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One of the most popular videos on my channel talks about the signs and symptoms of hypersexuality. This is basically an overwhelming compulsion to have sex or look at sexual material. It’s one of those topics that doctors often fail to mention, even though over half of us with Bipolar Disorder will experience it. I talked a lot about “HYPERsexuality in the video,” but what about the opposite of this – “HYPOsexuality?” What about those of us who have zero sexual desire all of a sudden. Where being intimate feels like forcing down food when you’re stuffed. I’ve had partners wonder if I was cheating on them, or if I wasn’t attracted to them anymore because of such a sudden change in desire. I can’t really blame them… I’d be really concerned too if my partner went from being overly-sexual to having no desire whatsoever. If we don’t have a name for this or talk about what’s happening, it’s easy to fill in the blanks and assume the worst. A lot of us have been hurt before in past relationships, so our guards go up immediately when something doesn’t make sense.
My whole goal in making this video is to let you know that you aren’t alone here… That HYPER and HYPOsexuality are very normal parts of the Bipolar experience for most of us. I want to give you and your partner a name for these feelings so you can start to talk about them. It would have made a big difference in my past relationships if we just had a name for what was going on. I also want to share a few tips that have helped me navigate through this aspect of my current relationship, so stick around.
Now a lot of people confuse Hyposexuality with being asexual. Asexuality is when you have no sexual feelings or associations at all. Hyposexuality means you have no sexual feelings at all, but only for certain periods of time. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, whereas hyposexuality is a diagnosis that can happen to anyone and can occur for many different reasons.
It’s also important to understand that there is a difference between desire and arousal. Sometimes people have the “desire” to have sex, but they are unable to get aroused. If you have desire, but can’t get aroused, this could be the result of a medical condition, or a side-effect of something you are taking. If you simply have no desire to be intimate in the first place, this is much more related to the cycles of Bipolar Disorder, depression, or stress.
Before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, here’s what would often happen… I’d typically start dating people when I was manic – not when I was depressed. When I’m manic, my sexual desire (and even my ability to perform) is at its peak. This creates a certain “standard” of what a new partner can expect from me in the relationship. I call this “manic standards” and have a great video talking about it if you haven’t seen it yet. Bipolar is very cyclic, so eventually my mood would shift. I’d experience a depressive episode, or even just go back to a stable baseline and my libido would drop compared to when I was manic. This in turn caused many of my partners to assume the worst. In a new relationship where trust is slowly being built, this can incidentally cause problems.
Another common situation is where a couple gets together, and years later one of them is finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. They are put on medication for the first time and experience sexual side-effects as a result. After years of being used to a certain standard when it comes to intimacy, this sudden change in desire causes problems in the relationship. Without knowing the cause, it’s easy to again assume the worst.
Sexual side-effects from medications are actually one of the biggest reasons why people with Bipolar Disorder quit taking their meds. It’s really sad to see because MOST of the partners I talk to would much rather have a stable, consistent, loving partner, over having sex a few more times a month. Think about that.
Speaking of meds… There are several different ways of treating hyposexuality, however, most of them can be catastrophic for those of us with Bipolar Disorder. If we take hormones like testosterone shots, or those horse-pill supplements they sell at the local gas station, it can cause symptoms like mania, agitation, impact our ability to sleep, or even push us into a hypersexual state. Like I’ve said before, Bipolar Disorder is a lot like jumping on a trampoline… The higher we go up, the farther we have to fall back down. For me, a wild night in bed just isn’t worth days or weeks of emotional unbalance.
So if meds or supplements aren’t ideal for a lot of us, what else can we do to maintain a level of intimacy in our relationships? I’m going to share a few things now that have helped me, but you have to approach these with realistic expectations. They aren’t the same as having sex. The idea here is to set aside some special time and engage in activities that bring you closer together as a couple.
My first tip is to give each other a 15 minute massage before bed. If you want even more intimacy, make clothing optional. Just don’t set any expectations of intimacy that go beyond a nice, relaxing massage. Human touch is so powerful and important. It’s literally a physical expression of love and it’s often missing from a lot of people’s relationships. Especially if they’ve been together for a long time. Yes, it takes effort and energy to give your partner a massage, but how important is harmony in your relationship? I’ll happily give my partner a massage if I’m unable to have sex and this has made a big difference in my relationship. It’s even better if you massage your partner without being asked to do it. This shows that you are making a conscious effort to bring the two of you closer together.
My next tip is to sleep together! Now I didn’t mean sex. I mean literally sleeping – together. When was the last time you fell asleep holding your partner? If you have trouble falling asleep in this position, at least hold your partner for 5 or ten minutes before you pass out. We know how good a hug makes us feel when we’re down, so this is basically like giving your partner a 10 minute hug once a day.
My third tip is to spend a few minutes cuddling – before you get out of bed in the morning. I know a lot of people set their alarms and wake up at the very last minute. Give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes to just cuddle with your partner. Set a “cuddle alarm” that goes off a little earlier than usual. Or hold your partner while you hit the snooze button. I really like the idea of doing this in the morning. It’s when we are rested, when we have more energy, and it can set a nice tone for the day.
My next tip is to try something new together. It can be as mild as taking a class together, or as extreme as going skydiving. Trying new things creates a sense of vulnerability, wonder, and excitement. Looking back, the times I’ve felt the closest to my partner was when we were doing something together that we both love like fishing, traveling, or even just playing a game together. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, do a Google search for “a list of hobbies” or “list of couples activities” and see if something appeals to the both of you.
My 5th tip is to bring some passion back to your kisses. Somewhere along the way, your kisses might have gone from “waking up Snow White,” to just a chicken peck. Bring back the joy of a simple makeout session. Remember how exhilarating it was to kiss your partner for the first time? It was like your faces were slow dancing with each other. So the next time you kiss your partner… KISS your partner!
The last tip I’ll throw out there might sound obvious, but it’s probably the most important one… You have to talk about this stuff! The longer you wait to mention that your needs aren’t being met, the more resentment can build up. Your partner isn’t a mind reader – even if you think the situation is obvious. Don’t assume… Start a dialogue and go about it in a very direct, but loving way. Try to not assign any blame or make your partner feel guilty – especially if the situation is related to Bipolar treatment side-effects. Focus exclusively on creative solutions and not blame. Also, this isn’t the kind of conversation you want to have when you are in a hurry, or distracted by scrolling through your phone. Set aside some time where you have each other’s undivided attention. Listening is literally half of good communication, and this is an extremely important conversation to have.
If you made it to this point in the video, I can’t thank you enough for spending this time with me. I hope what I said today helps some of you to not feel so alone. If you have any creative tips that have helped you to maintain intimacy in your relationship, please join the conversation in the comments. We have an amazing Community of Polar Warriors here and we’re all in this together.
I know I say this a lot, but if my videos are making a positive impact in your life, please join us on Patreon. I can’t tell you how much work goes into making one of these videos and I need your help to keep a good thing going. My channel is not monetized with annoying ads from YouTube… It is 100% funded by viewer donations and these donations are saving lives. Patreon is also the only way you can reach me directly if you have questions or are looking for some support. We have the neatest group of people in the Community and I often post content that I don’t post on YouTube. There is a link in the video description if you’d like to join the Polar Warrior family on Patreon.
Thank you so much for watching and I’ll be back soon with more Polar Warrior Videos. Stay well!
“I’ve had partners wonder if I was cheating on them, or if I wasn’t attracted to them anymore because of such a sudden change in desire.”
WELCOME TO POLAR WARRIORS: If this is your first time visiting my website or channel, welcome to “the Polar Warrior experience!” My channel is completely dedicated to helping individuals, families, and friends who struggle with, or know someone living with Bipolar Disorder. My goal is to provide actual Bipolar tools and to discuss topics which can potentially help “Polar Warriors” grow to live a more balanced, peaceful, and fulfilling life.
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I just wanted to say hello and thank you again for your videos and posts. I read them all, unfortunately Paul does not. I still haven’t given up even though nothing has changed. You and I spoke in March and again in May but it feels like yesterday. I’ve tried everything I can think of, dinner, movie, fishing, game of cards, plant a tree, you name it, I’ve tried (yes even backrubs) even just talking. He says he has nothing to say, he doesn’t want to do anything. Today was my birthday, I spent it doing endless chores and cutting endless grass. I feel like an old car that’s been driven a million miles without any maintenance at all. I still watch your videos and read your posts and I thank you every time. You’re a wonderful brave strong person and you’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know.