There is an understanding that there will be cycles of conflicts and resolutions within relationships. Dating and relationships involve the merging of separate life journeys into a joint shared experience. What happens when a partner’s life journey involves mental illness?

Relationships and Mental Illness Stigma  

Relationships and dating can be intimidating. The pressure to compete for romantic partners often encourages us to hide traits that make us feel undesirable. The public stigma surrounding mental health often deters many from getting properly diagnosed and receiving treatment. Factors such as gender, religion, and socioeconomics also play a role in refusing mental illness diagnosis and treatments. With a recent study finding that around 40% to 50% of US marriages end in divorce, the lack of communication involving mental health could be a contributing factor.

Mental Health, Familiarity, and Genetics

It has been said that we attract what we are. Experts have found this to be true when it comes to mental illness disorders and dating. Researchers from Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment found that people with mental illness were more 3 to 4 times more likely to have a romantic partner with a mental illness. Romantic partners with ADHD and schizophrenia were 7 times more likely to become involved with someone else with the same disorders. Experts also found that romantic partners sharing the same mental illness had increased chances of passing along their condition to their children.  Their study found that 67.5% of children inherited schizophrenia and 44.2% of children inherited bipolar disorder when both parents shared the same disorder. 

Ways Mental Health Affects Relationships

Mental illness can manifest in relationships in a number of ways. When left unacknowledged it can cause strife. A recent poll found that there was a major disparity in men’s and women’s willingness to share their mental health status with their partners. Anxiety disorders can lead to feeling overwhelmed when attempting to complete fundamental duties. The partner without anxiety could misconstrue these symptoms as having an unsupportive partner. Depression disorders can contribute to a lack of intimacy, often due to medication side effects causing low libido. Relationship OCD can cause a person to become hypercritical of themselves and their partner. Acknowledged but untreated mental illness can lead to codependency. This could cause a partner to enable poor mental health as a means of coping.

Relationships Health and Mental Health 

Maintaining a healthy relationship while battling mental illness is possible with the proper support and awareness. It can be difficult for a person dealing with mental illness to start the initial conversation with their partner. Seeking couples therapy in addition to solo sessions could help to initiate the dialog. Individuals with mental illness must practice self-care in the form of mental health treatment. This will help in maintaining a healthy relationship with their partner. It is important for partners without mental illness to become more informed about their partner’s triggers and limitations. This information could help with setting up realistic expectations for relationship dynamics to be successful.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. |Colossians3:12 

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