Living with a partner who grapples with mental or emotional challenges can be a complicated journey. A significant other who suffers from issues like anxiety, depression, anger, or poor boundaries can’t show up in the relationship like you wish they could, and this can be a source of frustration and heartbreak. Fortunately, there are pragmatic steps you can take to navigate this situation and provide support for both yourself and your partner.
Start by trying to understand your partner's perspective and the reasons behind their reluctance to seek help. Common barriers might be a cultural stigma surrounding mental health, negative experiences with past mental health professionals, or a complete denial that any issue exists. Identifying the fears or concerns that may be holding them back can help you decide how best to move forward.
Approach your partner with empathy, expressing your concerns without blame. Be ready to listen to their reasons for not wanting to seek help. Instead of getting into accusations, focus on the impact of their behavior on the relationship. Try to make your comments more about the behavior than about them, and communicate that you love them and you want to build a strong relationship. Encourage an open dialogue about mental health to create an environment where they feel safe discussing their struggles. They will be much more willing to deal with their mental and emotional issues if they feel supported while doing so.
While professional help is optimal, suggest self-help resources, lifestyle changes, and joint activities that promote mental well-being. Offer support in adopting healthier habits, recognizing that self-help measures can be a stepping stone.
Your partner may find the process of finding help to be too daunting. If you want to help, you can research and present potential therapists or mental health professionals that are in-network with their insurance or in line with their budget. With their permission, you can even set up consultation calls for them to speak to potential therapists. Offer to attend therapy sessions together if they feel nervous going alone or want to discuss relationship dynamics.
Living with a partner who has an untreated mental condition can take a large toll on your own mental health. To maintain your wellbeing, seek support from friends, family, support groups, or a therapist. Most importantly, understand and acknowledge your limits. You can’t force someone else to change, and you can’t exhaust yourself trying to make them do so. Make sure to leave space for your needs and prioritize your own self-care.
While you don’t want to leave your partner alone in their suffering, you still need to protect your own mental health. You are not responsible for your partner’s mental health, and you can’t help someone by harming yourself. The fact that your partner is suffering does not mean that you have to accept dishonesty, cheating, abuse, or other harm to yourself. Establish clear boundaries and communicate the consequences of your partner’s behavior on the relationship.
Try to stay aware so that you can recognize when the lack of intervention becomes detrimental to both you and the relationship. Consider the impact on your own well-being, the overall health of the partnership, and the possible future if you remain in the relationship. Would you be willing to continue moving through life phases with this partner if they never get help? How will they show up when it’s time to buy a house, have children, or care for aging parents? For the sake of both parties, it can be a good idea to seriously reassess the relationship’s future. Remember that you deserve a partner who can contribute equally to the relationship and who has a sincere desire to grow with you.
If your partner will accept help, Medens Health has a wide range of therapists spanning many backgrounds. We make getting help easy with virtual and in-person options, convenient scheduling, and broad insurance coverage. In addition to individual counseling, you can also opt for couples’ therapy to improve your relationship dynamics. If your partner isn’t interested, consider individual therapy for yourself. Our caring professionals can help you learn to cope with your situation, set effective boundaries, and honestly assess your relationship. Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or get started here.
The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.
If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.