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What kind of mental health issue is this?

Community Member

My 24 year old boyfriend told me for the last two months he has been feeling lost and confused about his life. It apparently wasn't because of me, and if I wasn't in his life he'd still feel like this.

But it's causing him to shut off from me, no intimacy and his personality is somber and serious most of the time now. He says he can't feel love (not just for me). When our lease is up he said he may want to go and live somewhere else to figure himself out as he doesn't think he's relationship material. For now he is trying to make things work (we've been together 2 years), going to see a psychologist soon. When we play games with friends online I can see his old personality come back.

He has grown up with a very difficult and controlling mother who had huge expectations of him. The psychologist he was seeing was shocked to hear about how she behaved (how seriously bad it was). He also had a very manipulative first girlfriend at 18 which made him feel like he had to guard himself.

When I met him he was the most passionate person, he connected with me on a deep level and supported me to the point I made great changes in my life. I moved to Australia from NZ for him. He had plans about returning to uni, but isn't sure anymore. He thinks he will be too financially strapped while renting with me to do it. He wanted to get back into a sport, but again finances concern him. He currently works full time + a part time job on the weekend. He had also been having issues at work (bullying) which stressed him out.

I desperately want to know what is going on. Why this just flicked in him? This has happened to a lesser degree before I met him also. He says I wasn't the cause but he wants to move out to relieve pressure, so he can focus on himself. Is it that I'm too close to him and all of a sudden he's feeling suffocated? I'm going to start seeing a psych myself to try and get through this. He will still support me if we separate (worst case scenario), so he is still caring.

Any insights or experiences with anything like this? He's scared and confused, and so am I. I did everything the last 2 years to get here to be with him. I love him so much and it hurts me so badly seeing him change like this.

6 Replies 6

Community Champion
Community Champion


The way I describe it is like this... we each have protective shield. And over time things happen which chip away at the shield. For some people the shield can be repaired easily. For others, not so. Chip away at the shield for long enough, there will be no shield. And then something happens so that rather than hitting the hitting the shield goes straight through and into the soul.

On the plus side, he is seeing a psychologist himself, which would indicate that he is trying to address the issues.

With studies at Uni, you did not mention whether it would full time or part time. But I am guessing it would be part time. Also what sports did/does he play? That could be done at Uni also? My brother started playing soccer again just for the fitness element. Not sure of the grade of competition.

Could the games online be a distraction tool for him (and you)? That is, he is able to concentrate on something else than his problems.

I do not think you would be too close to him, and he suffocated. I would think that deep down he does love you, but it is the just ALL the negative stuff that clobbers any good thoughts and feelings we have with depression. It could be there are so many thoughts in his head that it is hard to get one of them out. Or it be to protect you or himself?

Without knowing anything about your relationship, I think that he would be poorer without you because in my view a person needs a group of support people to get through this. (Just as you are reaching out to here.) And I would then you would be part of that group, just as my wife is for me. If I had to compare you with my wife, it was actually I who took the step to have an open conversation with my wife about where I am at. Have you been able to have this conversation with him about all of this, away from distractions. Hopefully you will be able to work out a future ahead together.

Lastly, there are pages on the BB web site that provide information for partners and support people. Suggest you might want to look at those. Let me know if you have any questions or want to chat some more?


Community Member

Thank you for the reply Tim.

He wants to go through university full time to get it over with sooner - he had already done about 2 years and might need to do another 3 if he goes back, but he's not sure if he does.

Yeah the games have always been a distraction (though we do enjoy it and socialize through it), but it was also a big part of his life which I had an issue with. He'll be on he computer from when he finishes work until about midnight. He needs an outlet for his stress :/..

We have talked extensively about it, and he's scared of hurting me or me wasting my time with him because he can't control the feelings he's having (not being able to love). He said it started 2 months ago, I just wish I knew what caused it.. He's a shadow of who he was and it breaks my heart. I miss him so much.

I do wonder if we end up living separately (and continuing our relationship) if that will improve his feelings towards me.. He's feeling pressure, he wants to succeed in life but doesn't know how to. I wish it didn't affect the way he could feel certain emotions. The changes are surreal, it's like a bad dream I want to wake up from. It feels like grief 😞

He doesn't think it's depression because he said he's had that before and it was different.. but he's got so many signs of it..

-Withdrawing, seeking isolation
-Almost always sombre
-Feeling empty/lost, anxiety
-Irritability, detachment, discomfort with emotions
-No libido
-Avoiding eating well, snacking instead - not attending to chores
-Exhaustion and energy - staying up late/falling asleep early
-No socialization outside of work/online
-Stress with finances/work load/work bullying/his mother/lack of time for self

I want to see him back to his usual self, and I'm scared the psychologist is going to tell him to go and 'find himself' without my support. I can't just flick a switch and stop loving him. He's been the most important person in my life for 2 years and I can't let go knowing what he can be. I can't stand the thought of seeing him with someone else after he might feel better, knowing what that love is like.

Community Champion
Community Champion


Hello again. Firstly I am no expert in mental health issues. All I can do is tell my own story pointing highlighting bits that might overlap with your story. Many years ago I played online games, and still do but to a MUCH lesser extent, but that playing of games after work was/is a release for the pressures of life. I could imagine the enemies in the game were customers giving me grief, or the problems dealing with. And if you play late into the night that means less sleep, etc. Basically one issue leads into the next. Ultimately I see game playing as a release, and rather than talking about it with someone, playing a game was easier. At least for me, because though I work(ed) for a company, I worked from home, and had no other form of release.

As for whether the "psychologist is going to tell him to go and 'find himself'" I am not sure. It is probably a natural reaction on your part to think this. But maybe thinking this through, what would this mean? To mean, to "find myself" at the extreme would mean running away from everything. And then the impact of running away from everything?

... but your partner is seeing a psychologist, getting support. And getting support from you. By facing up to or confronting the problems in his life (with you as support?) might allow him and you to emerge from the tunnel into the light.

Put it this way... my psychologist has never told me to the go find myself. And even if she did, I then really have to make that decision. It would mean stopping my Uni studies, breaking any and all connections.

You also said this started about 2 months ago but not sure what caused it. To me there is a lead up phase and then a breaking. The breaking event could have been 2 months ago, or part of lead up to something. I know exactly the day things were really bad for me, and I looked for help. Maybe your partner does remember, and doesn't want to tell you to protect you, or is embarrassed or ???

Lastly, if he just started seeing a psych. he might have any information to tell you about depression, or anxiety. I had to wait 5 or 6 sessions before my psych told me that I was X, Y, and Z. And now, nearly a year after the event finding out that it is X, Y, and A, with a perpetuating factor of Z. This might sound confusing, but these things take time, sometimes a long time. Maybe end with words from my wife "don't over analyse things, and go with the journey". That is easier said than done.


Community Member

Help thats the key. There is no shame in whats going on .life didnt come with a manual sadly and would only benifit those who could follow it. Myself at 53 years and being told you have BPD was a shock. Love and support will help the healing process no end. The thing is this living with somebody with a mental illness is a huge thing. When you do this you will also need support and love too as well as huge amounts of understandig. Please consider this intermancy is hard when you have a mental illness for all reasons in your head of im not good enough to low testosterone mental can affect physical and vise versa. Mothers can be the cause of some huge problems I know from personal experience .encoursge him to seek help we all need it at 6ft2 and 120 kg i thought na im fine .Lie far from it . So far now i have lost a wife 3 kids a second wife who this morning told me it was over . Because disagree do something different and you get told thats your ilness. Well news flash not always . Love him help him be firm loving .But be prepared not easy thing to do so think csrefully consider what you are signing up for please for you snd your boyfriend . Seek help with him there is no shame in needing help dont let him get to where iam its not worth it. You need to find out whats the problem first then seek help for the problem . I wont say it will all be good dont worry it will pass it wont but with love support and professional help it will

Community Member

Thank you for the support Wolf and Meadows.

We were playing games together again today, and he has been quite happy. Not happy enough to get close to me but at least he hasn't been somber. I would rather he at least act happy at the moment, otherwise it feels like I'm walking on eggshells.

I keep waking in the night and panicking, often at 6 a.m. It sucks. He told me when he tries to be intimate with me he feels anxiety, and apparently it similarly affects him if he tries to hug his mother. I don't want to be put in the same box as her as she has been so cruel to him at times!

I have been doing a lot of reading on anything it could possibly be - maybe something called 'relationship OCD' - which is when you have intrusive thoughts about whether you love your partner/are with the right person/fear of hurting them, not wanting intimacy, etc. I read about it on ocdla.com/rocd-relationship-ocd-myth-of-the-one-3665 (not sure if I can post links here).

Apparently CBT, mindfulness and exposure and response prevention can be helpful. I'm particulary interested in the erp treatment - "gently and gradually expose a client to situations that engender relationship anxiety". So desensitization essentially. I've wondered 'should I reach out for him to keep things as normal and consistent'? 'Should I stay away and leave him alone to see if he misses me'?

Today he was pretty good, and I left him alone. He does keep checking in with me to see what I'm doing - so it makes me wonder that he does still want to be around me.

Would it be inappropriate of me to write a short letter to his doctor or psychologist about the symptoms I see him experiencing? I just want them to give him the best treatment he can get for whatever is going on.

Community Member

An update..

He's been acting much happier since the weekend, he's generally not acting somber (unless we're talking about organizing something serious like his appointments). He's still not being intimate but he is reaching out for me (love tapping, making sexual jokes and calling me pet names). He also came home yesterday after I finished my shift to 'say hi' and he brought me a cupcake from his work event. I have a feeling he's also organized something for us to do on Sunday.

So.. I'm continuing to 'play it cool' with him. I haven't once reached out to touch him. He's seen me putting plans into motion with preparing myself for moving on (sorting out the conversion of my NZ drivers license, looking at flatsharing houses, possibilities of starting to study nursing, going to see a psych). He also knows I will take the cat if we live apart and he really likes her. I'm trying to be more social, and not rely on him for things (he has the car, while I bike). I've done things without talking about it with him first (shopping, cooking). I just do it.

I'm taking control of my life and (trying) not groveling over the situation. I'm feeling more at peace, I don't know if it's the medication or if I've just cried and suffered so much that I'm starting to desensitize to it. Trying to focus on myself.

He's always appreciated my ability to push myself to do things (study, work), especially with where I've come from as before we met I was once very secluded and not very independent. Maybe he's seeing those qualities in me and is reaching out a little more? Maybe he's feeling more relaxed because I'm not putting any pressure or expectations on him for intimacy? I'm letting it happen naturally, when he's ready.

Am I doing the right thing? Thank you for any support or experiences you can share.