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Being in a Relationship With Someone Who Has a Mental Illness

Being in a Relationship With Someone Who Has a Mental Illness

How mental illness can affect a relationship

When someone you love has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, your relationship may be affected greatly. You may have mixed emotions of anger, sadness, and hopelessness when your loved one behaves in a way you do not understand. You may also feel some degree of guilt or self-blame for not being able to notice your partner’s condition. Whichever the case, knowing how to deal with the situation and managing future expectations is what you should focus on. What do you need to know about being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness?

Is it challenging to be with a partner who has a mental illness?

Mental health can impact a couple’s relationship and may even affect people close to them, such as family. It can be especially difficult because of the stigma around mental illness. This may make it challenging to find support for the one suffering mental illness.

Understanding and supporting a loved one with a diagnosed mental illness may be a strenuous and overwhelming task. Different people have different variations of mental health concerns. One person may have a more serious condition compared to someone else, so it is necessary to change your approach depending on your partner’s specific situation.

If being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness for you feels exhausting, below are some important things to remember when aiding them—and yourself as well.

4 tips for how to deal with your partner

The best outcome of your assistance will help your partner get back on track. Accept that sometimes your approach may not be as effective, so be flexible and adapt to what you think is the right way to address the situation.

The following are tips that you can do when being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness.

Educate yourself about your partner’s condition

Learn and understand their situation by educating yourself with the latest information regarding their mental illness. The more information you have regarding symptoms, treatment methods, and possible expectations, the better the care you will be able to give to your loved one. Make sure that the information you are reading are all up-to-date and come from credible sources.

Learn more about the warning signs and symptoms of their condition. Keep in mind that someone who exhibits similar signs as mental illness does not immediately make them mentally ill. It could also be caused by other issues. Consult with a health professional to learn more.

Motivate them to make healthy lifestyle changes

In order to remain healthy, we have to engage in regular exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and have a decent amount of sleep. Encourage your partner to engage in better lifestyle choices in order for them to have quality mental health.

Having a healthy mind will assist in prevention, treatment, and possible recovery from their mental illness.

Be someone they can talk to freely

Being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness means becoming a trusted, safe space for them to open up to. Do what you have to do to ensure they can trust their safety with you. It is imperative to have contact and a plan in case they are at risk of self-injury or harming others. However most people with mental health often become victims of assault rather than perpetrators.

Be patient and calm

Remember that rushing someone to get their life back on track may only worsen the situation and pressure your partner. Showing that you have the patience and willingness to deal with the outbursts and breakdowns may prove to be difficult but necessary if you wish to maintain a healthy relationship with your partner.

Do not be afraid to talk to them about problems that are bothering them. Try using “I” statements such as “I am worried about you”, “I would like you to consider taking professional help” rather than ones that imply some assertion. Keep in mind that you do not have to be an expert to answer their questions.

Tips for supporting yourself

Do not forget to take care of yourself

When being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness, remember to also take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. When your partner’s condition seems too difficult to handle, you might feel both sad and angry. Releasing those frustrations is necessary in order to avoid accidentally hurting your partner’s feelings. Understanding and recognizing your limits can aid in maintaining proper self-care and emotional well-being.

Find a support group

Have people to talk to or vent out any frustrations that could potentially hurt your partner. These persons can be within you family or individuals who can offer to lend an ear. Support groups for those who experience dealing with mentally ill loved ones can be safe spaces as well as sources of ongoing mutual support since they understand what you are going through. Other than peers, support from therapists can also aid in providing solutions that have not been tried or approached.

Take a break if needed

When things become too overwhelming, you may suffer possible burnout from getting emotionally exhausted. If you feel as if being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness is taking a toll on your own health, it may be time to take a break and reevaluate things. Taking some time off does not mean that you are giving up on them, it simply means that you need time to recover. Use this time to gain new perspectives on how to deal with them and to focus on taking care of yourself in the meantime.

Key takeaway

Both parties can struggle when giving or receiving support from the other. It is important to remember that when being in a relationship with someone who has mental illness can potentially be stressful and difficult. Therefore, finding ways to take care of yourself, looking for potential support groups, and taking breaks are possible things you can do for your own mental health.

Learn more about Health Relationships here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


How To Love Someone With A Mental Illness, https://www.nami.org/Personal-Stories/How-To-Love-Someone-With-A-Mental-Illness

Accessed July 16, 2021


How to cope when a loved one has a serious mental illness, https://www.apa.org/topics/mental-health/serious-mental-illness

Accessed July 16, 2021


Helping a Loved One Cope with a Mental Illness, https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/helping-a-loved-one-cope-with-a-mental-illness

Accessed July 16, 2021


5 Ways To Love Someone With Mental Illness, https://sus.org/5-ways-to-love-someone-with-mental-illness/

Accessed July 17, 2021

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Written by Angeli Del Rosario Updated Aug 09, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel