- March 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm #676838
From a LW:
I broke up with my ex bf, Rex, about ten years ago. We had a long off and on relationship exacerbated by my immaturity and his chronic depression. In short, I made his life worse by being unsympathetic and generally overbearing and erratic and uncaring, when he needed a gentler, kinder partner.
I didn’t talk to him again until 2 years ago when I messaged through fb to him to ask him if he was single as I had a friend, Samantha, who was new in the same town as him and I thought they might be companionable. He said he had been working on his mental health and was happy and doing great and wanted to meet my friend. They hit it off. I backed right off, respecting that I am a bit of a toxic person to him, and now they have been together for two years with no meddling from me. I see my friend independently of him and respect that his house is his space and have only come over a few times when driving her back to her house, by invitation, staying very briefly.
Rex had always blamed my lack of support for his depression, which I did not firmly agree with until multiple mutual friends of ours had told me that yes, once we broke up he was a different person, happy, positive, kicking goals – ‘unrecognisable’ was a word used. So while I was disappointed that I had kind of ruined five years of his life by not handling the depression correctly I was also happy that he was finally moving forward and dating women that made him happy. So I did not think I was introducing my friend to the same person who I had broken up with. I thought he was, as I was told, ‘better’.
When we broke up I lost a lot of friends to him – as gracefully as I could because I wanted him to have the best support network and I am not the person to badmouth an ex. I was quite hurt that I was disinvited from weddings etc after we broke up but I had other groups of friends and he did not, so I tried to be happy for him – I was told he was really blossoming away from me and I stepped right back so that he had all he room to do that.
We have communicated maybe 4 times in 10 years, once about Samantha, and three times when with Samantha briefly, just saying hi. So I am not in his business at all. I have basically no contact with him and don’t really talk about him with her except to ask after his health etc. which is the problem – his depression is getting worse again and now seems to be affecting her negatively.
I try never to presume their relationship is like ours was or intrude on their relationship, but I don’t want her having the hopeless feeling that I did and feeling trapped like I did when you can’t do anything right and are constantly triggering him. I don’t know how to advise without sounding preachy, and obviously I was a bad partner for him anyway. I feel a little guilty that I introduced them, maybe I should have spoken more about his dark times, but I thought that they were basically my fault and without me in the picture they would be better.
Please tell me how to be there best friend to her i can be.
— Well-meaning friend.March 10, 2017 at 12:16 pm #676844
There’s nothing you can do, and really nothing you should do, aside from listening sympathetically. Regardless of the fact that you know each of them well, their relationship really isn’t any of your business. Especially since it doesn’t sound like either of them is asking for your intervention or advice.
There’s no reason for you to feel bad about introducing them. They’re both adults, and they made an active choice to get into a relationship. As far as the impact of his depression on their relationship? That’s something unique to the two of them, and it’s something they’ll have to figure out on their own.March 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm #676845
You introduced them. They’ve been together two years and from what they say doing well most of that time. You wisely stepped away. This is not your problem, continue to step away. This is between him and her and him and his doctor. You are not responsible for introducing her to him. She has had good times with him, when his depression wasn’t a problem. If they weren’t a match, she could have stepped away at any time, but has chosen to stay with him. This just isn’t your business. If you meddle and they break up and he goes into a downward spiral, then everyone will rightly blame you.March 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm #676846
So…you have an ex whom you felt really hurt by, not just because you felt like his depression was your fault (or, at least amplified because you didn’t handle it “correctly), but also because you lost a lot of friends to him in the breakup… and yet, you thought it was a good idea to set another friend up with him? Why? Why would you do that? It’s hard to imagine it was completely altruistic — that you really had only the best selfless intentions for setting up a friend with an ex who hurt you, took your friends in the breakup, made you feel responsible for his despression, and with whom you had very little interaction/friendship anymore. Was some part of you secretly hoping that with a new relationship, he’d become depressed again, thereby giving you someone to share the burden of “ruining” him? Well, congrats — looks like that has happened. The best thing you can do at this point is apologize to Samantha for not being more forthright about your ex’s issues, let her know you had a miserable time of things so she knows she’s not alone if she’s feeling that way too, and that butt the hell out. And maybe in the future don’t set up friends with damaged exes who made you feel like shit.March 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm #676869
You set up your “friend” Samantha for a fall, and now two years later, she and her boyfriend have hit a rough patch. You should have told her the extent of his depression before you decided to introduce them.
Stay out of it. If she comes to you asking about your experience directly, of course you tell what you know. But until then—stay out of it. And realize that telling the whole truth will probably mean losing Samantha as a friend. I mean, I would probably drop someone who thought so little of me that she’d deliberately set me up with a terrible ex as an experiment to see if he really, truly WAS a different person.March 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm #676872
I think y’all are being a little hard on the LW in ascribing to her bad motives. She wasn’t constantly trying to fix her ex boyfriend up to prove herself right. She found out eight years after her breakup a friend was in the same town and put them in contact. That seems to be the extent of her involvement with him.
She bears zero responsibility for anything that went wrong. It had been *eight* years between her breakup and the setup. She had no reason to believe that he had ongoing mental health issues, and to the extent he did, it was his place to tell Samantha, not hers.
Finally, she just put them in contact. She didn’t frog march them at gunpoint to a chuppah. Any issues with the way her relationship progressed are on the two of them.
It’s clear that she still chafes at the idea that she was a cause of the depression and sees this a little as validation but I don’t think that she did anything wrong or ill-motivated.March 10, 2017 at 1:57 pm #676874
I don’t think the LW is a bad person for setting them up. Based on the information she was being given, it appeared that he was doing a lot better and that the issues they had were particular to them as a couple. I know a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily set up an ex who things didn’t go well with, but it’s not like he was a monster and she sacrificed her friend to him. It’s also the person being set up’s duty to decide, like they would in any other instance, whether the person is right for them. Maybe it was a little misguided, but I don’t think it would have been appropriate either for her to pre-emptively poison their potential relationship based on her experience with him in the past. Sure, if was physically abusive or something, but in the situation where two people just aren’t happy together, there’s nothing guaranteeing he’s never going to be happy with anyone.
That said, even if you introduce two people, that doesn’t make their relationship your responsibility. Once people meet, relationships are relationships — meeting online versus being set up doesn’t change the fact that it’s between those two people. So, just treat them as you would any other friends who are dating and try to stay out of their issues.March 10, 2017 at 3:25 pm #676890
I think it’s incredibly weird to set up a friend with an ex you haven’t spoken to in ten years. I think this is fake and written by that chick who wrote in a few weeks ago; the one who set up her two best friends but oops one of them turned out to be a controlling nutter.March 10, 2017 at 5:30 pm #676909
Hi, I am the LW, and thank you all for your comments, just to clarify the motivation I had for introducing them (by giving her his number with permission) was that she was new to a city and didn’t know anyone and I thought they would get along. I also knew that he is a kind person, not a scary woman abuser and someone who my friend could check out her new home with without fear of him being creepy to her. I thought romance might be there but didn’t really think about it that much. I really was just thinking about a lonely friend. After 8 years and with a clean break and no contact and a happy marriage of my own I disnt really think about him that much. And when they got together I told her I was her friend and if they broke up I would be on her side and continue to not have contact with him.
I had not lied about his depression to her, I just didn’t give her a rundown of our whole relationship and how bad his depression got, and that he and others had blamed me for it because I didn’t want to influence her. I had sad to her in the past ‘oh blah blah my ex was annoying because x’ in conversation as you do with friends, but I never thought they would meet and It was just anonymous storytelling.
I just maybe should have said more about the times he couldn’t work and I supported him etc so she was aware that his depresssion was capable of being debilitating.
But when all you hear is ‘oh he’s great now you have stopped enabling him’ you think well, he’s great now I have stopped enabling him.March 10, 2017 at 5:57 pm #676911
I also think it is absolutely important to remember that I was toxic to HIM, not the other way around.
I would enable him until I broke under the pressure and then get angry with him without taking responsibility for my enabling.
He was also no angel but my responsibility is mine and his actions were not my responsibility.
So after we broke up (which I initiated) I apologised profusely for the way I handled our relationship and I backed away from mutual friends because I knew he needed the support and I had other supports – he has always struggled keeping friends long term. So I was sad that I was disinvited from things etc but I fully deserved it so I just focused on my goals and didn’t look back.
I’ve never wanted anything but good for him, and I still don’t. I just was not mature enough to be a non- toxic girlfriend for a highly sensitive man with a mental illness.March 10, 2017 at 6:05 pm #676914
Maybe your not the right person to help your friend then? As you said it’s been years since you last saw your ex. So you don’t really know him that well anymore. I’d take a step back and tell your friend to find someone else to confide in if she needs to vent about her relationship. Or maybe see a therapist.March 10, 2017 at 6:16 pm #676917
Oh I only just figured out how to reply to individuals.
I think you might be right. I mean she has other friends.
Do you mean me see a therapist or her? Because I’m not strongly upset over this, I’m just concerned for them and feel I should have done some sort of PowerPoint presentation of his depression to her as full disclosure. So I feel guilty but more ‘write into dear Wendy’ guilty rather than ‘it’s destroying my life’ guilty.