Having bipolar disorder adds layers of complication: Should I trust this new love interest with my diagnosis? If we do move forward, how will the new relationship weather my mood shifts?
“A lot of couples believe that weathering these kinds of challenges is the true test of their relationship—the idea of sticking with someone for better or worse,” notes Bloch.
“If a partner sticks by you through a trying situation, it can bring you closer together.” Over time, Victoria came to see that someone who couldn’t be open-minded and supportive would not be a good match.
The beginning of a new relationship, meanwhile, triggers hypomania, decreasing her inhibitions, increasing libido and leading her to spend all night drinking, dancing and writing love letters to her new flame. Now a business writer in Orlando, Florida, she was 17 when she was diagnosed with bipolar.
As an adult, she has struggled to find a partner who understands her mood shifts.
Listening to her date explain how his wife refused treatment and how the disorder took its toll on her health and their marriage, Hope realized she had to share her diagnosis even though she was terrified he would end their relationship.
“I said, ‘I understand if you want to run out the door and never see me again, but I’d like to continue our date and tell you everything I can about my diagnosis and how I manage my illness,’” Hope recalls. He could not have been more positive and agreed to give our relationship a chance.” Dating is always fraught with expectations, anxiety and disappointment.
“Both ends of the spectrum cause problems in relationships.” In a manic state, Chris can become volatile and unreliable, arguing with girlfriends over trivial matters and canceling plans with little regard to their feelings.
In contrast, he says, depression leads him to withdraw and avoid girlfriends. The moment something goes wrong in a relationship, she pulls away and turns inward, deepening the rift.
Although research is limited on how bipolar disorder affects new relationships, a report published in a 2008 issue of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology and other studies have found that marital disruption is higher when one partner in a relationship has a mental illness like bipolar disorder.