*Throughout the article, reference is made to 'he' or 'she' when talking about a person who is bipolar. It can be either, and using one term or the other is merely for the sake of convenience. These suggestions are meant for anyone, male or female, who is suffering from bipolar and his (or her) family and friends.

Simply put, you don't know if you can handle dating a bipolar sufferer until you try. But isn't that the case with any relationship? Aren't you risking heartbreak and turmoil any time you date someone? Isn't there uncertainty? Risk?

Here's what could happen if you date someone who is bipolar:

They may hurt your feelings. They may need reassurance. They may turn on you when they are in a bad place emotionally. They may have to go to the hospital, see a doctor, or need medication. They may spend too much money. They may become depressed. They may feel invincible. They may cry. They may laugh too loud. They may break up with you. They may cling to you. They may tell you they love you. They may cherish you. They may treat you like the only and best person in the world.

And all of these things could happen if you date someone who is healthy, who has cancer, who is shy, who is outgoing, who is foreign, who is … almost anything under the sun.

But let's be realistic. If you are dating someone bipolar, the moods will be intensified if he or she doesn't stay on the right medications. The risk of injury or suicide is higher if they don't take proper care of themselves. STDs are more likely if they have been promiscuous in the past.

Consider the worst case scenario, and hope for the best, just as in any relationship - but be honest with yourself. As in any relationship, you hope for a loving and rewarding partnership, but if an illness such as cancer strikes one of you, most people can honestly say they will be able to love and support their partner through that.

Now substitute 'suicide attempt' for 'cancer' and contemplate the possibilities. With a bipolar partner this is entirely possible no matter how loving you are and how 'right' you handle things. It is the nature of the disease that they will be self-sabotaging moments when suicidal tendencies may flair up. Do you have the strength to bear up under the guilt, confusion, sense of betrayal and accusations surrounding a suicide attempt and the emotional journey back from that edge?

How do you know if you can handle it? ASK QUESTIONS. LEARN. OBSERVE. BE DIRECT. Talk to your significant other and demand honest answers because you deserve them. One of the most important things you need to know after he has told you he is bipolar is whether he is on medications that are working for him.

When your date has told you he is bipolar, be honest and ask questions. Three very important ones he should always be willing to answer are:

1. Are you currently on medications that are working for you, and what are they? 2. Are you seeing a doctor and/or therapist regularly? 3. How often do you have episodes and when was your last one?

Discussing these issues will give you a perspective on what to expect and what the future might hold for the two of you. Here are a few things to keep in mind, though.

Someone with bipolar monitors his illness in much the same way as someone who has diabetes does. He checks his symptoms regularly, he takes his medications, he sees his doctor, and he makes sure that he takes care of himself properly. If your partner is taking care of himself properly, why would you hold his illness against him?