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Bonny Albo

Is My Depressed Boyfriend Still Interested?

By March 20, 2014

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Sarah asks: "I have been dating a great guy for a little over 5 months. We are both in our 20's. He has a very demanding job and is extremely busy, while I am a college student with a much more flexible schedule. Our sex life has always been great - we have awesome bedroom chemistry, and it has always been an enjoyable, zesty enterprise for us both. However, he decided to stop drinking for a month - he felt like he was doing it too much. He has lost all interest in sex - we haven't done it in about a month. He says it is because his emotions and thoughts are all changing and becoming clearer because he has stopped drinking. Also, he is on antidepressants, and I have read that they can decrease libido. He is still very affectionate - we cuddle every night we are together, hold hands and kiss. I asked him if I had put on weight or anything since we started dating, and he insists that I have nothing to do with his lack of libido. Does this seem plausible? If this is a temporary thing, it is definitely worth it for me to wait it out and be patient and give him time, because he is a great person. I just want to know if the reasons he gave me for this seem legitimate. How long is too long without sex, especially in a new-ish relationship between young people?"

First off, kudos to your boyfriend for realizing he had a problem and doing something about it. It couldn't have been easy asking for help, and I applaud his willingness to seek treatment. As I've gotten older I've realized that a partner who can admit when they've got a serious problem and do something about it is a rare gem indeed. Sure, he's in the early stages of the process, but it's a good start.

As for the questions about your sexual frequency, many anti-depressants decrease a person's libido (see: The Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants or this poll, in which 88% of readers say yes they experienced sexual side effects). There are ways to mitigate this issue; your boyfriend needs to speak with his doctor about his options.

In the meantime, I highly recommend reading When Someone You Love Is Depressed by Drs. Lauren Rosen and Xavier Amador (Buy Direct) or About.com's Guide to Depression, who has written about the topic extensively (10 Tips for Coping With Depression in a Relationship, What To Do When Someone You Love Is Depressed). Its a difficult thing to date someone who is depressed, so you'll need as much support as you can get (as will he!) during this difficult time. I also recommend, if you can, to talk to a mental health professional yourself about how you're feeling.

Don't forget however that sexual frequency decreases in most relationships when the initial honeymoon phase wears off - usually somewhere around three months to two years. This is normal and to be expected. No one could continue the initial rush of sexual frenzy or excitement of getting to know someone new forever; some studies are even likening falling in love to certain forms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - see Daniel Amen's The Brain In Love (Buy Direct) for more on this topic. It's a heady thing being in someone's company constantly, having lots of great sex, and connecting deeply with your partner - but after a while, the body can start to fight back and say, "Okay, back to work! Let's find a more healthy balance." From that little you've shared, it sounds like your boyfriend is trying to do exactly that. Is it temporary? There's no way to tell really, but I'll hazard this is just one step along a long evolutionary path, with its length determined by the longevity of your relationship.

So what can you do? I suggest you stop asking him if you've gained weight and/or if you are attractive to him anymore. By asking you are both reminding him that he's not satisfying you and thus not making you happy, as well as using negative self-talk to put yourself down. Of *course* you're still attractive and desirable! That hasn't changed in the five months you've been dating. The issue here is something much greater than you, and can't be taken personally. Can you start looking at your sex life as something that will constantly evolve and yet still be completely normal? Can you learn more about depression and how it affects your partner? Do you want to continue dating a man that is going through a major upheaval in his life, and support him through the unpredictable process? Those are your questions to answer, and no one but you can decide what's best for you.

Related: Raising Sexual Problems With a Partner, Improve Sexual Communication.

March 14, 2010 at 8:07 pm
(1) Randy says:

I’m a 34 year old marriage counselor and it sounds like you are describing me when I stopped drinking and did the whole Prozac thing in my early 20′s. It sounds quite plausible to me. Decreased libido is extreme, depending on which ones he is taking, and sometimes guys are a bit wary of having sex because of an inability to orgasm, a result of the meds. I will say that this is probably a time in your relationship when you should sit down with him and talk, and I mean talk. Silence kills relationships. And by the way, he may have no clue that you are upset, as men really are very stupid about some things. Ultimately, you have to ask: is he treating me well, with respect, and with love? If the answer is yes, then breathe easy. The sex stuff is fun to work on!

March 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm
(2) Hillary Bullock says:

Let’s just say, I waited once for a year and I would never do that again. I think people who trust eachother and are faithful to eachother don’t need to put their partners through such a rigirous test. Otherwise don’t be surprised if they cheat on you.
Physical Intimacy is a must!!

March 18, 2010 at 9:12 pm
(3) Sarah says:

Well, I respected his space and decided not to take it personally. And the dry spell is over! Hahah woohoo!

March 27, 2010 at 8:54 pm
(4) Bryan Ogilvie says:

VERY INTERESTING…I have a (female) friend who just went through the same exact thing: her ex-boyfriend went on “sexual-hiatus” due to a change in religion…

After seeing that she was extremely patient with him, my advice was to keep it moving (break up), because he obviously needed time to work on HIMSELF, and she should give him that space.

I think it depends on the type of relationship people have: in my homegirl’s case, she wasn’t really too into him to begin with (the attraction died earlier) and she was staying with him more so to not hurt his feelings.

Great article Bonno ;) ,

March 29, 2010 at 9:46 pm
(5) Sherri says:

I wanted to respond to the article because it’s something that I am experiencing also. The only difference is the situation s reversed.
I have bipolar disorder which is rapid cycling..Over the years the have had to and continue to change my medication many times. This last one that I am on had severely inhibited my sexual desires and ability to have an orgasm.
My boyfriend of two years now was noticing my troubles and we talked about solution’s, and feelings. Communication is the best thing we could have done. As he was worried that he was doing something wrong, etc.
Since then we are taking the opportunity buy exploring adult toys together. So that when we have sex, the extra stimulation sometimes helps. And when I just can’t seem to get the “mood” on, I also let him know that while I am not able to It’s OK to be on just the receiving side. He was concerned about it feeling one-sided. I will still kiss, cuddle and touch. I still receive a satisfaction from the intimacy of just watching him.
We are both keeping an open mind and using this time to explore. His patience combined with the good communication has helped tremendously through these times.
I hope that this helps. Good luck.

April 6, 2010 at 8:53 am
(6) Tiffany Amar says:

There are very usedful information is available in your blog.

April 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm
(7) Roger says:

Maybe I can help you out ;-)

February 18, 2011 at 10:22 pm
(8) Alicia says:

Gosh, I couldn’t go 2 months without sex.. I didn’t realize it was a common problem. Great article.

February 19, 2011 at 12:56 am
(9) alicia says:

hey alicia my name is alicia too aint that kewl well i cant be without sex more than a week is that alright?

March 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm
(10) Arby says:

Lol! Girls and boys these days are having sex at 10 but in every other way, kids too often stay kids for far too long. Most kids in their mid to late teens, and even later, act like 6 year olds. Meanwhile, Here I am a 56 yr old virgin. Discussions about waiting for sex seem so bizarre, and somehow cruel, to me. Speaking about waiting, When do you folks suppose Bonnie might peep about POF’s recent move to make the free site not worth the effort (without paying anyway)?

April 22, 2012 at 8:48 am
(11) certified pharmacy technician salary says:

Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I
am impressed! Very useful info specially the last part :) I care for such information
a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a long time.
Thank you and best of luck.

March 30, 2013 at 1:56 am
(12) Nicole says:

Hi I’m 25 have had 3 kids 4 and under and now have my tubs tied so I don’t have that chance of such easy pregnancy. My husband does work long hours 3 days a week but NEVER wants to have sex. We’ve been married 4 years and together for 5. And for the past 2 years we don’t have sex. Maybe 1 every other month. He just has no desire to do it. We’ve talked many many times and it always comes down to him saying it just isn’t a priority or important. Work, kids and family time is. It’s the last thing on his mind. But in the mean time I’m addicted and want it all the time. I ask him if he wants me to cheat and he gets mad and says, “no” but he never wants to. And when we do it’s for 5 mins at most. HELP!!!!

June 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm
(13) John says:

My girlfriend and I are coming up on two years, we were having fairly regular sex. She had a stronger libido than mine, she got the flu in in the beginning of February and lasted for about a month. Should I be worried that we haven’t had real intimacy besides cuddling in almost 5 months? We seemed to be regressing to friends and I know neither of us want that. Her job can be very stressful as well and Im afraid im losing her to it.
Any help/ opinions would be appreciated.

February 7, 2014 at 2:48 am
(14) SexlessSam says:

I haven’t had sex in almost 20 years. My wife lost interest after our last child was conceived. I won’t pay for sex but I love to meet someone who would agree to have sex with me but as soon as the women I meet find out I’m married they run the other way, It is very frustrating.

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