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How do you continue to support a loved one with depression when you constantly feel rejected?...

Community Member

My boyfriend of 18 months suffers severe depression and anxiety.
Our relationship didn't start in a traditional way- I left my husband to be with him, who is 6 years my junior.
We live together, with my 2 children, following his mental breakdown at the start of the year. He was unmedicated and fell into such a deep hole that he stopped working, showering or even leaving his room. I never gave up on him and continued to love and support him, even though the relationship was so new- I knew that I loved him like I've never loved anyone before. After his suicide attempt I convinced him to come stay with me so I could keep an eye on him. He got help through the CAT team and is now 6 months on medication and doing better than I, or any of his friends, have ever seen him.

The problem is that despite him being happier and more active- and telling me how much he loves and is attracted to me, he has absolutely no sex drive and it's leaving me feeling hurt and rejected.
We talk about it almost every week and I try so hard to tell myself that it's his illness and not me- but how long can I continue living with this feeling of not being attractive enough, being too old for him to be attracted to, not being able to turn him on, etc.?
I try to do things like buy sexy outfits, flirt with him, tell him how attracted I am to him... but he just can't. He tells me that he hates himself for it and that he wants to be intimate with me, but just freezes up and then gets upset with himself and so can't even fool around or anything.
I want to believe him so badly, but when I know he's had relationships in the past that were purely based on sex and nothing else- how can I not compare myself to that?
How long can you continue to support the person you love through their battles- when they are creating your own battles?

I find myself constantly watching what I eat and exercising excessively to try and make myself desirable for him. I feel worthless and unattractive and I just don't know what to do anymore.

2 Replies 2

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
In general, I think that sexual attraction has very little to do with the other person and a lot to do with ourselves and how we are feeling. If we are feeling good about ourselves and healthy then we are in a place to find other people desirable. I would say that I have a fairly high sex drive for the most part, but I know when I get sick that my sex drive completely disappears, it’s like a part of you Knows that you don’t have any extra energy or space to deal with that stuff now. The fact that your partner could barely even shower, the most basic of human needs, backs this up to. And the more someone pressures the more you dread the inevitable conversations or potentially just ‘giving in’ to appease the other person, which isn’t ideal either.
I completely understand that you equate sex with feeling desired, but perhaps you can both go to counseling to find ways that he can still make you feel desired and secure while also tending to himself during these times. Perhaps it’s a night snuggling on the couch watching movies? Etc. just some thoughts, and I wanted to reiterate that it’s really not you, it’s something physiological in him at the moment

Community Member

Hi Audreylou,

I understand this must be difficult for you and your relationship. Intimacy is an important part of a relationship. You mentioned that your partner is on medication, could this be a side effect of the medication? This might be worth discussing with your partners doctor. Often medication can improve quality in one area of a persons life but may have adverse effects in other parts. This might be worth exploring.