Signs you are dating someone who is bipolar
A huge proportion of the emails and messages I receive are from people who need information and support for relationship issues that arise out of one (or both) partner’s bipolar disorder. A common – but staggering – statistic that gets bandied about is that 90% of marriages involving at least one bipolar spouse will end in divorce. During episodes of mania, someone with bipolar disorder is likely to do things that are particularly destructive. For example, a married person with bipolar disorder is often not aware of the full impact their disorder has on their partner, children, or other family members.
A 2001 study by Dore and Romans found significant others reported serious difficulties in their relationships with the bipolar partner when s/he was unwell, with considerable impact on their own employment, finances, legal matters, co-parenting and other social relationships.
However, in spite of all this, many people stay emotionally committed to their bipolar spouse and are very patient and forgiving of problem behaviors.It is easy for a couple to fall into a downward spiral where the spouse with bipolar disorder behaves in ways both highly provocative and highly reactive.This leads to conflict with their partner, whose negative responses to this “bipolar behavior” makes the bipolar spouse more stressed and insecure, in turn triggering even more episodes of mania and/or depression. They may repeat the pattern and end up with another spouse who has a mood disorder or other mental health problem.There is also sometimes an infectious, contagious type of quality to bipolar disorder when one spouse is afflicted. Compulsive and obsessive behavior or grandiose schemes that alienate their husband or wife. Staying up late, being undependable in their job, around the house, in their co-parenting and so on, all of which are far more destructive and disruptive than they may realize. Sexual obsession, including hypersexuality, preoccupation with inappropriate or uncharacteristic sexual activity, and infidelity. For the spouse who is NOT bipolar, the consequences of divorce are pretty much the same as for anybody else: 1. For the bipolar spouse, the divorce may lead to a number of difficulties that compound their mental, emotional, physical, and financial difficulties.
The non-bipolar partner, and the marriage itself, takes on a “bipolar life of its own” as the non-bipolar spouse see-saws between solicitous and extreme care-giving during their bipolar husband’s or wife’s depressive episodes, and feelings of blame, resentment, anger and betrayal when their spouse is in the manic phase of bipolar disorder. They may get on with life and be happier and healthier, either as single people or as part of a new couple. They may regret the break-up of the marriage and wish they had sought counseling and other solutions. As Goodwin & Jamison point out in the most authoritative textbook on bipolar disorder, , many studies show that living alone or being single often leads people to stop taking their medication and complying with their treatment plansin general. In fact, research has shown that there is little or no difference between the state of the marriages where one spouse has bipolar disorder but is in remission, and other married couples in general.Thus the relationship can be very turbulent and uncertain. Divorce is often a prelude to “downward drift” where the person with bipolar disorder seeks and receives less treatment, suffers more frequent and more serious mood swings, encounters problems with employment, the legal system, and life in general, and experiences deteriorating finances and physical health. Further, both groups had similar perceptions of significant events during the course of their marriages.