Dating While Bipolar – You Can’t Medicate It.

My Services

This post addresses a very hard obstacle in life when living with bipolar disorder and for all people…DATING and RELATIONSHIPS.


Medication does not help with the challenges caused by relationships.


I’ll share my story…its the “rabbi” in me.


This story applies to EVERYONE…with or without bipolar disorder.



For me, the hardest part of having bipolar disorder that medication does not help with AT ALL is with dating and relationships.


Dating and relationships are HARD for everybody…regardless of having bipolar disorder or not.


Dating is a whole lot of fun for me as long as I’m not emotionally attached to anyone…then its easy and playful. I’m really carefree…which makes me attractive to men. (If I’m carefree it’s because I’m not that into a guy, yet.)


Once I like someone I’m dating, that’s when it gets really hard.


Sharing with men that I have bipolar disorder has not been an issue for me because I share it with confidence and show them all I’ve done. I let them Google me; it makes me proud. However, it is really hard for a lot of people and we will get to explore it. There is no one right way of how.


Progress I have made is that I no longer share that I’m bipolar with men in the first phone call or first date. (I used to do that when I was younger to save myself from rejection. Rejection from a guy I’m not interested in all that much doesn’t hurt me nearly as much as rejection from a guy I really like.)



I think I’m pretty normal when it comes to struggling with dating. None of us are good at the rules, otherwise there wouldn’t be rules and books etc. Building a relationship gradually over time is hard for everyone…if it were easy, the divorce rate wouldn’t be so high.



But back to my story of how bipolar disorder makes it even harder.


Why? Because when I experience chemistry, attraction, desire, fantasy, hope…all the stuff that captivates my interest…everything I know from being a therapist and reading all the books and observing relationships goes out the window.


I am immediately up against one of my “arch nemesis”…impulsivity.


Impulsivity has a really hard time being patient and giving things time. It is as though patience is blasphemous. If I don’t win the battle with this arch nemesis, I lose the interest of the guy I like.


One way hands down to lose the battle is by not having a filter and allowing impulsivity to run wild.


People say, “If the guy is right, it won’t matter what you say.”


I don’t think that’s true.


When the foundation (of a relationship) is being constructed one block at a time, it’s not reasonable to put in a fireplace where there is no wall or a bed where there is no floor, or a toilet where there is no plumbing. I’ve done that so many times because I couldn’t tolerate the discomfort that comes from uncertainty and having a bunch of building materials instead of having a “home” with someone. AND still do it…because that’s being human. (This is a human problem…being bipolar just intensifies it.)


The KEY for me is that when the fireplace falls down or the bed is washed away by the toilet etc…that I don’t freak out…that I remember the absence of the foundation AND that all we’ve got are building blocks of a relationship. We both have to agree on how to build it…and if we don’t, we don’t build a “home” (relationship) together.


So not only do I have a battle with impulsivity…AND stop trying to decorate a non-existant home…I also have to find ways to disengage from ruminating thoughts about what that home = relationship should be like…because right now (in the early stages of dating) all we’ve got are bricks and a shovel.


That sets the bar for myself very high. Its basically demanding me to not be bipolar.


Bipolar disorder embraces ruminating thoughts. It’s how we persist towards goals.




BUT WAIT. The bar gets even higher with dating.


Another “arch nemesis” enters the game…EMOTIONAL ROLLER-COASTERS.


When I like someone, the mere act of liking him produces emotion. (The emotion is what is decorating the non-existant home.)


EMOTION is a pretty stable or consistent force. It is very predictable and easy to manage when I’m NOT experiencing it.


But when I’m experiencing it…everything I know about emotion goes out the window.


Instead, the highs feel so good and I just want to keep feeling them and actually believe I will (It’s believing the home is real)…but that never happens (because the home is a fantasy). So when the lows come (the day after the high), it’s like falling on my face on a pile of bricks and I’m disappointed (but that’s what’s real…all we’ve got are the building tools of a home). I immediately pull away and guard myself with strong negative emotion that says, “He’s not into me” because I fear rejection. (Which is not true because at least he may still be interested in exploring our building tools.)


My natural impulsive instinct is to pull the building tools away because it doesn’t feel like a home. (And it shouldn’t yet.)


EVEN THOUGH I KNOW BETTER. THIS IS JUST HOW EMOTION WORKS. It’s a wave. It goes UP and then comes DOWN. It EXPANDS and CONTRACTS just like breathing.


I become ignorant and forget everything I know about EMOTION and building a relationship.


So why do I give credit to bipolar disorder?


Because bipolar disorder takes this normal process and intensifies it ridiculously. The medication doesn’t help.


What works for me is remembering what I know and using that knowledge to stop making the same mistakes over and over again.


Writing this down was very useful for me. I hope it’s useful to you. It applies to more in life than dating and relationships.


Bipolar Dating Bloopers: Stories About Disclosing Bipolar Disorder on Dates

I feel sorry for the boys I dated when I started dating.

I never outright said, “I’m bipolar, you don’t want to date me…do you?” (Hoping they’d say yes.) Nonetheless, this is what my actions said.

I remember the very first time I went on a first date….

Within the first 10 minutes I told him that I’m bipolar. Then I sat there and waited to see what he would say.

There was no second date.

What I came to realize is it is not that he didn’t like people who are living with bipolar disorder. He simply didn’t know me at all.  He didn’t know what to say.  He had no clue of what that meant and how it would affect him enjoying our time together.

Him not wanting a second date had nothing to do with who I am.  It had everything to do with how I presented myself.

Online Dating…

I learned from normal dating that telling a guy in the first 10 minutes was a bad idea.  So I wanted to protect myself from being rejected…I waited until I knew that I liked the guy.

Years ago, I decided to try online dating.  I met this guy and told him nothing over the chatting on the internet…nothing over the phone…and let him get to know me on our dates.  We had so much fun together. We had a lot in common (for people in their early twenties), we had similar backgrounds, interests, playfulness etc etc.

He really liked me. We were excited about each other. One night while sitting on the beach on our third date he shared with me that even though he talks about sex a lot that he’s really a virgin and shared his values, beliefs, hopes and dreams. I felt comfortable with him so I decided to share that I’m bipolar.  I felt so at ease that I shared some of my stories and what I’ve overcome and my successes. We felt so connected and bonded after revealing these really important things. We were in fantasy land talking about our future.

The next date he told me that he does not want to see me anymore.

I was so hurt. I couldn’t understand. He seemed so happy about me sharing with him and he rejected me.

Later he told me that it wasn’t personal. He shared that his sister is living with severe bipolar disorder and that he didn’t want his children to go through that.

Even though it made sense…it hurt.

This changed how I did online dating….

I learned very quickly how painful it is to be vulnerable and have someone reject you. It was something I did not want to feel again and I was willing to do anything I could to prevent it.

Therefore, I got in the habit of telling guys on the phone before I even made a date with them.

The way I thought about it was that if we got to talking and liked each other that if I shared that I am bipolar and they still want to go out with me…then its safe…I won’t be rejected.

It was sort of effective dating.

I ended up dating other guys with bipolar disorder and other psychological disorders that didn’t bother me so much because I truly get it and I know how to respond to it; however, I wanted someone more emotionally grounded and stable than me. My choices and behavior wasn’t attracting that.

Dating While Manic

A number of years ago I experienced a self-controlled hypomanic episode and I thought I was out of the woods…but I was wrong. While still under the influence of mania I was really free, I met a guy online.  My guards were completely down.  I had no attachment to the outcome. I was completely free to say and do whatever I wanted. We hit it off on the phone. I shared with him that I was living with bipolar disorder before we met.  I simply didn’t care how he responded. Without any effort on my part, he clearly saw that I was thriving and successful in how I live with bipolar disorder and wasn’t concerned at all.

On our very first date we had the “love at first sight” experience. We were in each others arms referring to each other as “soul mate” by the end of the first date.

By the second date, we were planning our lives together and talking about future marriage. We just knew that even though we didn’t know each other that we were meant to be together.

The following weekend he went on a camping trip with his friends and I was not invited.

While he was gone, I freaked out. I didn’t even know his last name.  I panicked because the “relationship” was happening way too fast for me.

So I texted him sharing that I needed to slow down.  I sent him probably 100 text messages while he was gone without him responding to even one.  I was on an out of control emotional rollercoaster.

When I didn’t get a response from him I kept trying to correct or explain the previous message. I couldn’t control myself. I got angry and sad then rationalized my feelings all in texts to him. I just kept impulsively texting trying to explain myself. When he didn’t respond, I couldn’t stop rollercoastering and expressed every thought and feeling I had.

It turned out that he didn’t have phone service while he was camping.

He got all of my text messages at once.

When he got home, I received a text that said, “Never contact me again.”

I tried to explain myself, that it was mania. He didn’t care and wanted nothing to do with me.

Dating with bipolar disorder is really hard and can be very painful…but it is doable.

Building a loving, nurturing and healthy relationship is possible.

We will explore building relationships in another blog.

I invite you to share your dating stories and bloopers in the comments section.