Is It Okay to Break Up With Someone Who Has a Mental Illness?


Breakups are difficult for everyone involved. Not only is it hard being broken up with, it is hard breaking up with someone. Even making the decision whether or not to stay with someone is hard. Now, if you mix in a mental illness or even two, it makes it that much harder. You might feel guilty for breaking up with someone who is suffering from a mental illness or think that leaving them will make it worse.

I do not believe that breaking up with someone strictly because of a mental illness is a good reason, as many people are able to live relatively normal lives and have good relationships while also dealing with a mental illness. When the symptoms of their mental illness become an issue is when it makes your everyday life difficult or if you feel unsafe. Some red flags to look out for are:

  • Any form of violence (verbal, physical, or sexual)
  • They have an inability to control their emotions or have a drastic change in emotion
  • Lack of empathy or remorse
  • Narcissistic behaviors (an excessive need for admiration, manipulation, selfishness, patronizing, and demanding)

Regardless of their mental illness, none of these red flags should be ignored. Your safety should always be put first. If you are experiencing any of these red flags, are ultimately unhappy with being with them, or their mental health is affecting your mental health, it is time to consider ending things. No one says that by ending things you will never be together again. Maybe giving them time to work on themselves or work through their own mental illness is what they need to work with you in the long run.

How you handle a breakup with someone with a mental illness is relatively the same as breaking up with someone who does not have a mental illness. There are a few things that you may want to consider when breaking up with them:

  • Break up with them in person not over the phone
  • Try to be as empathetic as you can
  • Be honest with them
  • Understand the mood they are in
  • If they are having issues, it may be worthwhile to wait until they are in a more stable state of being
  • Remember that your safety comes first