I want to address a concern of mine about relationships with one (or both) individual with a mental illness.
First I need to make this clear. It is legitimate to not pursue or end a romantic relationship because the mental illness is either too much to handle or is just making the relationship work is something you cannot imagine doing long term. We always have a right to end a romantic relationship if we feel it cannot be sustained.
Beyond that, how does mental illness affect relationships?
Well, I’ll start with the most physical and end with the least.
In a romantic sexual relationship, there is at least one side effect that can really make things difficult.
That is the problem of loss of libido or the nearly absurd increase in libido.
Both partners should realize this is a problem for the other. The mentally ill partner does not, in general, want this to be the case. Not being able to meet a partners sexual needs is a very frustrating issue on either side. We must understand that this is not of the volition of the mentally ill but rather something outside of their own control. And we must understand that it’s very difficult to accommodate a partner whose sexual needs seem to change drastically.
In my manic phases I suffer from hypersexuality. Some make the absurd claim “Wow, that must be nice”. It isn’t. It is in NO way a nice feeling. Especially when one has no outlet outside of oneself. This has nearly driven me mad as a single male, and if I were not single it would still drive me mad as it would be a bit much for any normative sexual person I think…
Similarly there’s the issue of sexual dysfunction. Anorgasmia I think is one possibility. This would be incredibly frustrating as you can probably imagine. If you love your partner you want to do your best to fulfill their needs, at least up to a reasonable standard, and being anorgasmic or having a partner who’s anorgasmic is frustrating.
I will write part II either today or tomorrow. Until then this is Unthought, signing off.