June 5


Navigating Depression in Ethical Non-Monogamy

By Tatyana Kholodkov

June 5, 2023

Depression is Highly Individualized

It can arise due to a number of factors, including how we relate to ourselves and others. At Project Yes PLLC, therapy clients come seeking help with more general depression, but also want a therapist who won’t bat an eye at discussing their multiple partners. For others clients, they are seeking therapy for depression directly related to their relationships. In the ENM community, we see depression associated with relationship conflicts, feelings of inadequacy or comparison, isolation, or the challenges of managing multiple relationships. 

Below are some tips from our experience of serving the poly community for addressing depression in the context of ethical non-monogamy practice. 

Validate Your Feelings

Recognize that depression is a real thing, and be tender with yourself if you are the one experiencing it. Acknowledge your emotions and give yourself permission to feel and express them without judgment. Seek validation from trusted individuals who understand and support ethical non-monogamy. If your partner is suffering from depression, they may benefit from feeling your support, as well as gentle encouragement to get additional help. We are each ultimately responsible for our own wellness, and when depression is left unchecked it can lead to distance in a relationship. 

Pink brush plant. If you practice Ethical Non-Monogamy in Durham, NC and are dealing with related depression reach out to a couples therapist today.

Understanding Triggers

Explore how specific aspects of ethical non-monogamy may be contributing to your depressive symptoms. Do you find yourself engaging in comparison thoughts? Are you having a conflict with a metamours? Have you been burying your unhappiness? Reflect on whether feelings of jealousy, insecurity or a sense of inadequacy are more prevalent in certain situations or relationships. Understanding your triggers can help you address them more effectively.

Unprocessed Grief Can Present as Depression

Additionally, unprocessed grief from a poly relationship break up, or unhealed trauma, can also show up as depression. If you are not sure what is making things worse (whether external triggers or your own internal responses), working with a sex-positive therapist can help you with understanding what is going on for you. 

Collaborative Problem-Solving

Engage in open and honest conversations with your partners about depressive symptoms and how ethical non-monogamy may be impacting mental health. Collaborate on finding solutions or adjustments that can support your well-being while still honoring the consensual non-monogamous agreements and boundaries. At times, an unequal energy split is part of what is driving perpetual dissatisfaction and harboring resentment, or leading to burnout. 

Blooming pink flower with a yellow center. Consensual Non-Monogamy can create unique emotional challenges like depression. Working in Couples Therapy for Non-Traditional Relationships in North Carolina can help.

Cultivating Emotional Support

It’s okay to request emotional support. Your partner(s) can help navigate difficult times if you practice staying connected rather than withdrawing. We help polycules establish a culture of compassion, active listening, and co-regulation. Encourage your partners to be understanding and responsive to your emotional needs, and reciprocate by offering support to them as well.

Acknowledge Your Own Limitations

To avoid burnout, acknowledge your own limitations and communicate about how much support you are able to provide at any given time. It is also important to take responsibility for one’s own wellness. Not accessing resources can lead partners to be in a prolonged caretaking role, leaving them starving for their own needs to be met. 

Balance Autonomy and Connection

Find a balance between maintaining healthy independence and nurturing meaningful connections. Ethical non-monogamy allows for individual exploration and personal growth but also takes effort to foster emotional bonds with multiple partners. Reflect on whether symptoms of depression may be exacerbated by an imbalance between these aspects, and seek ways to create a more harmonious equilibrium. It all takes negotiation. 

Self-Reflection and Self-Care

Engage in regular self-reflection to better understand your needs, boundaries, and desires within ethical non-monogamy. Do you have a practice that helps you decompress after an intense experience with a partner? Are there rituals that help you reconnect in your primary relationship? Do you have a plan on how to cope with a drop, and are your partners aware of what it looks like for you? Prioritize self-care activities that promote your well-being. Within your support system, have your partner(s) aware of the aftercare you need.  

Unique Challenges for Neurodiverse Individuals

Individuals who are neurodiverse or have a more introverted nature may need more recovery time after connection, which can be difficult for partners who perceive this space as rejection. (Our neurodiversity-specializing therapists totally get this). When such boundaries are suddenly adjusted or are too rigid, that can be a shock to the whole system and be overwhelming to process. Discussions about how to feel fulfilled and also have adequate “space” in the relationship can help each party feel more at ease.  

Fuschia clover blooming in a field. Couples Therapy for Non-Traditional Relationships in Durham, NC often face unique difficulties that can lead to depression. Reach out to a couples therapist today.

Don’t Delay, Get Professional Support

In our experience with providing relationship therapy, often folks reach out to Project Yes PLLC when they are at a point of crisis or problematic patterns of interaction have persisted for a long time. Sometimes there have been years of not talking about what needs to be addressed.

Begin Your Journey to Healing with Relationship Therapy in Durham, NC Today!

Consider working with a therapist who specializes in ethical non-monogamy and who is knowledgeable about alternative relationship structures. They can provide tailored guidance and support, helping you navigate the unique challenges and dynamics of ethical non-monogamy while addressing your depressive symptoms. Our team of therapists treats depression and specializes in supporting the ENM community throughout North Carolina. Contact us today! 

Other Services Offered by Project Yes

In addition to Relationship Therapy, we offer Psychotherapy Services for Kink and Sex-Positive TherapyAnxietyInsomniaIntegrative HealthOCD, and Trauma and PTSD as well as Yoga and Meditation Options. Additionally, we offer Psychedelic PsychotherapyKetamine-Assisted Psychotherapy, and more. We look forward to guiding you on your journey toward optimal physical and mental well-being.

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