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Navigating any romantic relationship -- whether it's dating or marriage -- can be a tricky endeavor. Add bipolar disorder with its roller-coaster ride of emotions into the mix, and relationships become even more challenging.
For people with bipolar, dating means taking it slow, minimizing anxiety, and putting yourself first. For people with bipolar disorderpiloting the unpredictable waters of dating can mean much more anxiety than normal. Here, five adults with bipolar disorder talk about their dating experiences, and how they navigate both the dating scene and the crucial question of when to disclose their mental health issues.
5 secrets to dating when you have bipolar disorder
Dattaro was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder right after her 23rd birthday. Greenberg agrees, noting that in someone with bipolar disorderthat excitement can be heightened.
So to those with bipolar who are entering the dating scene, she advises, "since bipolar people can be impulsive, you might want to prepare yourself for taking your time. Greenberg also says that your anxiety could be heightened. Leah Yegneswaran, 24, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 20, agrees. So Yegneswaran creates a backup plan to accommodate the possibility of an anxiety attack. Elspeth Rawlings, 23, a student in Frederick, Maryland, tends to only date people she already knows, which helps minimize anxiety.
The bipolar relationship
At age 17, Rawlings was misdiagnosed with major depressive disorder. She was formally diagnosed with bipolar I in early and is now thriving with the right therapy and medication regimen. Low-key first dates — like watching movies together — are best for her, Rawlings says.
According to Greenberg, not disclosing right away is okay if doing so would be uncomfortable.
Zamo has had that experience. Michelle Mallet, 32, of Seattle, describes herself as outspoken and open with friends and coworkers about her mental health. Mallet, who currently works as a chef, was diagnosed with the condition around age 18 or Dattaro leans that way, too, in a mental balancing act of her own. Rawlings takes a different approach because she has anxiety and panic disorder along with her bipolar.
When it comes to relationship style, research has shown that adults with bipolar disorder display more insecure attachment styles when compared to people without the disorder. The mood state does matter, according to Mallett.
But what about the pluses of dating? Dattaro sees some possibilities.
If they are [judgmental], find new people! In fact, there are dating sites that cater specifically to bipolar matchmaking, like BipolarDatingSite.
Dating someone with bipolar disorder
The ability to make jokes and talk about that shared experience can be a coping mechanism, she believes. Getting to know the person first makes a big difference.
Be self-forgiving, too, says Yegneswaran. Health Topics.
Bipolar romantic relationships: dating and marriage
Health Tools. Bipolar Disorder. Reviewed: November 20, Medically Reviewed.