written by: Keren Perles
• edited by: Emma Lloyd
• updated: 5/16/2011
How can you help your bipolar boyfriend and make sure that your relationship with him will last? Read on for some ideas you can use to strengthen your relationship so that it can weather the storm of bipolar disorder and the symptoms that come along with it.
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What You're Dealing With
The first step you'll need to take in dealing with a bipolar boyfriend is understanding how his disorder has the potential to wreak havoc on your relationship. Bipolar disorder can add severe stress to a relationship, especially if your boyfriend lacks an official diagnosis or downplays the seriousness of the diagnosis. During the manic phase, your boyfriend might make bad decisions, act aggressively, or might be unable to concentrate well. During the depressive phase, he may seem to have descended into a pit where you can no longer reach him. If bipolar disorder is properly treated, it can be dealt with successfully within a loving relationship. Treatment is key, however.
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Learn About Your Boyfriend’s Bipolar Disorder
You can help support your bipolar boyfriend by learning as much as you can about the disorder. Even more importantly, watch your boyfriend to learn about how bipolar disorder affects him specifically. What triggers his mood swings? Which reactions to those mood swings work best? Does he appreciate when you ask him what you can do to help, or would he prefer that you left him alone for a while? You can ask him these questions at a calm time so that later on you can be sure that you are acting according to what he truly wants, not according to what he wants when he is being influenced by depression or dangerous manic tendencies.
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If your boyfriend has bipolar disorder, he may go to therapy as part of his recovery program. Consider taking it a step further by going to couples counseling with him. This type of counseling can help you understand what bipolar disorder is, why your boyfriend reacts the way he does, and how to work through issues that are specific to your relationship.
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Encourage Healthy Habits
You can play an important part in keeping your boyfriend's disorder under control. Make sure to give him plenty of space during stressful times, encouring him to write in a journal, listen to relaxing music, or take a nap. If your boyfriend truly does want to be with you during those times, he may not be up to talking; instead, take a long walk with him or just sit together and relax. Encourage him to keep a regular sleeping schedule, eat healthfully, exercise, and avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible. All of these lifestyle changes can help make his bipolar symptoms more manageable for both of you.
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Work as a Team
In order for your relationship to work well, you'll have to keep your attitude positive. View yourselves as a team, working together in a collaborative effort against the disorder. Doing so will not only help your boyfriend in fighting the disorder, it will increase the bond between you. Remind your boyfriend how much you care, and how proud you are of the times that he takes steps to fight the disorder.
In addition, you'll need to remember that your boyfriend may not be able to control his feelings, especially during the manic or depressive phases. Expect to use plenty of patience and selflessness in your relationship and to support your boyfriend throughout, and your relationship with your bipolar boyfriend can indeed be successful.
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Bipolar Advice Guide. “Bipolar Disorder and Dating Relationships.” http://www.bipolaradviceguide.com/bipolar-disorder-dating-relationships
WebMD. “Bipolar Romantic Relationships: Dating and Marriage.” http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/bipolar-romantic-relationships-dating-and-marriage