Emotions are the foundation of a romantic relationship. They are an inherent part of the attachment we have to our partner, and our emotions surrounding the person, behaviors and events all affect are feelings about the relationship itself. When one person or both people struggle with bipolar disorder, it can add additional layers of work and challenges. The focus in the relationship may be on the hardships that bipolar creates for the person experiencing it, but it is also necessary and beneficial to look at the effects on the partner who does not have bipolar disorder.
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There’s nothing quite like having a long-term relationship. After you have moved past some of that initial nervousness, it can feel great to have a steady person in your life to be a friend, lover, and support. Knowing their patterns and knowing how to predict interactions and conflicts can create a sense of stability. However, falling into a false sense of security with this can leave one person, both people, or the relationship neglected. When struggling with symptoms of bipolar disorder, being able to communicate your needs will be vital to maintaining a healthy relationship.
Relationships can be full of ups, downs, stress, excitement, and everything in between. From family relationships that have been lifelong, to platonic friendships that withstand the test of time, to romantic relationships that take us to a new level of emotional intimacy, relationships require above all an awareness of self and the other person. Being in tune to your emotional needs and desires as well as the needs of the other person is the foundation to having a successful relationship. For someone living with bipolar disorder, this may include an additional challenge.
Courtney Davey is a marriage and family therapist in Philadelphia, PA. She earned her Masters from La Salle University in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her work and interests focus on anxiety and mood disorders in couples and sex therapy. She currently works with both inpatient and outpatient populations promoting safety, positive decision making, and improving communication.