For men suffering from depression, there’s no end to the things it steals from them. Joy, time and fulfilment are only a few. In addition to this, it also takes away your ability to build and enjoy meaningful relationships. I spoke to six men about how depression affects their relationships.


With my friends, there’s some sort of wall. It’s hard, I won’t lie. I’m always second-guessing a lot of things and I can’t be confident in my own happiness.

With romantic relationships, I just refuse to let myself commit. I refuse to let any progress happen because I’m scared that something will go off and I’ll sink back into depression. So I play it safe. The thing is, you need to be vulnerable with your partner in order to build a strong relationship, but how do you get vulnerable enough to explain that you’re depressed. There’s no guarantee that they’ll understand you enough to process it. So when I’m unable to tell them, it’s like I’m around people who don’t really see me.


When I’m depressed, I tend to withdraw from my partners because I assume that I’m being annoying or I’m ruining their mood. I’ve had romantic partners who would shut me out whenever I was depressed. More often than not, they would try to lift my spirits with sex. Of course, when I’m depressed, I’m in no mood for sex because I don’t even love myself.

My current partner is understanding. She lets me know that she is available to talk if I need to but also tried her best to give me space because she knows I can be quite withdrawn when I’m having depressive episodes.


I resisted getting help for depression for a long time because I didn’t realize I was depressed. It took me a long time to recognize the difference between regular unhappiness/discontent and depression. I knew I wasn’t happy, but I ascribed my emotional state to my circumstances – and I convinced myself I’ll be happy as soon as XYZ happens – new job, new girlfriend, etc. Finding things (or people) to numb the pain or distract your mind is pretty easy, but it doesn’t really fix the problem, it just makes it bearable for a while.

Depression ruins relationships. It can make you withdraw or lose interest, or try to push your partner away, without really knowing why. I’ve done it. With great effort and lots of pain, I’ve pushed away girls who I loved deeply because I felt wrong inside and I couldn’t feel what I knew I should feel. I could think about feelings, but I’d become so conditioned to guarding and repressing my “soft” feelings (like love) that I couldn’t open up and express them.


My friends and partners try to be understanding, but eventually, it begins to wear them out. They eventually start to keep their distance. Sometimes, they even blame you because they think you’re not trying to get better. I smile and try to keep my issues away from them but it really wears me out.


It feels like I don’t belong anywhere. Connecting with family is really hard and building relationships with women I like is even more difficult. I talk to them for a few days and I just get tired. It’s hard to socialise with people and going out is really difficult.


The fear of losing people makes me lose people. It’s weird. My friends who used to be there for me have distanced themselves. We hardly talk anymore. I’d tell some of them that I need some space so I don’t ruin our relationship and they go on guilt-trip me for being too uptight and selfish. I don’t want to make new friends because I’m afraid I’m just going to withdraw from them again and I’ll get hurt.

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.