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A breach of trust like that can be devastating to a relationship.” Talking to his girlfriends about the realities of living with bipolar disorder—including his need to maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoid alcohol, keep up with his meds and attend regular counseling appointments—also makes it easier for Chris to stick with his management plan.
Similarly, sharing details about his illness provides a context for his shifting moods and opens the door to conversations about how that might play out in the relationship.
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One girlfriend tried to be compassionate, she recalls, but attributed all of their arguments to the disorder, making Victoria feel discounted as a person.
When Victoria met an artist who also has bipolar disorder, she thought it would be the perfect match.
“When she was depressed, I was manic; the whole relationship was a disaster, but it did make me more compassionate and understanding of what my partners go through.” For some couples, says Jon P.
Bloch, Ph D, co-author of The Bipolar Relationship, coping with the realities of bipolar disorder together can make a relationship stronger.
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.