Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Was my breakup motivated by mental illness?

Community Member

My boyfriend of several months broke up with me. It was a lovely relationship - we had loads in common and had slowly been coming closer and more comfortable with each other. One day, we were hanging out and I slept over as normal and he seemed to really love me, then two days later he said he'd completely lost feelings and needed to break up. He insisted that he'd love to be friends with me, just didn't feel romantically anymore.

He has a long history of severe depression and insomnia, and his father died suddenly at the end of last year. He'd been starting to talk a little more about how he felt, but had not started to deal with this and shoved it down like a lot of his past traumatic experiences, I think. After he broke up with me I checked in with two of his close friends to ask if he was alright, but they both said that hadn't seen him recently but seemed fine.

Since the breakup he's been acting really randomly and I'm not sure what to think. The first two weeks, he acted as if we were still best friends. We were at a mutual event and he came and sat next to me and talked as normal, just didn't touch me at all; he was still texting me pretty much every day. Then, over three days he did a complete 180. He barely texted, and didn't seem to change his clothes or leave his room or sleep. Late one night, I saw him on a walk on his snapmaps and messaged to say goodnight and get home safely - he tends to walk when he's depressed or thinking. He messaged back and said we shouldn't talk anymore, because I'd become boring. He then blanked me for a week, before texting to say that we could still talk, just not as much, so we messaged a couple of times about small things.

At another mutual event, he had 5 standard drinks and complimented me using an inside joke that we'd had while dating but didn't really speak to me the rest of the night. Afterwards, he messaged me again to say that he only wanted to be friends in person, not 'online' (i.e. texting etc.). I've seen him a couple of times in group contexts since and its always 50/50 as to whether he'll act strangely or not. Yesterday, he spoke to me normally but went to a huge effort not to stand or sit anywhere near me when our group was walking anywhere.

I am so confused, hurt, and lost. Is it reasonable to think there's something mental illness related that caused the breakup and how he's behaving? Does anyone have any insight into what he's thinking? Is there a chance we could date again in future?

3 Replies 3

Community Member

Hi Cathy,

I think a lot of us can relate to what you're going through. Mental illness can have a big impact on emotions and relationships. Sounds like you have been very respectful in giving him the space he needs.

To be honest, I think you could have a relationship in future if you continue to give him space and he initiates rebuilding the relationship - but be prepared to possibly go through this same situation with him again... are you prepared for that? Is he worth the hard work?

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Cathy.M, to be friends is completely different than being romantically involved with another person because the two of you become much closer and share imitate details, but when a person goes hot and then cold they may not recognise this is happening themselves, it's only the person they are attracted to that notices.

It makes you unsure of his behaviour, pleased when he responds positively and disappointment when he acts strangely, but there could be a reason for this, although I'm not a doctor, it could be due to several different reasons, and it may have nothing to do with you but may relate to a mental illness which he may be trying to hide.

This doesn't necessarily mean he wants to or has broken up with you, he may need some help to have the confidence to talk with a therapist.

This is not easy to suggest, or actually it is, but it's whether or not they take the advice offered to them and contact their doctor because it's a concern that won't go away in a day, but over time and the person they were involved with has to agree and realise that it's a period he is struggling with.

It's not easy on you and perhaps if you could talk to someone about this may help you and that's what we want to do for you.


Dear Cathy.M

We are posting the following support services so you may call them to talk about your confusion if you choose.

Phone services include:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
beyondblue Support Service 1300 22 4636

Sophie M.