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Partner having relationship doubts, triggering my depression
My partner and I have been dating for about a year and 9 months, and we've been in a committed serious relationship for a bit over a year. Everything, for the most part, has been so wonderful up until about a month ago. From the beginning, he has been my rock, one of my best friends, and we've been so open and honest. At the same time, we both focus on our careers, friends and families. It's everything I've dreamed of. We don't live together, but were planning to move in in mid 2019. About a month ago, he switched jobs and I went through a wave of depression issues unrelated to our relationship (which I got help for and recovered from within 1-2 weeks.) Nothing was really the same after that. We developed intimacy issues (both emotional and physical), which was very strange for us.
When I talked to him about it, he told me he was having doubts about us and whether or not we were meant to be. He told me he loved me; he hasn't sure why he was feeling like this and up until recently he had felt very happy. I stayed calm; I told him doubts are normal and every relationship experiences them. I told him we needed to reignite a spark, put in effort, and we'd see it through.
Since then, I have put in a wave of effort, and he has reciprocated to a minimal extent. I planned a beautiful anniversary dinner for us (we had an amazing time), I wrote him a letter, I've initiated intimate moments, and at times everything has seemed like it'd be okay but then all of a sudden he retreats. This past weekend, we enjoyed a great night out with friends but when we woke up, he told me he has tried to get past his doubts about us but can't. He also can't pinpoint them; he feels that he loves me very much and doesn't know why he's feeling the way he is. He said he thinks it might be unfixable and maybe we should break up. After becoming really upset, I told him that this constant back and forth has been exhausting, and I need us to commit and move forward together. He didn't know how to respond.
I've been battling waves of depression while this has been going on. After he mentioned breaking up, I haven't been able to eat or sleep much. I don't know why a relationship that was so built on love and trust and respect now feels like it's fleeting. And I don't understand why he's feeling the way he is; I still see so much love in him and we still have so much fun together. I'm not sure what to do to get my life back on track. I was so happy a month ago and now I am feeling so hopeless.
I'm very sorry things are so bad with your relationship and looking at everything you have said three things stand out for me.
First your partner changed jobs. Now you don't say why, perhaps it was a natural progression - a good opportunity, or again perhaps it was a sign he was not feeling happy with his life. Also if the new job turned out to be problematic that would have an influence.
The second thing is he has seen you in a depressed state. To see someone that one cares for and relies upon suffering like that can be both upsetting and frightening, and one can feel ineffectual and even guilty as a result.
The third thing is you appear to be chasing him. You list all the lovely things you have done and admit he has been less than enthusiastic in in his efforts. I'd wonder if chasing under such circumstances will leave you feeling bad or unattractive or unimportant.
Have you considered a trial separation to see what happens? If chasing does not seem to be working maybe absence might.
All of this is deeply upsetting for you and I'd like to ask if you have people to support you at the moment? Perhaps a parent, other family or friend? Trying to face things like this alone is very hard.
I'd also suggest that now would be a good time to have your depression under constant medical supervision. Pressure such as now could cause you to suffer more from it, and being on top of the condition can only help.
Please let us know how you are getting on
Thanks so much for your response. I feel like you really took the time to think about what I said and gave a thoughtful response. It made me feel much better.
My partner changed roles internally as a new opportunity came up, more money and more responsibilities. It’s been stressful for him and he’s been struggling with it. I told him that may be part of our troubles and he said he’s not sure.
I have two close friends I can talk to about depression; I don’t have much family and one of my friends is overseas. My two best friends are getting a bit tired of hearing how depressed I feel over the past month, and miss the fun me. I’m also limited in my medical care here as I’m on a bridging visa and only have overseas insurance that doesn’t cover much.
I took your advice with my partner and told him we should take a break from chatting for a bit. Not a formal break, just so we can stop messaging and calling for several days to see how we go. Fingers crossed. I’ll take the time to focus on myself.
Hoping I’ll be able to come back to you feeling much better.
You sound a little more in control of things in this last post, which is pretty good. It may not mean you get what you want most, but at least you are doing what you can and just as importantly relying upon him to do what he can too - a fairer way of doing things. (I hope that makes sense)
Taking to friends, even very good ones, can be tricky. I remember going over and over the same things again and again. I'm lucky my listeners were so patient (though I suspect they had an ability to nod and tune out at the same time:). Perhaps try for some fun even if you don't really feel like it. Sometimes just doing that can make one feel better. Your friends will appreciate the attempt.
Looking after your own needs is imortant and I too hope you come back feeling better
I'm glad I took your advice. I gave my partner some space by refraining from talking for a few days and I think it is helping. We spoke on the phone the other night and he said the space was making him see things a bit clearer. We then saw each other yesterday for a mutual friend's birthday and had a really fun night out with friends, even though we are still both a bit awkward about intimacy. When we woke up in the morning, he seemed sad again. I asked him if he has felt happy in life overall lately (excluding anything with us), and he said he hasn't. He said that he has felt flat in everything he does, whether it's going to the gym or going out with friends or going to work. It seemed like he hasn't been able to find much fulfilment in anything he does...and then I realised that I may have been looking at this all wrong.
I am thinking my partner may be suffering from depression of his own that was triggered by his change in job, and I feel guilty that I have been pressuring him to move past it when I know myself how hard depression can be. I hadn't realised just how sad he'd become and how that would've affected our intimacy. I also hadn't realised that by me telling him to move past it and look to the future with me, I was discrediting his feelings and not allowing him to heal. I was also forcing him to push me away.
I messaged him today telling him I was sorry that I hadn't been giving him the space to heal, and that it was probably selfish of me not to realise how much he needed space. I hope I'm seeing things in the right perspective now. I told him I'm here when he needs me. We are going away next weekend with a bunch of friends (we've had this planned for months) so I am hoping that with another week of space, next weekend together will help us both heal.
Hoping I'm seeing things clearer now.
It looks like you may have found a better balance for the moment. It is hard to realize how fragile someone can become when depressed and ordinary talk can become simply too much pressure.
I hope things do settle down, in my own case it did take quite a while