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Help Me With My Depressed Boyfriend

Gays and Depression

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Help Me With My Depressed Boyfriend
© Wojtek Kutyla
Dear Mona,

I've been in a relationship now with this amazing guy for over 6 months now. Things started off really well. We were always in regular contact, spending time together and talking often on the phone. However, recently things have began to change on his side.

Although he says he really loves me (which I know is very true), he has recently been rather withdrawn from me and we don't spend as much time together. The other thing that complicates matters is that he has been suffering from depression, which has been made worse due to stress at work. Plus, to top everything else, he was hurt VERY badly in a previous relationship which I think has now started to make him wary the closer we have become. He's scared its going to happen all over again.

I love him a lot and care very deeply for him, but just don't know how to best handle the situation. How do I show to him I'm serious about us without unnerving him and help him to move on from the past?   

With regards,
P.


Dear Pony Boy,

What you describe sounds like the classic symptoms of depression. I know first hand the tricks depression can play on the mind. No matter what someone says to you or what affirmative things you're surrounded by, a depressed brain convinces you that comfort lies in the darkness. Once those thoughts spiral, it's difficult to stop the momentum.

Because of his depression, everything seems distant, sad and unachievable to your man. Pair his depression with the bitter taste of a lousy ex and you've got yourself a challenge. You see his situation as a flourishing forest with unlimited potential, but his depressed mind sees the same forest as barren land with no end. No worries, though: Mona is here.

Want to show him that you love and are there to support him through this rough time? Well, my mama always says it's better to show someone than to tell them.

He will most likely resist your support and reject your words of encouragement. Don't get discouraged; this is his mind telling him that he's better off depressed than happy. Keep your ground and continue to encourage him. Don't be afraid to give him space, either. He may need time alone. But, don't let him sit and ponder life for too long. Intervene and encourage him to go out and experience life. If he doesn't want to do that then bring the life to him. Plan an On-Demand movie date. Keep the movie selections light and funny. Make fun virgin cocktails (remember, alcohol is a depressant, so you want to axe the power punch for a while). Pop some corn and get out your comfy cuddle blanket. Plan a board game date or just stay in and spoon all night. Try anything to keep his mind off of work and his troubles.

Also, help him map out a plan for his life. If work is driving him into the ground, help him come up with a specific solution. A depressed brain often thinks in absolutes. So, he may spit statements like, "There's nothing I can do about my hours," or "The market sucks, so I have to stay at my job," or "Things won't get better because my life sucks..." Don't feed into these thoughts by validating them. Give him specific ways in which he can alter his current situation. But most of all just be there to listen. And when I say listen, I mean really listen. Don't just shake your head in agreement. Read between the lines and try and get down to the bottom of what's really bothering him.

Lastly, don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to fix this on your own. Encourage him to get professional help. Actually, go a step further and find him a gay-affirmative therapist and make the appointment. I've found that gay-affimative therapists are much more comfortable to speak with openly, because they are, well, either gay themselves or familiar with the issues that gay men face. He needs professional guidance and you don't need to carry the burden of his care alone.

He knows you love him, just like you know he loves you. Take my mama's advice and show him that you're not going anywhere and that your relationship will not sour like everything else in his life. He's expecting the life of your relationship to dwindle away. Show him that your roots are firmly planted in the ground, waiting to share nourishment with him.

Yours in love,
Mona
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