8 Tips On Dating Someone With Depression
By Sarah Fader
Updated November 11, 2019
Reviewer Dawn Brown
Dating can be hard. It's difficult to find the right person that you connect with and want to invest time into a relationship with. However, dating someone with depression brings on a whole new level of difficulty. Depression, when not handled correctly by both parties, can ruin a relationship. Some people are afraid of being in a relationship with someone that is dealing with mental health challenges, but that may mean on missing out on being with a great person.
You don't need to avoid dating someone with depression, but it will most likely require you to invest a little more effort into your relationship than you otherwise would. The following 8 tips can help you in your dating relationship when your significant other struggles with depression.
- Don't Try To "Fix" Them
The last thing you should try to do when dating someone with depression is "fix" them. They are not a "broken" person that needs you to fix them. Depression is a mental health challenge. There is nothing that you are going to do to make it better magically. The chances are that the person you are dating knows that you aren't going to be able to take away their depression and they aren't looking for you to do it. Instead, they are just looking for you to love and support them. They will quickly grow tired of you attempting to fix them all the time. It can give the impression that you do not accept them as they are.
- Remember That Depression Is Like Riding A Roller Coaster
Depression is as unpredictable as riding a huge rollercoaster. Sometimes you can see and predict when a big drop is coming, and other times it catches you off guard. When you are struggling with depression, some days are good, and others aren't. The person you are dating might know some of their triggers that cause them to struggle, but that's not always the case. Sometimes when you struggle with depression, you wake up feeling bad.
That makes being in a relationship difficult as well as handling everyday life. You might make plans to go out a week in advance, but when the day rolls around, they may not be up to it. Then, the next day might be a lot better again. Sometimes it's predictable, and sometimes it's not. But, if you want to be in the relationship, you need to understand that your significant other isn't just controlling when it happens to ruin your day.
- You Need To Set Boundaries
When dating someone with depression you need to learn how to set firm boundaries. If you aren't doing this, you will quickly exhaust yourself and see your own mental and physical health suffering. It can be emotionally taxing to be involved with someone with mental health challenges.
The exact boundaries that you set are going to be your personal decisions about what is important to you. For example, if it is important to you to stick to appointments and meetings that you set with people then if you make plans and your significant other doesn't feel up to going then you are more than welcome to go without them. You cannot force another person to do anything, but you also don't have to give in on everything if you feel it's important.
For some people, especially men, depression expresses itself as anger. This is something that you do not need to stand for in your relationship. If your significant other is taking their depression and anger out on you, then you need to remove yourself temporarily from the situation. It's time to remove yourself from the situation if it has turned abusive. If you feel that the relationship is starting to turn to an abusive path, then remove yourself before it reaches that point. Mental health is a real challenge, and people with depression often have little control over how they are feeling, but it is never an excuse for abusive behavior.
- Meet With The Therapist With Them
Therapy can be an important part of treatment for those struggling with depression. If you are dating someone with depression that isn't seeing a therapist, encourage them to. If they are seeing a therapist, ask if you can go along to a session. This is not something that you want to ask when the relationship is too new. But, once you have established a connection, attending counseling together can give you important insight into the other person.
The therapist, like those at BetterHelp, can help you to understand your role in the relationship. You can walk away with a better understanding of the struggles that the other person is living with.
Sometimes all you can do is listen. As we already discussed you are going to "fix the problem." Don't assume that you know what they are experiencing and how they are feeling. If they are struggling and willing to talk to you about it listen without trying to correct them on what they are saying. Let them know that you care about them and want to support them. Ask them how they are feeling and how you can support them through this time.
When they start talking, don't try to interrupt to get your two cents into the conversation. Instead, passionately listen. If they are saying some things that make you want to defend yourself, resist the urge to get offended and remember they are struggling (but don't allow it to continue if it is crossing into verbal abuse). But, if they are simply getting out their frustration and it hasn't crossed the line do your best to be there to support them. Put your phone down, look away from the TV, and tune into what they are saying.
- Focus On Their Strengths
This is really good advice for any relationship. You've probably heard of the "grass is greener" issue in relationships. All relationships are hard, relationships with someone suffering from depression is even harder. It's easy when you are in the messy times of your relationship to see another couple that seems like they have it all together and wonders if the effort you are making is even worth it.
When dating someone with depression you may go through periods of time when you feel like all you are doing is giving. That's when it is more important than ever to focus on what you like and love about your significant other. If you compare your everyday life with someone else's highlight reel (what they post on social media or act like in public), there is no way your real relationship can ever compare. Remind yourself that every relationship has troubles. Then, make a mental list of every reason why you have chosen to be with the other person. Focus on the good, even during the rough times.
- Look For Patterns
While it's not always the case, there can be triggers for depression. Try to keep track to see if you can spot any situations that happen that seem to trigger the symptoms of depression. If you know what to watch for you may be able to help prevent some situations or at least not be caught off guard every single time it happens.
- They Feel Bad When You Feel Bad
There is a lot of guilt that comes with depression. No one wants to affect the people around them that they care about negatively. However, when depression kicks in, it is not something that you can ignore and be able to act as though you feel fine. Your significant other knows that the depression impacts you and they hate it. They don't want you to stop living life every time they can't bring themselves to get out of bad. Do not try to make them feel guilty because they already do naturally and that adds to the depression. Let them know that you understand they are struggling and they don't need to worry about you because you are ok.
Depression can be a result of many different things. If the person you are dating is experiencing depression due to a situation or event that has happened in their life, there is a chance that eventually they will move past it. However, there is no way to tell for sure. If you are only dating someone with depression because you are counting on it "going away" for good, then you should probably move on.
Dating someone with depression means that you accept them for who they are and are willing to be with them during the times they are doing well and the times that they are struggling. If you are unable to do that, then it's best to walk away before getting in too deep. If you have questions about depression and how it impacts relationships reach out to a therapist to have your questions answered. A licensed professional can help you understand additional strategies and things to remember when dating someone with depression.