I have seasonal affective disorder so my normal antidepressants aren’t really making a dent anymore and I’ve recently brought a girl into a relationship with me and I feel like I’m failing so badly at making her feel wanted and welcome. I’m always sad and antisocial, I never want to leave my house or do anything, having her over here stresses me out because I feel the need to be a good host, etc. on top of me feeling like crap physically and mentally almost always. I’m afraid this is hurting her

I am not a therapist, but I have been on the other side of the couch - and I can tell you that one common aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy is gently reminding yourself that you are not psychic. You don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s head, even if you feel like you’re sure that they must be hurt, or angry, etc.

My first piece of advice would be to ask her whether she actually is hurt, or feels unwanted and unwelcome. Say that you worry about being a good host and a fun partner, and you want to know what her needs are in this relationship. Remember that if this person got into a relationship with you, it means she likes you for who you are. Maybe she wants to be with someone cozy and low-key, who’s okay hanging around the house instead of going out!

Second, it sounds like this is actually bothering you, even if she’s okay with it. Again, the solution is open communication. Let her know that you feel frustrated with your low energy these days, and you’re struggling to be present to this relationship. She might be able to help plan some things you can do together that help you feel proud and relaxed without a lot of effort. There are lots of ways to find intimacy and joy together that don’t take a lot of work! Consider trying an at-home date, like:

  • Take a bubble bath or shower together
  • Build a blanket fort and lay around in it together
  • Pick a TV show or movie to watch together
  • Order in food or cook something low-key to eat together
  • Play a card or board game together
  • Color some coloring pages or do another craft together
  • Go for a walk or drive around your neighborhood together 

Tell your new partner that you really do care about her, but are struggling to show it in ways that make you feel good about your ability to provide for her needs. If she’s a healthy partner for you, she’ll help reassure you that she does enjoy spending time with you, and help you find ways to keep the relationship fun and romantic without overextending your capacity right now.