How do I know if its the bipolar or the person?

I never thought I would end up been back in the situation that I am in now.

I was in an emotionally abusive bipolar relationship for 2 years with my ex and this destroyed me. I tried all the outlets - therapy, research etc. I really did and i tried to be objective as possible. That relationship ended eventually after I found out she had been cheating on me and she cut me out of her life. I never fully recovered and my confidence never fully came back and 8 months later I am now in another relationship.......Oh yeah did I mention she is bipolar?? I didnt know at first but after a couple of months she told me.
I mean what are the chances! However she changed my outlook on mental health as she is much more stable, responsible and caring than my ex. It really made me think that my ex just wasnt a very nice person. Yes she wasnt at fault by having the illness but even with her i struggled to identify what was reality and what was "the bipolar" speaking.

Now here I am a year into my current relationship and Im asking myself the same question and so scared of becoming what I was before. She has no sex drive whatsoever which i acknowledge is a symptom but how am i supposed to know if this is all it is and that she really just doesnt fancy me because thats possible. Im finding it hard to believe her when she says she loves me and wants me. Maybe she just doesnt want me? How can i tell the difference when she struggles to express herself and cant put things into words very well.

Ben's Answer:

Short answer: when a Bipolar diagnosed person is going through an episode of mania or deep depression, you cannot take that to mean too much about their true, authentic self. Yes, aspects show up - things are magnified in mania - so a person who is normally loving and spiritual may suddenly be on a mission to heal the world, while a person who usually suppresses their anger, may suddenly be loud and aggressive, and a person who is normally selfish and angry, may become downright abusive and raging. These are just possible examples; everyone is unique. The point is, most people eventually come back to their normal state - or at least somewhere in the middle (unless their mood is always rapid cycling). So that's the person that you need to look at. If your ex was abusive while manic, and loving when in her normal mood state then you shouldn't judge her by her manic actions. However, some people throw caution to the wind - and knowing that they can be destructive in mania, still knowingly allow themselves to go back into that state - like a drug addict going for the high.

In your current relationship - it may be possible that her lack of sex drive is simply an antidepressant side effect (very common), or a result of her being depressed (also common). In the end, you need to ask yourself what YOU want in a partner. You might spend a long time waiting, hoping and wishing for your partner to be what you want her to be, only to find that she cannot or will not be that. This is not selfish. You have a right to be happy and to feel that there is a balance of give and take in the relationship.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT

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