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Did depression kill our relationship?


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Hi,

 

I'll keep this as brief as I can. I welcome any and all opinions.

 

A year ago, I began a long distance relationship with a man I'd known for 10 years. We had not spoken in over 5 years. We began dating long distance, and we saw each other quite frequently - at least once a month, and usually a minimum of 4 days. Often we'd see each other as long as a week. And one visit with one another was 3 weeks.

 

In December, he had a major change take place with his company, of which he is a 40% owner, and the change, which I won't go into here because it's too long a story, was very very upsetting to him. It was going to send him accross the country to work side by side with a man who is demeaning, belittling, and very controlling. He will be required to stay 4 years. We knew the change was going to be emotionally draining. My boyfriend was mentally preparing for this for weeks, but it was becoming more than he could handle. It rocked him to his core. The whole time we were talking about my moving closer so we would no longer be long distance. We both agreed we wanted to be nearer.

 

I should say that in all the time we dated, we had a wonderful relationship. We didn't argue. If something came up that we didn't agree on, we were big into communicating and working through things. But that was not really that often.

 

Right before this big move of his, we took a trip out of the country. We were on a seriously romantic island. However, we did not have sex the entire 11 days we were gone. The first few days I chalked it up to jetlag. Then I pressed and asked what was going on, and he said he was really kind of freaking out inside about the move and that he didn't have any desire to have sex. He even said, "It's not you. I have no desire to have sex with anyone."

 

I did the standard, "Are you not attracted to me anymore? Is there someone else?" etc. etc. He assured me it was not a problem being attracted to me and that there was not someone else. This was in March.

 

In April, he broke his collar bone and ended up having surgery and went into a deep depression. He completely pulled out of all communication with me to the point that I was so confused. We went from 3-4 calls a day and 10 text messages a day to a total of 3 calls and 5 texts in 18 days.

 

He moved in May.

 

I'd been planning, since last November, to move to where he is now. And I tried talking to him about the complete cut-off of communication and this is what he told me (unbeknownst to me, but I can see these traits in him):

 

He said he has suffered from severe depression most of his life and that all but 3 of his adult years he can remember being suicidal. He said those 3 years were not filled with happiness, but he was not comtemplating suicide for most of them, so he felt they were good years. He then went on to say he did not feel he wanted to continue dating me, yet he did not know why. He recapped all my great qualities and said, "honestly, there is no reason I should NOT want to date you. I don't know why I feel this way."

 

About 3 weeks after he told me this we came to the time that I was planning to move. I was confused about whether to go ahead and move, but I had fallen in love with the city, and I really had no idea if the relationship would be revived or not, but that I'd still like to move there anyway, even if it was completely over. I have several reasons for loving this city. I was ready to leave my other state, and had been for a couple of years. I was pretty vocal to most people about that too.

 

Anyway, I went ahead and moved here. I arrived 11 days ago. The day after I got here, my ex-boyfriend (at that point he was "ex" as he'd told me he no longer wanted to date me) and I had coffee. I was shocked to see he has a full beard and looks like Grizzly Adams. He looks like he has not had a haircut in months. He looks like a man who was telling the truth when he said he suffers from depression. I was shocked at how different his appearance was from what I'd previously known.

 

I saw him about a week after I got here, briefly, to drop something off. That night, he called me and told me that he's freaking out because I moved here and that it was because of him. I've explained several times that yes, I found this city because of him, but that there are several reasons I wanted to move here. For one, I've applied to the law school nearby. And also I have a strong work connection that I'd like to cultivate more and being here keeps me nearer, so that is a plus too. There really are about 6 serious reasons - outside of him - that I chose to move here. I told him not to freak out, that I am a big girl and that I have no expectations.

 

He then went on to say, "I should tell you, I've begun seeing someone." When I asked how long it had been going on, he said, "I don't want to answer any questions, but it's recent." And he told me he would not be in touch for a while.

 

I have not reached out to him, and yet since this call, every night he has reached out to me and called and we've talked for about an hour every night. He's continued to text me and, honestly, if he's in a relationship, I don't know when he's spending any time with this person. I almost got the feeling that he told me that to see if I'd leave. Maybe he figured it was a good test to see if I really did move here because of him, you know? If I'd moved here for him, the news of a girlfriend would possibly have sent me packing. But girlfriend or no girlfriend, I really do want to live here.

 

My question to all of you -

 

How do I know if he really does not want to date me or if this is the depression at play? I've read that severe depression kills a sex drive and can wreak havoc on relationships. I've read, "Don't take it personally. It's not you..."

 

Any thoughts and comments are appreciated.

 

Sunshine_girl4

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As someone who suffers from depression, I can tell you that it definitely can take a serious toll on any relationship. It can make you feel things that are normally very uncharacteristic of you. But the big thing, at least in my experience, is that it can sometimes take away your motivation completely. For anything. Even the things you love. So that could be a link to what happened between the two of you. I would like to make the point that this sounds like it is all about him and his problems, and that you are doing the best you can with what he's given you to deal with.

 

That said, he sounds like he is in a really, really weird place right now. I do think the depression had something to do with him ending your relationship, and I think he is still caught in the middle of it. He is going through something that you should have nothing to do with. It might be best if you really focused on your career. I would stay friends with him, just to see if he's doing okay. But for now I would forget about the relationship aspect.

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Twist makes really good points here - that depression robs you of motivation, that it takes a serious toll on a relationship, that it sounds like the issues are really about his problems, and that you have really done a great job thinking through your actions and emotions.

 

My bf has severe depression, and it is something that we have to navigate each and every day. Even when you take space, talk through things, and engage in separate activities, it can take a toll. What relationships where depression is involved need, more than other relationships, are three important aspects: communication about needs, healthy (and repeatedly asserted boundaries), and a rejunvenation of patience and love. You have to ASSUME ebbs and flows. You have to understand the lows and learn to manage them. It sounds like he did not know how to manage the depression and maintain the relationship - which is absolutely not your fault my dear.

 

I would greatly disagree with the idea of staying friends with him. Honestly, he needs to FEEL the loss of you. You seemed to be a wonderful, loving addition to his life. Depression is characterized by irrational, negative (catastrophic) thinking. He is freaked out that you moved there for him. Staying in his life will only play into his concerns that you are there to be with him. The best thing you can do to relieve him of that notion is to relieve yourself of his life. That's also great for you so that you can avoid hearing about any other details in his personal life.

 

I don't know if he will rethink his choice when you disappear, but I do know he'll really start to understand what it is like to lose a great person like you. Best of luck.

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Twist makes really good points here - that depression robs you of motivation, that it takes a serious toll on a relationship, that it sounds like the issues are really about his problems, and that you have really done a great job thinking through your actions and emotions.

 

My bf has severe depression, and it is something that we have to navigate each and every day. Even when you take space, talk through things, and engage in separate activities, it can take a toll. What relationships where depression is involved need, more than other relationships, are three important aspects: communication about needs, healthy (and repeatedly asserted boundaries), and a rejunvenation of patience and love. You have to ASSUME ebbs and flows. You have to understand the lows and learn to manage them. It sounds like he did not know how to manage the depression and maintain the relationship - which is absolutely not your fault my dear.

 

I would greatly disagree with the idea of staying friends with him. Honestly, he needs to FEEL the loss of you. You seemed to be a wonderful, loving addition to his life. Depression is characterized by irrational, negative (catastrophic) thinking. He is freaked out that you moved there for him. Staying in his life will only play into his concerns that you are there to be with him. The best thing you can do to relieve him of that notion is to relieve yourself of his life. That's also great for you so that you can avoid hearing about any other details in his personal life.

 

I don't know if he will rethink his choice when you disappear, but I do know he'll really start to understand what it is like to lose a great person like you. Best of luck.

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Hi Twist & Ms. Darcy,

 

Thanks so much for your replies. I really appreciate them.

 

I'd done a lot of reading online regarding depression and how it affects relationships, and Ms. Darcy, I was hopeful (weeks ago), that I could be a good partner, even given the depression. I understand the ebb and flow concept you are describing, and I was armed (with knowledge) and ready to be strong and make it through this.

 

Now though, I am headed along the path that you've both described, focused on building my new life here and growing my career. As for the question of whether or not to remain in touch with my ex on the level of friends, I am extremely conflicted about this. I think I lean toward Ms. Darcy's approach; however, not without feeling a lot of angst inside. It's hard for me to leave a friend in a time of need. And truly, he has been my best friend for a year now.

 

For that reason, my original intention was to remain friends. The problem is, I tend to fall into that "rescuer" category, and I can see myself evolving into the role of a crutch for him. I know I can't fix this problem of his. However, I do have to remind myself that although it actually hurts me inside to "walk away" - and truly I feel pain inside doing that - it's even more painful for me to sit and listen and be a friend but only when it's convenient for him. It ends up being at the expense of my own happiness if it's one-sided like that. It ends up being a roller coaster ride. Because our calls these days are when he feels like it, and are centered around the work conditions he's under. They never turn toward me and my life or my activities.

 

The day I posted this is the last time we exchanged text messages. I have not heard from him since Thursday. I've decided that when I do receive the next text, I am not going to respond. I believe at this point he will know why. And although I feel some guilt for leaving the friendship, I do know that I need to look out for myself first.

 

I'm sure he will feel the loss of me. However, it likely won't be until it's not practical for us to even be together. It may be years from now and one or both of us may not even be available or interested at that point. I suppose this is a chapter in my dating life that is coming to a close.

 

Thanks again for your insight. It's really, really appreciated.

 

Sunshine

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The problem is, I tend to fall into that "rescuer" category, and I can see myself evolving into the role of a crutch for him. I know I can't fix this problem of his. However, I do have to remind myself that although it actually hurts me inside to "walk away" - and truly I feel pain inside doing that - it's even more painful for me to sit and listen and be a friend but only when it's convenient for him. It ends up being at the expense of my own happiness if it's one-sided like that. It ends up being a roller coaster ride. Because our calls these days are when he feels like it, and are centered around the work conditions he's under. They never turn toward me and my life or my activities.

 

This friendship would be a one-sided test of frustration for you where you are trying to prove your worthiness as a friend whereas he is just using you as a sounding board so that he can maintain a more positive face with the girl he's dating. It's an automatic imbalance that does you no good. You are wise to remove yourself from that heartache.

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Thanks. I agree. I did receive a text message earlier today that was related to his work and the whole situation he's going through, and I simply replied, "You need not continue to reach out to me at this point, especially if you have a new girlfriend. She should be your source of comfort now."

 

I'd say that about sums it up, and my job now is to focus on myself and my new city and building my new life here. It's a gorgeous place (and the people are extremely friendly) and I certainly have no regrets. I just have to shake off the painful moments of the personal loss and stay busy.

 

Sunshine

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All I Ever Wanted Was to Love You
All I Ever Wanted Was to Love You

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