He has depression and our relationship is strained?

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  • #775922 Reply

    Hopeless Romantic

    My bf and I have been dating for almost 2 years (I am 26, he is 25 years old). We have been through many ups and downs (our mutual friend dying, my grandpa passing away, him changing new careers, us working together and then working different jobs). He recently got into a new career field but for the first time he has been jobless for more than a few months now.
    He says he is depressed but “does not know why”. I have tried working things out with him conversationally to figure out maybe he is depressed because he does not have a job. I personally do not identify with my career that much to be depressed about it every day but maybe he does. This concerns me because of all the trials and tribulations we have endured this is situation is making me self-conscious. He has not admitted it is because of me, but he thinks we should get some “space” because when I am over at his place 2-5 days a week he has started snapping at me. At first he didn’t even know why he was snapping at me because normally he was OK with me coming over for that many days. But now it’s just all changed and he only wants me coming over maybe once a week. It’s not fair for him to leave me in the dark about his depression if he does not know why he is sad yet he still strings me along. I feel like I am talking to jeckyll and Hyde. Some days he encourages me to come over and says he misses me, Then the next day he starts being rude to me.

    I told him he should be seeking help because I can not be the one to fix him, only to support him. But now I’m afraid of supporting him because I keep getting myself emotionally hurt when I go over there and he can just be distant and sometimes rude. He does not believe in therapy he says.

    #775923 Reply


    Hi – first of all, I’m sorry you are going through this. I know it’s difficult when you want to help someone you love, but your attempts don’t seem to work.

    Unemployment is a common cause for depression, so his job loss definitely may have something to do with it. Many people associate a sense of purpose with their career, and struggle to find meaning without it. But what concerns me most is, 1) he doesn’t seem to want help, 2) he’s treating you poorly, and 3) he won’t communicate with you about it.

    Is he looking for a job? Are you supporting him financially? If he won’t try therapy, is he willing to at least see a psychiatrist for a diagnosis and possible medication? I know some people will say medication is evil, but really it depends on the individual. I am a person living with depression, and honestly, without antidepressants, I would not still be alive today. That was the only thing that helped me because it corrected the chemical imbalance in my brain.

    But back to your boyfriend… It does not sound like he’s being a good partner to you. Understandably, depression is a very hard thing to live with. But it sounds like he’s making no attempt to help himself. Ultimately, a relationship can only be healthy if both members are mentally healthy (or at least working on it) and communication is strong. Your relationship is strained because it’s suffering in these areas. Perhaps you can ask him what you can do to support him through this? Sit him down calmly and say you want to work out a plan of action together? See if he’s willing to at least try.

    #775924 Reply

    Hopeless Romantic

    Hi Miss__A
    So far I have asked him what it is I can do to help support him and he said 1) to have some space and 2) for me to not be sad. Which sounds confusing. Because obviously I’m going to be sad if he continues to push me away. He says we should be a team, that he holds too much in his head and its not fair to me… yet he continues to withhold his feelings until he’s exploded on me a few days later. He told me he does not want medication right now.
    I feel like giving up in the sense where I should just give him his space and if he asks to see me, I should only restrict it to like a day rather than a whole weekend. Just limit my time with him?
    I just don’t know how to also handle this emotionally and be strong for ultimately myself but for him too. I also deserve to be happy.

    #775925 Reply


    Absolutely, you deserve to be happy! Good for you for acknowledging that. He has asked for space, so at least he’s communicated that. I think your best course of action is to back off and give him space right now. And don’t sit around being sad. Use this opportunity to connect with friends and family, try something new, do things you’re passionate about, enjoy your life. If you don’t have a lot going on outside of your relationship, then find things to do. Join meetup groups to make new friends and participate in fun activities. Sign up for a class, hit the gym, read a book, binge watch your favorite show, treat yourself to a spa day, shopping, etc. Focus on YOU and loving your life.

    This way, he gets space and you aren’t sad. Let him come to you – for now. Obviously you’ll need to spend time together for the relationship to grow, but right now, give him the space he’s requested. See if he comes back less stressed, and in a better head space to communicate.

    #775927 Reply


    Yup. Not having work can absolutely bring about a chemical imbalance and depression. It’s not that a career is so important but the essence of having work, a routine, being productive can be an antidepressant in itself. Not to mention the socializing at work- it helps too. Personally, I don’t think I could ever handle not working. And will be working for as long as I’m able for several reasons. I’m pretty sure there’s a gender component to it too.

    What does he think about volunteering? Or finding any kind of work just to get the ball rolling and have a routine? Worst case you could encourage him to go running with you a few times a week? Has he been staying indoors all the time?

    But I agree there’s only so much you can do. Depression’s an old friend. When it was at its peak no one could help me until I was ready to help myself. And there was a time where it took a while to find that self-motivational spark and reignite it.

    #775928 Reply


    So many men define themselves by being a provider. When that is taken from them or even just slightly threatened they need space to work it out themselves. Any offers of help, extra understanding, etc. can make him feel even less like a man.

    Since you said he switched careers and now doesn’t have a job in that new career it wouldn’t surprise me if he were totally second guessing himself and lacking self esteem.

    If you want to salvage this space and not being sad really are what will help. It sounds like he is in touch with his feelings and can communicate them. Men do not move through their troubles by talking like women tend to. They have to work through it on their own.

    He didn’t ghost you or tell you he needed a break, and imho that’s really huge here. Go take up a new hobby, see friends, go to the movies- whatever you enjoy. And just remember that his feelings are not yours. You’re independent of each other and you have to take care of yourself.

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