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Casual Contributor

Dating a man who leaves

Hi there, 

I'm hoping someone can share their similar experience with me or any kind of advice-I am completely stuck on what I should do regarding my partner. He suffers chronic depression which is something I learnt about last year when we originally started dating-we met and were dating a few months when I started noticing signs of depression in him. When I asked him about it he freaked out, made up other health issues then disappeared. We didn't talk for several months until he got back in contact and admitted to having chronic depression. We got back together earlier this year and have honestly had several amazing months together-we have an extremely respectful and what I believe a great relationship. Lately I have been noticing signs of his depression coming back and I know he is no longer on medication. I asked him if he thinks it could be but he denied it so I dropped it. Now he wants to break up because he doesn't think he ever wants to be in a relationship...I have told him I am worried his depression is back and he agreed it could be but he doesn't think we should stay together. I worry he won't go back on meds because he doesn't want his work to know as he is so ashamed of it. We're currently not talking but I have reached out to one of his friends to keep an eye on him. I'm just at a loss, I don't want to lose him but is it hopeless? 

7 REPLIES 7

Re: Dating a man who leaves

What a terribly painful situation to be in @woody92 I'm so sorry.

 

I generally apply this rule to everyone in every situation: You can't help someone who doesn't want help. If he isn't willing to face his mental illness, he isn't likely to do anything to help himself.

 

There's a question I like people to ask themselves in these situations: If your partner didn't have a mental illness, would you still accept their behaviour? I personally think it's important to establish your own boundaries in any relationship, decide what's acceptable and what's not. It's perhaps even more important in relationships where mental health is a concern, because these relationships can be so difficult to navigate in fairness to both parties. People so often sacrifice so much of their own happiness/needs for the sake of the partner with the mental illness. I think it's important to recognise your own needs and how a healthy/happy relationship looks to you.

 

You can encourage your partner, make it easier for them, make support services available to them, but you can't make them utilise any of those resources. They have to want to do those things. They have to see that it is a problem, it is disrupting their life, and see a need to adress the issues.

 

I want to very cautiously raise the issue of your partner abandoning you for months. That. Is. Not. Ok. And I'm not entirely sure, but, it doesn't sound characteristic of depression, in my opinion. It could be that he has more complicated mental health issues that he is either not aware of/ready to deal with; or he isn't willing to share it with you just yet.

 

Please take care.

Re: Dating a man who leaves

Thank you @saltandpepper , great advice. I completely agree it is not ok for him to keep leaving-maybe there is something else underlying, wouldn't be the first time iv considered this. The only reason I stay is because I know this illness is not him. He is an unbelievable kind and supportive guy when he is himself, it's just when his depression hits he feels so worthless and terrible he hates putting it on others (he believes the hurt of him disappearing will be less destructive to what he is in himself). Maybe I do cut the illness too much slack but I don't want to hurt him to get through to his illness. Thank you again!

Re: Dating a man who leaves

Hmm @woody92 well despite what his intentions are when leaving, the result is that it is damaging and hurtful and only leaves you fearful of what's happening to him. I don't know, I can only offer my outsider thoughts here, but I wonder how much his withdrawal is about concern for you and how much it is about being an "easy way out" for him. Checking out means he doesn't have to be accountable to you and he doesn't have to deal with the severity of his mental illness. When he "disappears" do you know where he goes or what he is doing? Does he still work or maintain friendships?

 

I want to say something, but also remind you this is only my opinion so take it with a grain of salt. I don't view mental illness as being a "false" side of a person. I view it as part of a person, and it's not something you can remove from someone. You can manage, treat, learn about and cope with mental illness, but you can't remove it or erase it. Speaking from my own experience, I live with a few mental health issues, one of them is depression. I have had severe bouts of depression, and also had periods where I am free from it. However, it is always a part of me and something that requires medication, therapy, and acceptance. The times when I am in a depressive episode, I am still me, just like the times when I am free from it, I am still me. There's no "false" me, I am a person who lives with mental health issues.
In relation to your situation, your partner can manage the highs and lows of his mental illness with medication/therapy. But, he will still experience those bouts, though with the correct treatment it would be to a much lesser degree. If he seeks help in managing his condition he can learn to foresee these "episodes" and become aware of what may trigger them. But it will take time, commitment, honesty and patience to navigate it all.

 

Again, please take all this with a grain of salt, but I hope it's been helpful. Please take care

Re: Dating a man who leaves

@saltandpepper  When he disappears he still works and he will maintain friendships that involve drinking and then he retreats outside of that-his mate that I spoke to said he spent most his time alone last time he had an episode although apparently my partner never told him about his depression. But that is a good insight, thank you for sharing your experience with me-really appreciate it. Definitely have some things to weigh up 

Re: Dating a man who leaves

@woody92 Maintaining contact with his friends while withdrawing from his relationship with you makes me wonder if you're possibly the first person that's drawn attention to his mental illness. If his friends don't bring it up with him, then perhaps this is really the first time he's been forced to face it? Might explain why he's choosing to withdraw from you but still seeking contact with friends. If we aren't ready to face the reality of our mental illness, it's all too easy to just withdraw from anyone/anything that is challenging us to face that reality.

 

I wish I could be more helpful, and I sincerely hope your partner accepts the help he needs, when he is ready. And I hope you are able to take care of yourself while working through this with him. It's draining being involved in such a challenging relationship, don't let it cost you your health and happiness. You deserve to be in a healthy relationship and remember you are not responsible for him. He is responsible for his choices and actions, not you.

Re: Dating a man who leaves

@saltandpepper I think you're definitely onto something with that! I don't think any of his friends know, when I spoke to his friend about it he said he knew he had a rough time last year but that he never said he had depression. I think I chose the right friend to reach out to though, he's very mature and advocates mental health a lot so I trust he will support him when I can't. 

Re: Dating a man who leaves

@saltandpepper 

 

Thanks for the insight I think it's a good call out.

 

@woody92 

 

I wish I could help with reliable advice but one thing I am learning is that you need to look after yourself. If you are truly able to deal with the absences and some people I know have then that's Okay. But if it troubles you, as it would me, you need to put yourself first as in the long run it will eat you.

 

Thinking of you and sending hope your way

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