Difficulties of Living With a Bipolar Partner

Bipolar disorder is a condition in which someone experiences severe highs, lows and intense shifts within their mental state 1. Typically, those afflicted with bipolar disorder ride a wave of emotions that range from energizing and happy to low and depressed 1. For those who are married to or live with someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, there are certain difficulties involved with day-to-day living 1.

Mood Changes

One of the more complex sides of living with someone who has bipolar disorder is the drastic mood changes 1. These can often occur without warning making it extremely difficult and hard on the partner to never know what to expect. Moods can be referred to at times as manic or involve mania, which means the person is on the high end of the bipolar spectrum 1. The individual may experience excessive energy, irritability, feelings of being invincible, recklessness, distraction, impulsiveness, unrealistic thoughts and irrational behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, the bipolar person could be depressed, feel sad, empty, experience loss of energy, gain weight, have thoughts of suicide, cry frequently and blame partners for issues not related to them 1.

Radical Decision-Making

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Something else that has a large impact on relationships is the bipolar partner’s radical decision-making 1. Someone with bipolar disorder can often make decisions without always thinking them through or make split second decisions without realizing the consequences and how it will affect a partner or family 1. This can include lavish spending sprees, not paying bills on time, being late for work or appointments, road rage or quitting a job. All can have serious impacts on the other partner in any relationship.

Physical Abuse

In some cases, those who suffer from bipolar may enforce physical abuse upon a loved one 1. When someone with bipolar disorder is experiencing a wave of emotions and is deep in a manic mood he could very easily resort to physical assault, especially if provoked 1. Getting the person calmed down and agreeing with him rather than provoking him further is often the best way to calm down a spiraling situation that could result in violence. Certain medications, such as Abilify or Depakene, used to treat bipolar disorder may help with violent outbursts 1.


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With a bipolar disorder sufferer, there could be certain things that trigger an episode of manic highs or depressive lows 1. A sudden period of stress can be a trigger. This may include the loss of a loved one, a job change, moving or an illness. In some cases, some types of medications, such as antidepressant drugs, can trigger mania in a bipolar person leaving him with overly happy or exited moods that are more out of control than usual 1. These triggers affect the partner because she has to live with the person and often has to deal with these actions publicly, which can cause humiliation.


A bipolar person may often inflict blame for his problems or symptoms on others--especially family members or partners 1. The blame can come from him having an outburst of anger about not getting a bill paid on time, even though it was his responsibility. It could also be him forgetting to take medication or missing an important doctor’s appointment.