How to Tell Your Partner About Your Bipolar Disorder

When do I disclose my bipolar disorder?

Determining when to disclose your bipolar disorder in a romantic relationship is quite complex. There is no be-all and end-all correct answer. Considering personal preference, timing, what is going on in each of your lives, the direction of the relationship and your level of comfort with the other person will determine how, when and where you will disclose. Being anxious or concerned about their reaction is normal.

Using terms they may understand.

To make a difficult subject easier to digest when talking with your love interest, use terms they are familiar with. Depending on their reaction, you will be able to judge if they want to know more. You might say, “Sometimes I feel depressed.” Or, “I have mood swings, but I am in recovery with this.”

If they handle the basic information well, move on.

There will be a time when you will want to disclose the actual diagnosis. “I have bipolar disorder and it’s manageable.” It is more common than not that people have distorted views of this mental illness. The views can even be quite extreme. Once you put out there that you have bipolar, you can then address these false beliefs. Be patient with their questions and how fast they learn.

What if they freak out?

Be prepared that your love interest could go off the deep end. They are just unable to handle, for whatever reasons, your illness. Remember: they are not rejecting you. They are rejecting the bipolar. Think of it this way: it is better to find out now than when you are more involved and have more emotions invested in the relationship. Also, better to find out now than when you are needing the extra support from your partner and they drop the ball.

Looking ahead into the future.

Once the illness has been disclosed and your relationship has progressed nicely, you can discuss making him/her more involved in your recovery efforts. They can go with you to a support group like Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance or National Association on Mental Illness. Maybe they can accompany you on a therapy session or an appointment with your psychiatrist. This too will help demystify the bipolar and create a stronger bond.


“The Bipolar Disorder Answer Book” by Charles Atkins, M.D.

Going Further:

Follow this journey on

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty Images photo via savageultralight

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Bipolar Disorder

woman face looking through gate

When You Can't Tell Where You End and Your Mental Illness Begins

I laugh a little too loud. I talk too fast. I’m quick and witty. I’m the show. Ain’t it great? Is this the real me, or is mania creeping up? Where do I end and my symptoms begin? That answer lies with a doctor who is a talented diagnostician. My former psychiatrist could detect my mania even before I sat on [...]
woman looking out over countryside pensive

What Can Trigger a Bipolar Mood Swing and How to Combat It

People dealing with mental illness and bipolar disorder in particular talk a lot about mood swings: how they feel, what they’re like, how your life can be affected. What is discussed less is what things can trigger a mood swing — good or bad — and how to deal with them. Here I will cover [...]
dark haired woman wearing hat smiling sunset

How Electroconvulsive Therapy Changed My Life With Bipolar Disorder for the Better

Not too long ago, I found myself in a psychiatric hospital — yet again — for complications due to bipolar disorder. I’ve often been a model patient, so I went to groups when called for, tried to keep a healthy sleep schedule, ate meals as scheduled and more. This was my 14th hospitalization, so it was [...]
mysterious woman holds orange umbrella standing on street in abandoned city with digital art style, illustration painting

What It's Like Living With Both Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder

Now, where do I start? I have thoughts racing around in my head. Trying to understand this dual diagnosis I have been given. Bipolar II with borderline personality disorder (BPD) underling. What does this all mean? Where do I start to understand? How do these two diagnosis work together? What caused them? Do they go [...]