I have been with my boyfriend for 4 years and I love him very much. He is a wonderful person and my best friend, but as we are starting to consider getting engaged, I am finding myself very concerned with the negative aspects of our relationship. He is bipolar and not medicated and is not seeing a counselor. He is unpredictable and volatile. One day can be amazing and another I can be afraid or so frustrated I want to just leave. Lately I have found myself looking at other men as potential partners and I feel like I am cheating (even though I have not acted on anything). We have fought about this one issue in our relationship for 4 years, about him not being open about his disorder but blowing up on me and expecting me to just sit back and take it, with no confrontation. I feel that he is not maturing or growing in this relationship. While I love him and genuinely want to grow old with him, I am fearful that this is not intelligent of me to do, nor practical to marry someone who is bipolar and seeking no treatment. What can I do? I have tried talking to him in multiple manners from different angles and he always blows up or hides in himself. I have seen a therapist about this issue and I am still so confused.
A: No one should ever be afraid in their relationship with their intimate partner. Period. However sweet he can be and however much you love him, you are wise to question whether you should sign on for a lifetime of unpredictable outbursts and fear. Having bipolar illness is not a reason to leave him but his refusal to get treatment certainly is. You met this fellow when you were only 16. Although you’ve been together for 4 years, those years have been an important time for you both of you to mature. Apparently you did and he didn’t. The reason you find yourself looking around is that deep inside you know that you can’t take his behavior over the very long run of marriage. Trust yourself. Go back to your therapist and work on that some more. You deserve better. (By the way: So does he. He deserves to have a life that is more manageable and where people who love him aren’t afraid of him. I hope he comes to his senses and gets good treatment before he does something he will always regret.)
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Mar 2011
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Bipolar boyfriend, should I stay?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/03/bipolar-boyfriend-should-i-stay/