In our world, we elevate the idea of having a romantic partner and often consider it the ideal state of being. We see people bemoan their fates whenever they’re single, and some may genuinely believe they’ll be happier if they were only in a relationship. There’s already quite a lot wrong with this mentality, but it gets even worse when applied to things like depression. This diagnosed condition makes everything feel bleaker, and it’s easy to think that having someone special in your life will ease the pain that comes with that.
But a romantic partner won’t fix your depression, and that’s a psychological fact. Here’s why.
1. Depression Is An Illness
The biggest issue with the idea that a romantic partner can fix your depression is simple: depression is a mental illness. Like all other illnesses and disorders, in most cases, it cannot be fixed by non-medical means. And, even when some treatment options include non-medical interventions, such as lifestyle changes or mindfulness, entering a relationship is not one of the potential solutions.
Adding a romantic partner to your life significantly changes your everyday experience. When you’re depressed or have any other type of illness, the very last thing you need is to add more stress – even positive stress – to your life. Significant life changes and even minor alterations to your daily world will make things more challenging.
That’s not even considering all the other elements of an illness that mess with your life. With depression and other similar mood disorders, you can struggle with mood swings, have trouble wanting to take the initiative and be social, and even be unable to accomplish basic daily tasks. Suffice to say that this is not the best time to gain a romantic partner.
On top of that, a romantic partner who knows you want to be fixed by them will only meet frustration and failure. This can make them feel inadequate, cause resentment, or even lead to them belittling or invalidating your depression out of their frustration. It’s a losing battle.
Not that those with depression cannot have healthy and happy relationships. Research has shown that healthy relationships can withstand the effects of depression and even slightly help mitigate symptoms. Those who learn to manage their symptoms and receive proper treatment can continue with the rest of their lives and be successful in all the ways they want to be! But to enter a relationship hoping it will cure any illness is simply not how it works.
2. Codependency, Depression, and Relationships
The expectation that a romantic partner can fix depression has a severe risk of leading to an unhealthy, codependent dynamic. Codependency is a theory in sociology that explains certain kinds of unbalanced relationship dynamics. As the term suggests, this situation occurs when two people become dependent on each other to an unhealthy extent, unable to function correctly without the other person.
In early theories, codependency was reserved for alcoholics and their partners. In the process of recovery, a partner to an alcoholic would tend to “overhelp,” thus accidentally enabling the alcoholic.
The enabling partner would provide endless chances to the alcoholic, allowing the afflicted to continue to relapse while trusting the safety net of their partner. This ultimately harmed the recovery process, often causing the enabler to make countless sacrifices while preventing any long-term change.
The Impact Of Codependency On Depression
Today, we understand that codependency can apply to numerous other relationships in varying forms. An “enabled” partner in a codependent relationship may suffer from:
- Poor mental health
Depression alone does not necessarily lead to codependent relationships. However, wanting someone to “fix” your depression can certainly grow that unhealthy dynamic. You end up holding someone else responsible for your moods and may use your depression as an excuse for negative behavior, poor treatment, or unreasonable expectations.
Signs Of Codependency
Meanwhile, the other party in the codependent relationship suffers and benefits from this arrangement. This gives them an incentive to feed into their partner’s depression, intentionally or unintentionally, making a healing more difficult. Research states that they may:
- Only feel fulfilled or good about themselves when helping others
- Feel the desire to fix or control others to be secure or safe
- Experience severe people-pleasing tendencies
- Eagerly step into the role of a self-sacrificing martyr, so they feel that they are a good person
- Eagerly step into the role of a self-sacrificing martyr because they want the ability to play the victim
Worse still, this happens subconsciously often, meaning no innate hostile intent may exist in either partner. As long as one person depends on the other because of a lack of self-sufficiency and the other depends on the first for the fulfillment, it’s codependent. This is too easy to do when you expect a romantic partner to fix your depression.
3. How Depression Negatively Impacts Relationships
A romantic partner is more likely to complicate things than improve them when you have depression. In most ways, depression negatively affects relationships, leaving little room for the romance you might be seeking. Among the adverse effects of depression on a romantic partner and partnership include:
· Increased Conflict With Your Romantic Partner
Depression often presents as simple sadness or lack of energy, but it can manifest in other ways. One of these ways is increased irritability or a higher tendency to be harmful to others. This can lead to a lot of fighting and conflict and quickly sour any relationship and its dynamic. On top of that, depression can often push you to act out your feelings by lashing out at those around you and taking it out on an innocent partner, say studies.
· Decreased Communication
Communication is a central, essential part of any healthy relationship. But when you’re depressed, your thoughts and feelings feel like they’re your worst enemy. You tend to push away your feelings and repress them, which breeds resentment and only worsens those emotions in the long run. And, of course, no relationship can survive healthily when communication is minimal.
· Diminished Intimacy In The Bedroom
While the intimacy of this nature isn’t essential for some relationships, most romantic partnerships involve a little bit of fun in the bedroom. This is especially true in new relationships, and many partners find this to be a positive way to bond. But a whopping 75% of individuals with depression also experience a decreased sex drive, say studies. This can be due to poor body image, performance anxiety, shame concerning intimacy, and depression medication, which may be possible to overcome. But other probable causes are complete exhaustion from depression or simply never feeling quite in the mood. Regardless, this can leave both partners feeling inadequate or insecure, thus adding to the depression.
· Desire To Isolate Yourself From Your Romantic Partner
Depression makes you want to be alone. You feel more like withdrawing and can feel like you don’t have energy for anyone, including a romantic partner. This would kill a new relationship, so even if there was a chance it could fix you, it’d be next to impossible to keep it alive when you don’t have it in you to even talk to your partner.
· Less Interest In Taking Care Of Yourself
A genuine partner in this with you for the long run won’t care if you “let yourself go.” But unfortunately, brand new partners are likely to be slightly more superficial, and your lack of ambition, self-care, and motivation is unlikely to make a good attractor. While you’re perfectly worthy of love regardless of your mental state, dating and finding a romantic partner means playing the field. In this process, you’re going to find many people who have no interest because of the issues you’re facing. And yes, some will just be cruel people. But their words and actions are likely to affect you still, especially when you’re already depressed and in a vulnerable position.
· A Feeling Of Hopelessness Goes With Depression
Hopelessness is a very common symptom of depression, as research has shown. This sense encompasses everything, from your career to your friendships, and it certainly affects relationships. Cognitive distortion can cause you to feel that the future is bleak and things will always end badly. While it’s possible to overcome this, this is a chief reason why a romantic partner can’t fix your depression. Your perception will be skewed when you enter the relationship, and you’ll only see a dire future ahead. This is a lot of stress for a new relationship!
Worse still, an unhappy relationship or dynamic with a romantic partner is likely to feed into depression, making it even worse. This forms a destructive cycle, as studies show.
4. Your Expectations Aren’t Reasonable
The bottom line is that even the kindest, most genuine romantic partner cannot fix your depression. Indeed, expecting that is entirely unreasonable. These expectations are likely to create an extremely unhealthy dynamic in your relationship. This dynamic may involve:
- Your partner thinks that you don’t love them, as if you loved them, their presence would be sufficient in “curing” your depression.
- You think your partner doesn’t truly love you, as you perceive them as not doing enough to fix your depression.
- Your partner feels responsible for your mental and emotional state, often becoming ashamed, growing scared, or losing confidence when you have depressive episodes.
- Are you wondering if your partnership is genuine since it’s not working in fixing you?
- Both partners cannot focus on good times and live each day peacefully one step at a time, as all concentration is on fixing the depression.
- Your partner spends their entire time trying to change you to be less depressed while you lose your self-esteem because you feel pressured to change.
Final Thoughts On Some Reasons Why A Romantic Partner Won’t Fix Your Depression
Depression requires professional treatment from a mental health professional, not the addition of a romantic partner to your life. While it’s possible to have a good relationship while you’re depressed, that relationship should not be used as an attempt to cure the disorder.