Arguing with a Bipolar Person: Communication 101

Arguing with a Bipolar Person: How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship?

Arguing with a Bipolar Person

Dating a bipolar person can be challenging because of severe mood swings. But with the right approach, you can have a healthy relationship with a person with bipolar disorder.

Like in any relationship, communication is the key to maintaining a good and strong bond. The same works for a bipolar relationship as well. As your partner is suffering from bipolar personality disorder, it may not be easy for them to be in control of their emotions and actions all the time. Then, it will be up to you to manage the relationship on healthy grounds.

Manic highs and depressive lows are parts of the daily life of a person with bipolar disorder. When their feelings and thoughts are out of control like a runaway train, they may pick up fights with you for apparently no reason. Arguing with a bipolar person may put you in a delicate situation. Though you have done nothing wrong, you may feel confused about arguing with a bipolar person. 

What can you say to a person with bipolar disorder? What you should not say? Should you argue at all? Understandably, you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your bipolar partner. If you are confused about managing bipolar relationship, read on.

This article describes in detail how to handle an argument with a person with bipolar disorder. You will also find here what you can say to maintain a healthy relationship with them. And, most important of all, this article also lists the things you should never say to someone with bipolar disorder.

Let’s start with the question “Is arguing with a bipolar person productive?”

Should you argue with a bipolar partner?

People affected by bipolar personality disorder may not have control over their faculties all the time. Their emotions oscillate wildly between mania or extreme happiness to depression or extreme sadness. In some bipolar people, both may appear at the same time.

In between all these mood swings, a person with bipolar disorder may have moments of normalcy and clarity of thought. However, during one of their episodes, you will find their emotions run riot and their thoughts all muddled up. They will have a hard time figuring out their own feelings and thoughts and communicating them clearly.

When a person is unable to process their emotions well and communicate them in the right way, they may feel irritated and angry. If you are the one easily available to them, they may lash out at you even if you have not done anything wrong. They may start arguments unilaterally and draw you into them. 

Now, you have the choice of how you are going to react to such situations. Should you feel aggrieved and argue your case or should you refrain from it altogether? Will arguing with a bipolar person achieve anything?

When you know that your partner is suffering from bipolar disorder, you have to learn how not to take such allegations personally. You should be aware of their mood shifts and their inability to control their emotions and actions. 

When a person makes wild allegations against you, your natural reaction would be to defend yourself and fight back. However, this is not the right approach to deal with someone who is bipolar and angry. Paying back in the same coin is not recommended at all.

You need to be the mature partner in your relationship with a person with bipolar disorder. You need to maintain your calm and communicate the right things in the right way to diffuse the situation.

Is a healthy relationship possible with a bipolar person?

Living with a person with a psychological condition can take a heavy toll on the relationship. However, in the case of bipolar disorder, with proper medication, therapy, coping mechanisms, and support, it is possible to maintain a healthy relationship.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder typically appear in teens and the average age of onset of this mental health condition is 25 years. As this is the age when even normal teens go through teenage problems, often bipolar disorder remains undetected.

A person with undiagnosed bipolar disorder may develop their own coping mechanisms to manage their daily life. Such as,

Disconnection and withdrawal: When they find it hard to understand others, they disconnect and withdraw into a shell.

Controlling behavior: As a person with bipolar disorder feels out of control most of the time, they try to compensate for it by controlling the people in their life.

Irritability, anger, and aggression: When things don’t happen the way they want, a person with bipolar disorder may feel excessive irritability. This may lead to bipolar anger and aggressive behavior. They may target the people closest to them.

Inflated self-image: As their minds tend to run wild and function without any rhyme or reason, they may experience a sense of grandiosity.

Alcohol and substance abuse: As they find their emotions too overwhelming to handle, they may take to alcohol or drugs to cope.

Squandering money and rationalization: This is common among people with bipolar disorder. 

However, with an understanding and supportive partner, a person with bipolar disorder can manage to maintain a healthy relationship. 

How to maintain a healthy relationship with a bipolar partner?

If you want to be in a healthy relationship with a person with bipolar disorder, you need to remember that you have to make adjustments and you can’t change the person.

Focus on your partner and not their problem: You have to disregard all that is said and written about bipolar disorder and set aside your preconceptions. You should be able to differentiate the person from the mental health condition and regard them for who they are without any tags.

Understand their limitations and accept their behavior: A person with bipolar disorder is helpless to control their emotions and actions most of the time. You need to understand that what they say or do is not intentional. Try not to be hurt by bipolar anger. You need not find excuses when they are saying hurtful things but accept it as such. This will make it easier for you.

Communicate your expectations: A bipolar relationship is not a one-way arrangement where you act as the caretaker. As in any relationship, you are free to have your own expectations and goals. However, considering your partner’s limitations, ensure that your expectations can be met by your partner. You also need to find a way to communicate the same to your bipolar partner.

See the world through their eyes: Try to read up on the topic of bipolar disorder as much as you can. It can help you understand their mental health condition and behavior better. If you are an empath, you may be able to feel their emotions and see the world from their perspective. This will help you in managing bipolar behavior without escalating it.

How to communicate effectively with a bipolar person?

Communication is key to maintaining a healthy bipolar relationship. Here are a few tips for better communication with someone with bipolar disorder.

Language and clarity 

Use simple and uncomplicated language: As the mind of a person with bipolar disorder is overflowing with emotions or distracted most of the time, they may not be able to read between the lines or understand the hidden meaning. When talking to them, make it easy and straightforward.

Say things with clarity: Just like the language you use, don’t complicate matters too much. Simplify the ideas and thoughts as much as you can so that a person with bipolar disorder can understand you.

Get their attention before talking: As a person with bipolar disorder may be distracted, this is highly recommended to avoid confrontation.

One subject at a time: Keep it simple by talking only about one topic. As their attention span is limited, it would be easier for them if you share information little by little.

Say things openly: And, not in a roundabout way or hinting at them.

Be an active listener

With their muddled-up mindset, a person with bipolar disorder may not be able to handle your interruptions well. They rarely talk about their feelings and thoughts. When they do, let them talk. Don’t interrupt with your suggestions and advice. 

Here are a few tips on how to be a good listener.

  • Make eye contact and continue looking at them during the entire conversation.
  • Pay attention to what they are talking about.
  • Acknowledge and respond to them. 
  • Ask for an explanation or clarification if need be.
  • Paraphrase to let them know that you were listening.

Stay calm

Just because your partner has bipolar disorder doesn’t mean you have to agree with them on everything. You may disagree with them but make sure that you remain calm.

Here are a few suggestions on the matter.

  • Point out specific instances rather than blame the person as a whole.
  • Don’t hesitate or feel unsure. Speak with confidence while maintaining eye contact.
  • Tell them how their behavior made you feel rather than find fault with their behavior.
  • Suggest alternatives. Tell them how they can make changes in their behavior to avoid offending you.

Maintain a positive outlook

You may tell them about how their behavior offended you. Or you may disagree with them. However, ensure that the way you present the issue remains positive.

You also shouldn’t miss an opportunity to appreciate them. They will feel encouraged to repeat good behavior.

Things you should never say to a bipolar person

Even if they seem to be stable and doing well, a word or a gesture can trigger their bipolar behavior. They find them so hurtful that they cannot help reacting to it.

“You’re overreacting”: It may appear that they are overreacting to you, but by saying this, you are minimizing their experiences and their mental health condition.

“Mood swings are common”: This is another way of minimizing what they are going through. The bipolar mood swings they experience are nowhere close to what a normal person goes through.

Final Thoughts on Handling Arguments with a Bipolar Partner

Bipolar symptoms can wreak havoc in a relationship. Arguing with a bipolar person is wasting your time and energy. However, with effective communication and active listening, you can have a healthy relationship with a partner suffering from bipolar personality disorder.


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