9 Tips on How to Handle Romantic Relationships with Mental Illness

Romantic relationships are always tricky. They can make you or break you, that is for sure. But what is also sure is that they are rarely easy. One factor that might make it even trickier is when a mental illness comes into play. Whether it’s you or your partner, these tips can help you draw attention to some of the problems that can arise specifically when someone in your relationship has a mental illness. In this way we hope to be able to help you cope with them in a healthier way, and help you and your partner grow even closer, perhaps.

  1. Be careful not to over-function on behalf of your partner

Of course it’s okay to do a little something extra for your spouse to take the weight off their back! But do be careful that you’re not over-doing yourself consistently all the time because that might lead to burn-outs or frustration with your partner. Another effect this can have is that your partner might feel like they can’t do anything themselves. Mediation is key.

  1. If you have a mental illness, try to…

…be as clear as you can to your partner about what you need. Alternatively, tell them about the things that worsen your condition or trigger you. Having an open communication with them will make both you and your partner feel more secure if anything goes ‘wrong’ or unpleasant because you will have more of a feel of what to expect from each other.

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  1. But time it well

Maybe not bring it up on the first date, but then again, if the subject comes up and it feels right, you can. There’s no hard and fast rules for when to mention it or not, but pay attention to the fact that not every moment is right to introduce a subject like this.

  1. Don’t expect 100% of your…

… emotional needs to be met by your partner. This goes for both parties in the relationship. It’s healthy not to have complete emotional dependency on one person. Especially when one (or perhaps both) of you have/has a mental illness, it’s good for both to have people around you to whom you are close who are not your romantic partner.

  1. If it’s available to you…

… either financially or just in general, consider seeing a professional together a couple of times to help you figure out how you’re going to cope with this in the long run. Especially if your partner is already seeing a therapist, it might be an idea, if they agree, to go along with them one time when you’re in an established relationship.

  1. Romantic relationships and mental health issues are compatible

It may ask for a bit more effort in some areas, but if you love each other and are willing to work a bit for your relationship it could make it even stronger.

  1. Check in with each other regularly

Whether it’s just casually asking your partner how they are feeling mental health-wise, or really scheduling a moment each week to talk about how you’re both experiencing your mental health this week.

  1. Try not to blame…

…either your partner or yourself. It’s not really anybody’s fault, and sometimes where mental illness is concerned emotions can run really high. You have to make concessions sometimes but if your relationship is strong and you’re dedicated to each other.

  1. Communication is key

Don’t shove it under the proverbial rug. We know it can be awkward to address. In the long run an open communication about your struggles will strengthen your bond.

So these are nine tips on how to go about a romantic relationship if one or more has a mental illness. Do you know any other tips? What else would you like to see on psych2go?

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