7 Tips for Managing Relationships Impacted by Mental Illness

Mental health can affect virtually everything in a person’s life. This can have a detrimental impact on our romantic relationships as well. If you or someone you love is suffering, therapy may be a beneficial option as well. Check out this article to learn more. 

Mental illness is common and can decrease well-being, negatively affect productivity, and even harm our physical health. It includes things like depression, PTSD, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

These things can affect our relationships in several different ways. However, it is important to note that it is entirely possible to be in a full, fulfilling, and meaningful romantic relationship even when you or the person you care about suffers from mental illness. 

How Does Mental Illness Affect a Romantic Relationship?

Mental illness can cause a lot of negative emotions. Among these are shame and guilt. There is a stigma that surrounds mental health issues which can increase the stress felt by both people in a romantic relationship. 

The person suffering from mental illness may also find it hard to complete simple tasks like mowing the lawn or doing the dishes. They may also be emotionally distant or difficult to communicate with.

Mental illness can also cause problems in the bedroom. The person suffering from it may lose interest in sex. This could be a direct symptom of the illness itself or be a side effect of some medications used to treat the mental illness.

These illnesses can also cause someone to feel lethargic which may impact your ability to participate in social activities together. They may even want to isolate or feel scared or doing things outside of the home. It is important to address these types of things and work together to find a solution that works for both people in the relationship.

Tips for a Positive Relationship

gay couple sitting together side by side on Mountain Top during sunset. Looking down to the valley, enjoying the sunset mood and view together. Millennial Generation Real People Outdoor Nature Lifestyle.

A lot of the symptoms of mental illness are painful for both us and our romantic partner. However, it is important to understand that this type of behavior is not deliberate. It is also important to try to improve the overall relationship. Here are a few tips that will help.

1. Open lines of communication

Talk with your partner about ways to communicate, things to do, or ways to make the relationship fulfilling for both of you.

Effective communication may be the most important thing for any relationship, but this is especially true with a relationship where one or both people suffer from mental illness.

2. Use “I” statements

It is important to build good habits around good communication skills. You may want to try using “I” statements because they can show your feelings without sounding judgmental.

For example, instead of saying “You are being disrespectful” you can say “I am concerned because you do not show interest in me or my feelings.”

3. Support your partner

woman talking to her partner about mental health

The person with the mental illness may also be worried about the future of your relationship. Show them that you support them. Let them know that you love them and communicate your thoughts and feelings. 

4. Take the time to learn

It is important to learn about mental illness as well. Try to understand the causes, treatment options, and healthy coping methods that may be beneficial for you or your partner. 

5. Don’t play the role of therapist

gay couple talking to a therapist

However, you do not want to act like you are a therapist or enable negative behaviors. Let a mental health professional do their job and you show your support, love, and sympathy for your loved one. Do not enable them. Instead, try to encourage them to improve their thought patterns, behaviors, and overall wellbeing. 

Therapy can also be beneficial because it gives you a place to share your thoughts and feelings. This can help both people in a relationship. Therapy can help you gain perspective, and a counselor can also guide you towards a healthy, loving relationship despite mental illness. 

6. Don’t neglect your own feelings & emotions

It is also important to explore the feelings of both people because mental illness can also affect other peoples overall mental health. The process may be scary or confusing. In addition, both people in a relationship may feel anger or frustration which can lead to emotional exhaustion. 

A qualified mental health professional can help you look at your range of emotions and learn to cope in a healthy way. Couple’s counseling may also be beneficial because it can help you achieve a loving relationship that does not fall into unhealthy habits, negative routines, or codependency.

7. Take time for yourself

One final thing is to always make sure that you leave time for yourself. Make sure that you eat healthy, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, have positive social interactions with other people, and participate in things that you truly enjoy. This can help to benefit marriage or relationship as a whole because you will be in much better shape to generate positive emotions and to succeed in healthy communication. 


A mental illness in a relationship may complicate things, but it is by no means an end to your relationship. Make sure that you let your partner know how you feel and try to work on ways to improve yourself and your relationship.

If you, your partner, or both of you are struggling with your relationship, then therapy may be a great choice. Individual and couple’s therapy can both be beneficial for a relationship and an effective way to improve your overall mental health and wellbeing. 

About the Author

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Do you have anything to add about managing relationships impacted by mental illness? Share below.

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