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janbb's avatar

Would you be Van Gogh's mistress (read details)?

Asked by janbb (57023points) April 9th, 2012

A metaphor for a hypothetical situation. If you had the chance to love someone whom you knew was mentally unstable, would you risk a relationship? Let’s say the person was caring and empathic and creative (unlike Van Gogh) but permanently incapacitated by mental illness, would you risk a romance? Musings for a Monday morning.

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22 Answers

downtide's avatar

How do you control who you fall in love with? Doesn’t it usually happen the other way round, you fall in love with them first, and only find out later that they’re unstable?

janbb's avatar

@downtide You can fall in love but then you can choose whether or not you want to act on it.

Pandora's avatar

Love them like a friend and no more than that. If I knew they suffered from a mental illness than I would also know that there is a possibility of them going off the rails some day. I was never the type of person who would risk my future. Sure any relationship is a risk but some would be riskier than others. I’m not much of a gambler. Saying I Do was the biggest risk I ever took.
@downtide Its possible. I was in love once before I married my husband but I knew our relationship would cause me more heart ache in the long run, so I broke it off. Its hard to stop loving someone but its not that hard to push it aside and move on if you really want too. Trick is loving yourself more.

Judi's avatar

I did. My first husband was a wildly creative musician and severely mentally unstable. As much as I loved him, (He committed suicide) if I had it to do over again it never would have started. The drama was excruciating, and my children inherited the torturous pains of his illness. They have better tools to deal with it than he did, but as a mother, I have some guilt that I didn’t choose their genes a better.
I sometimes look back at that time in my life like a war zone and I am suffering from post traumatic stress.
My current husband is stable as a rock. If we ever get into a discussion and voices are raised just a little bit I sometimes have a panic attack. It’s like all the trauma and drama from before suddenly wells up inside me and I can’t breathe.
I love my drama free relationship now.
My grown children still provide plenty of drama though.

Blackberry's avatar

This would only work if I knew them as a functional person and they became this way. It wouldn’t even be possible for me to meet and get to know someone like that.

Akua's avatar

No I wouldn’t pursue a relationship with them because I know eventually it would hurt me.

wundayatta's avatar

My wife married me before we discovered I was mentally unstable. I would not have blamed her one bit for leaving me when I was sick. I think she should have left me, actually. But she didn’t and I am grateful for that. I might not have survived, otherwise. Hard to say.

As a person with a brain disorder, I am very sympathetic to others in the same situation. I would hope that people who love us would keep on loving us and not abandon us because we aren’t stable. With modern treatments, there is every hope that we can recover and become stable. It’s really no different than any physical illness, especially chronic ones.

But people abandon boyfriends and girlfriends with cancer or diabetes, so it’s not as if a brain disorder is much different. Some people can handle being involved with someone with mental illness and others can’t, just as some people can handle being involved with someone with cancer and others can’t.

Personally, I like crazy people. They can understand me. They can empathize with me. They know what is going on in ways that ordinary people are clueless.

I also very much like stability. I am not into anger or yelling and screaming. I prefer problem solving. However, I do enjoy emotional intensity. I am a very intense person, and not a lot of people can handle that. Sometimes, with other crazy people, it can work. And sometimes it would just get way too intense. So really, I don’t think any useful generalizations can be made here. You can get hurt with crazy people and hurt with mundanes. I seriously don’t think it’s much different in terms of the amount of hurt, although it is different about where the hurt comes from.

On the other hand, the highs can be much more intense with a crazy person. The depth of the relationship can go much further. It can be more intense. Deeper. But you never know what you’re going to get until you’re far enough into it that you can’t back out.

MilkyWay's avatar

If I knew the person well, then yes, I probably would. If however I didn’t know them well at all, then no, I wouldn’t risk it.

marinelife's avatar

If I loved the person and I went into it with my eyes wide open, why not? Would I stay? Maybe not.

chyna's avatar

When I was in 9th grade, I remember making a comment to my English teacher about marrying James Taylor. (For you youngsters, he was a folk singer back in the day.)
She looked at me and said “why on earth would you want anything to do with someone that has mental issues? You are just asking for heartache.” Of course, being the punk that I was, I said it didn’t matter to me.
After I became an adult, I realized what she was saying. I don’t think I would knowingly want to be with anyone that had mental issues.

Coloma's avatar

^^^^ What she said. I wouldn’t abandon someone who became ill depending on the situation and potential recovery, but I wouldn’t sign up to ride the crazy train into crazy town.

Trillian's avatar

Not for me anymore. Loving someone who is unable/incapable/ or unwilling to return that love is not something I want to repeat. One sided relationships are ok with cildren, they grow and mature andeventually put back in the kitty. Anything else is too emotionally draining and damaging.
It leaves the other free to behave in whatever destructive, self centered way with no consequences. There is no future in it.

Berserker's avatar

If I fell in love with them, then yeah. I don’t really control that, anyways. We’d have to see how things went along…couldn’t be any worse than falling in love with a ’‘normal’’ person haha.

zenvelo's avatar

@chyna And yet, JT is a wonderful person, has had a long standing marriage, and was the one who put himself in a hospital when he had severe depression as a teenager. I’ve seen him four times in the last five years, always a great show.

But my ex’s mental illness came out after ten years of marriage, and has been hell in my live ever since, despite divorce,

flutherother's avatar

If you were really in love with the person would you have a choice?

ucme's avatar

I’d be tempted to give Stephen Hawking a wank if the price was right…....close?

Ron_C's avatar

I believe that I have been mentally stable for most of my life. I have some foibles and phobias but generally pretty stable and I even have control over my temper.

I have had some recent trauma and find that I’m not as stable as I thought. The point is that my wife still loves me, stands by me, and even deflects some of the problems caused by my present condition. Sometimes you just end up doing what feels right and I’m glad she’s still my friend.

anartist's avatar

only if he was hot. [Crazy, maybe, but hot]

rooeytoo's avatar

I hope I am well enough that I would run like hell in the opposite direction and not stop!

jazmina88's avatar

ah yes, my love with the jazz musician is timeless. no matter how strange it got.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know, people. The mentally ill who are talented can be very charming and interesting. You may be more fascinated and in love than you are imagining. I know talented, mentally ill men who have a lot of success with women. I don’t think it’s as easy to run away as you make it sound and I question your ability to do so.

For another thing, when women get involved with these kind of men, they often have feelings of responsibility and guilt that won’t let them pull away once the guy is sick.

rooeytoo's avatar

@wundayatta – I know that to be true. It is why I said, I hope I am well enough to run away.

This reminds me of how often, when one person in a relationship is an alcoholic, then becomes dry, the relationship will break up. Seems as if the partner is attracted to the illness as well as the person. If they don’t have that sickness to feed on or fix or whatever, they have to move on. Usually to another sick person.

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