“It’s Complicated”: Schizophrenia and Relationships

"It's Complicated": Schizophrenia and Relationships

Romantic relationships are complex and can be challenging to navigate. When a mental health condition is involved, such as schizophrenia, issues may arise that you and your partner don’t know how to handle. For example, dating with schizophrenia can make it difficult to effectively communicate and meet your partner’s needs, especially if you aren’t familiar with the condition. The misconceptions and stigma associated with schizophrenia may only complicate things further. However, understanding schizophrenia symptoms and how they impact your partner can clear up any confusion, helping you form a stronger, healthier bond.

Understanding Schizophrenia: Common Symptoms and How They Impact Social Dynamics

According to the World Health Organization, less than 1% of the population has schizophrenia, a serious mental health condition characterized by unpredictable emotions, hallucinations and delusions. People with schizophrenia often interpret reality abnormally, causing disordered thinking and behavior that can impact their daily functioning.

Schizophrenia typically develops during late adolescence or early adulthood. Signs and symptoms can vary significantly but commonly include hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations involve seeing or hearing things that aren’t real, while delusions are scenarios believed to be real without facts or evidence, such as thinking you’re a celebrity or the president.

Other common schizophrenia symptoms include:

  • Speaking in disorganized patterns
  • Having difficulty showing emotion
  • Finding it hard to express yourself
  • Maintaining unhealthy or odd sleeping and eating patterns
  • Displaying bizarre or abnormal movements
  • Losing interest in everyday or pleasurable activities
  • Experiencing difficulty processing information, paying attention or making decisions

Many people with schizophrenia don’t realize they need help, causing symptoms to worsen over time. They may struggle to build and maintain social relationships due to difficulties with showing emotion, expressing themselves and communicating with others.

Navigating the Challenges of Dating With Schizophrenia

The danger of dating a schizophrenic is the communication struggles that may arise in your relationship. Hallucinations and delusions can cause your partner to become paranoid, resulting in them becoming mistrustful or accusing you of trying to make their life more difficult. If you try facilitating conversations about your thoughts or concerns regarding the relationship or their behavior, they may shut down emotionally or experience difficulty relaying their own feelings. Dating with schizophrenia can also present other challenges, including:

  • Finances. Having schizophrenia can make it hard to maintain a job, meaning your partner may be unable to contribute equally to household finances. If you’re married to or live with someone with schizophrenia, you may be responsible for covering most expenses.
  • Intimacy. A core symptom of schizophrenia is losing interest in pleasurable activities, including sex. You may experience a lack of intimacy in your relationship that’s frustrating and difficult to deal with. Many antipsychotic medications used to treat schizophrenia also cause side effects that may exacerbate intimacy issues.
  • Bonding emotionally. Lack of interest in pleasurable activities can make it difficult to plan date nights or romantic trips. Your partner may fail to show excitement about traveling, acquiring shared hobbies or going out to dinner, making it hard to formulate a strong emotional bond.
  • Household duties. Your partner may struggle with initiating or completing household duties, causing the responsibility of maintaining the household to fall on you. People with schizophrenia also struggle with social cues and may not understand you want them to wash the dishes just by your pointing out the sink is full.
  • Outside judgment. Schizophrenia is drastically misunderstood by most people and carries a harmful stigma. While other people’s thoughts and opinions aren’t your partner’s fault, it can be frustrating and hurtful being judged or questioned by family or friends for dating someone with schizophrenia.

Providing Support: Strategies for Building Healthy Relationships With Schizophrenia

Because dating with schizophrenia can be challenging in many ways, it’s important to support your partner and ensure they feel comfortable. However, you also need to take care of yourself and make sure you feel supported and fulfilled in the relationship. Here are a few tips on building and maintaining a healthy relationship with schizophrenia love.

Be Patient

There may be times when your partner’s behavior frustrates you, especially at the beginning of the relationship when you’re still getting used to their symptoms. Medication can also produce additional symptoms, causing your partner to experience moodiness, lowered sex drive or impulsive behavior. It’s important to be patient and help your partner the best you can while also monitoring your own mental health and stepping back when needed.

Work on Communication Skills

If you aren’t familiar with schizophrenia, asking your partner how it affects them is the best way to learn. Schizophrenia impacts everyone differently, and it’s important to understand your partner’s unique experience so you know how to help. Try being a good listener when they need to vent to show your support, but remember, healthy communication goes both ways. Be sure to communicate your own needs as well, especially if the relationship starts taking a toll on you.

Support Your Partner’s Treatment

Schizophrenia often requires lifelong treatment to help people lead successful lives. The earlier your partner begins treatment, the better their outcome will be. Being supportive and assuring them you’ll be there throughout the process may encourage them to stick to their treatment plan, which can benefit your relationship.

Suggest Couples Therapy

Dating with schizophrenia can present challenges not commonly found in other relationships. Attending couples therapy can help you navigate issues or complexities you aren’t sure how to manage and provide support during rough patches. It also shows your partner you’re committed to understanding them and making the relationship work, which may encourage them to return the favor.

Finding Support for Your Relationship

If you have a schizophrenic girlfriend or boyfriend, resources are available to help them navigate their condition. Schizophrenia treatment typically involves a combination of therapy and medication to manage symptoms and help individuals lead fulfilling lives. By educating yourself on schizophrenia and supporting your partner’s treatment, maintaining a healthy relationship is possible.

Living with untreated schizophrenia can be difficult, but professional help is available. Restore Mental Health offers a compassionate team of trained professionals and a personalized approach to schizophrenia treatment, ensuring you have access to the help you need. Contact us today to learn how our services can help you build better relationships with your loved ones.