I Have A Depressed Boyfriend

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My boyfriend has depression but it is causing other problems as a result, especially the way I feel about our sex life. My boyfriend has recently been diagnosed with depression and has been prescribed anti-depressants. He has only been taking them for a few days but he thinks that the depression may have started around 3 months ago, which is when I also noticed a change in him.
Although we are both very young and have not been together long, I love him and care deeply about him and so I want to do my best to help him and be supportive.
Despite this, I cannot help feeling frustrated that he isn’t always satisfying me sexually. He used to have a lot of interest in pleasuring me, which I loved, but this has decreased somewhat over time. I do not reach orgasm through sex and rely on clitoral stimulation instead. He used to bring me to orgasm quite quickly using his hands and liked doing this to me often. Nowadays I do most of the pleasure-providing and he rarely returns the favour, which makes me feel sexually frustrated, inadequate and that he doesn’t care about my needs. We have sex several times a week and I often give him oral sex, so his sex drive doesn’t seem to have been affected. However, he only makes an effort to make me orgasm about once a week or less, which seems unfair. He also grows frustrated if I do not reach orgasm quickly, as he says he starts to get less turned on. This makes it even more difficult for me to reach orgasm because I now worry about how long I take, and feel like it might be the last time I get an orgasm for a while so I have to ‘make the most of it’. Another problem is that he rarely ever gives me oral sex even though he knows I like it. I mentioned this before when I didn’t know about his depression, and he said he loved doing it and so did it to me a few times but then it stopped again.
My problem is, I do not know whether his seeming disinterest in pleasuring me is down to his depression, lack of confidence because I’ve sometimes struggled to reach orgasm, or just because our relationship has gotten past the initial stage where you put in more effort to impress one another. Whatever it is, I want to know how to make it better.
If I knew it was most likely down to his depression then I would not mind waiting for him to get back to his normal self, no matter how long it took, as long as I knew he would eventually become interested in me again. However I feel like I can’t bring it up without upsetting him because of his illness and the fact that I sound selfish and like I’m insulting him. I’m also scared about not saying anything in case its something that won’t go away on its own.

A: I appreciate you sending us this email. I would explain what you need to your boyfriend and be clear and direct. This relationship is still young enough that you should make these corrections now before dysfunctional patterns set in. Whatever it is, his depression or his disinterest, you need to be asking what you need so he can tell you whether or not he is capable of responding. I would seek couple’s counseling, if you don’t feel his strategy has worked after three months.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Apr 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). I Have A Depressed Boyfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/04/19/i-have-a-depressed-boyfriend/