At some point, though, you will need to let your partner know that you are bipolar.
"I don't think it's necessary to introduce your psychiatric problems on the first date," Haltzman says.
"But once you sense that there's a mutual attraction and you decide to become more serious with this person, when you decide that you want to date this person exclusively, I think at that point each partner needs to come clear with what the package includes." Knowing what triggers your cycles of hypomania, mania, and depression and watching out for warning signs that you're entering one or the other phase of the cycle can help you avoid uncomfortable situations in your new relationship.
"I think the more the person knows what their cycles are, the better they might be able to be in charge of them," says Myrna Weissman, Ph D.
That means spending money recklessly, becoming promiscuous, engaging in risky behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, and even getting into trouble with the law.
"When you have a spouse with bipolar disorder who gets in a manic phase," he says, "it can be extremely detrimental to the relationship because they may be doing things that endanger you or may endanger you financially." On the other side of the curve is depression.
When Jim Mc Nulty, 58, of Burrillville, Rhode Island, got married in the 1970s, everything seemed fine at first.
"It was an absolutely normal courtship," he recalls. During his "up" or hypomanic states, he would spend huge sums of money he didn't have.
"I've been running a support group for almost 19 years," he says.But when one partner has bipolar disorder, simple stressors can reach epic proportions.That may be why as many as 90% of marriages involving someone with bipolar disorder reportedly fail.Warning signs, she says, can include disturbed sleep and changes in activity level.
Any number of things, from work stress to money issues, can lead to arguments and put strain on a marriage.
Introducing the fact that you have bipolar disorder may not make for the most auspicious beginning.
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