But now, things are quite different. To begin with, she’s put on quite a bit of weight. Now, she was already fat. Not chubby — she was genuinely a fat girl. And that was fine with me. But the weight she’s at now is outright concerning. She doesn’t ever want to go out anymore. Getting her to come with me to the local diner is hard, let alone to somewhere nice. We usually just stay in when I visit her now, order something, and watch TV. She doesn’t even want to play video games together anymore. She just wants to watch Netflix or Youtube while lying on her bed.
She’s not taking care of herself either. I only see what she does when I visit, but during that time (2-3 days each week) she doesn’t shower, or brush her teeth, or do anything with her hair or nails. She’s usually freshly showered when I arrive, but that’s about it. She lives in her father’s apartment (I’m not judging, I live at home at the moment, too), and nothing is ever cleaned there. I’ve taken to wearing socks around the house because the dust gets all over my feet. Her bedding and pillows are stained and torn to the point where tiny little feathers are all over the place. Every item on every single shelf in the house has a thick layer of dust on it. She lies to her father and says she walks and feeds the dog, even though she doesn’t. And she eats junk. At any given time there will be leftovers from three to four different kinds of takeout in the fridge, and she sends me to the store to get Ben and Jerry’s ice cream every week.
We actually broke up a year ago for more or less the same things that I’m talking about right now. When I would discuss these things with her, she’d ignore my concerns or guilt me into not talking about them anymore. A friend convinced me that I should leave, and at the time, although it was the most painful thing in the world, it felt like the correct thing to do. I’m a fairly sensitive guy, and I felt terrible about hurting her, and it was only a few months later that I found myself back at her door to apologize for hurting her. She actually seemed to be doing well without me — she’d lost weight, she was getting out more. We ended up getting back together, only to have the same problems cropping up again. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the problem and I’m just bad for her.
I’m insanely ashamed and guilty about this, but I’ve been fantasizing about situations in which I can leave without having to hurt her again, like catching her cheating on me, or us having a fight, or… her having a heart attack. I feel absolutely reprehensible for having those thoughts, but I can’t pretend they don’t pop into my head.
In the end, I do love her, and I want her to get help. She does see a psychologist already, and he prescribes her quite a bit of medication. I’ve tried to talk to her about these issues in the past, and it always seems to be ignored, yes-yes-yessed away, or she makes me feel guilty for bringing it up. We’ve been talking about kids and marriage and moving in together, but I really don’t want this to be the way things are for the rest of our lives. I know I have to do what makes me happy, but I worry about her.
Right now I’m thinking maybe I need to try one more time to get through to her about how things have been going and, if it doesn’t work, telling her that we need to take some time off for a while. But I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. Please help. — Guilty and Worried
Your girlfriend has been diagnosed with depression and everything you describe about her seems to affirm that diagnosis. Talking to her about your/her issues isn’t going to change anything. That’s like talking to a person with lung cancer about the concerns you have about her cough. The behavior you’re describing is a symptom of her depression. She isn’t going to get better until she has treatment that works for her. Maybe that’s finding a different doctor, maybe it’s taking a different combination of medication. You could encourage her to consider both of those options, and to get a full physical to rule out other health concerns, but yeah, just, talking to her about how you want her to change isn’t going to have the effect you want.
All is not hopeless though. There is something you’ve been part of in the past that has seemingly had a positive effect, and that was breaking up with her. After you broke up with her the first time, you say she seemed to do well/better without you, “losing weight and getting out more.” And then you got back together (why???) and she went back to exhibiting signs of depression again. Yes, maybe you are part of the problem.
And, yet, despite all this, you’re discussing marriage and kids?! Why on earth would you do this when your relationship sounds so bad and you fantasize about your girlfriend having a heart attack so you can leave her without guilt? WHY do you even feel like you have anything to be guilty of when leaving her in the past turned out to actually have a positive effect on your girlfriend? It would make sense that if you really love someone and are worried about her and know that a previous action had a positive effect, you’d be more inclined to repeat that action than to continue doing the thing that has had a negative effect. Unless, it’s YOU you’re worried about, which is what it looks like to me. It looks like you’re afraid to be alone and lose the hope you had for a life of video games and hockey events with your girlfriend, and, if only you could get her to be like how she used to be, everything would be great for you again.
I don’t see that happening. At least, not without a big change. And part of that “big change” probably has to include you not being in her life. There’s nothing to feel guilty about in terms of ending this relationship (if you do it kindly and with compassion). Neither of you is happy and your girlfriend, according to you, was better off without you. So, do the kind thing and move on. If you don’t — if you stay with her because you “feel bad about hurting her,” you’ll continue being part of the problem, and THAT should make you feel more guilty than anything.
P.S. Tell her father than the dogs need to be fed and walked.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
dinoceros November 22, 2016, 9:27 am
If it weren’t for the fact that your breakup actually appeared to be a positive change for her, I’d focus more on the things you can do to support her. But honestly, you sound a little childish in the fact that you appear to think you can’t break up with her if it’s going to hurt her. I mean, is it pretty crappy to dump someone and then come crawling back and then dump them again for the same reason? Yeah. But that’s what’s going to happen. There’s no avoiding it. Might as well just do it and leave her alone so she can go ahead and start healing. If you don’t want to ever hurt anyone, then don’t get into relationships.
Northern Star November 22, 2016, 10:29 am
You don’t need a “reason” to leave a girlfriend if you’re just generally unhappy with the relationship. You’re worried about being seen as a bad guy, but honestly, does it really matter what she thinks in the initial rush of sadness (or maybe relief?) when you break up? In the end, you’ll both be better off searching for partners that fit you.
blink14 November 22, 2016, 10:58 am
How can you stick around when she doesn’t even brush her teeth?! No thanks.
artsygirl November 22, 2016, 11:05 am
LW -your GF is not going to change unless something makes her change. It is apparent that she is capable of living a more productive life but the pattern you and she established is not healthy both physically or mentally. You are not happy, she is not happy, and it sounds like both of you are willing to settle into life long misery rather than break the cycle. You need to break up with her and not look back – while it is likely you are trying to help her, you are actually enabling her behavior. Despite your concern for her weight, you go out and buy unhealthy food. You settle for watching tv at home on the bed rather than being active. I imagine you walk and feed the dog while visiting since she cannot be bothered. I am sure you love her, but you also deeply resent her and feel trapped. Break up now and leave before you actually become trapped through marriage and children.
Ron November 22, 2016, 11:42 am
It seems significant that this depressed person improved after you broke up with here. Perhaps she sees you as this dependent sad sack, whom she’d love to be rid of, but fears cannot survive without her. Perhaps part of her behavior has been trying to drive you away, so that you make the break-up decision and she doesn’t have to. She didn’t ask you to come back to her. You crawled back. Why? I’m not buying that it was out of kindness or concern for how much you had hurt her. It was out of your loneliness and inability to cope without her. Otherwise, if you just considered getting back together to rescue her from the severe hurt you had caused by breaking up with her, upon seeing how much better she was doing without you, you would have said ‘just checking in, glad to see you doing so well, have a good life.’ If she was doing better without you, why would you think that your return would benefit her? That makes no sense. From what you write, she was in pretty good shape, mentally and physically, and did a big slide during the course of your relationship. Then you leave and she improves. Do you see a pattern here? It seems you’re not good for her.
Essie November 22, 2016, 12:52 pm
Dear God, you’re talking about having kids? With a woman who has such severe depression that she won’t do anything but lay in bed and watch YouTube? And won’t even bathe or brush her teeth? What kind of a mother do you think she’d be? And you’d be subjecting children to a lifetime of that, just to prevent yourself from feeling a little temporary guilt?
For heaven’s sake, she’s not going to die without you. You already broke up with her once, and she did just fine. Better, even. Stop playing the martyr and break this ridiculous, unhealthy pattern so you can both get on with your lives.
Skyblossom November 22, 2016, 1:42 pm
Any woman incapable of feeding or walking a dog has no business having children and no man should be discussing it with her.
SpaceySteph November 22, 2016, 1:00 pm
Definitely agree with breaking up. I am a firm believer that you can’t MAKE someone do something. You can’t convince her to lose weight, eat healthier, brush her teeth more often. You can try to gently suggest that she see her psychiatrist for a meds adjustment or see another doctor, but you can’t force her to. Ultimately, each person is responsible for improving their own self…or not. Seems like, for the time being at least, she is choosing “not.”
You don’t want to be in the relationship. And doesn’t she deserve someone who doesn’t fantasize about her untimely demise? Break up, for both your sakes.
bittergaymark November 22, 2016, 4:42 pm
Save yourself! You just are NOT a match. MOA.
Oh, and always, always… USE A CONDOM!!
strawberrygurl November 22, 2016, 8:08 pm
I’m surprised that nobody might have mentioned mania. Individuals can cycle between severe highs and lows without being bi-polar; mania usually includes loss of appetite (weight loss), elevated mood, higher energy, etc. Then when the downward slide hits, which is the inevitable part of the cycle, it’s back to the same old depression. (Source of my expertise on this matter: Life and many years of educating myself)
I do think it’s a bit harsh to call you the problem! Her depression is the problem. However, you are absolutely NOT the answer, and it’s unfair for both of you to continue in what is clearly a viciously unhealthy relationship.
LW, regardless of where you stand on the whys and hows, please leave this person. Then look into your own counseling on why you feel the need to enable/care for this type of personality. Your personal romantic choices are unlikely to get any better on their own, and your own neediness is going to make you miserable forever unless you can get a handle on it now.
saneinca November 23, 2016, 12:47 am
LW, you broke up with her once and she not only survived but also improved.
So please don’t wish her ill so that you can feel better. I think she ( and may be you) will be better off without each other. Break up with her ASAP. If you are that concerned, call her parents and let them know. And don’t ever get back in touch with her ever. Let her live as she wants. She was fine before you and she will be fine after you. Your presence is only peripheral to her life.