Red Flags

In reply to a reader email…
Well there’s a lot of red flags here to be honest.
Bipolar Disorder is not good.
Prozac is an SSRI and possibly nerfing her sex drive and romantic feelings.
Keppra can be used for Bipolar Disorder, but is usually used for a Seizure Disorder, so I’m not sure if that’s what really is going on here and she’s lied about having “a mild bipolar disorder” instead of a seizure disorder. Keppra can cause birth defects, so it’s probably/likely/possible that she might have to come off that at some point should she ever get pregnant. 250mg is a lower dose, but no idea how many times a day it is.
She’s told you that she is purposely hardening herself against being in a relationship due to prior bad relationship experiences. Including being physically hit.
She has cheated twice on a prior boyfriend who was trying to treat her well. HUGE RED FLAG.
She’s telling you that you’re really just a friend as opposed to a boyfriend.
She’s rejecting you sexually.
She’s rejecting you touching her often.
She’s over an hour away.
In all seriousness, this girl is a waste of your time. Yes you could Alpha up and charm her back, but she’s still going to have the Bipolar Disorder and medication issues. Why shackle yourself to a 21 year old already on psych meds? It’s like you’re actively planning ahead to be married to Batshit Crazy. This is not someone you want to have children with… unless you want crazy kids.
She’s already cheated on a prior boyfriend too. Twice. Then she told you about it… a HUGE Fitness Test. You’re meant to react to that with a very firm negative response, not a understanding tone that her prior boyfriend wasn’t up to snuff.
The purpose of marriage is not to save a woman, it’s to have a functional, happy and productive life.
Plus… my hunch is there’s a good chance she’s already cheating on you. She never sees you all week, then gets together and no sex? Hmmmm…. that would be her prior relationship pattern wouldn’t it?
My feeling is that you really should just dump her and find someone new. I don’t mean to sound so blunt about it. And yes it’s easier for me to say dump her than for you to tear her out of your heart and walk away.
I’m so sorry.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, Athol, we need to hear the truth about our relationship situations sometimes. You have given this man a sober analysis of his situation. If he is to fearful(beta) to act on this information it will ultimately be his own fault. I pray that he does

  2. jasmine says:

    Oh man. Athol, if it is not too personal for this reader, is this from the same man the email came from yesterday?

    Not easy to hear it, but this man will save himself a great deal more pain in the future if he has the courage to end it now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    detinennui says:
    This is red flag city right here. Whatever your reader has with this woman is doomed already. In fact, whatever was there, is no longer.

    Gentle reader, if ever there was a time when you need to ignore/overcome/break through any oneitis you might have, this is it. You must not spend one more dollar, minute or emotion on this woman. Better to take the pain now. It will be worse later- much worse. If she stays with you (and that's a BIG if), she will drain you of every spare dollar and minute you have, and she'll exhaust you emotionally. Trust me on this. Oneitis is terribly debilitating.

  4. Athol Kay says:

    It's not Beta in the sense that it's fearful – I see that as a very poor Alpha response.

    It is Beta in the sense that he has terrible Oneitis as a "one way pair bond".

    And yes, it's the same guy as yesterday.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Take off the white armor, and back away slowly. Then run like hell.

  6. Badger says:

    This case was clearly never salvageable. I can only hope he has the strength to walk away cleanly.

    Totally off topic Athol, but the new format crashes my smartphone browser about one out of every two times I try to load it.

  7. Jasmine says:


    I assume your response was to my post about him having "courage to end it now"? If not, please disregard. When I said that, I more meant the courage to be alone and away from her. To break the "one way pair bond". That can be a terribly difficult thing to do.

    Seems like we all agree though, that breaking this bond will save him a lot of, well, everything, if he does it now as opposed to later.

  8. Badger's comment is true for me, too. Smartphone no likey the new format.

  9. Athol Kay says:

    Bleh… I hate having to switch formating around.

    Is it any one thing that seems to cause it?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Rocket's red signal flare! Exact pattern with MOMC. If she is not already cheating, she will. Repeatedly. You cannot save her, but she will drag you and your kids into a vortex of trauma before AND after the inevitable divorce. You need to run, run, run.

  11. "Fitness test" ?
    Hmm, I like the original Pick-Up Artist term (shit test) much better. Though I understand your need to be PC if you want to keep selling books.

    IMHO fitness test implies the blame lies entirely with the male for failing it(aka treating her good/fair/beta).

    While shit-test describes nicely how fucked up the whole behavior females wallow in actually is. And what you´ll become to her when you "fail", no matter how many years you´re supporting her.

  12. Athol Kay says:

    Hans – it's no so much PC as it explains what is happening without injecting emotion into it.

    Almost all women get offended by "shit test", but I've had many women write me and say they now understand that they were testing their husband etc and that they stopped/reduced it because of it. Choice of words can matter.

    It's the same thing as "bitch shields" vs "protection shields".

  13. People with untreated bipolar disorder are more likely to cheat (or demonstrate reckless sexual behavior, period)–especially during a manic episode. It is one of the many hallmarks of this disease.

    The latest thinking in the psychiatric community is that SSRIs are contraindicated for bipolar disorder and, in many cases, can make it worse. (Google-search it. FTR, I am not a doctor.) This is something a psychiatrist might be more up to speed on than, say, a GP. "Unipolar" depression and bipolar are not the same. With bipolar, the goal should be to stop the mood cycling.

    Prozac smothers the sex drive.

    Commonly successful meds are Lamictal (almost no side effects); Lithium (cheap!); Tegretol; and the antipsychotics (Abilify, Geodon, Depakote, Seroquel, and the new Latuda). Each one comes with its own set of side effects and risks, so it takes some dedicated experimentation. Treating bipolar also requires lifestyle changes and a lot of self-care.

    I am wondering if this girl has been properly diagnosed by an actual psychiatrist, and not a GP or an APRN who shook a Magic 8 Ball. I personally believe that only a psychiatrist should determine that a patient has bipolar.

    It's important to know that having bipolar disorder does not automatically make you permanently damaged goods, but once you know you have it, you have a responsibility to explore treatment options and to keep trying until you get it right. Otherwise you may destroy your relationships with the people who love you.

    I am not in the medical profession. I'm a girl with bipolar who–thanks to the right meds and therapy–is a very successful professional in a very happy, monogamous relationship. I wish everyone with this disease could find the relief that I did from that hell.

    If you stay with this girl for some reason, or you want to try "everything" before you give up, help her take charge of her care and push her start again with a new doctor who has treated bipolar disorder a lot and can scrutinize her med cocktail.

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