When dating anyone it is important to see that person for who they are, not for their label. The drastic ups and downs of having bipolar disorder can make maintaining a relationship difficult. Perhaps the largest obstacle to conquer is the stigma surrounding the disorder. Although dating someone with bipolar disorder can be intimidating and difficult at times, it is important to consider the person for who they are, not their diagnosis. There is hope for those struggling with bipolar disorder to find love.
Twenty-eight year old mental health advocate Hannah Blum has openly discussed her struggle with dating as a woman with bipolar disorder. Her main issue with dating in the past was not the struggles of the disorder itself, but rather the stigma surrounding dating someone with bipolar disorder. Finding someone who is willing to look past her diagnosis can be wearisome. Hannah views her bipolar disorder as a way to eliminate anyone who wouldn’t make a potentially good partner. “Bipolar disorder does the dirty work for me and filters out individuals who tiptoe through life. The fact is, we all have issues, whether you live with bipolar disorder or not. And if someone won’t give you a chance because of a label, consider yourself lucky” (Blum, 2019). She looks at anyone who generalizes or makes assumptions about her based on the mere fact that she has bipolar disorder, as not worth her time anyway. Anyone who doesn’t want to be with someone based on a diagnosis, without truly getting to know them is not going to be a decent person to date anyway. As a result of her mindset, she recognizes the importance of disclosing the fact that she has bipolar disorder fairly early on in a relationship. However, she also recognizes the importance of allowing the person to get to know her a bit before sharing that fact about herself because everyone has assumptions. By waiting a bit to share that aspect of her identity, she is able to allow the person to get to know her before they know her diagnosis.
For those struggling with bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, having the support of a relationship can be helpful. Studies show the importance of being in a positive and healthy relationship for those with bipolar disorder. While generally being in a relationship does not alleviate the symptoms of the disorder, being in a healthy, mutual, quality relationship can help a person living with bipolar disorder (Dunne, 2019). As with any relationship, having a partner who is understanding and supportive is crucial. The concern around dating while having bipolar disorder is that the stress of a relationship will cause more harm than good. However, most of those close to people who have bipolar disorder agree that a relationship would be beneficial to them, even for people who struggle with severe bipolar disorder (Purse, 2019). The idea that those with mental illness are incapable of loving or maintaining a relationship is simply false.
Entering a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder can be a difficult and daunting situation. When entering any relationship it is important to understand different aspects of your partner. In order to have a successful relationship with someone that has bipolar disorder, it is crucial to understand the disorder itself, as it is a part of them. Although a partner who is not bipolar themselves cannot truly understand the extent of what it is like to be bipolar, they can try to sympathize with their partner. In order to do this, it is important for the partner to understand the effect bipolar disorder can have on someone. The extreme ups and downs of bipolar disorder can be difficult for someone on the outside to handle. Another important factor when considering dating someone who has bipolar disorder is self care. Being in any relationship can be difficult, but dating someone with a significant mental illness such as bipolar disorder can be extremely stressful and difficult. When dating someone with bipolar disorder, taking care of yourself needs to be a priority over taking care of your partner. Mary is married to a man with bipolar disorder. She recognizes that the positive attributes of her husband and her love for him far outweigh the struggles he has due to his bipolar disorder. She states that the social pressure and judgement that she faces from being in a relationship with an individual with this disorder far outweighs the struggles they have internally within their relationship. She advises to recognize the difference between the person and the disorder they are dealing with as “…the physical body is a slave to nerve endings and neurons and blood chemicals. The spirit, however, is completely separate” (J, 2018). All in all, a mental illness doesn’t make it impossible to date and should not stand in the way of a relationship because, when a healthy relationship is established, it can have a positive effect on the individual with bipolar disorder.
Blum, Hannah. (2019). Gaslighted By My Boyfriend: What Dating With Bipolar Disorder Really Feels Like. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/what-dating-with-bipolar-really-feels-like/
Dunne, L., Perich, T., & Meade, T. (2019). The relationship between social support and personal recovery in bipolar disorder. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 42(1), 100–103. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1037/prj0000319
J, M. The Love of My Life Has Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-love-of-my-life-has-bipolar-disorder/
Kumar, P., Sharma, N., Ghai, S., & Grover, S. (2019). Perception about marriage among caregivers of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 41(5), 440–447. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_18_19
Purse, M. (2019). Dating Someone With Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/love-roses-and-real-support-380584