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boyfriends depression has him questioning our relationship

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by avatar Essie 3 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #837847 Reply

    i posted this already, but it was really long. this is still long but it’s a much shorter version.

    my boyfriend and i are going through a rough patch and it’s the first time we’ve dealt with this in our three year relationship.
    he feels like his depression is holding him back from being emotionally present in our relationship the way he wants to be and he can’t take care of himself and his mind battles when he’s constantly worried about me and that he will only continue to push me away because he cant help feeling guilty about feeling like he’s taking his problems out on me and he doesn’t know if he can handle that guilt on top of everything else.
    after some long discussions i told him he could have some space as he thought about what he wanted and needed so we’ve been on a break for just under three weeks. the whole time i’ve been a mix of different emotions too and it’s all i think about all day long and i haven’t really expressed them to anyone because i want to deal with this privately without the thoughts of friends or family.
    i’m pretty sure when we revisit our feelings he’s going to say we should break up. we’ve been together for three years and i still love him and he says he still loves me and doesn’t know that he’ll ever love someone the way he did me again.
    in the beginning of our relationship he acted like i was the best thing that ever happened to him, pretty much everyday for like a year he would talk about how he wanted to marry me, how he couldn’t wait until we had kids together, the kind of house we’d get, who would be in our wedding parties, what my dress would look like, what activities we’d sign our kids up for, what kind of dogs we’d have, and he would talk about these things on his own without me bringing them up.
    now his depression has gotten worse over the years and it’s turned into “i don’t deserve to get married, i’m a shitty person i’ll be a shitty husband, i can’t have kids because i’d screw them up like me, i can’t take care of a family.” he stopped being affectionate and reassuring (not all the time, when he was affectionate it was very affectionate, maybe almost like he was overcompensating) so i would ask him like hey are we ok, you still want to be together, are you still into me and us, and he’d always say yes but seemed sort of irritated about it. and it often feels like when i’m with him he’s physically there but not present emotionally, so i do kind of feel like he’s stopped caring about me sometimes but i know it’s not because of me and there’s just other things occupying his mind. so i see what he means about saying it’s causing distance between us, but i think we can work to fix it but he doesn’t know if we can.
    but it seems like he isn’t even really completely ready to let go because he keeps saying maybe we can work again in the future if the time is right and keeps insisting if we break up we could still be friends and hang out and text and talk and i can still come around.
    i feel like i already know what’s going to happen but i’m still holding out hope that i can help him through this as he tries to cope with his depression, i obviously know i can’t completely heal him or fix all of his problems, but i see his darkest moments and i’m his only outlet and i do what i can to make him feel better even if it’s coming over with ice cream or cleaning his room up when he was too down to do it himself so he could have a neater space (at the beginning i had the thought that i wasn’t his mom and he’s grown and i’m not about to clean up after him, but i could see how just being in a less cluttered space made him feel better because there was some organization and structure). i just tried to relieve him of any kind of stress i could no matter how small it was.
    i feel like since i’m not the reason he’s unhappy there’s no reason for us to break up while he tries to learn to live with these mental battles and find ways to cope.
    he’s also my first serious boyfriend and i’m his longest relationship so that makes it even harder for either of us to let go, not including the fact that even if he’s unhappy as an individual he was always happy with me as girlfriend, and we were a good couple. always loyal, supportive, empathetic, caring, loving.
    plus he always has to deal with his family calling him lazy, selfish, unmotivated, aimless, things like that. they tell him that he’s lucky to have me (which isn’t a bad thing) but then turns around and says im too good for him or i’m going to outgrow him and find someone better. before we started having these discussions they kept asking if we were going to get married and when he was going to propose and i think that extra pressure also made him push me away. so i know if we break up he will have to turn around and hear something along the lines of that it was only a matter of time before i realized i was too good for him. he’ll never be able to find someone like me again, and i know he won’t want to say the reason we broke up was because he couldn’t handle his depression so i don’t think he’ll be able to heal at all when he has to deal with that.
    i don’t think that the reality that we might actually break up has set in yet, and because he keeps saying if the time is right he thinks we should try again later because we’re a good couple but he’s just got too much on his plate at the moment for him to be able to take care of me how i do for him, just keeps planting the idea in my head that we’ll rekindle our relationship somewhere down the line and i don’t think that if we break up i’ll be able to move on if i convince myself it’s temporary.
    since i have so many emotions at once i feel like i’m bottling everything up because i don’t know how to express it. and i kind of just feel like i need a good cry. i cry all the time over small stuff but i haven’t cried at all over this or during our separation and every day i feel like i’m closer to exploding. i feel like my mind is in denial even though i keep telling myself no this is happening and it’s real. and i feel like if i just had one good sob i would feel like i let it out a little.
    so any advice on a. my relationship issue and b. how to get my emotions out (i’ve been journaling my thoughts but i don’t know that it’s helping) so i can deal with this and move forward no matter what happens, is appreciated.

    #837850 Reply

    You can’t heal him. He wants to breakup. He’s maybe trying to be nice, or maybe he really is this conflicted, but you need to let him go.

    No one takes a break in order to reconnect if they are feeling distant. That’s not reconnecting, it’s disconnecting.

    It is not really a good thing when his family tells him he’s lucky to have you, doesn’t deserve you etc. You can see that right? That’s not a compliment to you, it’s an insult to him.

    Breakups suck, and it hurts to be broken up with. You should lean on your friends and family. Talk to your friends! That’s what friends are for. The good times, the bad times…

    Get busy. Take extra shifts, volunteer, spend time with your loved ones and perfect your manicure skills. It takes time but you’ll be fine. Better in the long run, actually.

    #837856 Reply

    You have to treat this as a breakup, because it probably is. He wants the relationship to be over. Whether it’s truly because of his depression, or he’s giving that as a reason as a way to let you down easy (“it’s not you, it’s me“), he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend anymore.

    I’m sorry, I know that first big breakup hurts like hell. But you will be ok, and you will be happy again. The two things that will help you the most are ending all contact with him, and distracting yourself. Keep as busy as you can.

    #837857 Reply

    Oh, and I would stop journaling your thoughts. Don’t focus on how bad you feel, that’s how you get stuck in your own pain. The mind has a way of healing itself while you’re busy doing other stuff. As time passes, you’ll find yourself thinking about him less and less.

    #837861 Reply

    I’ve been where you are. I was in that relationship for 8 years. It’s not healthy, for you or for him. He was my first love. I tried to be there for him, and take care of him. But the bottom line is you can’t fix people no matter how much you love them or how matter how much you try. That’s not how a real relationship works. I feel for you and am sending lots and lots of internet hugs. Treat this like a breakup. Go for walks, hang out with your friends. It’s going to suck for a while but you will feel better.

    #837863 Reply

    Been there! It’s so tempting to blame his depression for this, but in truth he just doesn’t want to be with you. You need a clean break – no contact, lots of time with your loved ones. Stop thinking of more ways to “help him through this,” because that’s not fair to either of you. This one will hurt badly, but the sooner you pull the bandaid off, the better. And once you do, those emotions will come pouring out! The night my first love ended things for real, my bff picked me up in the middle of the night and let me sob in her car while we went through the car wash. We joked it was a ritualistic cleansing. My mom drove several hours and spent the next day with me, joking that I’d definitely understand country music now. Ten years later, I still remember the sting of that breakup, but even more I feel the love of my friend and mother. After that, I set limits on how long I let myself think about him each day. Some of it is just tricking your brain: set a timer, wallow for an hour, then force yourself outside or to the gym or to the movies. This stuff gets easier with time, experience, and a good support system, I promise. And you’ll be stronger on the other side, less willing to put up with nonsense from sad boys who can’t be the partner you deserve.

    #837874 Reply

    I posted in the other but I’ll add a separate thought here:

    You can’t carry his emotional baggage for him. He has to carry it all by himself. Sure, you can support him temporarily in tougher times, but you can’t be there 24/7 to carry his shit around. It’s his shit. You have your own shit. And you’re seeing that your shit is just as heavy a burden. Carrying both loads is more than anyone can bear for the long term.

    I’m sure he’s a lovely man, but he has issues. And by Issues I mean, international airport news stand level of issues. Barnes and Nobel periodicals issues. Those issues make him a less than ideal partner.

    Move on.

    #837875 Reply

    Regardless of the reason you can’t convince someone not to break up with you. He is not in an emotionally stable enough place to be in a relationship and he is telling you that. He is saying maybe one day because likely he wishes he wasn’t feeling this way. You need to move on. You actually really have no choice because he is saying it’s over.

    #837894 Reply

    Yeah like others I think there’s a chance he is using it as an excuse to let you down easy. But regardless you can’t (and shouldn’t) convince someone to stay with you when they want to be broken up. You can’t rationalize your way through it. I’m sure pretty much every one of us has tried to do just that when we were young and heartbroken but it just doesn’t work.

    And I know you think you love him and are scared to be alone but think of how freeing it’ll be when you get past the sad feelings and realize you don’t have to cater to your boyfriend’s terrible jerk family and his mental health issues anymore? I think on the other side of heart break you’ll feel like a bullet was dodged.

    If this guy and you are going to make it work he needs to do some working on himself– counseling, medication, etc. to get his mental health under control and also to work on coping mechanisms for when his family pressures him or insults him. Because they’re always going to be there doing that, and you don’t need a partner who falls apart every time their family acts like assholes, especially when the family does it as often as it sounds like his does.

    You also sound pretty young, so take advantage of this time to work on yourself and growing up and what YOU like and want in a partner. (Hint: it isn’t to carry his emotional baggage and family problems forever)

    #838083 Reply

    I think a lot of people like to assume that if their partner has mental health issues that they don’t *really* feel the way they say they feel. Sure, depression can influence how people see the world. But depressed people have a right to make decisions about their life. Their diagnosis doesn’t mean that everyone else can just ignore how they feel and say, “Well, it’s your depression. Otherwise, you’d want to be with me.”

    It’s not only about respecting his autonomy as a person. Trying to be with someone who explicitly says they don’t want to/shouldn’t be with you is not respecting yourself either. It’s never a good idea to try to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you, even if you feel that their reason isn’t good enough.

    Movies show us characters who say, “no, I want to be with you anyway! I’ll save you!” But that’s not realistic. When you stay with someone who knows they can’t be in a relationship, then you end up being treated poorly and they feel guilty.

    #838105 Reply

    UPDATE from LW, that she posted in another thread:

    my ex boyfriend and i broke up recently after three years. he’s the one who ended it. he said his depression has been getting worse over the years (i agree) and though he wasn’t unhappy because of our relationship, he felt guilty because he felt that he was dragging me down with him and didn’t want to burden me, and he didn’t see himself getting better anytime soon.

    i’ve seen him spiral and have these terrible explosions, he never took things out on me (besides being short tempered and stand offish with me) but it was scary to see and it was really painful to see him struggling and know there was nothing i could do to help him. he’s expressed suicidal thoughts before on multiple occasions, he says he would never go through with it because he wouldn’t want to put the people in his life through that, but i’m afraid that one day that won’t be enough.

    before when we had our final conversation i had my doctor print out information for inexpensive mental health centers that he should look into and gave it to him. he took it, but knowing him and what his family is like (you don’t need that, just get over it, you have a roof over your head what more do you need, you’re depressed because you do this and that, if you didn’t let your girlfriend get away you’d be happy – he broke up with me but his family has always told him i’m too good for him so i know how they’ll treat him when they hear we broke up), and knowing that he doesn’t really want people to know about what he’s dealing with especially his family, i know that he might not take that step on his own.

    we were together for three years, and i do still love him and wish we could have worked it out. i wanted to move forward with a better understanding of what he was dealing with and stay by his side as he tried to battle through this, but he felt like he had to be alone for now and i knew i couldn’t force it. and maybe it hasn’t really set in yet, but i actually think i’m ok. his depression made him very distant, and for a long time i took it personally and took it as an issue with me, but now i better understand what he was going through and why he couldn’t always be emotionally available. so even when we were together and in the same room, even laying right next to each other, it was like he was there but not really there. in a way it feels like the man that i originally fell in love with has been gone for a long time, i saw him in there sometimes but most of the time his depression buried him, and i more so need to grieve losing that version of him and not who i was with leading up to the break up. because of that it sort of feels like we’ve been broken up for a long time, just not physically or officially.

    i don’t care about him just as a boyfriend, but i care about him as a person, so knowing he’s ok is still important to me. i can’t just move forward not caring how he’s doing and if he’s getting help and if he’s feeling suicidal. when we had our last conversation i told him though i’m alright with his decision, i can’t handle being friends right now. he kept saying he still wanted me in his life and wants me to know i will always be important to him but he just knows he hasn’t been a good boyfriend and doesn’t want to bring me down with him. i still would like to check in on how he’s doing from time to time. i was his main emotional support system and i was the only person who knew his darkest thoughts and saw his scariest moments so i don’t think other people realize how bad his mental state is so i don’t know that others will check on him the way he needs.

    i sent his mom a long message, as a way to say goodbye but also to tell her what he’s been dealing with. aside from what he couldn’t hide from me he’s been suffering in silence. she didn’t know how bad things were (i didn’t mention that he was suicidal because i didn’t want her to completely panic), but said she had a feeling and didn’t know how to bring it up. i trusted her more than anyone else he knows to understand and be able to support him, and i thought maybe her encouraging him to seek professional help would be more effective than me telling him. we had a long talk and she thanked me for telling her what he’s been going through, but i could tell she was still worried because she doesn’t live close enough to physically be there and help him.

    like i said, i’m not comfortable with being his friend right now but i still would like to know if/how he’s been coping or has been getting/seeking help, and i don’t want it to be me messaging his mom out of the blue sometimes to ask her questions about him especially since she’s not physically around him to be able to tell. since i understand that when someone’s depressed they need to know that people care. i think i just need advice on an appropriate way to check on how he’s doing and what is an appropriate amount of time after breaking up to do this.

    #838112 Reply

    I think you should just say to him, “look, for my own mental health I need to go no contact for 60 days, so I won’t be in touch. I need to process the breakup and learn to be on my own. After that, I may reach out from time to time because I want to know how you’re doing. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here. I care about you and don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

    But he’s not your responsibility, you can’t keep him safe, and he broke up with you. It would be totally fine for you to move on and never contact him again.

    I think you overstepped by sending his mom that long message about his mental health. If you thought he would harm himself, I could see calling her and telling her you’re worried he could harm himself, and ask her to keep checking in on him. Brief and to the point. I think you probably went too far with dumping all that info on her, but what’s done is done, and now you really really need to move on.

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