Tips for Dating Someone With Bipolar Disorder

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If you are currently dating someone with bipolar disorder, you may struggle with a number of challenges like how you can support them while still caring for yourself. 

Here are some ​real-life tidbits on dating a person with bipolar disorder:

Get Educated on Bipolar Disorder

Knowledge is power, so learn as much as you can about your partner's disease. This will also be a healthy sign that you care. That being said, bipolar disorder is a complex disease. Try not to get too bogged down in the details. Instead, focus on the big picture like what a manic episode is or how to recognize signs of depression

If you or a loved one are struggling with bipolar disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. 

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Separate the Person from the Disease

It is important when you are dating someone with bipolar disorder to recognize that their disease is a piece of their life pie, and not their whole identity. That being said, to a large degree, a person's bipolar disorder contributes significantly to their behavior, personality, and relationships. With that, you do have to learn to love the whole package, so to speak. 

Discuss Major Topics

Whether or not you are dating someone with bipolar disorder, it's important to discuss major topics, when you are both ready. For instance, if you really want children but the person you are dating does not, this may be a deal-breaker. 

Be an Advocate

First, it is important that the person you are dating is seeking out treatment for their mental illness, whether that is through medication and/or psychotherapy or group therapy. If not, it's unlikely they are ready to be part of a committed relationship.

That said, if your boyfriend or girlfriend is undergoing therapy, it is reasonable to discuss whether attending their doctor's appointments would be helpful—and do not be offended if they say "no." It may be that they prefer to keep the management of their disease process out of the relationship for now.

When you do start to become more involved in their life and care, discuss warning signs of a manic or depressive episode. Perhaps, there is a phrase or signal you can provide to clue them in that they are having a rapid mood change.

It's important to establish a plan in case the person you are dating develops suicidal ideation, as roughly 30% of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide, according to an analysis in Bipolar Disorders.

Of course, this is all best reviewed under the guidance of a mental health professional. This way you and the person you are dating can navigate any mood shifts safely and carefully. 

Take Care of Yourself

It is absolutely critical that you take care of your own physical and emotional needs. You may consider seeing a therapist for yourself, as a means of evaluating your own thoughts and stresses from being in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder.

You also have to know when and if you need to leave a romantic relationship—like if the person you are dating becomes dangerous, stops getting therapy, or becomes too unstable for you. Understanding your boundaries and what you are willing to accept needs to be crystal clear.

In addition, continue to take care of your own body's needs like eating nutritiously, sleeping, and exercising. Be sure to keep up your relationships with other friends and loved ones, too, as embarking on a relationship with someone with bipolar disorder is not the time to isolate yourself. Joining a support group to both gain knowledge and emotional support can also be incredibly helpful.

A Word From Verywell

You can have a fulfilling and loving partnership with someone who has bipolar disorder, but it will require work on both sides, boundaries, and professional support and guidance. 

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Psych Central. The Love of My Life has Bipolar Disorder.

  2. Novick DM, Swartz HA, Frank E. Suicide attempts in bipolar I and bipolar II disorder: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence. Bipolar Disord. 2010;12(1):1-9. doi:10.1111/j.1399-5618.2009.00786.x

  3. NAMI (National Association on Mental Illness). Living With Someone With Bipolar Disorder.

Additional Reading
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2017). Personal Stories: Living With Someone With Bipolar Disorder.

  • Price AL.. Marzani-Nissen GR. Bipolar Disorders: A Review. Am Fam Physician. 2012 Mar 1;85(5):483-93.

By Marcia Purse
Marcia Purse is a mental health writer and bipolar disorder advocate who brings strong research skills and personal experiences to her writing.