What To Expect In A Relationship With Someone Who Suffers From Bipolar Disorder

What To Expect In A Relationship With Someone Who Suffers From Bipolar Disorder

Relationships aren't a walk in the park. They take time and effort to work. The same thing goes for relationships where one person is bipolar.

However, relationships with a bipolar person take a little extra effort. You would need to be more understanding, patient, and enlightened.

To make your relationship work out, you need to broaden your knowledge of bipolar disorders.

This goes beyond what it means. You have to learn the triggers, behaviors, and how to manage them.

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Triggers For Bipolar Disorder Episodes

Know that not every individual with bipolar disorder has triggers. Sometimes bipolar episodes don't need a trigger, they just happen.

Here are some common triggers;
  • Stress – This is a very common trigger for bipolar episodes. Negative or stressful events or activities can trigger depression, hypomania, or mania.
  • Antidepressants and other medication – Psychiatrists have recorded several incidents where bipolar disorder episodes were triggered due after patients were given certain medication.
  • Physical disturbances
  • Lack of sleep
  • Death of a family member or loved one

These are the common triggers amongst individuals with bipolar disorder. However, it is best to ask your partner what their triggers are. This way you know what to expect when to expect it, and what can be done.

Asides from learning their triggers, if your partner has bipolar disorder, they will display certain qualities or episodes. Let's talk about those qualities.

Depressive Episodes

Depressive episodes cause your partner to suffer from major depression, feelings of hopelessness and despair, and a lack of interest in sexual activity and communication.

When all or some of these symptoms play out, it isn't a sign that your partner is tired of the relationship. So it's best to know when to spot the signs of a depressive episode in a partner. 

Manic Episodes

This is the major symptom of bipolar disorder. It is characterized by high energy, excitement, and euphoria over some time. Manic episodes feature a major mood change that can possibly interfere with your partner's daily life, work, and even school. 

Manic episodes may cause your partner to exhibit reckless behavior like excess drinking, and exorbitant spending amongst other things. 

When you see your partner showing these signs, you have to be understanding. Try to help them without judgment.

Mixed Episodes

This is definitely the worst of the three. Just as the name implies, this episode is a combination of depression and mania episode. Your partner may exhibit symptoms of depression while still having a lot of energy or making decisions on impulse.

This is never an easy time for your partner, as it can be really confusing and overwhelming.

There is no doubt you would want to help your partner during their episodes. Or do your best to prevent them while still keeping the relationship healthy. Here are some ways to do that. 

How To Help A Partner With Bipolar Disorder

Educate Yourself

The only way to solve a problem is to learn about it and understand it. So to help your partner cope with bipolar disorder, you have to learn about it. 

Read books about it, research from notable websites, and speak to specialists. Gather as much information and knowledge about the disorder as possible. 

Another way to educate yourself is to speak to your partner. This is another way to learn about the disorder in a way that makes it easier to cater to your partner's specific needs. 

Ask your partner about their triggers and behaviors. Learn what behaviors they may exhibit as a result of the disorder. Learn what is normal for them and what isn't. 

Learn about their triggers, so you know what to avoid doing. You will also know what is likely to happen when triggered, so you'll plan. 

Talk About Your Feelings

The stress and exhaustion from dealing with a mental illness affect both the sufferer and their partner. Although, it is heavier on the former. 

This is why you and your partner must communicate all the time. Talk about how you are feeling, talk about the effect the disorder is having on you, and how it's affecting you. This goes both ways. 

When speaking to your partner about how their condition affects you, do so with the utmost respect. Do not judge, stigmatize or chastise. 

Assist With Treatment

Discuss with your partner about their treatment plan and find ways to assist. Ensure that whatever mode of assistance you pick doesn't come off as intrusive to your partner. 

If your partner decides not to reveal all the details of their treatment, respect their decision and find other ways to assist. 

You can create a plan or a support system. A plan can involve making lifestyle adjustments or changes during episodes to help your partner. 

A support system involves having a therapist or family member/friend to call in dire times. All these are ways to assist your partner with their treatment. You can also come up with more helpful ways. 

Practice Self-care

Self-care is extremely important. It's not just for keeping the body in one piece but also for keeping the mind healthy. Self-care can make a significant difference in one's mental health. 

It is key that you and your partner practice self-care. Self-care is subjective, so it's up to you and your partner to decide what exactly you both want to do. 

However, here are some things you both can do; 

  • Visit family members or friends
  • Take trips to each other's favorite places, have picnics, etc.
  • Exercising regularly 
  • Spa treatments
  • Seeing a therapist
  • Learning a new fun skill together like pottery

It doesn't matter what you pick as a means of self-care (it has to be something legal and positive), the most important factor is it must take the stress and edge of your relationship. It should also be a way to bond and keep the relationship stronger.


Although it may seem impossible, a healthy relationship with a person with bipolar disorder is possible. 

Yes, it will require extra work. Yes, there will be bad days. 

However, with the right attitude, knowledge, loads of love, and understanding you and your partner will have a fulfilling relationship. 




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