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Complicated relationship with bipolar man

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I'm not sure exactly where to start, and I hope I am posting in the right forum. I have a wonderful friend/coworker that I have know for over 5 years. I am married, he is married, and we have had a great working relationship that has developed into a friendship. The trouble is that I believe this man suffers from bipolar disorder- definitely meets the criteria. He is a very private individual, and I do not know if he is receiving any kind of treatment for his mood disorder. What does this have to do with me? It appears to be like many of the other posts I have read in this forum- we will go through periods of closeness, and then he will abruptly shut me right out of his life, at times, for months on end. Eventually, he reconnects, and acts like nothing has ever happened. In between, he interacts with me on a "professional level", but does not acknowledge me outside of that role- not even a "good morning" in the hallway. When we are "close", we will occasionally meet after work and he will open up about what is going on in his life- he is having some licensing issues (he is a physician), work relationship issues, financial issues, etc. Our respective personal relationships are an "off limits" topic, but we are both quite comfortable talking about many aspects of our lives. I have a great deal of difficulty dealing with his behavior, and find it very hard not to take the months of ignoring personally. If anyone has any perspectives (especially if you are bipolar!) on this type of behavior, I would love to hear them. I care about him very much, and want to be a good friend. When he goes into these states of silence, I still try and maintain contact- email, leave a phone message, etc- mainly just to let him know I am thinking of him and am always here for him. I try very hard to avoid pressuring him in any way- I want him to feel safe, and like he can be open with me. Again, very hard not to take his silence as personal rejection. Any thoughts?

For those of you who are still reading, this is where it becomes more complicated. This man is also of muslim background- moved to North America 15+ years ago, and has become very "westernized". He is a very eccentric individual, and certainly does not fit with "stereotypical" muslim cultural norms. This being said, he has internalized many of the muslim beliefs and principles, and I truly believe that he is a sincere, kind-hearted and honest man. All of this being said, partially in keeping with his bipolar behavior, he can behave in a very childish fashion at work- best comparison: 13 year old boy! He can be very flirty and playful, funny and light hearted. He can also become very sullen, irritable, reclusive, and sometimes mean. Despite all of this, I have always held him in very high regard, and have communicated that to him. As our friendship has developed over the years, there have been times where I have questioned the nature of his feelings- at times he can be a little too "touchy", relies on my help more than he needs too, etc. There have been occasions where he has hugged me when we leave- I generally have written this off to his personality/culture. Over the past year and a half, our friendship has gone through some real extremes- just like his moods. At times, his negative behavior seems very much directed at me. Then other times he becomes quite close with me. He has given me gifts at Christmas. I am very confused- both about he feels, and how I feel. There have been 2 occasions over the past year where he has shown more intimate behavior- lingering hugs followed by lingering kiss on the cheek, or kiss on the neck. Then he will behave as if nothing has happened- I just choose to "ignore" this, and carry on in our friendship- and then he shuts me out. I just don't get it. Maybe I am naieve about the whole thing- but sometimes it's easier to see things for what they are with someone else's perspective. The other thing with him is that he is in an arranged marriage, and his moods/behavior have worsened since he got married 6 years ago. There is speculation at work that he may be homosexual/bisexual, as he can be very "flamboyant". I honestly don't believe that, but who knows.

If anyone has any thoughts they would like to share, or any advice they can give on any aspect of this relationship, I would GREATLY appreciate it!
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replied November 15th, 2009
Hi eeyoregirl,
I am doing a research and i have found out that your encounter is exactly the one as mine..i am really helpless as it affects myself now, my mood also like roller coaster and sometime in depression mood.
I need help and advise urgently as i do not know how to share with anyone which will not have this kind of similar situation.
I need to help this friend of mine and i really care about him deeply.

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replied November 17th, 2009

It is very difficult not to let your mood be affected by the behavior of someone you care about- I too have experienced many "lows" in my moods due to my friend. I often find it hard to be at work with him- my thoughts turn very negative and self-destructive b/c I am so uncertain of where I stand with him. From all of the posts I have read, I think the best advice is to try not to take this type of behavior personally. I truly believe that my friend struggles to "survive" from day to day- I would expect that his feelings for me would, at times, just be one more stress to deal with.

The other piece of advice that I have found to be helpful, is to show continuous care and support, without "pushing". When my friend is distant, I give him space, but I also send him a "thinking of you" kind of email, so he knows that I am still there for him. Beyond that, I don't know what more I can do.

Could you describe a bit more about your situation?
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replied November 19th, 2009
HI eeyoregirl,
I want to let you know that my situation and encounter, almost everyline and words that you have mentioned above is like talking myself, that is the reason i have decided to talk to you.
Just 2 weeks ago, he suddenly back to me and said he wants to close to me and would like to see me everyweek and shortly after 1 and a half month, when his workload becomes heavier, he suddenly refuse to see me and completely becomes a second person ? but he still said he enjoy my company but want to keep a distance.

Q1 : when they are themself and is in a normal mode?
Q2 : or they are either Mania or Depression episode only and no such thing they are normal as us?
Q3 : No one around him notice this, they only think that he is fierce or he is a Mr. Nice as he could talk to anyone or smile at even strange in the bus whom he may see everyday but not knowing each other. But i notice he will shows this kind of episode to those close to him , why?

I am really very sad as we both have admitted we have interest on each other, i wish i could tell him i know his condition but i am not sure whether he did know he himself has this condition ? as i am afraid this might agitate him.
Shall i pretend that i do not know and just shows my concerns as what you have suggested and wait for him?
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replied November 19th, 2009

Wow- our situations do sound very similar! In answer to your questions:

1&2. "Normal" is such a hard state to define- we all have our ups and downs, some more than others. Myself, I suffer from major depressive disorder, and when appropriately treated, I feel that I am in a "normal" or "appropriate" state. I would imagine that it would be similar for someone with bipolar disorder- if adequately treated, they would likely not be exhibiting signs of depression or mania. That being said, I also suspect that the episodes of mania and depression also contribute to who these people are- without those episodes, they may not have some of the qualities that we love. I think that we have to be willing to accept the whole package- the mania, the depression, and the "normal". Hope that makes sense!

3. I think that those suffering from bipolar disorder only show themselves fully to those close to them, or as the saying goes, "we hurt those we love". Why is that? My guess is that if a person with bipolar loves/cares about someone, then they also feel safe enough to let their guard down and show extremes of behavior- they are trusting that the loved one loves them unconditionally. I think there is also a tendency to push away those close to them when they are having a tough time, probably for a couple of reasons. Maybe to "protect" the loved one from undesirable behavior. Maybe because they just can't cope with a relationship at all in a state of mania or depression. Hard to say. I'm hoping someone who has bipolar disorder might respond and enlighten us as to possible reasons for this type of behavior.

I would not talk to your friend about his condition unless he brings it up to you. When he is ready, feels close enough to you, etc, that will be the time he will discuss it. If you address it before such a time, I imagine that he probably will become agitated. That is the approach that I have chosen to take in my relationship. And as you said- these men may not even identify themselves as behaving as if they have bipolar disorder. Show your care and concern, and wait. Lots of waiting. Sometimes I also wonder if the waiting is a test to see if your love truly is unconditional.

As an update, I finally worked up the courage to confront my friend at work, and asked why he has been avoiding me. He did acknowledge the avoidance (which is a first), and stressed that it was absolutely nothing to do with me. He then proceeded to share all that has been going on in his life in the past 6 months- he has A LOT going on. He was very very concerned that I understand that his behavior was not about me, and that our relationship is "ok". I think that he just doesn't have the emotional energy to deal with our situation right now. I believe that he is being honest with me, as he is a fiercely honest person. After we talked, he then proceeded to resume flirty and interactive behavior- something I haven't seen in him in months. I almost think he was relieved that I had approached him. I also think he wanted to demonstrate that his care for me hasn't changed. Before he left, he made sure to stress once more that his behavior had nothing to do with me.

Not sure where things will go from here. He is away for at least a month, so I will try and keep my feelings in perspective, and hopefully, things will stabilize when he returns. The bad part is that if I am honest with myself, I think I have to admit that I love him, and I'm not sure what to do with that. And, his drawing close and pulling away has happened before, and I am sure it will happen again.

Let me know what you think!
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replied November 19th, 2009
Ok, I read this post and although not completely like my situation I see parts of what youve encountered as similar to my experience with a bipolar man.

Im in love with a man with bipolar, If Im honest I have been since I met him back in May. He's loving, open, caring but bipolar and living in a time where he upset his ex girlfriend and cant get over her.

Ive spent 6 months being his friend and I feel like my hearts breaking. He knows how I feel - its never been said openly but I know he knows and him knowing feels like a weakness on my part.

My advice - be careful with your own heart becoming involved with someone with bipolar can make you feel like the most incredible person but when they hit a low I think you feel it more than they do.

Im a strong person and Id always be there for him - but what do you really get in return?
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replied November 19th, 2009
Hi eeyoregirl,
I am in a state now to make a decision whether i will still want to carry on with this man even as friendship since i have been suffering this drawing close and pulling away behaviour from year 2006 which i think i cannot take it anymore and i even think about will he did this to another girl? or all of us is just victim and we dare not to say it out ? Which if this is the case, i believe there is no real love from a BP man. We may be just a toy for him.

Q1. Not sure BD people have real love or they know what is love?
Q2. If they are married, will there be a stage that they know that what they are doing is wrong and still will carry out what they want to do at that episode?

Q3. If they unfortunately fall in love again beside his marriage, he still tell you he loves you but even sound clearly it is not right for this kind of things seems like he is quite clear what he is doing but he still insist it to be happened..but after few months..he feel guilty this the behaviour of BP man?

I have been telling myself if a BP man has no feeling of love at all and will not have real regret what they have done has just jeopardize another person's normal life which i think i will let go otherwise in return i will be the person suffers alone and he just happily carry on his objective of what he wants to achieve.

again, i have to tell you, the bad part of myself just as you, i have real in love with him after we both admitted which i cannot focus at all what i need to do even for my own normal life ( cause i have no answer for myself his kind of behaviour can be changed overnight as 2nd person ). I am now more calm after i have read thru all articles about how woman has to go thru with BP man for relationship. Thus i am not alone, the only thing now is to forget him as i know there will not be any answer till the end of our life for a relationship with a BP man...the BIG DOUBT is, is it really love you ? or you just a target only at that episode. Thus, i have to let go.....

I thanks eeyoregirl and concerned2009 for your reply which really helps me to find an answer for myself and decision after 3 years..last but not least we are always there for each other, if you think you real need to talk and support again, at leat now you know that at least 2 persons here will be there to support and have understood your situation..we are not alone.

Wish us strong and carry on our normal life...take care!
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replied November 30th, 2009
I have started going out with my boyfriend 4 years ago it was always an on and off relationship, and it was always made to seem from his point of view my fault, and never his. I have done a lot for this relationship for the past 4 years, I really loved him I took care of him, paid for him, anything that would make him happy I did for him not expecting anything back, regardless even if he was bipolar I still stood by him and supported him and now he forgot all those times that I was there for him and all the sacrifices I have done for him, he is getting engaged to another girl while he is with me, I am right so devastated that all this year how can he use me like a doormat, and get married to someone else, is bipolar people that much heartless, that they are so ungrateful to those who actually cares about them? I really love him, and it really hurts to see all this years he used me and my only advice to you all out there who are in a relationship with bipolar is it will bring you a life long heartaches because no matter what you do for a bipolar person they never appreciated instead they take you for granted, and makes you a complete stranger at the end, I am so lost right now, that my whole like was revolving around him now I have lost my own sanity and left with a broken heart that will take long time to pick up all the shattered pieces of my broken heart and start a new life without him...
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replied August 21st, 2010
undiagnosed bipolar man
I know exactly how you all feel. I have been involved with a man now for 7 months. He has lived between my home, his car, and his parents. He was living in his car when I met him. His behaviour/paranoia/jealousy has been out of control since I became involved. And he has launched many verbal attacks on me, usually every 2-3 days. I lived in fear of his next mood swing. My two teenage children have watched my roller coaster ride, and occasionally he has played out his dramas in front of them too. It always ends with my having to ask him to leave the house, because he will not respect my right to not argue. I loved this man deeply, but also considered that we spent a large amount of our time in the bedroom, he was hypersexual as well. This last mood swing, he arrived back at my house after helping me at work for an hour, (even brought up coffee and biscuits to me). He started getting agitated about a subject just before we left to come home. When we got home, he was getting more agitated, and then started the verbal attack on me. Convinced that I am having an affair with my male friends, and have been for 7 months. He has been offered the chance to meet a couple of my friends, and he said he didnt want to meet them, along with all manner of nasty things about people he has never even met. Plus he made death threats against them constantly. I asked him to leave my house again, because he would not stop attacking me verbally. Initially, because I had to get up early in the morning for work again, and was already exhausted, I asked him to go sleep on the sofa. But he would not stop the verbal assault, so I asked him to leave the house. He kept up an all night assault on my house, outside my window, insulting me verbally, and hosing my window twice to wake me up. At one point, I asked him three times that I would take him to the servo to get petrol for his car so he could leave. He verbally attacked me again. Then he knocked on the door half an hour later, acting completely different, like nothing had happened. I let him in, and he came straight in and jumped into my bed and then started verbally attacking me again. I made him get out and go into the lounge. He was even more nasty, had to end up asking him to leave my house, could not get any peace. He has done this sort of thing at least 100 times or more in the last 7 months. Then uses massive guilt trips on me for kicking him out. But will not accept that his behaviour is completely unreasonable. A few days later, he is back phoning up telling me he loves me and says sorry. He does not accept he has a mental health problem, just says he is extremely intelligent and likes to stir people all his life. I have had the most wonderful loving times with him when he is being normal, and he is very helpful too at times. However, he breaks my heart every two-three days, and I feel empty, lost and like giving up on love for the rest of my life. By the way, he is 43 and I am 42.
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replied August 23rd, 2010
Experienced User
And you are staying in this situation ...why???

Myself, I would call the police and have him removed to adult protective custody. Finally force him into mental health professional care.

Do you expect his will get better all by itself?
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replied November 17th, 2010
Bipolar and middle eastern men
I've recently been broken up with by a man that fits almost precisely the description of the eeyoregirl's friend. He recently immigrated to the US from the middle east and he is also at times very playful and flamboyant, and at other times very cruel and sullen both of himself and everyone else.

I'm having a difficult time letting go of the relationship because I truly think he is an incredibly amazing man and am unsure of his feelings towards me. His opinions and feelings towards me seem to fluctuate continually, and it's very exhausting and confusing. Even after he broke up he came back and spent ample amounts of loving time with me, yet continues to insist he wants to be single. I'm not sure if he is just afraid and running away, or if he truly doesn't like me very much. One thing is for sure though, he should figure out what he wants and act on it, which may include growing his emotional maturity and confidence.

I cannot really solve your problem, because I neither understand why that man is treating you a certain way nor why my boyfriend acted similarly. However, my first assumption is that he fells very guilty being close to you due to his marriage or other reasons which relate to his sense of right/wrong. He may have more intimate feelings for you, which he feels are inappropriate and is quenching them by distancing himself. If I were you I would honestly just back off and save yourself the confusion and frustration.

Also, I read your later post about your encounter with him and his telling you it wasn't about you. I've come across the same thing with my boyfriend, I confronted him about some mistreatment he has made towards me and his rebuttal is that he just has more important things to think about, and usually they may be more important. However, there is no excuse for a person to mistreat their friends. Do not let yourself feel guilty for their neglect or respect of the relationship.

One time my boyfriend also said to me as an argument why he wanted to distance himself and an excuse for not being kind is that he doesn't want to be responsible for my emotions/happiness. It's a common misconception that I am pretty sure come from Muslim culture that a man in a male/female relationship is responsible for the woman's feelings. This can seem like an overwhelming responsibility to a man, but it's an imagined responsibility that does not really exist. He may not realize this, and personally it angers me a little bit that a man can think a woman is so weak that she is not even responsible for her own emotions, but everyone is responsible for his or her own feelings.

I may have just added more fuel to the fire, but in seeing this post I had to add my opinions and experience into the mix.
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