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How do I support my depressed partner when he keeps pushing me away

Community Member

Hi all, I would really appreciate some advice.

My boyfriend and I have been together about 18 months now. He was up front and honest about his depression from the start. Throughout the relationship, I have seen glimpses of his struggles; he would often get down due to feeling as though he has a lack of career direction and the pressure of having 2 kids to 2 different (demanding) mothers. During those times, he has gone quiet for a few days but it never really affected our relationship.

Around 4 weeks ago I began to notice he was started to isolate himself. Sex was lessening, he stopped texting me throughout the day, after dinner he would get straight on to his phone and watch netflix with headphones in until it was time to go to sleep. Obviously this concerned me greatly and I asked if he had had a change of heart about our relationship. He said no, but that he had a lot going on in his head at the moment and struggling to pinpoint the cause. He said he just needed to work through these struggles on his own.

I struggle with this as I am an extremely affectionate person and love being intimate and love when he says he loves me. Now it's like pulling teeth trying to get anything remotely 'boyfriend-ish' out of him. I can see that my constant pestering wasn't helping and I've pulled back to give him his space. We are currently living with his parents while we renovate our new place - I offered to go stay up at the house on a mattress on the floor for a few days if he wanted me to, but he said no.

I'm at a complete loss as to how I'm meant to act or what he wants from me. I love him so much but it feels so one sided at the moment. I've since done some research on depression and know it's common for one to isolate themselves and that I should lower my relationship expectations for the meantime. It such a struggle though, because the insecure side of me still wonders if this is just a lead up to him breaking it off. I'm in a constant state of anxiety and feel like I'm walking on egg shells.

He's already on anti depressants and has been for years. I suggested that perhaps he should seek out therapy, and he just brushed it off. I think the hardest part of all this is not knowing when (or if) this depressive episode will end, and when the man I know and love will come back to me.

Thanks in advance

3 Replies 3

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

Depression often sends us to a place like where your man is currently. It's a sad and confusing place. Dark.

However, who cares for the carer?

Even though this period is difficult for him he needs to learn how to conduct some basic reassurance with his communication. This is not necessary for some but we are all different and for you it is mandatory.

There is subtle ways of edging him to do more. E.g. tell him you are going to your house to sleep on the floor even though he's told you he won't go. He might then accompany you. Go to the cinema, if he's watching Netflix then no different but you'll get him active and alone.

I think living with parents might not be having a good effect on him.

Try these things and be patient. But when he improves he must learn to reassure you better. His responsibilities don't disappear when in a depressed state.

If he's capable of attending the bathroom, watching TV, talking on the phone etc, he's capable of asking you if you'd like a cup of coffee and chatting.

That's my theory. When I'm depressed I open my feelings to my wife and hold her hand and tell her I love her and it isn't her, it's me atm and be patient. She feels better then.


Hi TonyWK,

Thank you for your helpful response.

You're definitely right, living with his parents has taken a toll on both of us. I suppose from my point of view this would be more motivation to finish the house off quickly - to be honest a lot of the work that's left could be done while we are living there. When I suggested this, he just said he doesn't have the motivation or energy right now. It's frustrating because I know getting our own space will do the world of good for him, but he's just stuck in this dark fog with no motivation. I even thought maybe he's having second thoughts about moving in together and I said to him that if that's the case, it's okay, and I can get my own place while he works on himself. He also said no to that.

I'll try your suggestions and also try my best to be patient (not my strongest quality!) I just wish I could see the light at the end of the tunnel so that when he's in a better headspace, we can have a proper conversation as to how we both manage the next occurrence.

Thank you again.

Community Champion
Community Champion

hi and welcome to the forums. Hope you don't mind me adding my 2c worth...

That wanting to isolate is natural. There are many reasons why "we" might want to do that, though I suppose at the end of the day rather than talking about, it is easier to try and deal with it ourselves. That is my experience anyhow.

Whether these are reminder for your partner (?) ... he has made it through these periods before and will do so again. The second point relates to an analogy I worked out with my psychologist, and that is sometimes to get to top of the mountain we have to go through a valley to find a better path to the top. At some point you will travel up again.

On the medication ... there is no harm in chatting with the GP about the medication and its effectiveness.

On getting help ... it took a long while to convince my dad to talk to someone. If you are able to talk to your partner using "I" statements (vs "you" statements) you might have more success here. My only suggestion here is gentle persistence.