Dear Depressed Men: Please Stop Dating

October 3, 2018  |  
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depression and dating African American male in sky blue underpants sitting on the edge of bed with his head in his hands.

Depression is nobody’s fault, and anyone struggling with it should never feel guilty about opening up to loved one’s about their experiences. But, the important phrase there is loved ones—as in, your preexisting network of friends and family. Your support system, that you’ve already built, is meant to be there for you when you need a little extra help. They’re there to lift you up when you can’t lift yourself up. That is what friends and family are for, but that’s not what brand new romantic relationships are for. I know it’s a sensitive topic and a lot of people may have drastically different opinions from my own but, as someone who has been depressed and has been involved romantically with depressed individuals, I feel strongly that those in the throws of severe depression should not try to date. Depressed individuals need to take…happiness/energy/support. And that’s okay—they should take it from their friends and family. But a new romantic relationship should be built on give and take. Not just the latter. Depressed men, please stop dating. I’ve come across too many of you on first dates.

emotional cheating couple decorating home for dinner party. They are drinking wine and waiting for guests to arrive. Well dressed.

You hide it well at first

The real trouble with depressed individuals dating is that they can usually conceal their condition for a while—just long enough to draw someone in. They can often appear happy and stable just long enough to make someone attached to them, and then, that individual has hell on earth coming their way.

depression and dating of upset handsome African manual worker leaning on wooden pallet in storage house

Then cynicism sets in

Once the depressed individual can no longer put on the appearance of being healthy anymore, the cynicism sets in. They stop being the positive, upbeat individual their partner met on the date and start making disturbing, unsettling negative comments. This is different from dating someone with bipolar disorder, for whom the darkness comes and goes. Once a depressed individual goes dark, it’s a downhill slope for their partner.

relationship problems

A couple sitting down, chatting in the sun by the canal together.

You can’t be happy for others

Depressed individuals cannot be happy for anyone else because they cannot be happy for themselves. This can be very hurtful for their partners, who go to them, excited to announce some good news, only to find that the person who claims to like or love them isn’t happy for them.

depression and dating fighting at the breakfast table. They could be at home or in a restaurant. They are arguing and looking angry and upset

You pick fights

Depression can manifest itself in strange ways, like anger and frustration. In fact, depressed individuals can feel that their happy partners are being happy at them. Then they become angry, and pick fights—fights that their partners feel were unwarranted.

depression and dating shot of a young married couple having a disagreement at home

You become paranoid

Because depressed individuals can lead rather secluded lifestyles, and remove themselves from activities and distractions that keep their thoughts from going darker, they can become paranoid. Depressed partners are prone to paranoia and jealousy.

depression and dating

You go MIA

Depressed partners also go technologically dark at times, not responding to calls or texts for days. This is very scary for a new romantic partner who is unsure if they’re just being ghosted or, if something is terribly wrong.

depression and dating beautiful teenage girl sits at a table across from her unrecognizable physician and looks at him with her head in her hand as she listens to his treatment plan for her migraines. There is a model of the human brain on the table.

You turn us into your therapist

Partners of depressed individuals eventually become therapists, unintentionally. The relationship can be so much about listening to the thoughts of the depressed individual that day and helping them work through them. It’s not a natural, balanced relationship.

depression and dating African American senior man discusses improvements with a female counselor. The counselor is taking notes.

There are actual therapists

It’s really not fair to turn any personal relationship—friend, family member, or romantic partner—into a therapist. While those people can be emotional support, it’s important to take actions (like seeking a real therapist) to keep them balanced. Nobody wants to feel like each time they see their friend/partner/family member, they just wind up listening to someone else talk the entire time.

depression and dating businessman working late, using laptop and having problems.

You do scary things

Depression can drive an individual to do a lot of scary things, ranging from threats of physical harm to quitting their job to burning bridges. It can be very frightening, for a brand new romantic partner, to know how to address these threats. Are they real? Are they to be taken seriously?

depression and dating woman thinking sad

You drag us into your darkness

As someone who once found myself in a relationship with a depressed individual, I can tell you this: the relationship lasted six months, and it took me two years to feel like my happy, whole self again after. Depression is nearly contagious.

depression and dating drinking coffee and fruit juice in cafeteria, looking at each other.

You call us selfish for wanting out

When I suggested my depressed ex wasn’t in a place to date, he said I was selfish, superficial, didn’t know how to handle “real issues,” and other very painful things.

depression in women looking shy or sad

You can’t be there for us

A depressed individual cannot be there for someone else who is feeling down. But a romantic relationship should be a partnership in which both people console and uplift the other. It shouldn’t be a one-way street.

depression and dating sad on a bench

Your problems are always bigger

I never felt like I could tell my depressed ex about something difficult that happened to me that day. I could always feel him judging my troubles as if they were small and silly.

depression and dating the move

You aren’t reliable

Depressed individuals go through phases when they don’t want to see anyone. They might cancel important, expensive plans that were made months ago due to a sudden wave of depression. That can be very hard on their partners who want some guarantee of a normal life.

healthy relationship African American couple lying down on the floor at home and talking to each other.

There’s an unspoken rule

Ultimately, there is an unspoken rule in the dating world that says don’t go out there if you’re still broken, and need patching up. You can’t use new relationships to patch you up—you often just wind up breaking the other person. Depression is a serious thing that should be addressed, but through therapy, support groups, and friends and family.

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