To Cheat or Not to Cheat
Cheating happens. Healthy people do it, too. For people with bipolar disorder, monogamy can be a big challenge. You're not always totally in control of your impulses, and mania can cause drastic changes in libido.
Some of us cheat, and that can be extremely damaging to a relationship. The most important thing to remember is that a little honesty can go a long way. Talk to your partner (preferably before it happens) about the possibility. Explain that total monogamy might not be the most realistic option for you.
If you're up front about what can and cannot be expected of you and what you expect from your partner in return, chances are much better that a one-night stand won't destroy your relationship.
On the other hand, bipolar disorder and the medications that come with it can also leave you feeling like a sexless zombie. When that happens, your partner may have some difficulty understanding that it really isn't personal.
It has nothing to do with how attractive you find them, or how much you care about them. Love and sex are both important in a relationship, but sometimes your brain's chemistry works against you where the second is concerned.
This is another time when it's very important to let your partner know how you're feeling and why. Reassure them that you still love them, and that a lack of sex at home doesn't necessarily mean you're getting it elsewhere.
Make sure they understand that the last thing you need is pressure; adding stress to the situation is only going to make things worse, and may breed feelings of resentment towards a partner whom you may feel is always pushing you to do something you just don't want to do.
Find other ways to be close, and remember that skin on skin contact causes your brain to release dopamine, which makes you feel happier and could even lead to – you guessed it – sex. And if it doesn't, it's still nice.
You Can, If You Want To
Long-term relationships aren't for everyone. We don't all want the same things in life. Unfortunately, I know enough bipolar people who have given up on the idea of a lasting relationship simply because of their illness.
Some think they'll never find someone who wants to be with them because they're ill; others have cheated in the past and are afraid of hurting and losing someone they care about. Still others can't stand the thought of living with someone day in and day out. But whatever the case, bipolar disorder should never stop you from having the life you want.
Your relationship may not look the same as someone else's. Maybe you live together part-time and still keep a place of your own for when you need space. Maybe you have an open relationship. Maybe you absolutely don't want to have children. But the bottom line is this: if you're open and honest from the start, you have a much better chance of having a long and happy relationship.
Here's to the next ten years!