Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Struggling in relationship with depressed partner and need advice

Community Member

Hi everyone,

In short, I've been in a relationship for about 2 years with someone who I love very much. However we have had a lot of problems, mostly I think due to his depression and a huge lack of communication.

I'm at a stage where I just don't know what to do anymore and hoping some advice might give me the support I need to either find ways to better care for myself in our relationship, or to leave.

Some of the time, our relationship is great. We love spending time with each other and we've talked about plans for our future. We have lots of fun and I get along well with his friends and family.

His depression is always evident though. He has lots of negative thoughts, often doesn't want to attend events etc with me (or even leave the couch) and our sex life is non-existent. But I've learnt to accept those things and still want this. I've done lots of reading/ talking with others about depression.

It's whenever depression hits him really hard that we have problems. When that happens, he completely ignores that I exist. There have been many times that I've been ignored for weeks or months at a time. (But he only ignores me- he's completely normal with everyone else). When he resumes contact, he acts as if nothing has happened. I try to talk to him about it but he doesn't want to so I find myself treading on eggshells for fear of the cycle repeating. But regardless of what I do/ say/ don't say, he still decides to ignore me every so often and I'm left completely distraught.

Currently I haven't heard from him for 3 weeks. I've tried to call/ text and when he hasn't responded I've done my best to be patient and give him time and space. But it's driving me crazy. My emotions are all over the place, a lot of pain, anger and lots of questions running through my head, eg what have I done now?

Then I get spurts of trying to be positive and find the strength to push through it. But I'm finding myself completely stuck and I'm not able to do anything to help the situation or myself. It's started to take its toll on my mental and physical health, I'm feeling anxious socially (especially with any mutual friends) and I'm not sleeping or eating properly which is affecting my work life too.

Within the 2 years we've been together, I'd say this silent treatment thing has probably happened about 10 times, and it seems to be happening more frequently the longer we go on.

I love him and I want us to work out but not sure what to do anymore.

Any thoughts?

10 Replies 10

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi there

My initial thoughts are that maybe you give him space. Send him a message that you are there for him, but wait until he calls or texts. Meanwhile get on with your life, building a positive environment for yourself. You will be no good for yourself or him if you let this get you down and out. There are lots of good counselling links on this site you might wish to try as well.

Good luck. It is not easy, for both of you

Community Member

Hi Reachout

depression or not, your relationship with him sounds completely one sided in many respects. So you've told him how you feel and he ignores you?

In 2 years you've experienced months of silent treatment. This should be a real honeymoon phase, plenty of sex, all of that stuff. Instead your not sleeping or eating.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but I'd be putting on my oxygen mask first and pulling the eject handles

Community Member

Hi Quiettall and Apollo Black,

Thanks for your reply. I think your two differing opinions reflect my own conflicting thoughts on what to do.

On one hand, as Quiettall says, I want to give him space and let him know I'm there. I want to wait for him and hope that we can get through this together. I try to be positive and carry on with my life but that's becoming pretty hard lately so I plan to seek some counselling to help me through.

On the other hand I'm sick of being treated like this and have definitely thought about throwing in the towel. The relationship is quite one-sided, I agree. I'm putting in a lot of effort and love but it's draining.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi there again

You are starting to realise just how much you have given, and what you are worth as a valuable and loving person. That is a huge start. Counselling will help you develop some realism and perspective. You need someone to ask you the questions that will refocus you on what you want out of life, how much you are prepared to give, and what you need out of a partnership, either this one or a future one. In making that last comment, I am not encouraging you to hang on or go for the rebound. It is just that you need to take time out to be clear about who you are and what you expect of yourself and others. Once you have done that, then you can make some real decisions about your current situation, and how you move forward

I cannot agree with this more. It's easy for an objective outsider to say 'bail out' but that is often easier said than done. I have been in a similar situation, with a partner who suffers from PTSD and depression due to childhood war trauma. Often stressful times in his life will make his mental health worse and that is when your relationship suffers. It's like being in a relationship with two different people. I found it helpful, a) to see a counsellor , but b) in all situations to look at their motivations for their actions. Is he trying to hurt you or is he trying to cope with what's going on in his head and doesn't want to burden you with it. I know the latter to be true for my partner in most cases. As someone who deals with anxiety, i can understand both perspectives - doing whatever you need to do to get through the day versus the impact that these behaviours have on the people that love you. I used both a private psychologist and my workplace EAP and will continue to use these resources whenever i need advice. I feel your pain - i hope this helps give a bit of perspective.

hi there, wow! Thank you for being honest and brave for posting this. welcome.
My sister is in the exact same position atm. She lives with her boyfriend, paying his mortgage and bills and doing everything for him and shes there for him together with him but whew, they're like total strangers in the same house many times each week 9if that makes sense). Its soul destroying, hurtful and depressing.
I agree - and have learned the hard way - to never judge a relationship. It is ENTIRELY your choice.

Depression is like that...sufferers are so consumed by their own thoughts, no one else seems to matter - and bumps/hurdles will leave sufferes with a blank feeling sometimes....but......
As i posted seconds ago (read Tillycats new thread):
You deserve to be treated with respect
You deserve to be treated well
You deserve to be treated with honesty

Do whats right for you! If you feel he doesn't treat you as you deserve or you feel he will not in future then its time to find something for YOU to focus on and enjoy.
If you feel you can get through this and stay through the difficult times and he will treat you with respect afterwards, then it is your choice to stay and see....
We can all judge and have an opinion, but it is YOU who has to live this life, no one else. and it is YOU who must look after you.

I wish you the best. Be strong, be safe!!!!

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

I totally neglected to ask is He getting help??

if not, encourage him gently to see a counsellor and if you can, tell him how you feel- his behaviour is pushing you away and if nothing changes he may well lose you for good, is that what he wants? If so, then it's time you move to something better for you! If not, it's time for him to be rave, honest and face whatever it is that's going on for him either with you and a counsellor or for himself using BB or a counsellor and maybe other methods to overcome depression.

its slow, it needs time, it will be an up and down bumpy path but with the right help and support-if he lets you/others in to help, then things will slowly become better.

whether you stay for that or not is your choice sweet. I wish you the best!!!

Community Member

Hi CJs Mum

I had a pang of anxiety reading your post. I thought I might be reading my partners post about his position in our relationship. I'm resourceful enough to realize that I may be doing this as well. I hear in your post that you value your health and concerned protecting your well being. This is good. This may be your biggest ally to get you through this tough time.

Your light is working overtime I can imagine, you could have an easier path. Mental health can be complex and hard to understand. But from one person who is on the other side, thank you. You dont just offer strength , but you signal to your partner they matter and you remind them they are loved. It helps. I hope I can repay the help my partner has given me if he ever needs it. Good luck, look after yourself and hope everything works out.

Community Member

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all your messages and sorry for the delay in replying.

It's been a tough road ever since my first post 4 months ago. I have heard very little from my partner (or ex-partner?) this whole time despite still trying to call or text every now and then. My calls are never answered and texts are only occasionally responded to with very brief replies such as 'you deserve better than me'. To me, those kind of messages confirm that he is in the thick of a depressive episode and can't, for whatever reason, see a way to make it work with me when he's feeling like that.

I have been doing my best to carry on with life as normal. I've sought some counselling for myself to help with the confusion of it all too. What I've realised is that I can't change how he feels, I can only offer my support and if whether he chooses to take it is up to him. But nothing is going to make me want to forget about him and I also want to let him know I care about what he's going through during this time, even if we're not in close contact.

CJs_mum: Thank you for your helpful thoughts. No he is not getting help, he doesn't want to. In fact he never wants to talk about his feelings with anyone, let alone a GP or psych. And he is very against taking any medications as well. Which makes the situation all the more tricky. We can't force someone to get help when they don't want it, but I hope by trying to be understanding and being there for him I will make some difference to his life in the long-term.