When most people hear the word "intimacy," they associate it with sex; however, the two are quite different.  Although you can be intimate when you have sex, you can certainly be intimate without having sex – especially when it comes to bipolar disorder.

 

With bipolar disorder, there can be several problems in the area of sex.  Bipolar medications can interfere with a person's sex drive, for instance, causing a decrease in it. 

 

Another problem that medications can cause is inability to get or sustain an erection for a man, or for both a man and a woman, the inability to achieve a climax.

 

When someone with bipolar disorder goes into a depressive episode, the problems with sex are compounded.  For example, one of the symptoms of a bipolar depression is the loss of interest in things in which the person would normally be interested.  Sex could easily fall into that category.

 

This can also cause problems for the person's spouse.  Unless they communicate with him/her, they may feel that this is because of them, something they did or didn't do, that the person is mad at them, that they are undesirable, or any number of things.  The problem is that communication breakdown is one of the things that may happen during a bipolar depressive episode.

 

Therefore, it is very important that intimacy is established in a bipolar marriage, in addition to a sexual relationship and, sometimes, instead of a sexual relationship.

 

Intimacy can be quite different than having sex.

 

It can include any of the following:

 

·         Hugging

·         Kissing

·         Holding hands

·         Snuggling

·         Romance

·         Being close

·         Talking together

 

Even laying together naked in the bed without having sex can be considered an intimate act, and many people in a bipolar relationship do this.  They report feeling just as close to each other as if they had actual intercourse.

 

The point is that intimacy is more than just the sexual act.  Although sex is the physical expression of an emotional love, intimacy without sex can achieve the same ends.