they may feel less affectionate if they have low self-esteem. It can be tough for a partner to know what to say or do to assist their spouse. They may perceive symptoms as a lack of interest in the relationship, leading them to believe they have been rejected.

Can a bipolar person truly love?

Absolutely. Is it possible for someone who suffers from bipolar disorder to have a regular relationship? Yes, if both you and your partner put in the effort. When someone you care about suffers from bipolar disorder, the symptoms can be debilitating at times.

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