When is enough, enough? Knowing your Boundaries.

I have lots of respect for everybody that has bipolar AND is in treatment.

I have read (in how to handle someone with bipolar) to  ”give space”. Also on other websites I read it.

Based on stories people posted online …. it has been that whenever space was given the person would cheat…. and later would pretend like nothing happened.

This is what I do not understand, because if people need space.. then I assume you would take it to focus on yourself…..and not to go out and cheat… and later come back and pretend that nothing happened and all is the same…

Further (I have been reading on bipolar for the past 3 years) I do feel sad when I read stories how non bp partner/family are treated by their bp partner/family, run away and are willing to do everything they can to get things back to normal…Even putting their own life aside.

On a lot of websites advise (articles and forum) is given that the non-bp partner/family should not take things said personal and must tell the bp partner/family that you love them, when they run away, tell them you will be there for them. (This seem like enabling)

True some people on websites say put your foot down because often then the bp partner will get help… some people say if they run and your always there when they crash they will keep on doing it….

Many people struggle with ”when is it enough” or ”when do I put my foot down”

I hope you get where I am trying to go with this..I hope you can add a blog or something regarding these issues.

Thank you..


ps: I already put my foot down!!

Tough question really; both with bipolar and non bipolar involved relationships. The real issue we are talking about here is one I REALLY struggle with myself.


Look at the word … it’s all pretty an innocent … as if it was the easiest concept in the world. They did it with the states and the countries, drew a little line to show this is my side and that is yours. (And yes, I do prefer to imagine the colonists getting out there little quills and ink and literally drawing lines between their property … I also like to picture them drinking tea at the same time.)

My problem, however, is how BIG should that line be? Is it a small, thin line and if your pinkie toe even touches it then it explodes into a million little pieces? Or is it a big fat Sharpie line with plenty of room to cross over without REALLY  stepping past it?

This is a very complicated issue, one which varies from person to person. Though shouldn’t we really all have the same boundaries and expectations. *sighs picturing perfect world* But that’s not really the case.

Some people (AKA Me) sometimes appear to have no boundaries at all. I’m a people pleaser. Go ahead, walk all over me … just as long as it makes you happy and there’s no angry confrontation involved. I mean the line starts  here *picture NY* and ends here *picture Chicago* Luckily I’ve been able to make the line a thin that boundary line down quite a bit with age and experiences. I take much less crap than I used to. But unfortunately, it took many a moment being taken for granted before I started thinning it down.

Others (AKA My Spouse) have a very thin line drawn. It’s so tiny you almost can’t see it. And there will definitely be an explosion if crossed. In his case, he’s learned to add a bit of depth to his line. He’s much more tolerant, but not TOO tolerant. *envious!*

Enough on Sharpies and Lines (This was so not meant to be a geometry class … I hate geometry).

What I’m trying to say is, only you can know what your breaking point is. I understand that bipolar disorder is a very complicated and frustrating illness, both for the person suffering and for the person loving them. The line is quite a bit thicker when dealing with some one who has a mental illness. Obviously there will be more leeway depending on the situation and how well you know that person.


Leeway is not the same as letting someone stomp on your line with their muddy shoes. Boundaries must be respected, and if that other person knows when they are stepping past it, they should be aware of the consequences.

Having used all these geometric metaphors, let’s just get down to the basic issue. When is enough, enough? Well I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for me. When it comes to love and relationships, I draw a very thin line. I would NEVER use my bipolar disorder as an excuse to cheat on my spouse. Sure, maybe things like that happen once … not saying it did, but it’s not bipolar that causes us to let those things happen.

Do I need space sometimes? Hells yeah! Don’t we all? But I don’t need to go get my freak on with that space. That space, as you pointed out before, is for me.

Bipolar should NEVER be an excuse. That’s not to say that mania or depression do not cause us to do irrational things. But if we are properly treated, on our meds and in therapy, we should be able to decipher the differences between right and wrong. We may make a mistake, your line might be thick enough for a second chance, and I’m cool with that. But it only takes one time to learn a lesson. You screw up, you get consequences, you don’t screw up again. Plain and simple.

If you are dating someone with bipolar and they are consistently cheating on you, you NEED to draw a line. A big fat line that screams, “ENOUGH!”  Because there are only two reasons why the cheating is continuing.

1. Your significant other is not getting the proper treatment or taking care of themselves which in turn spouts them in and out of mania thus making irrational decisions such as cheating, drinking, drugs.


2. You’ve allowed your significant other to return over and over again and through this pattern they have learned that you will take them back regardless of their disloyalty.

Either way, the line needs to be drawn. If it’s a meds/therapy issue, don’t let that person back into your life until a well followed treatment plan is back into the picture. And if you’ve enabled them to return over and over, the only one making excuses is you. You need to let them go because they are toxic.

Key point … you need to respect you … don’t ever let anyone walk all over you *ques up Wilson and Phillips*. Bipolar is a horrible illness, however it is one that can be treated and thus should never be used as an excuse to let someone off the hook. Some situations can be worked through, however, recurring disrespect doesn’t deserve to be worked through.

Now keep in mind, this is my opinion and it is not necessarily the right one. It’s just how I feel a person should care for themselves. And you deserve better than what has given you. I’m proud of you for drawing that line!

4 thoughts on “When is enough, enough? Knowing your Boundaries.

  1. Your comment didn’t really explain what you meant by “cheating” but if taken in the generic sense, I would just infer that the person with BP did something that wasn’t helpful to her/his condition and relationships. That’s the nature of the illness…..and it’s a lifetime struggle. For the average family the boundaries are blurred; the give and take is a “dance” around the very real illness, and just WHEN significant others decide to get off the bus so to speak, is a personal decision.
    With regard to my own family, my mother and brother had BP disorder and my adult daughter has it. And I have “touches” of the symptoms so I struggle with my own inclinations. The very fine line that everyone speaks about is really that grey area where we all wonder, “how much of this behavior is the disorder and how much is just the person being who she or he is?” Where do we throw down the line for accountability? Personally, I have always had difficulty establishing that line so I try to do it very, very carefully. I DO know that I have less trouble with resentment if my daughter is conscientious about trying to take her meds and is open to discussing the issue. If my time and money are invested in helping her to live a somewhat “normal” life, then she must be willing to work with me. But I have still helped when she has been defensive and closed off. Others may choose to disengage at this point.
    So, my response to your comments is that you have answered your own question for yourself. You have decided when enough is enough for you, but there is no generalized answer because each person is different. I choose to remain engaged but to me it is not “enabling” because I perceive this illness to be a lifetime process that requires a lot of negotiation and not all of it is fair.

  2. Hi Marybeth,

    I like your response here, and I think I see where you’re coming from. I’m not sure I agree with you 100% on your conclusion, though. I agree that if bipolar people are receiving successful treatment and medication, they are always responsible for their actions, but often treatment and medication isn’t successful.

    I think there’s a larger issue here. We often feel like drawing boundaries and blaming other people are mutually entailing, but they are not. There is nothing wrong with protecting ourselves from other people’s behavior, regardless of whether or not it is their fault. If we blur boundaries and blame, we end up either blaming people for things that are not their responsibility or letting people hurt us when we shouldn’t.

    So, we can separate out these two questions, and more importantly, we can ask the question of how to protect ourselves without ever having to point fingers. That allows us to have boundaries that don’t even reference issues of responsibility.

  3. Both great additions and good points. It’s a very difficult topic to say the least. And definitely, blame is a whole OTHER topic 🙂

  4. Thanks for your words. I have a friend currently going through this. While I don’t claim to understand the disorder, I do think my friend’s boyfriend is using his disorder as an excuse for his behavior, which includes disappearing for days, binging and promiscuity. I think if someone truly respected their partner and him/herself they would be actively seeking help and treatment, which this boyfriend is not doing. I’m forwarding this post to my friend for some motivation. It’s one thing to deal with someone who is honestly trying to deal with their disorder, but it’s another when someone knows that no matter what they do, you’ll always take them back and let them repeat the cycle.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave your feedback here!