How do I know what is going on on his head if he doesn’t say anything?

I have been chatting to a man with bipolar for six months, we met twice and both times he seemed completely normal. The texting varies, he will be sexual and rude, then silent for a couple of days and occasionally hold normal conversation.  From this pattern I think he is having an episode although sometimes this may be happening daily.  Difficult for me to know what is going on as he doesn’t tell me.  If he holds a job he can’t be that bad surely which suggests to me that he may be having me on; and then I read about bipolar and I think differently and have great compassion.  How do I know what’s what?  I feel I’m going bipolar with him with lots of ups and downs highs and lows.

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This is a very difficult one to answer accurately because we don’t have all the details of the relationship. But I will try to address the question in terms of the behavior. My first thought right of the bat is that if you are uncomfortable with his behavior you should address it without bringing bipolar disorder into the discussion. Since you said he is normal in person that leads me to believe he is most likely not in a severe depressed state. Without knowing everything about your friend and all the details of his condition then it is difficult to say. There is definitely hypersexual behavior and irritability in bipolar disorder that it differs depending on the particular diagnosis and state of mind.  However if someone is in treatment, holds a job, and they are taking medication, and are not in a severe manic state then bipolar disorder is never an excuse for rude or overtly sexual behavior.

Often the stigma of bipolar disorder allows for loved ones to blame any unusual behavior that happens in a relationship on the bipolar, and sometimes the patient can do that to themselves. So it sometimes can be a hard line to draw for all concerned. But to try and put things in perspective, you have to ask how many of our friends, even political leaders these days, are having some form of inappropriate texting and relationships online. They are not all bipolar. Having been thrust back into the single world after a divorce less then two years ago, I feel I have stepped into a new “bizzarro” world online that is extremely hard to navigate and sex is often discussed before people ever meet. Movies and media have made “friends with benefits,” situations and inappropriate behavior the new normal. Depending of what type of web site you met this person in, the expectations could vary dramatically on what he is thinking. The bottom line for any relationship for me is if I can’t say it in person, I should not say it online, period. And I know because I have said some pretty dumb things in the last year and half… If this person is rude that early on, that most likely will not change. My best advice is to have a serious talk with him, set the boundaries you expect from a relationship. If he breaks any of the boundaries you set, at all, end the relationship. If he turns it around, then he’s your man! It is great you are reading and trying to understand bipolar. Just be wary going into a relationship with someone living with bipolar disorder that you do not associate every odd behavior with the disorder. Good luck!

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