Sex and Relationships

Couple walking

The Value of Intimacy

It’s the bond that occurs when two people are open with each other and share their feelings, thoughts, fears, and desires.

When a guy is fighting depression, intimate relationships can really suffer. Depression messes with our confidence, can cause difficulties around sexual performance, and may lead us to isolate ourselves from others. So it can be pretty hard to bring our best game to the table when it comes to intimate relationships.

We can turn things around though. Researchers have found that building better intimacy in a relationship – which includes sex – can actually ward off depression.[1]

Male couple walking

Getting back on track

Below are tips that can give us a hand with some common problems with intimacy that guys face when they’re depressed: 1) staying connected to our partner, 2) losing interest in sex, and 3) starting an intimate relationship.

There are also some tips to keep in mind for maintaining a healthy intimate relationship. Whether we’re in a long-term marriage or just exploring potential relationships, be sure to read through these tips that can help keep the love boat on a smooth course.

For more comprehensive information and guidance about intimacy, sex, and relationships, scroll to the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this page.

Struggling to stay connected to your partner?
Losing interest in sex?
Trouble starting a new relationship?
Struggling to stay connected to your partner?

Depression can eat away at a guy’s intimate relationship.  Usually, the quality of the relationship slowly erodes to a point where he and his partner feel pretty disconnected from each other.  This robs us guys of one of the most important things that can help us fight against depression – the support of our partners.  Here are some tips that can help bring us closer to our partners.

Open up

If we’re feeling low or distant and don’t communicate how we’re feeling, our partners won’t understand what we’re going through. We should muster the strength to sit down with our partners and have serious conversations about how we’re feeling. It can be tough, but that open dialogue about depression is essential for our relationships and will actually help bring couples closer together.

Check in with your partner

Sometimes depression can make things seem worse than they actually are.  If you feel like something isn’t quite right in your relationship, check in with your partner to see how things are going from their perspective.

Show your partner you care

When we’re depressed, putting thoughts into words can be hard.  In this case, we can use actions to show our affection. Simple things like holding hands, hugging, or a gentle caress on the back are helpful ways to let our partners know that we care for them. Not only do these kinds of actions improve the bond with our partners, they also release brain chemicals that help improve our moods.

Pitch in

Another way to show our partners that we’re there for them is to help out around the house. Doing our part to help with the dishes, laundry, or preparing a meal cuts down time for chores and gives more time for the two of you to do things together.

Make plans

Spontaneity can keep a relationship fresh, but when we’re depressed, being spontaneous can be a challenge. In this case, plan for fun (like going out for dinner or a movie) rather than waiting around for it to just happen. This way, we have something to look forward to – enjoying quality time with our partners.

Offer compliments

When we’re depressed, it’s common to retreat inward.  This can leave our partner feeling left out and ignored.  Even if we don’t feel like talking much, offering the occasional compliment to our partner doesn’t take much effort but can go a long way to letting them know that they still matter to us.

Be available

A big part of feeling connected to our partners is being able to share – including sharing conversation.  Make yourself available to your partner to share in conversation, even if it’s about mundane day-to-day things.  We all appreciate a good listener, so even if you don’t want to talk much, be attentive to what your partner is saying.

Losing interest in sex?

Depression can rob us of our mojo – it’s pretty common among guys when they’re depressed.  When our interest in sex disappears, it can really put a strain on our relationship (if you’re in one) or make it tough to start a relationship.  The tips below can help us get our groove back and bring you and your partner closer together.  Even if you’re not in a relationship, these tips can still be useful.

Let your partner know what’s going on

Depression can be accompanied by different sex-related issues (loss of sexual desire, loss of ability to achieve an erection or an orgasm).  It’s important to keep our partners tuned into things that are making sex difficult for us. Otherwise, we risk having our partners feel that we’ve lost interest in them.

Use touch

Touching our partners in an affectionate manner can go a long way in alleviating any tension we might be feeling and can help put us and our partners in the mood for sex. Physical touch is really important for both of you.

Look at the big picture

Intimate sex is much more than intercourse.  Kisses, hugs, and intimate talk are all a part of good sex.

Have a positive attitude

We need to be in the right frame of mind for enjoyable sex – go out for dinner, go for a walk, or simply spend some downtime at home with our partners. These activities help us and our partners feel relaxed and connected. When we get down to business, we shouldn’t spend our time worrying about performance – just about enjoying being in the moment.

Keep it real

Very few people have the dazzling sex lives that Hollywood films portray. Enjoy and accept each other as you are.  It frees us from unrealistic expectations that can make a mess of lovemaking.

Exercise

One of the many known benefits of exercise is increased sex drive. Exercise can help us feel healthier, more confident, and perform better.

Trouble starting a new relationship?

If you’re not in an intimate relationship, but are interested in starting one, it can be hard to get things going if depression is weighing you down.  Here are some tips that can help get you into the game.

Put yourself out there

Visit places where you feel comfortable; it could be a community centre, neighbourhood pub, or coffee shop. The point is to get out of the house and into places where you have the possibility of meeting people. Act on invitations when you get them, even if you might feel slightly out of your comfort zone.

Try online dating

This is a great way to connect, especially if we are uncomfortable meeting people in social settings. The nature of online dating can also open us up to rejection as not all our messages will be returned. Remember this is not a reflection of our true worth and what we have to offer.

Start a conversation

An easy way to start a conversation is to ask someone what brought them to wherever you both are. You might not know anything about the person, and they might not know anything about you, but what you already have in common is being at the same place. Be curious about the person and try to find out a bit more about them and what brought them there.

Believe you are worthy

Depression can eat away at a guy’s self-esteem, but it’s important to remember that depression is not who we are.  Rather, it’s a health condition (like high blood pressure, for example) and it doesn’t make us any less worthy and interesting than the next guy.  There are people out there that want to get to know you.

Watch Rich’s Tip Video: Starting a Relationship.

Accept some emotional risk

Opening ourselves up is necessary to build a meaningful relationship. It can be a little scary to put ourselves out there and risk having things not work out. It can take time to find the right fit, but the effort is worth the reward.

Know when and how to talk about your depression

It’s often best to not bring up significant personal issues on the first date. Instead, we should allow our relationships to progress naturally and then let the person know once you start to get to know each other on a deeper level. When we do decide to talk about it, be thoughtful in how we present it. Let the other person know that it is something that you deal with and manage just like any other illness.

Tips for a healthy intimate relationship

In a positive relationship, both people feel valued, loved and nurtured.

Below are some tips to keep in mind to get the most out of our relationships. Intimacy is a skill that takes practice, so it’s important to keep working at it.

Communicate

Being honest and open is essential for every relationship. It’s important to share our feelings, needs, and wants with our partners, and for us to listen to theirs as well. The more you talk to each other, the stronger your relationship can become.

Support each other

We should be a support for our partners, just as we would expect them to be there for us. Show interest in your partner’s interests and aspirations.

Have fun together

We can incorporate fun and laughter into our relationships. Try pursuing common interests and hobbies together.

Make time for yourself

Between your relationship, work, school, kids, or anything else that might be a major part of your life, getting alone time can be hard. Still, making some time for yourself here and there allows you to recharge and rebalance.

Bring the romance

Integrating romance into our lives can go a long way in our sex lives. It can be as simple as writing a love note to our partners or surprising our partners with a candle-lit dinner.

Be open minded in bed

When things get intimate, keep an open mind. Acting spontaneously and being playful leads to better sex.

Be attentive to your partner during sex

We should make sure to be attentive to our partners’ pleasure – likes, needs, desires – because the more that both of you enjoy sex together, the closer you will feel


Putting It Into Practice

Forming new habits can be tough, so we’ve gathered helpful tips and strategies for creating daily habits and routines to fight depression.


References:

  1. Waring, E., & Patton, D. (2018). Marital intimacy and depression. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 145(6), 641-644. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.145.6.641