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Bipolar and relationships

Just Ken
Community Member

Having never had a relationship and now have found someone who everything seems to be progressing well, I'm getting a little worried about how my bipolar is going to affect things. Obviously there is a certain responsibility on me to try and minimise the effects, but it isn't always possible. If I'm depressed then being close to people becomes painful and I wouldn't even think about sex. At least with hypomania there are ways around the constant desire for sex.

Anyway my thought was that any relationships the other person has to understand about bipolar, and how I feel often has nothing to do with anything I do and definitely nothing to do with her. Otherwise, things are not going to work out well. My strong feeling is that good relationships can help with bipolar and bad relationships will end up a mess. Is that other peoples experience?

8 Replies 8

Community Member

Hi Ken

I have bipolar too, and have had too many relationships. Just posted about a breakup. In my experience, having a girlfriend is very good for me. Even if its a bad relationship, if that means different interests or frequent fights or whatever, it is still a stabilizing influence on me as long as it is faithful. And a good relationship can make life worth living when you're feeling down. Depression and mania or hypomania can take different tolls on a relationship. I've always found it easier for a relationship to bear depression than a mania, but it depends which is more severe w your bipolar.

If you haven't told her, I usually tell girls pretty early, a month or two into dating if I can see there might be a long-term connection. Might seem fast but it has never scared anyone off, people are usually understanding, and then it makes it ok to talk about. Whenever you decide to tell her, it is definitely something to talk about at some point- explain how depression and hypomania look in you, out on the table. A mutual understanding could help keep things together if some of those negative symptoms start becoming a problem. All relationships have disagreements, fights, problems sometimes, its about how you deal with them- so understanding is important.

In terms of your personalities and interests, bipolar shouldn't really effect how you two match romantically, so if things are progressing well that is awesome. Best of luck man.


Thanks. I have told her, but I'm not certain how much she understood, being from a non-English speaking background. One thing very much in my favour is that hypomania has never caused me to do anything too excessive, it just causes problems with my work due to poor concentration.

I've just changed medications and that seems to have helped things, although I'm still a little unstable.

Just Ken,

WElcome to the forum.This is an interesting discussion and one I can relate to. I have lived with a diagnosis of bipolar for over 40 years and have often blamed by relationship problems on bipolar. I think it depends a lot on your partner and the type of relationship you have. Even though you can explain to people how you may feel at times and they nod and say that will be fine. Until they have experienced one of your highs or lows you do not know how they will react. My ex husband was in a group for people with mental health issues, yet had no understanding for me but did for people in his group where he was a leader.

So I think it does depend on the inviduals and the willingness of both the open and honest about their feeling.

I agree if the relationship is not based on love, respect and understanding it may have problems with or without someone having bipolar.

Thanks again Ken for sharing your thoughts.


Community Member
Having had bipolar since the age of 15, I have never had a relationship it didn't effect. They all ended in messes including a marriage, until I found proper treatment and a partner who was willing to pick me up from the very, very bottom and help me to recover. Bipolar in a relationship effects both people equally in different ways. Remembering this is key. Every decision you make about missing meds, drinking too much, missing sleep, missing work, neglecting self cares...the list goes on, all impact massively. Respect yourself and your partner, and understand that you're in it together.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member


I've found, like some of the other posts, that honesty is the key. Just keep explaining things as your moods go up and down and acknowledge the offers of help when given, even if you don't follow through. Your partner will hopefully respond to the honesty more than the illness and that will result in a strong relationship, which ultimately might help you more than anything else.

Good luck

Hi Ken,

I cant add too much to the good replies above.

You might realise the worry about all this can effect both of you more than the bipolar.

Anyway here are a few threads that might help

Use google

Topic: who cares for the carer?- beyondblue

Topic: relationship strife? The peace pipe- beyondblue

Topic: they just wont understand why?- beyondblue

Topic : caring for your well partner- beyondblue

Topic : three things, happy marriage, hobbies and spirit- beyondblue

Tony WK

Community Member


I have Bipolar 1 and married. Lets be honest relationships are hard in general and then put a mental illness on top it's even harder but it's still 100% worth it!!!!

You said you don't think she really understands it, I highly recommend her to do some readings on it. Some stuff that's not going to scare her off but educated her. The more she's educated the better it is. My husband knows so much about bipolar and studied it so much when I was diagnosed.

Honesty is key in the relationship! Especially when your feeling high or low. You need to let your loved one know what's happening. As much as we want to curl up in a ball or run wild it's not fair for our love one. And yes we still may do those things but at least they had warning.

My partner also has a support group of people for him like I do. He's a person and he needs to look after his health to.

Also I am responsible for all my actions regardless when I'm sick.

I think those things are really important in actually any relationship but gives extra help for us with bipolar.

All the best

Just Ken
Community Member

Thanks for your thoughts. In some ways it has helped that I have a job that requires me to be dependable as possible. There are times when I can't work, but on the other hand I keep everything up to date and make sure that I don't produce rubbish. It is hard at times. I told someone at work that I was bipolar and they said that they hadn't noticed anything. Maybe I notice more when I'm talking too much, and exit quickly. I have been to a few meetings when I'm a bit high and have managed to restrain myself from telling everyone the errors of their ways and my magnificent solution.

Anyway, honesty seems to be something for all relationships not just bipolar ones. I've ordered a couple of books on bipolar relationships which will hopefully be good for both of us.