I (a woman) have been with my (male) partner for a long time. We’re not the marrying type, but I saw this as a relationship I would have for the long haul. I’m a very sexual person, and sex is part of how I relate to people I’m close with. We’ve never been monogamous and that has worked out great.
In the last year and a half, my guy has been struggling with serious depression, and between all the meds and the depression itself, our sex life had dwindled to nothing. I feel a lot of sadness about this. Whenever I bring it up he says he can’t help it (which I get) and he doesn’t want to force it (also makes sense) and that I should spend that sexual energy on other people. Which is fine and I do but in the past whenever we disagreed or were distant, sex was a way of finding each other again. Without that, it’s been harder to come back to a good emotional place in our relationship, and we’ve been fighting a lot.
I understand that depression is a disease, and I am trying to be as patient and compassionate as I would be if he were battling cancer. But at the same time, how long does it make sense to stay with someone that I’m not on the same page with any more? I know “love” means a lot of different things, and I do love him, but with no end in sight, I’m not sure if I’m still in love the way I once was. But then again, dumping someone because they’re depressed sounds hideous and cruel. What should I do?
First let me say that I’m sorry you’re both going through this, and that depression fucking sucks. Like any chronic illness, it’s something your boyfriend will have to deal with for the rest of his life. It sounds like he’s fighting hard to find something that helps him, and I have to assume that your support has been valuable to him as he goes through it.
I guess I’m struck a little by how much your question seems to be about optics. I feel like you’re saying that you want out, but you worry that dumping him will make you look bad. Which, yeah, it definitely will. People who leave partners who are struggling through a difficult illness are not usually looked upon kindly.
But you are also allowed to have needs, obviously. And as you explain, it’s not just that he’s less interested in sex, but that without the sex, you don’t relate to each other as well. I’m sure he’s not his usual self either, because of the disease and all the meds. But there’s no guarantee the “old him” will return. I’m afraid there aren’t really any easy answers here, which you already knew.
I would focus less on what people would think, and more on what you both need and want. I also think that this is not a decision you should come to quickly or with an ultimatum, and that talking to an individual counselor and a couples counselor would be a great idea. It’s hard to be the support person for someone going through depression, and you don’t need to do that on your own.
Sorry this answer is not an exciting and definitive DUMP HIM or anything. Sometimes life is just complicated and hard, man. Sucks.