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 your confidence, can cause difficulties around sexual performance, and may lead you to isolate yourself from others. So it can be pretty hard to bring your best game to the table when it comes to intimate relationships.

You 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 you a hand with some common problems with intimacy that guys face when they’re depressed: 1) staying connected to your 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 you’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 the guy of one of the most important things that can help his fight against depression – the support of his partner.  Here are some tips that can help bring you closer to your partner.

Open up

If you’re feeling low or distant and don’t communicate how you’re feeling, your partner won’t understand what you’re going through. Muster the strength to sit down with your partner and have a serious talk about how you’re feeling. It can be tough, but that open dialogue about depression is essential for your relationship and will actually help bring you closer together.

Check in with your partner

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

Pitch in

Another way to show your partner that you’re there for them is to help out around the house. Doing your 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 you’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, you have something to look forward to – enjoying quality time with your partner.

Offer compliments

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

Be available

A big part of feeling connected to your partner 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 you of your mojo – it’s pretty common among guys when they’re depressed.  When your interest in sex disappears, it can really put a strain on your relationship (if you’re in one) or make it tough to start a relationship.  The tips below can help you get your 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 your partner tuned into things that are making sex difficult for you. Otherwise, you risk having your partner feel that you’ve lost interest in her or him.

Use touch

Touching your partner in an affectionate manner can go a long way in alleviating any tension you might be feeling and can help put you and your partner 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

You 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 your partner. These activities help you and your partner feel relaxed and connected. When you get down to business, don’t spend your time worrying about performance – just enjoy 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 you from unrealistic expectations that can make a mess of lovemaking.


One of the many known benefits of exercise is increased sex drive. Exercise can help you 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 you are uncomfortable meeting people in social settings. The nature of online dating can also open you up to rejection as not all your messages will be returned. Remember this not a reflection of your true worth and what you 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 you are.  Rather, it’s a health condition (like high blood pressure, for example) and it doesn’t make you 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 yourself up is necessary to build a meaningful relationship. It can be a little scary to put yourself 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, allow your relationship to progress naturally and then let the person know once you start to get to know each other on a deeper level. When you do decide to talk about it, be thoughtful in how you 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 your relationship. Intimacy is a skill that takes practice, so it’s important to keep working at it.


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

Support each other

Be a support for your partner, just as you would expect him or her to be there for you. Show interest in your partner’s interests and aspirations.

Have fun together

Incorporate fun and laughter into your relationship. 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 your life can go a long way in your sex life. It can be as simple as writing a love note to your partner or surprising your partner 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

Make sure to be attentive to your partner’s 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.


  1. Waring, E., & Patton, D. (2018). Marital intimacy and depression. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 145(6), 641-644.