So you navigated through the awkward process of introducing yourself to new people at bars, jotting down new phone numbers, and sending late-night texts. After weeding your way through the dating process, you’ve finally found someone that you want to be with.
But as you’ve gotten to know them more, they’ve confided in you about their personal life and struggles — specifically depression. If you don’t know much about this illness, the prospect of dating a depressed person may seem intimidating and foreign.
But don’t let this single fact dissipate all of those exhilarating feelings you first feel when starting a new relationship. While it may seem intimidating to involve yourself with somebody struggling with depression, that doesn’t mean you can’t develop a happy and healthy relationship with this individual, too.
However, before you embark on a new life journey with your partner, there are a few things you should know. Below, we’ve outlined 4 key points that can help you begin a new relationship with your partner — even when they’re experiencing this medical illness.
1. Be Sympathetic, But Don’t Excuse Bad Behavior
It’s no secret that mental illness tends to have a negative stigma attached to it. But just because your prospective partner is depressed doesn’t mean that they’re in any way incapable of dating or unable to show you the love and respect that you deserve in your relationship, too.
Show your partner empathy and try to put yourself in their shoes. If your partner is showing you early red flags in your relationship, such as extreme jealousy or controlling behavior, don’t just shrug off these signs as mere symptoms of depression.
While depression may leave your partner in emotional pain, a caring and loving individual won’t go out of their way to extend their suffering to their significant other. Make an effort to show your partner your love while expecting emotional support and respect in return, too.
2. Respect and Communication Are Key
It’s easy to tell someone to cheer up and shake off any negative feelings that they’re experiencing. But while this advice is simple to give, it’s not quite as effortless to take — especially for someone with as complex an illness as depression.
Even when you can’t understand why they’re suffering, remember that their depression is very real. Respect is one of the top ways to bridge an emotional barrier in your relationship — regardless of whether or not your partner is experiencing emotional distress. So, when you start a relationship with someone suffering through depression, make sure to prioritize open discussions and make it known that your partner is free to turn to you for a listening ear at all times, too.
But remember that communication won’t always be easy from your significant other. Sometimes, the suffering and emotions they feel will be difficult to put into words. Whenever this is the case, make sure to let them know that you’re willing to be there for them whenever they need you most.
3. When Dating a Depressed Person, Find a Balance
When your partner has a temporary illness, you don’t mind picking up the slack to keep things in order. But when you’re dating a depressed person, you have to maintain a steady sense of support over a potentially long period of time. This is why when you’re dating someone with a mental illness, such as depression, balance is key.
You may have to put some extra effort into being the supportive partner that your significant other deserves. But, that doesn’t mean you should neglect your own mental and physical health in the process, too.
When you date someone struggling to find a sense of happiness or purpose, you have to be even more confident in your current mental state. Be an excellent support system but remember to take some time for yourself to relax and find a sense of relief, too. Since research studies show that moods are contagious, you’ll want to put some added effort into supporting your emotional health so that your happiness can rub off onto your partner, too.
4. You May Experience Difficulties in the Bedroom
Nothing kills the mood in the bedroom quite like depression. If dating a person with depression is a new experience for you, you may wonder “what’s wrong with me?” when you’re ready to jump in the sheets and your partner seems less-than-enthused. All too often, the partners of those with depression aren’t aware that this mental complication translates over into the bedroom as well.
Even when two people feel a mutual attraction for each other, depression can stimulate sexual arousal disorders that stunt a healthy sex life.
If you’re struggling to get your partner excited — or find it difficult to keep a sense of arousal — suggest that your partner seek medical help whenever necessary. Remember not to guilt them for sexual-related issues as this can be a touchy and embarrassing subject for many individuals suffering from depression. A doctor may help them form a medication plan that could help your partner — and you — enjoy the sex life that you desire.
When dating a person with depression, remember that they’re so much more than just their mental illness. You fell for them for them for a reason, and their emotional struggle is a minor roadblock in your relationship that you’re willing to help them overcome. You’ll find that when you put the added effort into helping them recover and understanding their needs, working through the hard times together isn’t so challenging or foreboding after all.