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His friend commits suicide, now depressed partner wants out


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Background: we're both 25. Have dated for seven years total, starting the fourth year cohabitating. Living in the same town where we went to college. He ("G") had been depressed from the beginning of our relationship until this past spring. He just got on the correct medications this past spring, and he has improved a lot. We had just started going to couples counseling (have gone only once so far) to talk through issues related to marriage, children, and whether to relocate. IMO relationship is/was strong.


G's very close friend from high school killed himself one week and one day ago (last Monday). G was understandably extremely upset. Went to the funeral, was out of town on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Came home in a terrible depression because of his friend and because he hadn't taken his depression meds in several days (had run out). Sunday, G seemed better.


Monday (yesterday) we have a long conversation about what we're looking for in life. Funny that--we're looking for almost the same "big picture" things (to make a positive difference in the world, to have no regrets, to connect to other people/to make memories with other people). It was actually a great conversation overall. I felt like we were really able to communicate so clearly and respectfully with lots of support for each other.


In the end, he tells me that he feels like he's been "asleep" for the past seven years. That he needs to "find himself." That he needs to foster his own independence. I asked him if he would continue with counseling; he said yes. I asked what the point of counseling was; he said "to find a solution that works for the both of us." I asked if that meant that he wanted to break things off with me, and he's hoping that counseling will help me cope; he said "yes." He says that he loves me dearly and cares for me deeply (I feel the same way for him). He agreed with the motto "one change at a time." We're going to move to a new city, start new jobs, and build a new community. We're going to keep going to counseling in the new city. We're going to find an apartment with a month-by-month lease, in case we need to stop living together for a while.


I talked with his brother (with whom he's very close) to get some insight. Brother says that G feels like he needs to make "drastic changes" in his life, but hasn't mentioned much about me. The changes seemed to be mostly about where he lives and his job.


I am beside myself. This isn't a little high school relationship--this is the past seven years that we've built a life together. Having been through mental health issues of my own (and emerged a better person for dealing with them), I can understand that he feels robbed of the last seven years of his (not our) life due to his depression. I understand what it means to need to find yourself and your place in the world. I understand that right now is an awakening for him, and I understand that he's quite traumatized. I wish with all my heart that I could make things better for him. The best that I can do is to try to understand what he needs, and to meet those needs as best I can.


I'm going to try to set up an appointment with the counselor that I used to see. I desperately need guidance and someone to talk to right now. It's easy to say all of this, but it's so much harder to do it. I'm having such a difficult time...


What do you think of this situation? Between the suicide of his close friend and missing his meds, can he be in his right mind? What can I do to 1) help him, and 2) make our relationship stronger? What next? Should I ask his brother for help? Should I call his parents about the situation (I'm close with his parents)? Where do things stand? Help!



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A death can change someone's perspective a lot and a lot of bad things can happen which you need to bear with as the person gets over it. IMO, the instability he is putting you through because of HIS needs are selfish. If he outright split up with you, or said he needed some space, 'fair enough', but the month by month lease renting? I think you need to sit down and think about what you need and want and talk to him, as there are two people in this relationship, but he seems to be dictating how things are going at the moment!

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Thanks so much for your reply. I've been beside myself... can't eat, can't focus. It's great to have something to respond to, instead of having the same few questions buzzing through my head.


Part of his issue is that he needs to live a little, to grow up. He can't commit to much right now, as he needs to take care of himself first and us second. Like I said, I completely understand all of that. For the longest time (during his seven year depression), it was me in the "driver's seat" of the relationship. For the moment, I don't mind taking the back seat (figuratively and literally) until he gets things figured out. I think as he comes to his senses, he'll realize that once the issues related to his friend's suicide and his depression are resolved AND he takes some time to establish his independence, then our relationship problems will be at least half-way resolved.


So because of all that, I don't mind the month-by-month lease. That's sort of a minor detail. I guess the bigger question is, when a person says that they need to "find themselves," what does that usually mean for the other person in the picture?


I just don't know what to do, day-to-day. We talked for five hours yesterday. Should we talk again today? Or should I let things be and give him space? Is it ok to ask for a hug?


Go figure that the counselor that we just started seeing is out of town on vacation this week...


Thank you again for your response, Lana. Any and all responses are so appreciated at this incredibly difficult time...




EDIT: It occurred to me that this probably doesn't belong under "breaking up," as we haven't broken up (yet?). I don't know how I would categorize it. Should it be moved?

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It sounds like he's still in somewhat of a state of shock from the terrible situation with his friend. That can certainly be a life shaking experience. In some ways I suspect he might need you now more than ever, even though he may think he doesn't. It's hard to tell what he's actually thinking at present though.


This is perhaps a time in his life that for a few more days or weeks he might take your friendship for granted. Although perhaps he thinks he wants to find himself I'm also suspecting he's relying on you being a very good friend to him without actually thinking about it like that.


I'd try to stick to your motto of one change at a time, but changing cities and jobs (and where you both live) all at one time is a HUGE change. Considering all that, I think the stress of changing a relationship at the same time is perhaps more than he'd really want to take on. I'd have though that with all the other things going on he'd want a person to be with in the evenings who was familiar.


Go to counselling, keep in mind he's likely grieving. If he hasn't grieved openly and got that part dealt with then perhaps he still needs to. It can take some people many days or even weeks to get through that process, and it IS a process he needs to go through. Until he does, he won't quite be himself. Not everybody has an immediate reaction.


Stick with it. All is not lost. He's a bit numb. Stay with him if you can, as long as he's willing. Go to counselling with him and hope for the best.

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Thanks, Ash. That's exactly where my mind is at this point. He has this bizarre, far-away look in his eyes when he talks. He's not the same form of the person that I've known and loved for seven years.


I would also think that he would want something familiar, especially at night when you're home alone, but perhaps he doesn't want to stay home alone at night. As I've mentioned, he lost out on the usual antics of young men during his college years, due to his high grades, varsity athletics, depression, and having a steady girlfriend. I think he's also mourning those years... and probably facing the realization that he, too, is going to die some day, and what will he have to show for it?


Thank you for saying "all is not lost." I don't think all is lost, but I think things are pretty broken. I'm more than willing to stay with him and to give him all the space he needs. I'm just praying with all my heart that HE is willing.


One thing I asked him is not to make a rash decision, as I think both of us understand that we'll regret it. I like the phrase, "with all due haste." That is, we need to address these issues now... but not jump into anything. I don't think that things could or should ever go back to the way they were before.


I'm afraid that if I back off and give him the space that he says he needs, that I'll lose my chance to try to make things right. So I'm back to the same question. Do I stay out of the way, let him initiate all conversations, don't bring up issues related to our relationship, and let all that happen within the counseling sessions, OR should I try to talk to him a little more, firm up some plans, figure out what the hell is going on, etc? What do you think?



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I honestly don't think you'll be able to figure out all of what is going on at the moment, so pressing for that I would consider is something perhaps to avoid. On the other hand not discussing it at all is not really a great option either.


I would personally think that bringing up issues when he's not in an agitated state might be okay. But only bring up one at a time, and be prepared to shelve the discussion for a while if he starts to get upset. You don't want him to start associating negative emotions brought about by another situation with you two discussing your life plans. If you push and he gets upset, each time that happens he'll become a bit more distant.


You can certainly let a lot of it happen in the counselling sessions, and perhaps it would be a good idea to at least wait until the next one of those. Then in the session itself perhaps you could ask the counsellor the same questions you have on here, namely should the two of you be persuing answers to the questions you have in private.

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I would personally think that bringing up issues when he's not in an agitated state might be okay. But only bring up one at a time, and be prepared to shelve the discussion for a while if he starts to get upset. You don't want him to start associating negative emotions brought about by another situation with you two discussing your life plans. If you push and he gets upset, each time that happens he'll become a bit more distant.


He doesn't get agitated (behaviorally), but he does get distant. Really distant. Fortunately I know him well enough that I can "read" that type of behavior... You're right, I don't want him to start/continue associating our relationship with sad or agitated feelings.


I've decided that I'm not going to try to discuss anything tonight. If he brings up anything (which I really doubt), I'm willing to talk. I think I might suggest renting a movie. Anything to get through tonight. I'm just afraid that I'll lose a "window of opportunity" somehow. ](*,)


It's just the "not knowing" part that's the worst... although I guess if I knew his decision was definitely "I don't want to be with you anymore," then that would probably worse, come to think of it. I just can't shake the feeling that I'm about to have my heart smashed for no good reason at all.


Thanks again for your words of wisdom, Ash.



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Rent a comedy, even one he's seen before that he likes. We all need to laugh! That will help. Don't get anything violent or negative.


Hold hands a lot, and put your hand on his shoulder and give him little hugs a lot too. Physical contant like that is good too. It will remind him that you're both human and that you love him.

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Rent a comedy, even one he's seen before that he likes. We all need to laugh! That will help. Don't get anything violent or negative.

Good idea. He's into artsy-fartsy films... any suggestions? A romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore will just piss him off, I'm afraid!


Also, and this is weird, but films with happy endings tend to upset him.


So really the safe bet would be a documentary or something. Oh, maybe a movie like Superman or Spiderman or Fantastic Four or something like that...


Hold hands a lot, and put your hand on his shoulder and give him little hugs a lot too. Physical contant like that is good too. It will remind him that you're both human and that you love him.


He has said that he's ok with physical contact, but he "doesn't want me to interpret body contact as something he can't provide." Which I think is his intellectual way of saying that he doesn't want to lead me on. Who the heck knows. I'll gently offer a hand; I can't control whether he takes it.


Thanks again Ash. Any movie suggestions?



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At least hand holding and light touches on the arm etc. aren't a lead on so perhaps they'll be okay. If he won't quite offer his hand, then perhaps holding his arm gently would be okay. I've always found that holding somebody's hand while seemingly being unaware you are doing anything unusual works out okay.


Suggestions? It's hard to say, I'd tend to go for things like Johnny English (or Mr Bean if you can't find that and he's at all amused by that sort of thing), Austin Powers, A Fish Called Wanda (or something else with ex Monty Python actors). Something somewhat mindless and silly in other words.

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I love Mr. Bean. But looks like the movie won't be happening.


We talked for a while longer, and to make a very long story short, we are going to take a break from living together and being in a very intense relationship. We are both planning on moving (and had been planning on moving long before this happened), and we're going to get separate places instead of a month-to-month lease. We're going back to the "casual dating" stage, where we'll call each other to do stuff, but there's no need to talk every day or fill each other in on all of the day's details. We are going to try to continue going to counseling to "find the solution that's best for both of us," whatever it might be, and we're also going to work on figuring out what went wrong. He said that he would not commit to working toward a reconciliation, but he wouldn't say he was against it either. We defined reconciliation as moving forward with the relationship, instead of breaking off things completely and stopping all contact.


He said that he felt selfish and mean and he was so afraid of talking because he was afraid of hurting me. I told him it was harder not to know, and to watch him in such pain. I told him that I loved him unconditionally, so while I'm not happy with the situation, I will do my best to understand and to meet his needs (without killing or unnecessarily sacrificing myself).


Right now he needs to figure out who the hell he is and where the hell he's going with his life. That means establishing himself as a person. I would much rather have the authentic, un-depressed G than some cheap, unhappy imitation of G.


Is there a risk that we'll never reconcile? Yes. Will that mean that my heart is broken? Yes, but if I don't back off and give him the time and the space and the opportunity for experiences that he needs, our relationship is over anyway. So it's a risk that I'm willing to take.


I really believe that we'll end up back together in the long run, and I'm willing to get on with my life in terms of my career, travel, meeting new people, etc. while still keeping a place warm for him in my heart.


The only thing he's said that REALLY, REALLY hurt was that "he might want to see other people in the future." Ouch! Of course, my feminine side immediately jumped in and said, "It's because you're not good enough! And he'll never find someone as good as you!" (Yeah, contradictory I know, but those little voices in the back of your head tend to say whatever you want them to say). I told him that if he's not in a position to date, then he's not in an emotional position to date anyone, and he agreed. I asked him to talk a little more about what he meant, and he said that he thinks part of experiencing freedom also means going out with other people. That is, he doesn't see himself getting into any other serious relationships, but he would like to do things with other women. Seems reasonable, although it hurts me so. Of course, I said, that means that I should also have the same freedom, and he didn't dispute that. We both agreed in the end that any future dating of other people would have to happen after some serious healing, and neither of us are in any position to even imagine that yet.


I just don't understand. Even when we're having conversations as serious as this, we're both basically in agreement on the "big picture" issues... it's still such a joy to talk to him. Sometimes I wish that he (or I) would throw a classic immature teenage temper tantrum, just so that way there'd be something to point a finger at. But there's nothing. Just the two of us, calmly sitting on the couch talking.


I'm going to go cry for a while now...



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i think things are basically over. i'm doing very poorly today.


we were married, without the marriage certificate. my life is entangled with his. he's dealing with that by moving to a new city and starting over. i can't even begin to comprehend where to begin to start untangling everything.


i wish i could go home and stay in bed for the day. i haven't eaten since monday and i've got a splitting headache. i don't feel well enough to be at work, but for some reason i'm still here.


can anyone tell me where to begin? i'm seeing a counselor this afternoon, even though i don't like her (met her in the past) i'm hoping she could help me now.

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At least have something to drink even if you can't eat. It's not going to help to get dehydrated, maybe that has something to do with your headache if you haven't been drinking. Try also to have some crackers of some toast. I know it's tough and many people do lose weight, but don't totally stop eating even if you have no appetite at all.


Don't try and think all that far ahead at the moment. Give yourself a little bit of time, and take things one step at a time.


If you don't like your counsellor it's totally your right to try a different one. You need somebody you are comfortable with.

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I am 100% sure that I can't stay in our apartment, even if he leaves and I stay behind. There are too many beautiful memories there. I have started looking for a place to stay. It's giving me something to focus on.


Ash I PM'ed you about the eating issues.


I need to find a way to stop crying at work... suggestions?

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Hey yellow


I am really sorry how this has panned out and I feel your pain. I think you really need to do a lot more crying and grieve the hell out of this.


Have you got nowhere you can go where you can just crash for a couple of days and curl up in a ball?


I think looking for a new place is something positive to do.


Whatever you do do, take this a minute, an hour, a day at a time. And remember to breathe.


Take care of yourself honey - this WILL get better.


For now - I send (((((HUGS))))).



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To the OP--


I really believe that he might need you more than ever. I think he's lucky enough that you are still willing to be there to render support. When my ex lost his brother to overdose, he somewhat became more attached to me and in a way became more possessive. As the grief wanes of, he became his old self-- workaholic. Months after, he bailed out on me at the same time that I was having a major depressive episode


I think your guy is very lucky that you are still there until he gets better.

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Mark, I'm going to visit my parents' house this weekend. Actually it will be my sister and my mother there. The three of us women together usually ends up creating lots of messes and generally having a great time... "never a dull moment" is the best way to describe it. It will be a very welcome distraction. But you're right, I just need to get out and away for a little bit.


Also breathing is important. I had my first (and hopefully last) anxiety attack earlier in the week. I called a nurse for help and she told me about the breathing and drinking hot tea. That helped to pull me through.


Thank you for the hugs, Mark. It's nice to talk to anonymous people and really feel like they care (when the person for whom you care most about in the world doesn't care about you any more).


Shellov, Tuesday night he actually broke down and started sobbing for the first time in our seven years together. Real tears, real sobs. I told his brother, and his brother said that he'd never seen him cry before. I know that he's hurting and I understand that this has turned his world upside down.


I will still be there because I love him unconditionally. That doesn't mean that I can be with him, though. I'm finding that I'm doing ok if I'm not thinking about him, if I'm not in the apartment with him, etc. For that reason, I'm looking for my own place. He says he needs space and I think I do to.


I'm just so scared that if I move out and decrease contact, we'll never have a chance. As things are, we're not officially broken up, just on a "break." I'm not even sure what that means.


Of course he'll be happier in the future--he won't be depressed! But he'll only remember me through his depression-tinted memories, which won't be pleasant. I'm afraid that we'll never have a chance to heal and to reconcile unless he gives us a chance now that he's not depressed.


What do you think? How can I make him see that all of this NOW stems from his friend's suicide? Will he only think poorly of us in the future? Will he ever give me and us a chance when he's not depressed?




P.S. Sorry if I'm rambling a bit. Brain still isn't back on track.

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YellowSweater, I just picked up on this thread. Your situation sounds so much like mine. I see a lot of my relationship with my ex reflected in yours. (I started mine with my ex when I was 18, he was 24--it lasted 14 years).


Sounds like your bf is suffering from a very early mid-life crisis. I had a little bit of one too, but it didnt happen until later in my 20s. My ex had his when he was in his late 30s, still young. Your bf's was precipitated by his friend's death. This need for change, something that cannot be easily defined, is at the heart of the matter.


My ex needed some kind of change. I think we might still be together (after 14 years) if we had changed cities together, or he if changed his job. But he ended up changing partners. (In some ways the most difficult change, and in other ways, the easiest change). And I picked up the pieces that were left, and just moved on with my life as best as I could.


A couple of pieces of advice for you, and I know it's a difficult time: 1) it gets better. there will be ups and downs. but it will get better no matter what the outcome will be. 2) take care of yourself during this time. Sounds like you have done a lot of caring for him over the years, and now its time for you to focus on yourself a big. 3) consider a little period of no contact (what a lot of people here refer to as NC). Moving out for a while will help you with this, and give both you and him some time to think. And make an appointment (or date or whatever you want to call it) with him after, say, a week to see how things are, talk about how you each are feeling, what you are thinking about. That might help guide the future for both of you.

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Hey Donster,


Thanks for your insight. It does sound like pretty similar situations! I agree that it seems like he's going through the quarter-life crisis. He spent the weekend with some friends... I had asked them to find out what he's thinking, what he really wants, etc, because I don't think he knows. And the response that I got was "Who the heck knows." That means that either 1) he doesn't know and didn't say much to his friends, or 2) he told his friends everything, and then asked them not to pass anything on to me. So pretty much: I don't know.


I forget if I posted this here, but I got an apartment. I looked one day and wrote a check for the security deposit the next day. Moving in next Saturday. I'm not one to sit around! The lease is Sept. 1 - Jan. 15.


Like you said, Donster, I wonder if I'm dooming any chances together by not moving to be with him. Well, I guess I can always see how things are going when the lease expires Jan. 15.


I don't know about the NC. We're still good friends, still very cordial. I know that he still cares about me, and I certainly still care about him! I don't even think that we're officially "broken up," so I'm not sure what NC would do. Why do you suggest it?


Thank you again to everyone who has responded with advice and caring. The two things that have helped thus far are 1) thinking about my new apartment, and 2) talking to people about what I'm going through.



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One of the first threads that I read on here, and it was actually found by my ex, was by a fellow named Caveat. Here's his thread. You are going through a lot of what he has gone through, when his gf was in a state of confusion and wanted to take a break.



He was very resolute with his NC, and you can see what it did for him, how it affected him, and his gf. It's a worthwhile read.


Big hugs for you, I know what you're going through right now. We've all been there at some point.

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Wowowowow. I raced through the first few posts, and I think I need to pause and go back to the beginning and read every word. It's midnight now, and I need to get my butt back in gear for work tomorrow, so it will have to wait. But thank you so much for finding that thread. I'll post my thoughts/ feelings when I've had a change to read and digest...



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