Should I break up with bi-polar boyfriend?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From a 17 year old girl: My boyfriend has bipolar dissorder, and sometimes hes really sweet and nice to me, but when he gets mad for whatever reason he’s not so nice to me anymore; it doesnt happen every day but for some periods of time he gets like this a lot. sometimes he crosses the line and tells me awful things like “f*$k off” or “stop being so anoying” when im only trying to help him or when im just asking questions. i dont know if i should break up with him because i do love him, i know that’s not an excuse to put up with this but i just don’t know what to do because i’ve never cared for someone this much. i’m not really sure that this kind of change is because of the bipolar dissorder or just him being a jerk.

A: Using his illness as an excuse for bad behavior is a modern-day version of “the devil made me do it.” Nothing is making him be a jerk. He is making choices. He needs to be getting treatment for his illness and he needs to learn to manage his moods instead of abusing people who try to help.

Illness is not in itself reason to leave someone. There are lots and lots of people who struggle every day with medical or psychiatric illness and who none the less manage to be the kind of people that other people love and want to support. But you are only 17. Part of being in your teens is figuring out who you want to be, what kind of person you want to be with, and how to be in a healthy relationship. This is a time for trying out relationships and sorting. I can’t tell from your letter if your boyfriend is doing his share and you are expecting too much or if he really isn’t ready to be a partner. My guess is that since you are asking the question of whether to leave, you already think you should but you feel guilty about it. If that’s the case, you really should move on. Guilt isn’t ever a good foundation for love.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Apr 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). Should I break up with bi-polar boyfriend?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/04/27/should-i-break-up-with-bi-polar-boyfriend/