How much do you know about arguing with a bipolar person? If you ask any bipolar person if they like to argue, they will probably insist that they don’t. In fact, I would venture to guess that your bipolar friend or partner would say that you are actually the one who likes to argue.
Of course, it’s not them who likes to argue. It’s you. Sound about right? But, if this is really true why are so many bipolar relationships full of what I like to call “fight or fuck nights”?
We love fighting or fucking or fighting and fucking – or most of us do. In fact, I often tell my friends that the reason why my 24-year relationship with my ex-husband lasted so long was because of sex and makeup sex. We have a tendency to argue and have sex, generally in that order. It’s incredibly common with people who have bipolar disorder and it doesn’t get talked about enough — or at all. Not like this anyway.
Starting arguments is a very common symptom of bipolar disorder in my opinion. And we start arguments a lot. We argue when we are hypomanic or manic, when we’re depressed, tired, frustrated, off our routines, hypersensitive, irritable, and the list goes on. We are moody and oversensitive and fighting with people is unfortunately in our nature.
Now that I have admitted what you may already know, I am going to get into the reasons why bipolar people like arguments and sex so much. Plus, I’ll give you some tips you can use if you’re arguing with a bipolar person. As a person living with Bipolar 1 myself, I am open about my mental health and I talk about some of the symptoms that other people may be too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about.
Important note: I am not a medical doctor or therapist. These are my personal tips and not intended to be professional advice.
Arguing with a Bipolar Person
So, let’s get into it. Why do bipolar people love “fight or fuck nights”?
Let me start by saying we don’t really love to argue, it just seems like we do. It took some honesty and self-awareness for me to admit that we like arguing. Even now, I still don’t think that I like to argue. Yet, I have had this same pattern in all my relationships and the only partner that I didn’t have “fight or fuck nights” with was someone who hated arguments and confrontation. He would leave any time we started to fight, so I never really got to enjoy the fight or fuck nights, or the sex and subsequent makeup sex. His unwillingness to have a good fight with me made me feel bored and unloved, and it was part of the reason for our breakup.
Why do bipolar people love arguing and fighting?
While there may be a ton of factors for why bipolar people are more likely to get into arguments with their friends, family, or partners, including the high probability they grew up in a chaotic, abusive, or otherwise dysfunctional home, these are a few of the most common reasons we tend to fight with people.
We are manic or hypomanic
During our manic or hypomanic episodes, we tend to have more energy, and impulsivity and have majorly oversized egos (otherwise known as grandiose thinking). This is when we are the most confident. It can cause us to express our confidence by trying to assert more power in our relationships.
Personally, in my relationships, I am attracted to self-confident, assertive, and masculine partners. It’s one of the reasons I appreciate men who fight back with me. When I’m not manic, I tend to be more patient and avoid unnecessary arguments, even when I strongly disagree. But, when I am manic or hypomanic, this is when I suddenly have the confidence to practice my assertiveness and speak my mind. I’m not fighting. I’m expressing my feelings. This is when I find the courage to communicate my feelings and when I don’t tolerate things that I would normally overlook or that wouldn’t typically bother me. But, in my partner’s mind…. I’m starting shit.
I like to think that I don’t display the mean, angry, irritable, aggressive bipolar symptoms, and for the most part, I don’t. Most of my relationship partners would not describe me as the psychotic bipolar woman you sometimes hear about — ya know the women who slash your car tires or throw things at you, but I do get irritable. My youngest son used to call it, “arguetible”.
One of the reasons we get so irritable when we are manic or hypomanic is that we’re not sleeping well. Hypomania can lead to a decreased need for sleep, more energy, and horrible insomnia. We’re either not falling asleep at night or waking up all night thinking up ideas, new cleaning schedules, fitness plans, business goals, etc. And this makes us very, very tired. Like cranky toddlers who don’t get enough sleep, we can get ornery. So, when we are tired, we will yell, scream, cry, have tantrums, and display any number of other childlike emotional outbursts.
We’re gaslighting or you’re gaslighting?
These days everyone is talking about gaslighting and narcissists. But, are most bipolar people gaslighting and narcissistic? I don’t think so. If your partner appears to be gaslighting, keep this in mind – people with bipolar disorder often have cognitive impairment and memory issues, especially when they are manic.
This was not something I was aware of when I was diagnosed and not something my doctors or therapists ever discussed with me. We talk and think so fast that we don’t always remember or know what we actually said. This is not quite the same thing as gaslighting.
I didn’t realize that this happens with me and your bipolar friend or partner might not either. One day I had an argument with my ex-husband over something he insisted I said. I was 100 percent certain that I didn’t say this. Like absolutely sure I didn’t. So, I asked someone who was in the room with us when we were having our conversation if I, in fact, said this. I thought he was crazy and remembered things wrong. I was astonished to find out that yes, he was right, I did say what he insisted I said.
If we tell you we didn’t say something, we may not be gaslighting (at least not intentionally). We may not remember saying it the way we actually said it and sometimes we don’t remember saying things at all. Rather than argue with us on the truth, you can say that’s not how I remember it. And try to understand that your partner may legitimately remember things differently because their brain is processing everything way too fast.
We’re bored and need some excitement.
We find people who are unwilling to engage in confrontation or “spirited” discussions with us boring. Like the Eye of the Tiger, we love the thrill of the fight. Sometimes we start fights simply because we consciously or unconsciously want the adrenaline rush or to see how passionate you are. Will you engage with us in a fight or frustrate us with your silence?
We are feeling hypersensitive
There’s no doubt about it, bipolar people are sensitive folks. Some of us act tough, but deep down most of us are extremely sensitive. We don’t handle criticism or feedback well. This can cause us to overreact and often leads to arguments.
We are sexually frustrated and taking it out on you.
Most people with bipolar disorder have issues with hypersexuality. We could be described as the definition of nympho-maniacs but hypersexuality in bipolar disorder is not really the same thing as a sex addiction.
We can experience non-stop, irritating, compulsive, crazy–making urges for sex. It’s hard for us to feel satisfied even when we are with someone who is amazing in bed. We still want more. This insatiable craving can lead to feelings of frustration, which in turn can make us incredibly cranky. If you’re our partner, guess who we’re going to take it out on? That’s right — you. See why I call these fight or fuck nights?
We have issues with emotion regulation and need a release.
People with bipolar disorder have issues with emotion regulation. When we’re overwhelmed with the intensity of our emotions, we look for a way to let them out. Many of us use fighting or sex as a way to release our emotions and regulate them. Although it’s not ideal or healthy, fighting provides an emotional release and a way to get out our frustrations and anger.
Similarly, sex and particularly make-up sex is one of the ways we try to regulate our emotions. Even in healthy relationships, sex can be a form of stress relief, but with bipolar people, we crave this even more as a way to calm down, feel connected, and release the intense emotions we experience.
Fighting with us makes us feel loved
Many people with bipolar disorder carry learned behaviors from past relationships, parental influences, and childhood trauma. If a constant state of conflict was the norm during our formative years, it’s understandable why many of us perceive this as a normal dynamic in a relationship. Consequently, when a partner doesn’t engage in arguments or push back, we may feel they aren’t invested or don’t care about us. In our minds, we often associate fighting with love. If there’s no conflict, it may feel like there’s no love. Confrontation tends to feel more familiar and normal to us than open and honest conversations.
It is important to recognize that healthy arguing is an important part of healthy and long-term relationships. Unfortunately, due to our fluctuating and volatile emotions, our partners sometimes choose to suppress their own feelings rather than engage in necessary conversations to resolve conflicts within the relationship. This can lead to unaddressed issues, simmering tensions, a lack of effective healthy communication, and ultimately more fighting.
Should you argue with a bipolar person?
This might surprise you, but yes. You should argue with a bipolar person, but you have to know when and how. As mentioned earlier, arguing is part of a healthy relationship.
It is generally best to refrain from getting into potential arguments with a bipolar person when you are aware that they are experiencing a hypomanic or depressive episode. Factors like fatigue, stress, or other emotional dynamics may make it challenging for them to regulate their emotions effectively. In these situations, it is better to wait until they are not in a manic or depressed state before having a conversation hat could potentially escalate into an argument. This may not always be feasible and you shouldn’t avoid all conflicts with someone who has bipolar disorder.
Walking on eggshells or completely avoiding confrontations does not lead to a healthy relationship with your bipolar friend or partner either. Instead, try to practice calm and gentle communication methods and express your feelings in a constructive manner. You can communicate your feelings and avoid arguing with a bipolar person by following some of my tips below.
Tips for arguing with a bipolar person
Here are a few tips for dealing with a bipolar person when they start an argument with you.
Taking a proactive approach to prevent fighting and arguing with a bipolar person is better than waiting until conflicts happen. If you’re in a relationship with someone bipolar, offer support when it comes to sleep schedules, exercise, and other routines. This can make a huge impact on the number and severity of arguments you have. In other words, this isn’t the person you want to stay up late talking to, partying with, or listening to music all night long with. If this is how you bond, consider adjusting your schedule to accommodate their need for stability and consistency, particularly when it comes to sleep. This may mean finding alternative ways to bond and connect that align with their need for a stable routine.
Communicate gently before, after, and during an argument.
This may be easier said than done, but there are practical strategies that can help prevent situations from escalating, even if your partner has bipolar disorder. The key is to address issues before tension builds up, whether it’s something that is bothering you or something you know is affecting your bipolar partner.
One of the reasons conflicts tend to escalate in bipolar relationships is because our partners are quite frankly scared of us. They don’t want to deal with us crying, screaming, having a tantrum, getting mad, storming out, or any of our other overreactions. Thus, instead of openly communicating with us, they may opt to bottle up their feelings, bite their tongue, and let the issues go unresolved. Unfortunately, this can lead to a festering of unresolved emotions that will inevitably come out.
Manage your own emotions
In order to keep an argument from escalating with a bipolar person, you must remain calm and composed. It can be really difficult to manage your own emotions when you are in a relationship with someone who is bipolar. When they scream at you or start crying, it can be unnerving. Your natural reaction may be to react to their emotions. It is extremely important that you manage your emotions to help them regulate and manage their own.
Try not to raise your voice, have an aggressive reaction, or get into a bipolar person’s personal space when they start arguing. This is a great way to further escalate the fight. Think in your mind when the fight starts of ways you can de-escalate the fight. The calmer you are, the calmer they will be. And conversely, the more emotional you are, the more emotional they will be.
Validate their feelings
It’s really common for the partners of bipolar people to bring up their bipolar disorder during a fight. Naturally, this is because, from their point of view, their partner is acting bipolar again. Bipolar people need their feelings to be validated and understood. We aren’t “acting bipolar” or “being crazy.” We have symptoms that are often difficult to manage. This isn’t the appropriate time to bring up our mood disorder.
Instead, a more effective approach is to actively listen to us and validate our feelings. By doing so, you provide us with the assurance that our emotions are acknowledged and understood. This act of validation can be a powerful tool in de-escalating a fight.
By actively listening and validating our feelings, you make us feel safe and secure. In the long run, you will have healthier communication with us and help us to unlearn some of our fight-or-fuck patterns in a safe and respectful atmosphere.
Set Healthy Boundaries
It is okay for you to walk out of a room, end a conversation or not continue a discussion with a bipolar person. I would bet on the fact that they won’t like it, but this isn’t about them. It’s about you. If being around your bipolar friend disrupts your own mental health and energy, set some healthy boundaries. Calmy let them know that you don’t want to be around arguing, yelling, or violence in a gentle way and remove yourself from the situation, especially if you feel unsafe.
Pick Your Battles
When an argument starts, think to yourself, is this something worth fighting about? Sometimes your bipolar friend or partner is irritable, emotional, and arguing with you about something completely insignificant. In these situations, it may be best to let them have their sense of being “right” without engaging in further confrontation
By allowing them to simply feel validated or be “right” from their perspective, you can prevent the argument from escalating. However, it is important to note that letting them be “right” does not mean insincerely telling them, “You’re right, you’re right, you’re right.” This is likely to fuel the conflict rather than diffuse it. Instead, try acknowledging their emotions and point of view by saying something like, “I can understand why you feel that way” or “I can see how this is affecting you.”
Let them express themselves until they self-regulate
Sometimes there is simply nothing you can do to avoid a fight with a bipolar person. Rather than let it get to you, let it go. One of the best things you can do with a bipolar person in an argumentative state is to let them wear themselves out. Their irritability and anger may not really be about you. Say in your head, “Here we go again” and prepare for the impending argument.
It’s important to understand that, much like children having a tantrum, sometimes we need to exhaust ourselves to calm down. While you may be tempted to walk away and leave us to calm down on our own, it’s likely that we won’t allow that to happen. We tend to persist until we have expressed every last word and release our emotional energy through arguing.
When we initiate an argument, it may be necessary to simply let us talk, even if it seems never-ending. During this time, try not to worry too much about defending yourself or countering every point. Instead, allow us to express ourselves fully. By granting us the space to voice our thoughts and emotions, we can gradually self-regulate. This approach often proves to be one of the most effective ways to bring an end to the fight with a bipolar person. As we start to exhaust our emotional energy, we will eventually calm down.
Why Bipolar people crave sex after an argument
Whether you’re in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder or not, it’s likely that you’ve experienced the passionate emotions involved in makeup sex. As human beings, we are emotional creatures, and sex provides us with a powerful means of emotional release, whether or not we have bipolar disorder. When conflicts happen, the surge of dopamine and adrenaline during fights can increase our desire for sexual intimacy even more. For many people with bipolar disorder, fighting, and sex are the only way they know how to manage their intense emotions.
Sex often boosts our mood or makes us feel better. This is because sexual activity triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine, which are natural mood enhancers. This can help us to calm down or comfort us after an argument.
Moreover, like anyone else, we crave physical connection and intimacy as a means to reaffirm our emotional bond with our partners. We want to know that despite the fact that we’ve acted bipolar again, you still love us. For us, sex is a means of validation and reassurance. It allows us to reconnect with you, healing the emotional wounds that may have happened during the fight.
Sex helps us to reconnect with you, and to know that we haven’t ruined yet another relationship due to our lack of emotional control. We are used to our disorder disrupting our relationships and often causing partners to leave. We tend to crave sex after a fight to make us feel connected again
So, Tell Me About Your Experience Arguing with a Bipolar Person
Have you had “fight or fuck” nights? If you have bipolar disorder, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have highly charged fights of cycles of fighting and make-up sex?