Relationships are hard regardless of the two people involved. When one partner has mental illness there are specific challenges. As people living with mental illness, we want the same things that every human being wants: to be loved, valued, and respected. We deal with different challenges than neurotypical people, but we still have the same basic human needs: food, sex, love, and shelter. There are certain tips that can help you if you are in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness. Here are some things to consider that might help:
- Be empathetic: even though you might not completely understand what your partner is going through, having empathy can help you two. Your partner will feel supported when you express genuine care and concern about what they’re going to. You don’t need to fix what’s happening but you can be supportive and loving during the tough times.
- Don’t assume that every bad day is about mental illness: We all have good days and bad days. Just because we have a bad day doesn’t mean it’s due to mental illness. Sometimes things happen during the day that can be frustrating and upsetting. It has nothing to do with mental illness, it’s just a part of living life.
- Listen: It’s common for the partner who doesn’t deal with mental health issues to want to fix the problems of the person who lives with mental illness. While this is well-intentioned, this isn’t necessary. You don’t have to fix anything for your partner. What you can do instead is be a good listener. Ask them what they need from you and see if you can provide that.