Bipolar Supporter? Can I Really Forgive Them?

Hi, how’s it going? Hope you are doing well.

Forgiveness is a difficult thing to wrap your mind around. This is especially true when you feel hurt by whatever the other person did to you. Things can make this process harder, like for instance if whatever was done is something that they might do again, then it is easy to feel the need to protect yourself from it.

I think that’s part of the reason it’s so much harder to forgive someone who has bipolar disorder for the things they do over and over again. On top of the fact that chances are this is a repeat offense, it is easy enough to assume that they would do it again. In fact, it’s smart to prepare yourself for just that.

But it’s even smarter to help prepare them for the opposite. See, as part of their treatment team, you hold a toolbox for them. They can’t always see everything in the toolbox until you show it to them. Many of these tools are things that seem so obvious to you, that you sometimes can’t figure out why they haven’t gotten it.

But try to remember that there are things that you probably ought to understand better than you do, as well. Everybody has a place to start from. The important part is to keep growing.

So if we, as supporters, can take those places where they’ve caused offense, and help them turn it around, then they can grow in time that the next time around they might not make the same mistake.

So how can we do this? Well, it’s not easy. It usually means we have to put our pride aside and talk to them reasonably while we are still angry. If they were lying, you may need to find out why they felt they had to lie. Were they afraid of your reaction? Would they have been right? That is, if they had told the truth, would you have had that bad reaction? Be honest.

Sometimes we may have to work on ourselves. Other times it has nothing to do with us. It just depends. But either way, if trust needs to be built between you two, then you might want to work on that.

If they have done something that affects you too personally, such as physically hurt you, then you may need to get outside help. At that rate, you may seriously need to decide whether they should be forgiven.

There are hard choices when the offense was something that is hard to deal with, but not necessarily life-threatening. For example, cheating on a romantic relationship is a very individual experience, and should be judged individually.

The two most important things to think about is whether the problem is their bipolar disorder (or just misbehavior), and whether it is something that can be worked on. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help with things like this. It gives a format for them to work on these behaviors, and ways to see what kind of progress they are making.

If your loved one already has a therapist that works with them in that type of therapy, then you might suggest that they work on the problem behavior during their sessions. If they don’t have this type of therapist yet, it might just be time to get one.

Ultimately, it depends on you. It is easy to base how you react on your emotions, but remember, doing that is exactly what often gets your loved one into trouble. And there are always going to be things that you will need forgiveness from, too.

It’s almost always better to forgive your loved one and try to work on the problem. But this only will work if they are willing to work on it with you. It is, after all, their recovery (not yours.)

Well, what are your thoughts on this?

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. I saw a Dr. Phil Show, the answer is No – but BIG MOMMA (HEAVEN) WILL

    i accept that!

  2. I am currently dealing with a break up from a man (E) who is bipolar. We met in early December after communicating for several weeks on a dating site. We immediately clicked and the fireworks were there. Things quickly turned physical but we felt so right together. We both talked about prior relationships and pain we had gone through. I was out of a very painful relationship for a little over a year. I believe my ex boyfriend was a narcissist and also bipolar.

    Anyway, this new relationship seemed to be what I was looking for. He was flashing around money, his businesses and several very expensive cars. But it was the deep bond we developed that hooked me. E spent Christmas with me at my cousin’s house. I thought this was really fast but he just couldn’t be without me. My children spent Christmas with their dad so he never actually met them, but he was pushing to meet them within a few weeks of dating.

    Just as quickly as we became close, things started to deteriorate between us. E would blow a simple argument out of proportion and break up with me. This was very similar to my ex boyfriend and it was very painful to be going through this again. He would blame me for every disagreement and if I was hurt or upset for longer than he thought was appropriate he would say very mean things and break up with me.

    E admitted to me he was “full blown” bipolar and on several medications. However he appeared very stable and self aware in the beginning. E had been in Florida and was only supposed to be in NY for business but once we met he told me he wasn’t going back. I thought this was strange for him to make such a decision so quickly.

    E did go back to Florida about 6 weeks into our relationship but said he was coming back. It turned out one of his businesses basically fell apart and he had to come up with a new way to earn money. He was basically out of touch with me for the two weeks he was there. He seemed to be going downhill while there and couldn’t wait to get back to NY.

    When E returned we had a few wonderful nights where we were very close. I knew he was going through a lot and tried to give him space. I just wasn’t happy with the crumbs he was giving me and the lack of attention and affection. He went from being unbelievably loving and caring to very indifferent, cold and extremely mean.

    E called me very terrible, unforgivable names and after a while it felt like we were friends with benefits. Anytime I would voice any feelings he would get extremely upset and tell me I can never let anything alone…I could never let things be cool with us. He said I was immature, an 11th grader and he couldn’t take my negativity. He told me I was nothing but a drain.

    It was as if he turned from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde and no amount of reasoning, talking, telling him I loved him…would bring Dr. Jekyll back.

    Within the past week and a half E has completely shut down from me. He has been grappling with different business ideas and today I just learned he left for Florida yet again. He told me he is not coming back to NY.

    I wonder if anyone could shed light on any of this. Was he just manic when I met him? Did he ever love me? How can he just leave me and walk away and feel absolutely nothing ?

    Although this was not a very long relationship, the bond we shared was intense. I am the only one left to grieve the relationship and to him I don’t even think I ever existed. I am so sad and devastated.

  3. Hi Cindy,

    I feel for you because I have exactly the same problem with my partner. He is in an episode like mine. Everytime my partner has an episode I get abandoned, and my partner has no insight into the pain it courses. They dont believe anything is wrong with them and they feel on top of the world. With me I am accused of everything and I am the enemy. So far my partner has always come back and is so sorry afterwards and even writes me poetry but it still always happens and I still always get hurt and wonder if my partner is coming back.

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