Dating With Depression: 12 Things You Need To Know
Updated December 02, 2019
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
When it comes to dating with depression, it can seem like a daunting task. Whether you're the one struggling with depression or the person you're in a relationship is, you can feel torn and completely out of your element. It can be overwhelming just trying to get through the day sometimes, and yet, you want to stay with this person that you care about so much. Knowing a few things that can make your relationship a little easier and help you through some of those tough times may be the answer you're looking for.
If You're Struggling With Depression
If you're the one struggling with depression, there are some very important things that you should know so that you can not only prepare yourself but your partner. That way, you're going to be in better shape going into the relationship.
1. Take Things Slow
The first thing you should know is that being depressed could mean that you approach relationships differently. You might be tempted to jump in with both feet, even on a new relationship. Or you might be terrified even to start a relationship because you don't know what's going to happen. The best thing you can do is slow down and take things just a little at a time. This lets you get into the relationship in a healthy way that's more comfortable for you as well.
2. Don't Get Overly Sensitive
You'll likely feel overly sensitized because of your depression. This could manifest itself in being upset by sarcasm or unkind remarks. You could react excessively because of the way that your partner talks to you, even if they are joking or teasing. The sensitivity could seem extreme even to you, but that doesn't mean that you can control it or that you will be able to relieve your emotions and feelings. Rather, this could be counterintuitive and cause you to feel even more upset by your reaction to what's happening.
3. Know Your Feelings Are Not Always Accurate
Sometimes it's not just the sensitivity that seems to be changed around. Sometimes you may feel like your feelings for your partner are different than they used to be. You may not feel love for them in the same way when you're experiencing more intense feelings of depression. This does not necessarily mean that you're not interested in being with them. It could mean that the depression and symptoms of it are causing your brain to react in different ways, making the feelings of loveless noticeable or prevalent.
4. Be Open About it
Be willing to talk to your partner about what you're thinking and feeling. Let them know that you're struggling with depression and make sure you're clear with them about what you need to feel supported throughout this journey. Let them know what your bad days look like and what your good days look like. Also, be willing to talk to them during those good and bad days. Your partner wants to help you, and the only way that they can do that is if you are completely open and honest with them and not trying to hide your feelings.
5. You Can't Control Them
When you're suffering from depression, it can be easy to latch onto someone that you think is going to make it better or who you think may be able to help you. If that person is not your therapist, however, they have no obligation to help you. Your partner may love you and want what's best for you, but that doesn't mean that they are responsible for you. It also doesn't mean that they are going to be able to stay in the relationship because of the mental toll that it will take on them.
6. Keep Moving Forward
Every relationship you enter into is a new opportunity and a new experience. Don't let yourself get too hung up on mistakes you've made in the past or anything that you've done with different relationships. Enter into this one with the hope and the drive to make it better. Things may not always go well, but you can work at not letting the old mistakes happen again. That means being open and honest with your partner as we mentioned and it also means making sure that you acknowledge where you made mistakes before and what it will take to fix them this time around.
If Your Partner Is Struggling With Depression
If your partner is the one that is currently struggling with depression, there are some different ground rules that you should know. You want to make sure that you're supporting them in the best ways possible, but also not compromising your own mental and physical wellbeing and that can be a complicated process.
1. Have Realistic Expectations
Even if your partner is going through therapy and seems to be doing well, you should be careful about just how much you expect from them. Depression is an extremely complex mental health disorder, and that means they may have days and even longer where they seem to be doing great and may then slip back into depression. Expecting too much of them, expecting them to 'snap out of it' more quickly or believing that therapy or you could be the miracle that they need is not going to help them or your relationship.
2. Accept Their Limitations
There are going to be times when your partner just can't do the things that you might want to do. Even if they've agreed to do something special with you, they may struggle when the time comes. They may have days where they struggle to do anything. You must be understanding and supportive even in these more difficult situations. There may be times when you feel let down or disappointed, but it's important to understand that your partner is doing the best that they can and that sometimes they just can't make it work.
3. Know They May Pull Away
This means more than just physically wanting to be alone, though that's a big part of it. Your partner may want to spend time entirely alone, or they may want to spend time only with you rather than going out. On the other hand, they may not want to have sex at all. Because of the depression, isolation, and a lack of sex drive are quite common. This is due to how depression affects the brain and different portions of the brain that control the innate desire to mate and to socialize.
4. Provide Support In A Healthy Way
When you continue to give and give to your partner, you may feel like you're draining your energy and your wellbeing. You must find a healthy balance between supporting them in the way that they need and supporting yourself as well. Encourage your partner to seek out professional help so that you aren't the only one they are talking to about their experiences. When you're trying to act as a therapist and a romantic partner, it can wear on you in many ways. Making sure they get the help they need takes some of the pressure off you.
5. Recognize What Is Depression And What Isn't
Not every problem that you and your partner have is going to be because of depression, so you want to make sure you understand what's happening in the relationship. If you're struggling to make, the relationship work, it might be difficult to separate what is causing the problem. Suffering from depression is not an excuse for your partner to be mentally, physically, or emotionally abusive. It is also not an excuse for them to make you feel guilty for your actions. These are only a few of the situations that you will need to work on separate from the depression.
6. You Are Not Responsible For Them
Your partner may come to depend on you in some ways when they are struggling with depression, but you are not responsible for them. You are not required to stay with them only because they are depressed. You are not required to act as their therapist or to take care of them 100%. If you are unable to maintain your own mental and physical wellbeing while staying in the relationship, you have every right to walk away, though this should be handled with care.
When it comes down to it, whether you are struggling with depression or your partner is, these tips should help you get a little bit further ahead, but they're not going to take care of things on their own. Getting professional help is a crucial step in working through depression and getting your lives back to the way you want them. ReGain is one way that you can work on anything you want, either individually or as a couple. Your mental health should be a priority, so make sure you're getting the help you need.