It isn't a big secret that when you put yourself on the dating market, you are gambling. You never know what you are going to get, who you are going to meet, and who will change your life (be it for better or worse). However, if you add in the factor of mental illness, it can become even more difficult than what those who don't live with an illness will face. True, mental illness adds a strain on your everyday activities and life. For dating, mental illness comes with a slew of hurdles that both partners are going to have to face.
Whether you are looking for someone and you have bipolar, or you have recently met someone who has it, you are looking at a road that isn't going to be traversed very easily. For starters, communication; Let's face it, communication is one of the single most important factors in a relationship's success. However, when you are living with bipolar, or dating someone who is, then you are going to find that this aspect of a romantic (or any) relationship will be more difficult to maintain.
Why is this? Put simply, if you have bipolar, you already know your emotions can flip at the drop of a hat. When we experience those manic highs, and those lows that act as counterparts, communication isn't something that is easily maintained. It takes extra work and dedication to maintain that open line between partners/friends to thrive. So, that leaves us with a new question altogether. Is it possible to date with bipolar disorder being a factor? Well, let's go over what we know about relationships and mental illness.
Basics of Dating
The basics of dating aren't that complicated. You need an open line of communication, a level of trust, and a lot of dedication to working on one specific dynamic in your life that can change it all together.
Communication is important. You need to be able to discuss, express, and open up to your partner. You have to be able to voice your opinions and discrepancies. Without a solid line of communication, no relationship will last long. You will see a break down in the interaction and decision making as a couple without communication. With it, any relationship will have a solid foot to stand on.
Trust doesn't come easy for everyone. In fact, many people do not trust until it is earned. However, when you are putting yourself on the dating market, you need to trust that you are in good company and safe. Not just safe in nature, but safe for expression and communication to take place. Without trust, the whole thing will inevitably fall to pieces.
Lastly, dedication. You have to have dedication. Dedication to the relationship, the partner, the communication, and yourself. In a relationship, it isn't just about growing as a couple. It is also a lot of self growth and work as well. So, dedication takes a strong roll on what you are seeking to build. Without it, you have no drive to succeed. With it, you have built a foundation where you can freely express communication and trust.
Mental Illness Basics
Now we want to look at the basics of mental illness and how they factor in with relationship basics. What is mental illness? It is a chemical imbalance. Sometimes that imbalance adds character quirks, sometimes it changes character. In some cases, mental illness can make you feel or appear as several different people at different times in your day/life. You need structure, routine, medication, and therapy to manage mental illness most times. So, how does that factor in with the basics of a relationship?
Let's look at the three basics of relationships and talk about how they are altered by mental illness, starting with communication.
Communication is not easy to maintain or create. In fact, though it is one of the most basic factors to successful relationships, it is the hardest part about romantic involvement for many. When you are living with mental illness, it is harder to communicate many things. Feelings, opinions, moods, wants, needs, and more are all things that can't easily be expressed by those with mental illness. Sometimes they make themselves more vulnerable than they should, other times they can seem cold and uninterested in talking. Either way you slice it, communication breaks down easier when you have that chemical imbalance playing a part in the relationship.
Trust isn't something that is easily given. Whether you are in a relationship with someone who lives with mental illness, or you are the one who has the mental illness, trust doesn't come easy. Constant mood swings, behavior outbursts, and personality changes can make trust a fragile flooring that can collapse at any moment. If you find yourself not trusting your partner because of their mental illness, the relationship is all but over.
That being said, trusting someone who doesn't know what its like to live with a mental illness is challenging too. You have to trust them to understand, to have your back, and to work just as hard as you to make things successful.
Lastly, dedication. I can personally speak for many different individuals, if not the majority of people, with mental illness when I say that life is harder through the looking glass of emotional inconsistency. While someone without mental illness can find themselves easily dedicating themselves to someone they deeply care about, if you have a mental illness like bipolar, the lows will keep you down. It is hard to get motivated or dedicated to something when you are in a constant state of emotional backlash.
Making It Work
Making a relationship work with mental illness is not something that can be explained in a simple article. Everyone's circumstances, mental illness, and compatibility is different. So an exact formula for success in a romantic situation is impossible to present. So, how do you make a relationship work?
You need to have patience with your partner. Whether they are the ones with the mental illness or not. If they have a mental illness, patience is needed to see things through the hard times. If you are the one with the mental disorder, then you need to show patience to your partner for their understanding. Not everything is easy to accept. For people with mental illness, finding acceptance in ones self is hard. Accepting the mental health of a partner is just as difficult. So executing a bit of patience is key.
In the event that both individuals have a mental illness, you are playing with fire. Yes, it can still work. However, it takes twice as much effort and dedication. Also, it takes so much more communication to make things function appropriately. Your demons have to play well together.
While mental illness can discourage many people from not dating, or not giving someone a fair chance, that is an unfair reaction. We don't know what is in store in our future, and mental illness does not prevent us from having a future at all. If you want to give dating a chance, do it. Put yourself out there. Just show restraint on your emotions and let nature do its thing. Work with your schedules, routines, medications, and therapy to ensure that you are having the best chance at success in a romantic relationship as a whole.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on February 09, 2021:
Nice and informative.