Trying to support a partner after being pushed away.

Postby birdiewordie » Tue May 15, 2018 11:54 pm

I was dating a guy for a year. He has always been open about having depression and anxiety. I don't hold any of the issues we experience because of this against him and I never have - sure, being in a relationship with someone suffering hurts sometimes. The lack of intimacy sucks. But it’s not like anyone asks for depression or anxiety and the good times we have together more than make up for it.

A few months into the relationship he broke up with me because he said he had been unhappy with everything in his life for a while and didn't know how he felt.

He contacted me 5 days later and suggested meeting up to talk. At first, he seemed sure he wanted nothing to do with me. I said I understood but that I was blindsided because we were, from my part, very happy. We talked through a few things bothering him (that were irrational for the most part) and 3-4 hours later, we were back together. He apologized for jumping the gun and said when he feels like his mind just races with negative thoughts.

Fast forward to about a month ago. He calls me and says the same sort of thing. He said he's unhappy, doesn't know why he gets so irritated, and needs to be alone and figure himself out. I was hurt and texted him afterwards telling him I respect what he said but that I love him and would always be here. 4 days later he sent me a text saying:
  • he does love me
  • he's undeserving/unworthy of me
  • he hasn't been able to do anything that week
  • the worst part of this is he thinks he's broken my trust
  • we can meet up and talk if I want to

I responded saying he hadn't broken my trust, I love him, and that of course I want to meet up. His reply was pretty cold - confusing because he was the one who had reached out. When we met up, he said he couldn't be in a relationship right now because he can't feel anything and doesn't know what's wrong with him. He also said he was afraid that I'd go through the rest of our relationship wondering when this would happen again. Maybe the fear and guilt of that thought was a deciding factor to end it?

He texted me about 30 minutes later apologizing and to make sure I got home okay. I spent the next week researching this shitty illness and came to the conclusion that if this is what we have to deal with, fine. I love him and I’m not giving up.

After two weeks of no contact, I stopped by to pick up some things. Seeing him was weird. He said something like, “you know you can still talk to me.” I’m sure I looked shocked/confused because he suddenly seemed to regret saying that. A few silent seconds went by and I heard him mutter something about me parking my car (I was just stopped in the road). I’m assuming so we could talk. Before what he said registered, cars were behind me trying to get by. He quickly said uh never mind thanks for bringing my stuff. And walked away.

I feel like I'm being tugged in directions I didn't even know existed. I do not suffer from depression and I know researching vs experiencing are entirely different. I don't know what to do or how to take anything he says. No one seems to understand why I'm not just like oh well, not my problem, time to move on. I don't want to - why I would give up that easily on someone who never gave up on me when I was dealing with issues. He is the most loving and caring man I have ever met when he is not going through periods like this. And although he thinks he is bringing me down, he isn't. Of course I feel awful that the person I love has to deal with this, but his feelings aren’t contagious.

I know I will eventually be okay no matter the outcome. But I would love for him to be in my life more than anything and I'm willing to wait. I know I can’t fix anything for him but I love him unconditionally and that includes this part of him.

I've thought about contacting him to make sure he's okay. I want to be there for him as a friend right now. I’ve also thought about seeing if he wants to go grab something to eat or watch some TV. However, I don't want to contact him if it's only going to make things worse.

Some questions I have:
  • What's with the back and forth on the contacting/no contacting issue?
  • Am I wasting my time? I know that's an unanswerable question but I guess I'm wondering if there's any chance he’ll come back like he did last time.
  • Has anyone dealt with a partner struggling and had something similar happen? If so, what was the outcome?
  • Has anyone suffering from depression done this to a partner? If so, what's the best thing they can do for you? Completely leave you alone? Reach out every so often?
  • Is it okay to reach out as a friend?

Any response, advice, or suggestion is unbelievably appreciated.
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#1

Postby Candid » Wed May 16, 2018 9:11 am

birdiewordie wrote:I feel like I'm being tugged in directions I didn't even know existed.


My feeling up to this point in your post was that you were letting this guy push you away and reel you back in again, over and over. He doesn't have to make an effort or examine himself at all, because no matter how cold and rejecting he is, he knows you're always there waiting for him to want your company again.

No one seems to understand why I'm not just like oh well, not my problem, time to move on. I don't want to - why I would give up that easily on someone who never gave up on me when I was dealing with issues. He is the most loving and caring man I have ever met when he is not going through periods like this.


By the fact that you've come to the forum with this now, I assume his "periods like this" are getting longer and/or more frequent. I think I do understand why you don't want to move on: because this is the best relationship you've had and you don't believe you can find better.

I know I will eventually be okay no matter the outcome.


I'm glad you said this, but I think you need to decide how long you're "willing to wait". He knows which buttons to press to reel you back in, so unless you have a cut-off point and the determination to enforce it, this could go on forever. I don't think that's what you want, unless you have strong commitment issues that will doom you to picking unavailable partners.

I've thought about contacting him to make sure he's okay. I want to be there for him as a friend right now.


Don't do it. He knows where you are. He knows you always forgive and forget. He knows that as things stand you'll always be "there for him" in whatever capacity. Right now he doesn't want you there. He wants you when he wants you and he doesn't when he doesn't, so if you're determined to win this prize, you have to do whatever he wants, when he wants it. Right now, and lots of previous times I gather, he doesn't want you to "be there".

Yes, I think you're wasting your time. You've never got tough with him or indicated that this push-pull is a deal-breaker for you. There isn't just a "chance he’ll come back like he did last time"; I'd say it's guaranteed. As long as you accept being shut out with no recriminations, he'll keep you on a string.

Has anyone suffering from depression done this to a partner? If so, what's the best thing they can do for you? Completely leave you alone? Reach out every so often?


I've had on-off relationships in my distant past, and I think you're asking the wrong questions here. You don't need to know what's the best thing you can do for him, you need to know what's the best thing to do for yourself -- and that is, don't pursue him, be available to date other guys, accept that he isn't relationship material, and learn to be happy without him. If he comes back during that time, all well and good -- but let him know you're starting to have a good life without him. Then you can see him if you want to and not be bothered if you don't.

My question to you is, how far have you looked ahead? Is this someone you want to marry and have children with? If so, how do you think you'll cope when the baby's teething, you have money worries because he can't work, the house is in a shambles, you feel as unglamorous as it's possible to be... while he's taken to his bed or gone off and left you for a few days, moaning that he's depressed?

Romantic relationships that go the distance are partnerships -- not one party being endlessly understanding and forgiving while the other gets a free ride.
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