A scan of the statistics reveals: 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental health struggles in their lifetime. So if you’re in the dating world, you really might find yourself dating someone with depression. Two things we can learn from conversations about dating a partner with depression:
- Everyone experiences the symptoms of depression differently, so identifying where your partner struggles will help your relationship.
- You are still an equal priority. You can help your partner, and improve your relationship, but if you don’t care for your own emotional needs in the same way, there’s no point.
All relationships face obstacles, some more than others. Dating someone with depression is no exception, and can even be more challenging. However, those with depression often have incredible capacities for empathy, understanding, and emotional insight, which enrich relationships.
Learn how others get through similar struggles, and make the most of your amazing partner, despite their depression.
Be Aware of the Challenges
For those who have depression, the stigma surrounding their symptoms can dissuade them from dating in the first place. If you’ve found your ‘person,’ but they experience depression… it’s lucky you found them at all!
Because your partner’s emotions may work differently than yours, it’s important to educate yourself. We’re glad you’re here.
Arguing With A Partner Who Is Depressed
Depression takes arguments to a whole new level. For many with depression, sarcastic comments feel more threatening, and conflicts feel more like personal attacks. While you didn’t mean to hurt their feelings, rejection sensitivity is a key component of depression.
Will you work with me, to make us work better?
Even a small argument can seem catastrophic to someone with depression. Depression’s unhelpful cognitive biases can cause your partner’s brain to internalize and amplify a single event’s emotional turmoil.
They may give up easily, believing your issues are unfixable, while you see an argument as a small bump on the road.
This might be because their depression causes helplessness and skepticism, or even because they’ve begun to believe the stigma about depression — that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them, and they can’t be ‘fixed.’
Here, your communication skills will shine: remind them that the two of you are together for a reason. There’s obviously a reason you want to be around your partner, and you don’t believe they’re permanently broken.
Even if you can’t help in the same way a doctor or therapist can, you want to be their rock, their safe space. After reassuring them, you can come back to the issue at hand: Will you work with me, to make us work better?
They’re Pushing You Away?
Your partner may not always feel depressed, and can often be warm, affectionate, and happy. However, bouts of depression can cause them to isolate themselves from you. They may not want to see you or talk to you, or may seem withdrawn. This can last a couple hours, to a few weeks, and feels hard not to take personally.
Understand that it is not a reflection on you. In fact, fear of losing you, who may be the one happy thing in their life, can cause the distance in the first place
Showing love and affection may be difficult when they feel that everything but you sucks. Going on dates becomes challenging when they can’t get out of bed. There are good days and bad days, but it doesn’t mean they love you any less.
The Shame of Depression
Learning about your partner’s struggle with depression can improve your communication with your partner, and by extension, your relationship.
For instance, their constant fatigue and poor self image may make them feel unlovable or unwanted, which can lead them to create distance. They may even be reluctant to share that they’re depressed with you in the first place, so you might feel pushed away without an explanation.
If your partner’s depression is causing relationship problems, they’re probably aware of it, though the shame of having depression might keep them from talking.
Creating emotions ranging from isolation to guilt, your partner’s symptoms can come to affect you as well — without some strategic effort. Tips and strategies to maintain your emotional wellbeing are laid out below.
Reminders For Your Own Mental Health
The hard truth is there is no 5 step plan to fix depression or your relationship. Depression is pervasive, inescapable in the short term, and affects everyone differently. You’re bound to encounter conflict related to it. However, your personal mindset impacts both your relationship and your ability to support your partner.
You are Not Their Therapist
Showing your love and support for your partner is really important, but will never equal therapy or dedicated mental wellness support. Don’t put pressure on yourself to fix your partner’s depression, because it’s genuinely not your job. You are not responsible for their struggles, and feeling like you are puts unreasonable pressure on your relationship. Just do your best to support them, as any devoted partner would.
You Need Self-Care, Too
#You may realize that constant high emotions drain you. Taking care of your own mental health is key. Often, partners will put the needs of their significant other who is depressed above their own. This can deplete your mental resources and even tax you physically. Take a step back and make sure you have the support you need as well.
Empathize and Communicate
Empathy and open communication are essential in all relationships — but an extra effort is required when dealing with depression. Your partner’s depression requires you to develop a new emotional language with your partner.
Be open with how you feel, and understand that they may struggle to put their emotions into words. Validate what they say, even if you may not personally understand what they’re feeling.
Navigating a relationship with a partner who is depressed is daunting. Depression can highlight the flaws in relationships and make them even more challenging to overcome. However, many of the skills needed, such as empathy, can improve any relationship.
When you find yourself at your wits’ end, searching for your own support system, try Supportiv.
People going through the same things are here to listen to your frustrations, and to help remind you that your own emotional wellness is always important.
Just hit Chat Now, enter your thoughts, and get connected immediately, any time of day or night.