If your current partner is dealing with depression and is pushing you away, there are a few things you can do to help yourself, your partner, and the relationship. Some of these things include:
- Educating yourself
- Being mindful of your thoughts and feelings
- Respecting boundaries
- Talking to someone about it
It can be frustrating and confusing when we find our partners pushing us away. This response can be hurtful and you might not be able to understand why- even when they make the effort to explain it to us.
We have to remember that everyone, including yourself, experiences trying times. During those moments in our lives, we might seek support from the ones closest to us. However, people with depression often choose the opposite reaction.
They may have various reasons as to why they choose to shut us out when they are having an especially trying day or an depressive episode. You have to understand that this is a defense mechanism to protect themselves
Let us take a deeper look as to why people with depression withdraw from others and what we as their partner can do about it to help yourself, them, and the relationship.
Why is your partner pushing you away?
To understand why your partner is withdrawing from you or shutting you out, you have to take the time to understand how depression affects a person by understanding the symptoms of depression:
Symptoms of depression
Depression is not only a mood disorder but it also impacts a person physically. They struggle with lack of energy to carry on daily tasks, fatigue when it comes to socializing and dealing with relationships.
They also struggle with concentration which might make conversations and socializing difficult. They also struggle with low affective tolerance meaning that they might be irritable causing them to lash out.
They also struggle with irrational beliefs of their own sense of worth. They might feel worthless and fear being a disappointment to others, hurting others, or being hurt themselves.
Reasons why they push you away
Some of the reasons why your boyfriend may be pushing you away are related to the symptoms of his depression.
Reasons could include:
- Lack of energy:
He may have no physical or mental energy to keep up with your conversations or your needs.
When he is struggling physically, he could choose to recover his energy by resting or being alone- this often happens without explanation which might make you feel left out
- Loss of concentration:
He may not be able to keep up with your conversations because of his inability to concentrate which might often lead to misunderstanding and fights.
- Feeling like a burden:
Because of his low-self esteem, he might feel like a disappointment which can cause him to be embarrassed about his struggles. He may also push you away because he is afraid of being a burden.
- Scared of hurting someone or being hurt:
Your boyfriend may be in a very vulnerable point in his life. This vulnerability may cause him to retreat and protect himself from the world because he is afraid of being hurt.
He may also be afraid of hurting you because of his mood swings since most depressed individuals find it especially difficult to be mindful of their behaviour when they are having a hard time.
Tips on how to cope with a partner with depression
Now that you know the possible reasons why, let us look at some of the things you can do in this particular situation.
De-personalize the problem.
First thing you need to remember is that it is not personal. You are not the problem here nor is your partner.
The problem in this relationship is depression and though your partner has depression, that is not all that he is. This particular mental illness is an illness that he is struggling with which is causing him to behave in ways he might not normally.
Patience and kindness is what you need not only towards your struggling partner but also towards yourself. This means putting blame aside and choosing to work together to overcome the problem.
Depression is a serious illness and it can aggravate and become deadly if not treated. If your partner has sought out help and is in treatment, take time to learn about the problem itself.
Being aware of the symptoms, patterns of behaviour can help you and your partner be vigilant about triggers so that you can be aware of what is causing issues within the relationship.
Having awareness about the disorder can help you set boundaries through open communication and work together to meet each others needs.
Being mindful of your thoughts and feelings
It is extremely important for you to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings not just for your partner but also for yourself.
Taking the time to nurture optimistic and hopeful thoughts as opposed to thoughts that instill fear and worry can be a good place to start- focus on the good while being mindful of the things that hurt you or him.
The same goes for feelings and emotions, being able to identify the way you feel whenever your partner withdraws can help you communicate these feelings to him when he is capable of listening to you.
If your partner’s withdrawal from the relationship causes much anxiety and distress, taking the time to reflect and understand why you are feeling this way- being mindful of what goes on inside you can be very helpful as well.
Communicating your needs to your partner and him having the courage to do the same can resolve a lot of anxieties in the relationship.
Though it might be weird and uncomfortable at first, especially if you both have never done it. However, creating a safe moment and space to open up about how you feel when he pushes you away can be a good place to get things moving forward.
Take this moment to also ask him to clarify his needs, what he would like you to do for you, his limits and boundaries so that you can be respectful of it.
Once you and your partner have had a discussion about your needs and his including setting realistic expectations, you have to be mindful of respecting his boundaries as he should yours.
Respecting boundaries can be challenging, especially when depression can leave your partner unable to meet your needs or when you find yourself worrying over the fact that he is shutting you out again.
But it is here that you remain mindful and focus on yourself instead of focusing on what his behaviour means. Respecting boundaries can also include understanding that the disorder could be making him behave differently.
Respecting boundaries also includes you being aware of what lies in your boundary- for example your emotional needs. If your partner is unable to meet them, seeking out ways to meet them through other sources of comfort can be one way to deal with the stress or anxiety that this predicament causes in you.
Respecting their need for space and solitude can be another thing you can work on, and if it causes much anxiety when he withdraws- this means that you focus your energies on other things such as your interests and hobbies (you tend and nurture the things you love within your boundary) while he takes his time to recover.
Talking to someone about it
Being in a relationship with someone who has a mental disorder can be challenging. It often causes stress and emotional distress. It might also cause a sense of hopelessness if there is no joint effort to help the relationship grow.
Speaking to a professional or a therapist can help you make better sense of the situation, help you develop techniques and skills to take care of yourself while also working on the relationship.
If there is a necessity and your partner is open to it, seeking out support for couples like couples counselling can also be a way to deal with the issues relating to communicating, boundaries, fears and anxieties.
Frequently asked questions related to “My depressed boyfriend is pushing me away (Tips on how to cope with a partner with depression)”
Why did my partner push me away?
There are many reasons as to why your partner might push you away. It could be due to unresolved issues that they are not ready to communicate with you. It could also be because they are busy and exhausted with work related stress and do not have the energy to deal with your needs.
Taking the time to sit down and discuss what is happening can be helpful to understand why they are behaving this way.
Can anxiety push your partner away?
People who struggle with anxiety also struggle with irrational thoughts, they might be quick to jump to conclusions and expect the worst. They may also fear being hurt or hurting others or being rejected and abandoned.
This anxiety can cause your partner to behave in ways that are emotionally or even physically distant- this is often because they are afraid and these fears usually arise due to various irrational beliefs about themselves and the world.
What do you do when your boyfriend is sad and distant?
If you are looking for ways to help your partner who is sad and struggle with some personal issues, some of the things you can do to be supportive include:
- Being gentle with your words, behaviour, and attempts to help him express himself.
- Don’t overthink things, rather choose to ask him to talk about it when he is ready.
- Respect their feelings, no matter how irrational it might seem. Give him a safe space to talk about his feelings, acknowledge them, and help him express them.
- Little gestures go a long way. This could be simply listening to him, buying him his favorite snacks, spending time with him without expecting anything in return. If it does you good to give at a time when your partner is unable to do the same for you, go for it.
- Remind him that help is out there by encouraging him- even educating him about seeking professional help.
How do I know if my boyfriend has a mental illness?
Your boyfriend should seek professional help for mental illness if he is experiencing any of these symptoms for more than a period of two weeks at a stretch.
- Sleep or appetite changes.
- Mood changes
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
- Inability to maintain relationships
- Unable to carry out their responsibilities such as going to work, parent, perform well academically- even if it means being unable to attending classes.
How To Stop Overthinking In A Relationship?
Ways to stop overthinking include:
- Being aware that you are over thinking.
- Being mindful of the type of irrational beliefs you are holding on to or the assumptions you are making them.
- Challenge these thoughts by building trust or even communicating these thoughts to them.
- Develop awareness about your needs, work with your partner to meet these needs,
- Be present with the now instead of worrying about what could go wrong, celebrate what is good right now.