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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#2

Postby Chlblam » Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:59 am

Hi there! I’m reaponding because I have been in a relationship for the past 3 years and this has been going on for 2 of them: the first year was honeymoon phase all the time, we hung out every single day, he was finishing up college, and he was my best friend. I had never been happier in my life. I knew from the beginning he was what I wanted. I struggled with mild depression in high school which isn’t uncommon but I have been able to get help. Once he graduated he was so happy to be done with school but immediately got a stressful 8-5 job. So

Basically RIGHT before our 2 year anniversary, I noticed a complete 180 in his mood, and he was like a zombie. I was very concerned. He said he just felt sick and didn’t know why.. a few days later of him and I hanging out and him acting weird, out of the blue he broke up with me. I was devastated.. he never gave me a reason, it all didn’t seem real.. i just had this feeling because I have experienced it before, that he was struggling with possible depression. So a couple weeks go by of me being so confused, angry, sad, stressed to the point I wasn’t eating, I just didn’t even know what to do. I would try to check in and say stuff like “ I don’t understand what’s going on. I thought everything was fine? I just need to know what’s going on so if I need to start moving on I can and not be stuck in this tunnel of not knowing anything” and he just kept giving me cold, short answers. I’d send him random texts like “ just know that I love you, and I’m here for you if you need anything.” And I’d just remind him if that throughout the month. Then I gave up because I was tired of being so sad and sick so I decided I was going to move on because it was clearly over. He went from “ I don’t want this. This is lent what I want I’m sorry.” To “ I don’t know what I want. Everything is just cloudy and I can’t think straight” and soooo a few weeks of no speaking went by and I was having a lot of fun but I wanted to be with him still so badly. He randomly texted me saying “ not a day goes by I’m not thinking of you. I’m so sorry I couldn’t and didn’t talk to you. I’m sorry it was all out of nowhere. I’d understand if you don’t want to talk I just want you to know I love you so much” and it confused me because it wasn’t necessarily telling me he wanted to get back together. We ended up meeting that night and got back together and it was like before when we were sooo happy and in love he would openly talk about marriage and how I’m all he wants blah blah for months and then he’d sink back down into depression for days, even weeks at a time Then back up to so happy and then back down to “ I don’t know how I feel about anything I don’t know how I feel about you. I don’t know what I want and I hate it” so it’s been a year of that rollercoaster but every time, I try to get him to talk a little more, i try to research because this is a different depression than I’ve ever felt. He doesn’t want to talk, he doesn’t want to see me ( because I’m the only person in his whole life that tried to get him to talk or do SOMETHING for himself) but it’s hard. It’s really really hard and at sometimes feels impossible.

I’ve learned that 1. If they are what you want, and you’re willing to go through the confusion and pain. Then do it.
2. You have to be confident and be okay and independent when these times come. It will almost feel like you’re broken up again and again even if neither of you say you are because there’s no connection. He won’t let you in. 3. PLEASE be patient. Yolu can’t point out what they are doing wrong because they already know and it will make things sooo much worse. Tell them you’re there when they need you and that you love them, and that you will get through this with them.
If they are mean and call you names then that’s not okay. But if you know this isn’t the person you fell in love with but they’re still there, then hang on and just try. Don’t give up on them. But don’t sacrifice your happiness either.
I hope this helps, you’re not the only one.
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#3

Postby DrPsychFeels » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:31 pm

Candid wrote: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.


This.

OP, your situation is classic codependence. You're trying to act in a way to get a specific result from him.

Go to therapy for codependency where you'll learn "solving" the relationship is more about doing what's right for you, and whatever his reaction may be is for him to deal with, not you.
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#4

Postby miranda39 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:49 am

Hi birdiewordie,
I'm speaking as someone who's done this 'push/pull' with partners, due to my emotional issues. My advice to you would be the same as others, it is best to leave him be and for you to get on with your life.

I'm not saying this isn't painful, it is absolutely. He is in great pain and you're being caring and understanding about this. But, it is at your cost too, and it won't make things better, now. He is in great anguish in that horrible place but ultimately he is not available to you, for relationship. A more distant friendship might be painful, for you both?

I've had to do a lot of work, in therapy and it's taken years...Perhaps one day you two could reconnect, in theory (and is a nice idea). But sometimes the seeking of relationship, when in that place, is to escape what you're feeling inside. I wouldn't go back to that place for anything in the world.

Take care.
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