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New person I am dating is pushing me away due to severe depression

Community Member

Hi, I hope this is the okay to post here, other posts on the topic are about established relationships but I’m just at hurt and confused.

I started seeing somebody I met online a couple of months ago and since then he has had a couple of “I can’t do this” episodes that have been very hurtful. The last one I didn’t get to see him for 3 weeks but we spoke everyday still, giving him that 3 weeks was extremely hard for me. I get bad anxiety myself and need reassurance that I do not even remotely get so stepping back for 3 weeks was rough but I did it for him, come to the morning that we were meant to finally see eachother he cancels on me and blames his mental health again. This time I totally lost it and kept pushing and pushing because my own anxiety was in complete overdrive.

He asked for some time to process what was happening. He said multiple times that he is severely struggling and he can’t care about or focus on anybody else. He still maintains his hobbies though and sees his other friends, it’s just me.

So I gave him a couple of days and reached out asking how he was feeling. He told me he hadn’t even thought about it.

I’m not sure what I’m even here for, this is so trivial compared to everybody else’s problems but I’m just not sure what to do here and am hoping to gain some perspective from outside sources.

He has told me that all he can feel his overwhelming sadness and that he is lost. I’ve given him the opportunity to just tell me he’s not interested in me or doesn’t like me and he says that’s not true he just can’t handle life. But if you do like someone how can you maintain all of your other hobbies but not want to see them for over 3 weeks? How can you like someone and know something is causing them a lot of hurt and be able to say it hasn’t even crossed your mind?

I’m sorry if this isn’t very cohesive I just need to know where to go from here? Is this normal for somebody going through trauma and depression or is it an excuse?

He does have a lot of trauma from previous relationships, like, a lot. But I’m not his exes and I’m not his past.

our first date he unloaded a lot of that trauma onto me and I was happy to listen but could tell he was very damaged to even be bringing it all up so soon.

He was in therapy but his therapist moved so he said he has been struggling to deal with that as well. He starts seeing a new therapist today.

Do I just let him push me away? Is it what he really wants?

16 Replies 16

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hey there,

Thanks for opening up on here. And hey.. Your situation is valid. In my eyes this isn't trivial at all..

Based on what you're written I'm gaining the sense that the relationship between you both is entirely on his terms instead of a healthy 50/50.. Of course he has his reasons and from what you've written, he's really struggling with past trauma and his mental health.

I'm sure he wants to do right by you and I'm glad that he has been honest. But on that same merit.. It sounds like he's making it clear he isn't ready for a relationship, and he's still stringing you along, cancelling on you, all of that.. He's hurting you. And I feel that he should be taking the initiative to recognise your hurt and either call things off, or be all in. Unfortunately I think a lot of the time, we have to be the ones to set our own boundaries which is really hard.

It seems like you're in a constant guessing game, and it seems unhealthy and taking a big toll on your mental health.. You aren't selfish for being honest about that, and you aren't selfish for not excusing his actions and behaviour because of his past trauma.. Sometimes being empathetic and supportive of your partner means recognising what you need as well. But yes.. I'm getting the impression that you don't have a lot of trust in him and that's very understandable considering he's maintaining other parts of his life. It seems like you're the only one empathetic to his struggles, and he doesn't reciprocate that same effort when he's hurting you and when you're in pain. In my view that seems like a red flag..

I know in situations like this it's easy to sort of make excuses for your partner.. Especially when they're struggling. But at the end of the day, stringing people along is wrong, and you can't use your mental health as an excuse for doing that. From the way things are it seems everyday is a guessing game of how involved he is, and you will always be the one trying to make it work while he does his own thing, at least for now.

If he wants to push you away, let him do that, and resist the urge to chase him.. Because I think as long as you do, he won't be fully in or fully out. Perhaps genuine distance will help him decide what he really wants. From the sounds of it, he needs to figure himself out, and you need to take care of yourself on your own, and put your needs first this time.

I know I don't know all of your situation but I hope I helped in some way.. I'd like to hear from you ❤️

Community Member

Hi, thanks so much for your response. Yes everything has been on his terms you are right. I hate to call him selfish because he’s suffering but he truly seems to have no empathy or compassion for my own struggles at all.

I do feel strung along like you said, if he turned around and said “I’m just not interested in you” or “I just don’t like you” I would accept that and stop trying. But he says these things about everything being too hard, asks for time and space to process, and doesn’t see me but still maintains contact. Has still been the one to reach out to me everyday first but there’s no substance to it, it’s just a random Snapchat or something but that keeps me on the string because in my head I’m like “oh he struggling but he’s still keeping a very thin line of contact”

It’s hard to accept when he was so sweet at the start. He was closed off but he was caring and flirty and happy to organise to see me. And ever since he had the first major anxiety attack about plans going awry he has completely shut down and that’s now been just over 3 weeks.

It's hard that he was sweet at the start because I guess you don't want to feel like you're giving something great away, or letting it go..

I think you're spot on with the fact that you could deal with it so much easier if he said he wasn't interested in you, or something like that. You're being stuck in this zone of uncertainty probably for a reason. How do you think he would respond if you said to him that you need an all or nothing kind of relationship, or that this isn't working for you?

I guess best case is that he would be empathetic to that and say hey, I hear you and I want this and will try to be better. Or, he'll let you go, and maybe in the future he will work on himself and there might be a chance, or you both just grow apart. In that case I suppose you get the closure that your gut has been right all along. It isn't fair to keep someone around for convenience or in the hopes that "I'll get better and I can start putting in the effort again".. You know? That's not fair on you..

I'm interested to see how he would react once you finally start to call the shots.. Men tend to surprise you with their responses when that happens.

I do hope that if this is someone you really like and want things to work out with that he comes around, but in the meantime, I really think the best way to find out if he does that is to stand up for what is fair to you, instead of waiting around hoping. Because I'm sure that's what he wants you to do, with no regard to how wrong that is.

I hope you can find peace that you've given your all in caring for this person, and it's his loss, and his responsibility to pull the weight and fight if this is going to work. He might try to twist it so you feel like it's your fault, and I hope you can be prepared for that and confident in yourself that this isn't the case at all. You've only been compassionate and empathetic to his needs.

I might be rambling and jumping to conclusions, sorry about that. I just know what it's like to fight for someone who doesn't share the same feelings and effort (this was after a 4 year relationship ending).. And it was only with hindsight that I realised everything wrong with the situation and how I was made to feel guilty, so on.

I think there's a way for you to kindly and empathetically handle this situation or come to your own decision, because your thoughts, feelings and frustrations are all more than reasonable. I really hope he can see that..

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi elc91,

Please don’t apologize or question whether you post, we all go through relationship problems and someone pulling away in the early stages of a relationship, when you finally think you’ve found that elusive connection can be incredibly upsetting and anxiety-inducing!!! The early start of a relationship can be pretty scary for a lot of people and flare up mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and it sounds like your fella is going through the ringer with it a bit at the moment, and now you are as a result. Has he spoken to you about what he is actually feeling? Or just withdrawn? I suppose the reason I’m asking is that some people don’t like to admit they are freaking out or incorrectly label their feelings and it can make you question things and prevent you from actually getting to the heart of the issue. For most people, it’s a fear of getting close to someone else, of letting our guard down and letting someone in, or more specifically letting our guard down and being rejected or hurt in some way. Unfortunately for you, his withdrawal then triggers your anxiety and you wonder if this person “has got” you and so your fear response kicks into overdrive. I think what’s needed here is clear and open communication - he needs to tell you what he is actually feeling and you need to explain to him that his withdrawal is making it hard for you to trust that he won’t hurt you. Otherwise I think he’s either going to withdraw one to many times and not come back or you’ll get so afraid of getting hurt that you’ll end it, before either of you have really had a chance to even give it a shot.

Community Member

Thank you for your response. He had spoken about his feelings but as bad as it sounds I am wondering if it’s just an excuse and he’s too polite to tell me he’s not interested. He told me he’s struggling badly, some past traumas have been triggered but I don’t know what, he doesn’t feel ready to take on the responsibility of having to fit somebody else in his life, he is just existing and can feel nothing but overwhelming sadness, he cares but he can’t focus on that and can’t show me he cares, he’s feeling pressure and anxiety. But I’m not putting “pressure” on him. A few weeks ago everything was fine, then our plans to see each other changed due to circumstances out of both our control and he had an anxiety attack and felt awful about it for days and kept saying he was letting me down, since then if I try to organise anything he says it’s too much pressure and planning things is too much. But if you like someone don’t you want to see them? Especially in the beginning. If I challenge him he completely shuts me out, won’t acknowledge how anything makes me feel and makes it all about his own feelings and says that I’m pushing him. I’ve been so patient and understand but it’s just not fair anymore. I am so sad and so anxious in not knowing why he’s doing this. I’ve given him multiple chances to tell me he just doesn’t like me. If that was the case I could easily walk away because I can’t do anything about that. I hate that he says that he is overwhelmingly sad and yet he’s making me feel the same way and doesn’t care. I brought it to his attention how awful I felt and how much anxiety him refusing to communicate was giving me and he had a go at me for laying on a guilt trip so I instead found myself apologising to him. Sorry for the rambling it’s very late and I’m still quite upset and confused.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi elc

Please feel free to write whatever u need here...I assure u it's valid and within what ppl struggle with here

I learnt through my own relationships that a common red flag for unhealthy relationships is one person sharing too much about themselves too early on. Like highly personal, sensitive stuff ud only tell a close person. It can make the listener feel special or chosen that they've deemed u worthy of sharing such sensitive info

in my example, I made a friend with a man and within 4 days he was telling me about a woman he'd previously liked who he had a crush in, but because,e friends with. She was in rehab for alcoholism and sex addiction. He told me all about the ups and downs of dealing with her and was texting me straight after contact with her.

I'd known him a few days and this was so confusing, all my boundaries had suddenly disintegrated.

I feel that ppl with depression and trauma can have healthy and caring relationships if they work on themselves.

I don't thi k it's fair when ppl ask us to lower our expectations, hopes and bku daries re interacting with them, because of their trauma

In my experience it rarely goes both ways. When I told the man I needed space,he didn't respect it, yet I was expected to be hyoser sensitive and forgvimg of his behaviour because of his trauma.

I'd be pretty wary of this situation, tbh

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi elc91,

Unfortunately the pressure that he feels is all internal but because he associates it with the relationship then he’s putting it on you. Under normal circumstances, yes you do want to see someone who you like. But when people are afraid about getting close to people, the fear of intimacy is so uncomfortable that it can make them feel physically sick, it’s too hard, and to get the feelings to stop they wonder it would be easier if they just ended it now. I know because I am like this. But what I want deep down is for someone to just push through. Even though I’m saying go away, I want someone to stay. I put them through hell because then I know they won’t leave. It’s messed up but it’s not uncommon for people to do. Others have a fear of being suffocated so they push away and if you give them their space that makes them feel comfortable that you won’t engulf them. Unfortunately none of us are usually very forthcoming with what I need from a partner. Maybe you could ask him what he needs from you? Or alternatively, if it’s too hard and it’s putting you through too much pain then you can always leave.

Community Member

Thanks for your response, I appreciate your perspective. I spoke to him today and we organised to see each other tomorrow but he was so cold about it that I felt like I was such a burden just for having the audacity to ask. I ended up saying that if he really didn’t want to see me he didn’t have to, I was just trying to connect. And he said that he can’t give me what I need from him, he doesn’t know when/if ever he can and that by default that has made him stressed and he doesn’t even know how he feels or if he even wants to see me. I’m fairly certain that he will cancel tomorrows meeting and yet he’s going to a friends birthday tonight no worries at all. I’m so lost. I wish he would just have the decency to turn around and tell me that he’s just simply not interested and I wish I was strong enough in my myself to be the one to cancel and stop being hurt by somebody who doesn’t care.

Community Member

Having been through something similar in a relationship, I would just say make sure you look after yourself first. Big mistake I made was to think about him first and myself second. And I ended up worse off and it really affected my own mental health