Does My Boyfriend Have Depression?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Isolated and won’t get a job. A brief background on myself – I suffer from anxiety and have an ongoing self harm problem going back seven years. I’ve had counseling and it was suggested by my counselor that my other half could have depression. I’d just like some help!

We’ve been together nearly three years, I knew him for a year before that. We were both at uni on the same course. He was in a relationship of about two years before starting a relationship with me (the previous one having completely ended, however there was probably about a week’s gap). He was unhappy in that relationship for the year I knew him preceding our relationship.

He’s never been the biggest socialite in the world, however about seven months after being together he just cut all of his friends out of his life. No trigger, no nothing. If ever we went out with our shared friends he’d sit there looking miserable and saying nothing. This is still the what he does two years later!

His nan died a few months before that of cancer, though he never expressed any great closeness to her.

We moved in together after a year for our final year. His sleeping habits shifted to 5am to 2pm – he’d be up until that time playing computer games. It got to a point where I had to make him go back to a normal pattern because it was just too detrimental to the relationship. This was also where warning bells started to ring.

His motivation with uni work did appear to improve with the relationship and continued until graduation, however he still felt he hadn’t tried hard enough and was very jealous that I did better than he did.

Upon graduation he decided he didn’t know what he wanted, moving back home and as I’d accepted a job 50 miles or so away from there I found my own place and decided to sort myself out.
He’s always had an easy ride at home (dad’s guilt over divorce, or so his dad has told me), and EVERYTHING gets paid for. He’s never had to work for anything. Therefore incentive to get a job was non existent.

Comes to work with me for a month to get some experience, has now been with us for 10 months, has officially moved in with me after an ultimatum (stop free loading or leave). He was supposed to find a job, a job of his own, a job that pays properly (he’s a “contractor” at my company and can just about pay the bills).

I’m sure you can imagine, being together 24/7 for 10 months has dampened the relationship somewhat!
He occasionally checks job agency websites, hits apply and that’s it. His family is frustrated with him and he knows. He just won’t do it. When asked why, he says it’s because he doesn’t know if it’s what he wants to do. He’s an adult, he needs a job, whether he wants to do it or not – he can do it, so he should do it! That would be one way of finding out if it’s what he wants to do with his life. But no, he won’t. I know his self esteem (what there was of it) has taken a beating with the job rejections he has had, but to be honest he’s not making any kind of effort that I would make should I be essentially jobless and needing money!

As for his self esteem, it’s always seemed to be pretty low. He often says he doesn’t know why anyone would want to talk to him, he’s always scruffy and makes no effort to improve on this even though he says he wishes he dressed nicer etc. He refuses to believe that the guys at work miss him if he doesn’t come out to socialise, even when THEY tell him. He deleted his facebook that had his friends from back home on it, and ignored them even when they did try to communicate with him on it.
In the time he wasn’t living with me between uni and work experience, he did start exercising quite a lot in an effort to improve muscle tone. This stopped after a while of living with me again. He’s very skinny, however not from an ED, he eats a lot of junk food and never puts on any weight. He does eat two good, freshly made from scratch meals a day as well, but can just sit and eat packets of biscuits very easily.

I’ve sat here trying to think of triggers, and other than me I really can’t think of any. I was nothing but loving, we were very much in love. I don’t think our relationship set it off.

Up until 8 months into the relationship my anxiety problems were completely at bay, I wasn’t self harming and though he knew of the past it wasn’t a problem. About a month before that he stopped saying those 3 magic words, I love you. He DOESN’T KNOW if he loves me (though the majority of the time I know he does). Half the time it’s like he doesn’t know anything. He didn’t know if he should live with me, he doesn’t know what job he wants, doesn’t know if he loves me. Doesn’t know why this that and the other.

That was also the time he stopped being the cuddly kissy boyfriend and started being the slightly aloof boyfriend who thinks romance is stupid. Very drastic change. Very disheartening change. He doesn’t like to be touched, really doesn’t like affection. His sex drive went down. I’d say were average twice a week now which isn’t abnormal but could still be better.

He’s always tired, lethargic.

As for my problems (completely unrelated to the relationship and he knows) I got help not long after that to show willing and to try and help improve the relationship and lessen any drain I might be causing on him. It’s now 18 months later and I’m trying counselling again. I tried to get him to go to counselling once before, he appeared to tick all the boxes on the website I looked at about depression, but since he hates talking to anyone about anything, and just can’t communicate his feelings, he chose not to do it.

I sort of feel like I’ve answered my own question with all this, but any insight you can give would be greatly appreciated. Sorry it was so long.

A. What may have happened here is that your boyfriend was spoiled by his parents and he subsequently lacks drive and initiative. Unfortunately, this is common among individuals who have been given everything by their parents. When parents spoil their children they effectively rob them of learning important life lessons, learning about themselves, who they are and what they’re good at. Spoiled adults often have difficulty in relationships and maintaining a job.

In this relationship you are doing all the work. It’s completely one-sided. You are attempting to try counseling even though there’s a good chance this problem has little to do with you. He’s not interested in seeking counseling and he chooses not to communicate his feelings. He recently informed you that he’s not sure if he loves you. I can assure you if he truly loved you there would never be any question of whether or not he did. Real love doesn’t fluctuate.

Treat people how they treat you. If he’s not willing to seek help, has no interest in finding work, or isn’t willing to match your efforts in the relationship then you may have to face the realistic possibility that this relationship is over.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Does My Boyfriend Have Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/22/does-my-boyfriend-have-depression/