Depressed Men Gone: The Open Door

Many women write here of the baffling strangers their depressed husbands or partners have become. Most often, they describe one of two versions of the unrecognizable men they’ve been trying to live with.

One turns on his partner, blames her for the pain he feels, acts abusively and then leaves, convinced that getting away from her will solve his problems. The other type retreats into silence and isolating misery, feels so bleak and wrong that he can’t stay around anyone, says he needs to sort things through on his own and wants to spare her the pain of living with him. He leaves too, often to sink further into depression.

Of course, there are many variations of these stories, but, in general, the men either blame their partners or they blame themselves. Some cut off every kind of communication. Others want to stay in touch, just a little. None of them get serious about trying to get better. They might sample medication or therapy in a perfunctory way but quickly give them up as useless.

I’ve written a lot about this behavior before (here and here are two examples) and don’t want to focus in this post on the men who leave. Instead, I want to ask a question about what happens to the women in these stories. I hope you can give me some more insight.

Why is the door always open for his return?

I am so often asked: “What can I do? Is there any hope that he’ll return? The estrangement, the loss is often so sudden that shock is the first response. How can this happen? Where is that great person I fell in love with? He must still be there, and I must be able to help him get well – and come back.”

Sometimes, there’s a numbness, sometimes a roar of intense feelings. Of course, that’s true for anyone whose partner walks out. There’s a mash-up of hurt, humiliation, love, anger, confusion. And running through it all at times is an acid of self-doubt. “Could I have done something more? Is this partly my fault? Was I sympathetic enough, loving enough, good enough?”

It’s hard to accept that the person now missing from your life is too wrapped up in his own depression to respond. He doesn’t see you as a person, only a reflection of what he believes about himself. I always respond that you, the abandoned partner, can’t do anything to change him. He has to decide on his own to seek help and work hard to get better. You can’t do that for him.

And I also urge that the woman take care of herself, seek counseling, try to heal. The missing man is beyond her reach, but she can try to heal her own wounds.

One of the many insidious things about depression is that it draws in the people who live within its influence, as Michael Yapko has discussed in his recent book, Depression Is Contagious. Partners of depressed men have already lived with the illness for some time before the break occurs. They need help to deal with that impact. After the worst happens, they continue trying to make a difference and encounter one frustration after another. They take hard punches to the soul and feel their own health and emotional balance slipping away.

But the door remains open for his return.

Strangely enough, depression itself offers hope that the nightmare can end. It’s the illness that’s to blame. He’s suffering, she understands what he’s going through, she keeps offering her support – often by voicemail since he won’t speak to her – or sometimes through a friend or relative of his because he’s blocked every means of direct communication she might try.

My rational mind doesn’t get this and has to ask, Why? Why is the door always held open? Why does the love and support seem so unconditional? Why is there no cost to the man’s behavior despite the pain and havoc he has directly caused? It’s hard for the message to sink in that the depressed partner needs to wake up to the damage he’s done. If he knows he can always come back, he has one less reason to face reality.

Emotionally, I understand quite well, partly because I’ve been there myself. It happened to me in my 20s when a woman suddenly left. Depression had nothing to do with it, but I couldn’t accept the reality of the loss and kept trying to bring her back. I was a wreck for months and couldn’t stop thinking about her for years. I knew this was crazy, but I just couldn’t stop.

And that’s what I hear over and over again. “I know this is hurting me, but I just can’t bring myself to end the relationship completely.” Some get therapy, some – like their missing partners – feel they can’t yet handle talking in depth about the turmoil and hurt.

I know that my cool-headed questions don’t mean much. Long ago, I learned that it’s useless to cite reasons to explain away a painful emotion (not that I can always follow that advice). Recently, I read in Joseph LeDoux’s, The Emotional Brain, that neuroscience is finding a basis in the brain for a common dimension of experience. Studies are charting the intricacies of the pulsing connections through thousands of neurons that we wind up calling thoughts and emotions. Science is once again confirming experience.

One of his comments goes directly to the imbalance between thinking and feeling:

There is but one mechanism of consciousness and it can be occupied by mundane facts or highly charged emotions. Emotions easily bump mundane events out of awareness, but nonemotional events (like thoughts) do not so easily displace emotions from the mental spotlight – wishing that anxiety or depression would go away is usually not enough.

Thoughts can’t do much in the presence of powerful emotions. They’re like blades of tall grass trying not to bend in a hurricane. I suppose if I were one of those green blades, I’d be telling myself why it’s unreasonable to whip around in the wind. This doesn’t make sense. I ought to be able to stand upright as I usually do. There’s no point to this tossing and churning – it’s only a hurricane. I should be able to handle it!

So my rational side gets exasperated when emotion continues to drive someone, but emotionally I’m all sympathy and “understand” completely what’s happening. … And yet, I keep circling back to same question.

Why is that door always open?

What do you think about it? And what do you feel?


Image: Some Rights Reserved by BrittneyBush

225 Responses to “Depressed Men Gone: The Open Door”

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  1. Anne says:

    Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I read u and I feel I am reading my own story. It´s very strange the way this illness kind of turn people into patterns or something. So he broke up with me this week, depression had been diagnosed about two months earlier. Previous break up- attemt occured about a month ago. I know now depression has been there for at least 6 months, but it was not diagnosed, and, it was not so heavy as it has been recently. Anyway, the same feeling you have described: the person I love the most in the whole world doesn´t exist any more….and my attempts for helping him have been shut down. I have cried a lot this week, but fotrunatly, I have found friends who seem to understand me and don´t feel I am liying about him being depressed as the cause of our break up. Anyway, I have this aditional problem: I was the only person aware of his illnes…he hasn´t really talked about it with friends or family… he is still working online he can eassily get absolutly isolated, and that scares me. Nevertheless I don´t want to keep writing him on a regular basis, cause, u know, he answers me via text message, in a very cold, distant way, that breaks my heart even more. So if any one has ideas for my dilema, they would be so much appreciated.

    Thanx a lot to all of you. Send you a big hug

    • Cooper says:

      This site is pretty amazing. Although a male, John’s article 100% reflects everything I experienced. As you can tell by the number of responses throughtout the site, you and I are not alone.

      I wish I could give you better advice, but I really don’t think there is much you can do but hold on and hope or go live your life. I sent my X little notes and voice mails and received fewer and fewer responses until they just stopped completely.

      My research uncovered that a simple card or email letting him know you care and are available if he wants to talk probably is best, but that you have to go live your life without him. Maybe he’ll reach out in the future, but odds are he’ll be forever changed and probably not the kind of +1 you’d want to date anyway.

  2. MsBIGPetite says:

    Dear John, what a gem of a website! I have been going through a really tough time recently and Storied Minds has provided me with so much comfort through gaining a lot of appreciation of the situation with my depressed male partner…
    All these comments from all of you as well, wow, so many of us… – feeling that less alone during one of the loneliest times of my life…

    Every story is slightly different, so here is mine…

    I’m a 33 years old gal and have had a couple of serious relationships in my life prior to meeting my current boyfriend. We met 3.5 years ago and we have been the most agreeable, loving couple since then. I have been pinching myself every day since the day I met him as I couldn’t believe my luck, engagement was coming this year and we were planning to buy a home together. I love him more than I have ever loved anyone, he is my soulmate, my best friend, and I can’t imagine my life without him. You know the story!

    He has been quite unhappy at work for a while, and basically for the next year or so he cannot swap it for a better option. His work is his passion, so when things don’t go well he has difficulty reconciling this with his inner need to fulfill this professional/personal flame. He is also a sociable guy who loves going out. When this pandemic hit, a few things have started taking toll on his mental health. Circumstances forced us to live separately during this time, things at work got significantly worse and he’s started feeling a lot of cabin fever due not being able to go out.

    His behaviour towards me has started, very weirdly and for the first time ever, to shift in April and went downhill from there exponentially. He’s started visiting his (male) friend’s house every weekend to work on this pro-bono project which provided him with an escape from the lack of fulfillment at work. At the same time, he communicated with me mainly via text, seemed more and more distant and miserable and openly saying he’s experiencing symptoms of anxiety (racing heart, stomach pains, problems sleeping, nagging thoughts, fatigue, “frazzled” mind) and just feeling very unhappy due to work. His dedication to our relationship has waned, I’ve started feeling in May I’m initiating and propelling it all forward more than he did. It’s started being tiring, unbalanced and making me anxious when I was already feeling very isolated and in need of emotional support due to this awful virus. I’ve raised with him now and then I needed more effort, to which he tried to respond, however his will to do so clearly did not come from his own inner need.

    Then June came and we were finally able to start seeing each other again. I was elated…and he did not seem to care!? On the contrary, he said to me that weekends from then on he wanted to dedicate to the project and he was only able to see me during week days. We’ve always spent the majority of weekends together for quality time, so I couldn’t believe I was negotiating my quality time with him. But I’ve adjusted for his sake. However, he’s become this different person – cold, distant, irritable, not really excited to see me, barely touching me (any physical initmacy has been basically non-existent), saying he is feeling “numb” emotionally and cannot envisage a future anymore. When I’ve asked him about his commitment to us and whether any of this was to do with our relationship, he said no and that he wanted us to be together however due to being unable to make any decisions he wasn’t sure right now about committing to anything.

    At the end of June he cancelled one of our get togethers saying he was feeling unwell and I, already at my wit’s end, flipped out saying he is making me terribly lonely acting like this, unloved, unheard, unwanted. I asked him if he wanted to spend some time on his own as I have now started feeling like a burden to him. I was crying feeling so desperate for the connection that we used to have and were so suddenly losing, I was totally open with him how much he was hurting me. It didn’t seem to register, this sensitive and emotional guy seems to have lost all of his empathy. He took up the offer of giving him space, and I have not seen him for what is now a month…I’ve sent him a couple of texts, to which he responded politely. No initiative from him though and I don’t know when I’m going to see him, he has completely shut us down. I don’t want to press him, I’ve pressed so much in recent months and it made me feel demotivated about pressing again until he actually acts like he wants me in his life again. Should I suck up my pride and contact him again? Feels like I’ve done so much already…also, even the thought of sending him a text is making ME very anxious. I just cannot face being ignored or not responded to, which I fear might happen. I cannot bring myself going to his house either for these reasons.

    I’ve read so much online including Storied Minds and I honestly think he is depressed, and anxious. I’m shocked and in disbelief how quickly it all deteriorated, feel like my favourite person has been stolen from me. I’ve asked him a couple of weeks back if he wanted me to arrange an appointment with a GP, he refused saying he was waiting for it to “pass”. He still goes to see his mate, but says otherwise he doesn’t want to speak to or see anyone. I’ve reached out to his dad who noticed we weren’t seeing each other, as soon as I’ve mentioned I think your son needs mental health support the dad clammed up…so disappointed, I don’t think the dad deals with emotions well, he probably is unable to address this. I don’t know what else I can do to get out of this limbo? How long do I give him to get help? He clearly needs professional help and I can’t be stuck in this terrible vacuum of what now feels like a heartbreak…

    I’m feeling SO heartbroken, I love him so very much. It’s not him, it feels it’s this “black dog”, sinister disease that took him away from me. It’s like a heartbreak which is being kept on hold, which is worse than an actual heartbreak when one knows that at least they are moving forward to some kind of a future. I feel so lonely, like I have nothing to look forward to as well even to help myself whilst he is taking his space, as I can’t really travel etc and make any long-term plans right now. I feel like I’m getting to the verge of depression of myself, this year is horrible as it is without having to lose someone you love the most like this.

    Any words of comfort will be so appreciated…I don’t know who to turn to for advice and some comfort. My family and friends are not of much help and have stereotypical views about mental health and “snapping out of it”, they think he is trying to end things, like they don’t know depression is a serious mental health problem. How can they even say that knowing how well it has been going between the two of us!

    Much love from this broken soul x x x

    • LK says:

      I’m so sorry to read this. I am currently going through a similar thing and feel like I have a broken soul as well. My partner of 4.5 years walked out of our life few weeks ago – we were so strong and so happy and I didn’t see it coming. We had been living together for 2 years, we were looking at buying houses, had discussed baby names, wedding locations, etc. He got diagnosed with depression a couple of weeks before he left and displayed so many of the symptoms you are describing. Emotional withdrawal, loss of appetite, changing sleep patterns, no libido, irritable, and just a difference about him that I couldn’t explain. Didn’t care about things, wasn’t enjoying life, etc.

      In some ways, having the diagnosis has helped, because i’ve been able to use it to explain some of his behaviour. I feel like you can probably be quite confident that your partner is/was going through the same thing. But you’re so right, no one really understands mental health anyway. People think there must have been something wrong, that we couldn’t handle quarantine, that we were fighting, that he must have wanted to end it for a while. But none of that is true. We were doing so great and then in about mid May his health spiralled downhill FAST and by end of June he was gone. It was devastating. I still can’t really believe it happened.

      My ex was just going to take space but then I said something about “space is good because we can use it to work through whatever you’re confused about” and then he just said he didn’t see the point in trying to work through anything. So we broke up. I’ve had one message from him in the last 3 weeks. I don’t think he’s even really thought about me much. It seems like he got his diagnosis and is now just running away from it. And somehow I ended up as collateral damage. Which I didn’t think would even be possible a few weeks ago.

      I’m so so sorry you are going through this. I believe you that it was going wonderfully well and I believe you that he has been stolen from you by this illness. I’ve been trying to tell myself that my partner is no longer the person he used to be. One metaphor I’ve found useful, that stops me from doubting that the last 4.5 years were wonderful is to compare this illness to something like diabetes. If you get diagnosed with diabetes later in life, it doesn’t mean you always had it. But now, for whatever reason, it’s been triggered and your body can no longer regulate itself in the same way and you will have to learn to manage it for the rest of your life. It’s still so tragic to me that it’s manageable and he didn’t want me beside him as he battled it. But I don’t know if he could even accept that he had/has it.

      You should have a look through some of the stuff on the Depression Fallout Message Board – it’s a community of people that are facing the same soul aches and I’ve found it comforting to know there are people that understand (and believe) me.

      • MsBIGPetite says:

        Dear LK – thank you so much for sharing your experience…I am so, so sorry for what happened to you as well. I understand everything that you are saying and feeling, it’s like reading my own post and thoughts with a few situational details amended…and you are right, not many will understand what we’re going through unless they experience it themselves (not wishing for this to happen to anyone though, even my enemies!!!). But you are not alone, here we are, alone yet together in this 🙁 Sending you warm hugs from this end.

        I think the diabetes parallel is very on point. Problem with depression though is because it twists their thoughts, unlike with diabetes where most individuals in their right mind will seek support, a lot of the depressed think they don’t need help, will deny they need it, postpone it or eventually will not seek it as this is what their sick mind is telling them. I’ve been thinking that my partner has had depression for longer than last few months as was chronically unhappy at work for a long time, he was denying the problem though until it was too late and his brain just deteriorated to the point of the devastating weeks I am going through. If they don’t help themselves, there’s nothing we can do. I am so sorry that your partner didn’t even try, it’s incomprehensible to us as their partners…!

        As extremely difficult as it is…we need to be strong knowing that it was not our fault, what happened was out of our control. So when we look back into the past reflecting on what happened, whatever happens in the future, we will know that there was literally nothing more that we could have done.

        And thank you for sharing re Depression Fallout – I will certainly visit!

        All the very best to you x x x

        • LK says:

          “denying the problem though until it was too late and his brain just deteriorated to the point of the devastating weeks I am going through” 🙁 I know. I know i know i know. And I’m so sorry.

          Huge hugs to you xxx

    • Cooper says:

      Unfortunately, there are few words of comfort anyone will be able to provide. This illness your partner is battling is the damndest thing I’ve ever come across. I’m painfully aware of everything you’ve had to face. It’s maddening, demoralizing, lonely, confusing, etc.

      Others here have written more eloquently on this topic than I, so I just give you a big hug. There are three things, however, that have helped me move along a bit.
      1) finding ways to keep my mind busy..baking, gardening, etc. anything to keep my mind off my X
      2) really intense workouts seem to alter my mood for hours
      3) reading about this illness and finding someone with whom to talk through things. I didn’t go to a therapist, but it was validating to hear a close friend tell me my X was just a broken individual. Online forums, such as this one, also helped me come to grips with the facts my X was indeed ill and that I’m not the only person to ever experience such a painful, inexplicable and illogical end to an otherwise wonderful relationship.

      What I do know is those who have not experienced our side of depression will never understand the pain of our journey.

      • MsBIGPetite says:

        Dear Cooper, thank you for your very kind message…all the feelings you have pointed out…all of these are so real, and I’m so grateful that in all of this misery someone really understands!!! Sending you my warmest wishes too. It’s so hard.

        Hug is so much appreciated! Nodding to all the ‘self-help’ points you’ve made…I find the intense exercise a bit of a life saver in the last couple of weeks. Also, what I would recommend to all of us, and what I’ve found amazing for the mind, straight after exercise going into a 10-15 minutes meditation session can do wonders…I’ve been suffering with some anxiety over the last few weeks and it’s been demonstrating itself through breathing difficulties 🙁 Meditation fixes some of that, at least for a period of time. Or when I can’t fall asleep at night, ruminating, meditation can really help then as well.

        I wish there was more support and understanding around what a loved one’s mental illness means for their carers/partners/families. The impact is truly devastating and I find there is much more out there for those who suffer from these conditions rather than us. I am grateful for being able to connect with individuals like yourself…

        Talking about gratitude…another coping mechanism I have implemented in the last couple of days – gratitude. Before going to sleep, or when I’m particuarly low, I try to think of 3 to 5 things that I am grateful for in my life. I find this helps a little bit…every little will help right now.

        Best wishes and keep strong, Cooper x x x

  3. Anonymous says:

    Together over ten years and have kids, then after a death in the family its like the light was switched off, a stubborn immovable object, no reasoning with him, no talking, just straight up my fault. Convinced himself i don’t love him because he can’t feel it and I must only be with him for money.

    He said the death didn’t affect him at all, but he als said it made him realise how miserable he was and that he had to leave to find happiness, said he had no feelings for me at all and he hadn’t loved me in years, I was average looking and so on.

    So off he went after much shouting and threatening and saying the most hurtful things he could think of, the kids were not spared his wrath either.

    He had plans said he needed somewhere new to live, new job new girlfriend and to have new kids to get it right this time, because our entire life together was a mistake.

    I tried so hard to get him to listen, he wouldn’t get help, whats worse was leaving wasn’t the end, he started dating some new victim, continued to blame me for things from afar and threaten me, still holding me to account for his misery because he didn’t get what he wanted. He expected no emotion from me, he expected me to be happy for him, to look after our children and deal with the hard stuff like school, doctor’s appointments, looking after a family, he expected to be able to have our children when ever he wanted them on his days off to play or not if he felt too tied or was busy playing with his new toy.

    He didn’t get that fantasy, he got angry children that hated him and were emotional, he got me still trying to make him wake up and see sense, being emotional, but also no longer pandering, putting my foot down, demanding to be treated with respect in front of my children, demanding consistency in contact, regular child support payments, and an end to his irrational tantrums, I didn’t let him have the children alone I wouldn’t trust him to look after a hamster, I stood up for my children and protected them from his blame games, my children were starting to ape his threatening, his tantrums in the street and so on and I was not going to stand for them growing up thinking thats normal behaviour. He told all his workmates I was a monster and his family, so my children lost their fathers side of the family as they think I was a horrible abusive wife and thats why he’s still miserable poor him, if they suspected depression I’m in no doubt they’ll blame me for it, if he kills himself I expect to be blamed.

    We don’t see him anymore, he still contacts sometimes still nasty and demanding and he is still in the area, I suppose you could sa the door is still unlocked just incase he recovers and is sorry.

    I honestly can’t fathom this being it forever, this being him forever, a lying, anger, hatefilled irrational man whos turned our entire relationship into some twisted nightmare to get other people to feel sorry for him and tells everyone he meets I’m a monster, its too horrible to think this is how its always going to be and over ten years of my life with the exception of my children was utterly worthless and meaningless, that I am worthless to the person who means everything to me.

    I didn’t date a monster and my children deserve a father, its not fair, why did this have to happen to us.

    I guess thats why the door is unlocked, its senseless and cruel and one day he must realise it too, he has to, because the alternative is just to painful to think about, I can’t think it it litterally hurts my head and its been 4 years now.

  4. Rhoda says:

    Firstly I want to thank you for writing this article. I read it whilst I was on holiday 2 weeks ago. The holiday became welcome break from the madness I had been experiencing with my now ex partner and was a time that I was using to think through this exact question, should I continue to leave the door open? I have since read this article and many of the comments several times and have taken great comfort from the fact that this isn’t just happening to me, even though I hate to think that other people are having this experience, that this is happening to. Unlike some people who have commented here, i have not been in a relationship very long with my ‘never quite boyfriend’. I met and fell in love with him only six months ago and it was clear that we both had deep intense feelings for each other. It was fun, it was silly and it was romantic and I thought i had met my soul mate. In short we connected like neither of us had connected for many years. He was kind and gentle, old fashioned and unassuming, the perfect gentlemen, to me the perfect partner. He had been open about the fact he had been isolated for many years and had closed himself off from his friends after having cancer some 9 years previous. Over the years his depression had worsened and last year he had had time off work. When I met him, he said he was better and that I had helped him with that and he was starting to reconnect with the world however 6 weeks in i received a message saying that he was struggling to process the relationship and needed some alone time to work things through but he didn’t want the loveliness to end. From that point he disconnected regularly and although tried to remain in contact, our relationship changed. I found him one day in a terrible state after going to his home and i supported him to resurrect a therapy appointment that he had already taken steps to make a year ago. We agreed that the best thing we could do would be to put the relationship on hold until he got better. I felt completely heartbroken and a real sense of grief which lasted for a couple of months. He went to his first appointment months later and moaned and groaned describing it as useless and a waste of time ect. Whilst i was away he failed to attend his 2nd appointment altogether. I had a trauma on holiday which he helped with from back home to try and resolve and he pulled out all the stops to support me in a crisis for a few days but when i returned despite him seemingly desperate to see me, he managed to make me feel really terrible again when i asked if we could just have one night away together, he said that i knew he couldn’t manage a relationship. So it was at that point I thought about all the things I had read here and decided that I needed to shut the door for both our sake. I don’t think me being around as the ‘Almost Girlfriend’ is healthy to him or me despite this being and incredibly upsetting and difficult decision to make. He is addicted to misery just as a drug addict is addicted to heroin and I am simply not a big enough carrot for him to get better for because just like a drug addict r an alcoholic, he has to want to get better first and foremost for himself and whilst I continue to provide a comfortable place, the fix, where he is able to keep me at just the right distance for him to manage, my own needs which have not been satisfied in any sense for months now, continue to go largely gone unnoticed. He knows I have needs and hes deeply sad he cant meet my needs but refuses to do anything proactive to sort it out. All the while I see his depression worsening and I see my tolerance for this diminishing and my sadness deepening. Inside this person is a beautiful soul, one that I love so much but this depression that has inhabited his body has destroyed everything, not just with me but in all his previous relationships causing a catalogue of deep regret and anger which he sees it but is unprepared to take responsibility and stop happening. On Monday I had to let him go out of my arms and it was incredibly painful. I cried a lot, he did not but I knew he was deeply sad and later he sent me a message to confirm this.
    I hope that now i have gone that he can begin work on himself. I want to be that big carrot he gets better for but who knows and equally i cannot promise that I will be here for him if and when he does get better. One thing I do know is that my life has been full of pain which I have survived, just about and I have a really positive outlook on life. I take full responsibility for myself look after myself to keep myself well and that’s what i dream of for him. He has to do this for himself and only himself and he will see that life can be amazing filled with love and beauty.
    I showed him your article so he could see things from other peoples perspective and he appreciated it and apologised to me. That was 5 days before I shut the door. If you see my post on here I want you to know that I love you more than all the jam doughnuts in the whole world and I don’t think i will ever stop loving you.

  5. Clara says:

    Hi all,

    I am sorry, but some of my post will come across as angry because I am.

    This has literally just happened to me too. I had no idea my wonderful boyfriend was depressed – he had mentioned it in passing but the word “depression” is bandied about so often, even when its just the blues, that I didnt pry and he was talking in the past tense also. (and also I am diagnosed depressed myself and you would never know so I always thought you got better or managed it like I do)

    We had a holliday together two weeks go for Christmas which was lovely we, missed New Year together as I misunderstood what plans he had – and then I didnt hear from him three days. His sister called me on NYE night, I assume she couldnt get hold of him as he was ignoring his phone -but I missed her call as I was in bed. So now I am in full on panic mode.

    Like you all, I turned up a his house baffled, and thinking he had had an accident. He opened the door, well I say “he” did – this stranger that looked like him did. He wouldnt admit anything was wrong, he hadn’t done anything wrong and wanted to be alone. I asked over and over what was wrong and he said he was depressed, and it was over. Three days earlier I had been chatting to his son and father and we were all laughing.

    We had planned a future together, I met his son, all his friends, his father via the telephone. He was amazing – the perfect boyfriend. I fell for him and he did for me. At our ages me 44 and him 52 I thought I had fianlly after all the years of broken hearts, survivial from an out and out sociopath, and many dissappintments met the man I would spend the rest of my life with……

    Last night I returned some of his items, and he was the same cold distant person. He told me he was cold hearted, he had no feelings, he had been depressed for 30 years, the only thing that helped was shutting himself away, he doesnt love me, no point in getting help or therapy, feels he doesnt have to apologise for anything he has done to me. but yet he was a good person (?) he doesnt want a relationship, he actually needs a friend – obviously I can’t be that friend now when I am in love with him. I also have to consider my own (terribly fragile I am afraid) heart.

    Reading all the stories on here has made me incredibly sad. My situation is hopeless. I am struggling why people with depression do this. I have depression too, I am on a minimal dose of sertraline, but I still am on them and I’d never do this…..I am also frankly angry. If you KNOW your life is a shambles, you know you are hurting others, this could crop up and something is very wrong with you; then in your more lucid moments – why do they not seek help??

    I offered to help him, be with him, I have depression myself – nope, just get out.

    I did, I got help myself years ago – I couldn’t live like that anymore. I’ll be on tablets forever, and I couldn’t care less – it makes me a functioning adult and its no big deal to take a tiny tablet once a day.

    My heart is utterly shattered, I am wrecked, lonely, empty confused, completley in love, very , very angry and dumped. I miss him and yet I also want to knock bells of crap out of him and I am desperately worried about him……I broke down in tears at work, and as a Manager I cant be seen to be emotional but I couldnt help it.

    And once again, I am here alone picking up the pieces due to another’s actions. He promsied me the world, he invited me into his life fully – he knew full well the depression could do this in the future – so I am sorry, but he is selfish. If I personally was so mentally ill, I’d never enter a relationship with someone else. He lied to me. To my face.

    He hurt another person so badly and he whole heartdley knew he could do this, and for what? Escapism? A fantasy of pretending life was ok? Did he hope I’d be able to fix him? And when he realised I couldn’t, he dumped me (he wasnt even going to tell me it was over, I had to go and ask him).

    Then there is the possibilty he could more or less run off with someone else as well now, to fuel whatever his brain is telling him might fix it or the life he won’t mend himself ? Or he may have cheated on me already??

    I will help ANYONE who needs it, but I struggle to help people who wallow in their depression and won’t even see a doctor or realise their actions are destructive not only to them, but to loved ones. Help is there, not all therapies work, but surely even in your most depressed state, you TRY something, anything?

    I know for my own mental health and my constantly broken heart; I’ll have to go NC. I hate him for this. I hate him for lying to me, and making me feel like nothing. I hate him for allowing me to fall in love with him, introduce my daughter to him, announce (at his insistence) that I was his girlfriend, when I generally only ever tell close friends my personal life, for still sleeping with me on holiday when he KNEW he was spiralling and this was going to happen.

    So what do I do now? Wait and see if he comes back? Cut him off even if he intiaties contact? Ignore him? He has no one here, he is from another country and lives alone. I need to care for myself and yet I am so worried about him too.

    Sorry for the anger, but why did he do this to me? Why enter into relatinships when you know you cant cope with them?

    Your friend in both depression and depressed partner x

    • Anne says:

      I feel your pain. My partner left me just before Christmas. I’d shut down on him because he’d gradually changed over four years. Didn’t want to go out anywhere, didn’t reply if I spoke to him, became angry and rageful over minor things. He’s never been diagnosed with depression and said when he left he’d not been happy for a long time. Basically neither had I but I was still being loving and kind until I got depressed at the lack of emotional connection and the rages when I tried to talk about how I felt (no matter how nicely I did it he raged or disappeared or stone walled). I don’t get depressed normally but boy was I down. He left after an argument with my daughter, five months later he’s with someone else. My theory is he doesn’t deal with emotions well and things that have happened in his past he’s never dealt with. In his own words he tries not to think about them. I think he’s carrying all that Undealt with emotion and he’s depressed and he won’t find relief (only temporary) in the arms of whichever woman he is with. It’s always going to catch him up at some point. I know from having a son whose addicted to many things that you can’t change other people. You can angst about why they don’t seek help you can feel anger at them for misleading you and I get that, it’s pretty standard to feel like that but you can’t change him. He is who he is and only he can choose to change by seeking help. My point is stop. Try and recognise why you feel so hurt. It’s likely not him that’s causing the pain but some hurt from your past – childhood or a toxic relationship experience. You have to look after you. The world keeps turning (and that’s the deepest cut I know) but ships still set sail, the sun rises, there are beautiful things to appreciate on your own. So live life, treat yourself, take a bath, meditate, have a face pack, read a favourite book, watch an uplifting film, see friends, go out and meet people. You’ll find someone who appreciates you if you’re happy and fulfilled. There’s no point trying to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved, no time to waste trying. Ask yourself if the world was ending next week what would you do and go do it. Slowly, it’ll get easier, baby steps if you can’t face it all at once. Even if it’s only an hour a day at first do something for you and stop thinking about it for that time. Build that time up, be happy in your own company and the right man will come, if he doesn’t you’re happy anyway. I know how hard it is believe me but it’s worth it. If he chooses to seek help to get better that’s up to him, you look after you. Good luck xx

    • Lea says:

      I saw your post was from a few months ago and wanted to check in and see how you are? I hope you are moving forward and finding the days are easier.
      My situation is similar in many ways, I’m late 40’s and he is early 50’s. We lived together with our children. I was unaware of his depression and the episodes had always been really short until this spring. It kept dragging on, I kept trying to help, get him out, plan activities, and even got him a golf membership. Nothing worked and he was treating me badly, his kids saw this and started to do the same. The final straw was when he told me he wasn’t in love and we were done, then retracted all of it and said he was hopeless, but so in love. This continued for months, we had a very strained vacation where he was short with everyone and said barely two sentences to me the entire week. This is someone I was with for four years, offered to do therapy with him and he refused. I then found out it was because he has been off and on medication for years, sees his therapist sometimes and doesn’t others, etc…
      Finally a little over a month ago I held him to his word and had him move out of my house. He left two weeks ago with no forwarding information, no good bye other than a few nasty arguments in the process of him moving out. I feel sad, but so relieved. I come home to a beautiful, quiet serenity and enjoy time with family and friends. Have put all my effort into redecorating and making it my home again. I hope you are doing the same! As for the door ever day I get stronger and add another lock because for my future I can’t leave it open.

      And for anyone else out there, out yourself first and your family first!

  6. kp says:

    Good to read these comments, my partner left me about 6 weeks ago, he had depression/anxiety. Had been together ten years, never noticed any signs. Helped him with counselling, drs and living for first 4 months, then he left, saying wanted to be on his own, cut me off, feel like i’m dead to him. Last time I saw him sticks in my mind, as I was so upset crying, as I didn’t understand why he was breaking up with me. He couldn’t answer, and just picked up his bag, didn’t look back and left. He would never have done anything like that, and that picture sticks in my head now. I’m trying to move on, and hope the pain will go. For me because there is no closure or explanation with this, it’s hard to let go. x

    • J says:

      I’m in the same boat, my husband left me 7 weeks ago. We had been together 11.5 years, married for 10 months, it was such a shock for me and I’m finding it so hard to cope. I don’t understand how after so long together you can’t want to try and work through the problems together. I saw him after 3 weeks apart, he said that he wanted a divorce, all I want to do is to try and make things work. He has been depressed for about 15 months, although only started medication in March, I supported him through everything, doctors appointments, panic attacks, work, going out, reassuring him that everything would be alright, we would get through it together. Then suddenly out of the blue he said that we weren’t right for each other, a month later he moved out. He has completely cut me off, its like I don’t exist, I lost my best friend overnight and now find it hard to eat, sleep, work and think of anything apart from him. Its like my whole life has been completely lost. He has asked that I don’t contact him other than email because he won’t answer messages/ calls. To me its like he isn’t hurting at all, I spent the whole of my adult life with this guy, I honestly don’t know what to do with out him. I feel like you, I don’t have any closure, and just long for the day if/when he comes back. If you have any words of wisdom I would love to hear them. For me, I don’t think I’m ready to let go of our relationship. xx

      • kerry says:

        Hi J. Thank you for replying x I was starting to think I was going crazy, that I was living in a different world as I thought only this had happened to me. Even 8 weeks on, life is still tough, and I miss him so much, silly things messages/calls. He moved all his stuff out the house, and I still haven’t seen him or had contact since he left that night. Trying to sort finances out is a nightmare!
        I too still can’t let go, and the pain and hurt is awful. If I get through a day without crying i’ve done well! I started meditating to try to help me, and lots of exercise, keeping busy. This has actually helped me. I still expect him to come home, but deep inside I know he isn’t which I can’t except yet. I don’t have any family near me, so I feel by the end of the year I need to move to be closer to them, else I feel my life is pointless. I can’t tell you it will get easier, but you have to start thinking of yourself. We may never get the answers we need, and we will probably have to live with that. Take one day at a time, and hopefully one day the hurt will get easier for us both xxxx

      • Danni says:

        Wow – this is like reading my story. It has been 10 months since my husband left and I also have had the same where he has been cold and not communicating with me either. I have to say now though, it is the best thing that ever happened to me. I am so much happier and have realised I was never going to be able to solve his depression for him. It was just making me miserable as well. My life has improved significantly now I dont have to tip toe around him or worry about what I might come home too. The first few months are hard but focus on you, and what you want out of life. We spend so long looking after them that we forget how to do that. They aren’t ever going to be the person you want them to be, or return to being who they were. Let them go and let them figure it out…you can only do what you can do and if they are shutting you out, there is even less you can do. You deserve better and healthy loving relationship. Life goes on and trust me, its better.

        • S says:

          It does get better. Staying busy and taking care of yourself, making yourself happy helps. There are also many good people out there who care. Once I was away for a while i grieved and then got perspective and realized life goes on and found joy in other things and people. I’m 11 months out and it has helped that he hasn’t contacted me because it helped me further realize I deserve better than someone who obviously doesn’t care about how what he did affected me. And isn’t willing to get help to fix himself or our relationship. I don’t want to be with a person like that and I would never go back even if he wanted me to.

    • Sarah says:


      I’m in the same position. My husband walked out, one year after we got married, a 6+ year relationship. He has been seriously depressed for at least 8 months, and he has always struggled with anxiety.
      He says he’s had a ‘connection’ with someone else, but I think it’s just the depression making him feel like he doesn’t feel anything for me, and this woman he sees occasionally at work is like a shiny new toy.
      I don’t think she would actually make him happy, bu tI also don’t think he is pursuing her.

      His leaving was so out of the blue, it was like he flipped a switch overnight. He immediately told all our friends, who couldn’t believe how cold he seemed about it. I can’t seem to get my head around it though, he isn’t the same man I married.

      The little voice in my head telling me that it could all be undone is definitely getting quieter, but I keep wondering if time and anti-depressants might help. I don’t know what I would do if he wanted to change his mind, and I probably shouldn’t hope that he does.

  7. S says:

    My boyfriend broke up with me in January so it’s been 3 months. I admit I have been very tempted to get in touch with him. He has not reached out once since he called it off with me out of the blue. Only later did I conclude he is depressed based on behavior I noticed leading up to it. It’s been really hard to change my mindset and not wait or beg him to come back as I miss what we had and what good he brought to my life. But he never told me he was depressed. He only said he was a mess and needs to be alone. I now grieve the loss of the dreams I had for my life with him. Yes I love him but it wouldn’t be fair to me to leave the door open. What I noticed was that things are always focused on him. There isn’t a sense of my value being equal to his despite all I have given of myself to help him to cope and feel better. It’s very sad but I’m starting to force myself to create new dreams for my life without him. But I have faith that I will find happiness again. This is a growth experience and in the end I will be a stronger person. I do empathize that he is sad and hope he will get help but I can’t fix him and even if he does recover, will this just happen again? I can’t put myself through this again. I need to move my life forward because life is short and I am worthy of a good relationship or even being content with being single sounds good too.

    • Loo loo says:

      Hi S
      You sound really strong and my heart goes out to you.My husband left me and his 3 stepchildren 2 wks ago .He has been struggling with depression for about 4 months but went to the docs and is on tablets and having counselling but he said he has no more fight and can’t do it anymore. We had a great marriage and were close then out of the blue he tells me he doesn’t love me anymore or want to be with me.Myself and the children are devastated and aren’t coping at all .I know I need to concentrate on myself and children but I can’t eat or sleep and I find myself begging him to come back by text.He hardly texts back and doesn’t seem to care for me or his stepchildren .

      • S says:

        I’m truly sorry that has happened to you and your children. It is devastating. If you and your kids are able to go to counseling it did help me. It’s been 6 months now and I’m finally at a point that I don’t think about him all the time. It was hard that he didn’t respond to my texts but the distance has allowed me to heal. Your situation is different since it’s a marriage and there are kids involved. I really obsessed over it for months, was sad and in emotional pain every day. I never knew much about depression. Reading all the posts here and on the depression fallout forum has really helped, as I began to understand what happened. I am making a lot of changes and finding new things to focus on that make me happy. I didn’t really think I would be able but I am. I hope you do the same and stay strong and take care of yourself as you deal with it and whatever direction things go in the future. Good luck.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi S.,

      How are you feeling now? I’ve recently had the final break-up with my ex-boyfriend after a few turbulent months of giving him space and focusing on his needs. He has cut me off completely and no longer wants me a part of his life because I’m the only one he can’t wear a ‘mask’ around. He thinks that moving back to LA is the best solution for him and wants to cut all ties associated to San Francisco and me. Similar to your situation, everything has been on his terms up to this point.

      I know that deep down I deserve someone who is going to fight for me, for our relationship, and for our future. Just want to have hope that there is a better future out there for me, without him.

      • S says:

        Hi Jennifer,
        So sorry to hear that. I am doing pretty well now although I do think about him still sometimes but I don’t want to get back with him. I mostly think of the pain it brought me and how frightening it is that someone can just walk away like that. Ironically today I saw him on the highway. It kind of brought back some sadness. I have seen him 3 other times on the road and then once more in person from afar but he left when he spotted me. But we have to remember it’s a mental illness and it’s not about me. It’s hard though because I trusted him.
        These days I’m still healing I’m a lot of ways and trying to decide about what I want in a future relationship. I’m definitely hopeful but still trying to get used to being alone and find more joy in that. But truthfully I don’t have interest in being with my ex again.
        I hope you will treat yourself well.

        • Jennifer says:

          Hi S.,

          Thanks for your reply. Honestly it’s comforting hearing from someone else who can understand since this is such a unique situation that none of my current girlfriends can relate to. Has he ever reached out to you since he walked away? Do you think he feels any sense of regret for losing such a great woman? I just can’t seem to wrap my head around how someone can cut ties to someone they claim to be the love of their lives like that?

          Things are so fresh for me. We were supposed to move into together a few months from now and I found out that he was in the midst of ring shopping before the onset of his depression. After being with someone for almost 2 years and hearing them say they no longer want a life with you when you’ve had such a great relationship is brutal and heartbreaking. I feel like we’ve done nothing but try to support them and be kind and compassionate. How could they not want us to be a part of this journey with them? Isn’t a partnership through the good times and bad? Will they wake up one day and realize what they’ve lost?

          Most days I wake up and I think about how painful it’ll be to see him have moved on with someone else, while I’ve endured the damage that depression has caused. I don’t deserve to
          be forgotten here.

          I stayed authentic and true to who I am and the kind of partner I strived to be the entire relationship, even at the end. I feel proud that I gave 150% to the relationship, even at the worst of times. His family and friends know it and so do I.

          The tough reality is that he has no access to his feelings for me. He’s solely focused on his own needs, without considering the impact on me.

          I hope that something better is out there for me.

          • S says:

            Hi Jennifer,
            Not many of my friends or family could relate either. No he hasn’t reached out at all. I reached out a few times in the beginning after the breakup and he only responded once after the first text. But never told me why except that he wasn’t in love and couldn’t marry me. He was the one who came on strong from the beginning with me however talking about eloping and telling me he loved me very early on. His behavior fluctuated a lot over the two years we were together. He was sometimes lost in his own world alone a lot dwelling on things he worries about. I was always supportive in many ways. The whole first year was mostly about him because he was finally free of a lot of responsibility of raising his daughter alone and the first time dating in a long time. It seemed like a great match since I was just out of a 9 year relationship which was very difficult. I enjoyed all of the excitement of being with him and his affection and passion. The second year continued to focus on him a lot and I started noticing changes. He would go out without me sometimes or feel sick all the time or sleeping when I would go over or just lost in his thoughts. I didn’t realize as I was seeing these things what was going on inside him other than he is having a hard time lately with his daughter. He allowed me to help out financially and also develop strong bonds with his family all the way til the day he broke up with me with no prior discussions about having any concerns with our Relationship. I always thought I was a source of strength and support to get him through those times. I felt used and badly hurt. And confused.He told me he always loved me but he “just can’t do this anymore “. I was completely shocked.
            I almost feel like he planned it to only be for 2 years. After learning about depression I realiz how many signs of that I saw but didn’t recognize. I wrote him a final email a year ago telling him I was pretty sure that’s why he broke up and hoping he would get help. I ended it with some kind words. It felt good to send because that was my closure. It’s really been a learning experience. From reading a lot of posts here I have learned that my situation is very common with depressed men and women. I honestly never knew anyone this happened to. I recommend you read a lot of the posts here. There is another site also called depression fallout where people cope together which is also helpful. Keep in mind what happened had nothing to do with you. You are a kind caring person who deserves someone equally caring. And even if the depressed partner finds someone else from what I read it normally doesn’t work and they go through the same cycle.
            What you said about him not having any access to his feelings for you and the impact it had on you .. I felt the same way about my ex. He knew I was devastated and sad but has not reached out even one time to see how I was doing later. I felt like I got hit by a train and became very sad for months. It’s inexplicable to me that he didn’t contact me at all. He just had no feelings or maybe he has guilty feelings. Who knows. All I see is that he is selfish and hurtful. I don’t know how that is the same person I was with.
            He did tell a
            Mutual friend that one day he may wake up and regret what he had. It means nothing to me though. Just words.
            I haven’t done dating yet but have found myself interested in some men I’ve met in the past year. I’m still working on myself a little though. I moved to a new area and sort of reinventing my life. Please stay hopeful and find peace with everything if you can. You deserve to be happy.
            Sorry so long. Feel free to write
            Me anytime. Take care.

        • Jennifer says:

          Hi S.

          What is the best email to reach you at?

  8. Lisa says:

    This question is quite easy to answer I think. The door is always open because love is unconditional or is not. In my opinion, if it’s not unconditional it was never love. Therefore no matter what happens, when I love someone, my door will always be open. It doesn’t mean a relationship will still be possible but I will always care and want all my loved ones to be well. My boyfriend is the type who shuts down completely. Last time we spoke he said he needed some time to sort things out but wanted to stay in touch. Then he disappeared completely. Of course I tried to call, write, many many time and I got nothing but complete silence. The difference between this attitude and the last words I got from him made me believe that I needed to persist and I told myself that I would stop trying only if he told me so or block my number. So I kept calling and after two months of silence I got a message, saying he was sorry for all the silence and that he would call soon. Now I don’t know if he’ll do it and if something will still be possible for us but I see this message as him starting to return to his normal self and being capable of realizing what happened. I answered that I didn’t want him to be sorry and that I just wanted to communicate with him, he answered that it made him even more sorry. To sum up yes I’ve been deeply hurt but I don’t think it ever was his intention so I’m not gonna shut my door to someone who hurt me because they couldn’t do otherwise. I also think that it’s because if the situation was reversed I could count on the people who love me to do the same thing.. I don’t know if it answers the question but I hope it helps!

  9. Sam says:

    The door is always left open because despite it all… the love is still there. Love is an extremely powerful thing, and we are taught from girlhood through novels, movies, and media that we are supposed too take care of the man in that way. True love fixes everything, doesn’t it? It’s a deeply ingrained mentality that most of us don’t even realize that we have. We keep the door open because we love them. We want to be with the man that we know underneath all of the depression. We try to forgive all of the pain they cause because we tell ourselves that they can’t help it. Losing my boyfriend has taught me one thing. I don’t want to be that girl anymore. I miss him. I love more than I have ever loved anyone in the world. He is someone I don’t want to live without. The door is still open for him. I wish it wasn’t sometimes, but I can’t deny that it is. I would welcome him with open arms, but I will not let this pain go without consequences. He has to own up to it and he has to make a real effort to get better or I will walk away. Every time he left or he hurt me, he expected there to be no consequences. This is the first time he actually broke up with me, but he did leave me in the past. He would disappear sometimes into a pit of self-loathing and then come back and expect everything to be fine. Like he just hit the pause button and waited until he was ready to deal with life again. But my life went on and… I let him get away with it for eight years. This was it. The last straw. I’d give anything to have him back. Anything. But not if he does that to me again. Because I’ve finally realized that my pains and my feelings deserve acknowledgement too… and I am tired of feeling like I am screaming internally to get them noticed.

    • Marg says:

      You are me! Eight years. I feel foolish sometimes because he came back and begged for second chances so many times. Even did therapy half ass. But I kept believing in him. Then the depression would return and all those promises went empty. And it cycles. And cycles. And I didn’t get my needs met. Just let down. And frustration. And lots of pain.
      Sometime I think to myself how can he not be so grateful for my standing by him that he doesn’t get his shit together? I know it’s not that easy but it’s how I feel. Very bitter. I can’t do it for him. Feels painful he can’t care enough to do it for himself. Its exhausting.

  10. Katie says:

    I stumbled upon this thread and I’m hoping I can get some advice?
    We’ve never actually been together, but we’ve been best friends for almost 5 years. It’s one of those situations where we have never been in sync with our feelings…our timing is always off. He’s always liked me but I was going through severe anxiety and because of that I turned him down a few years ago, but always knew one day we would be together. So we’ve always been friends, but still kinda more than friends.
    So, back in April I told him I was hoping we could go on dates and work towards being boyfriend and girlfriend, and he seemed into it, though he said he’d put the idea on the back burner. He’d been a tad distant for several months before this, but he just said he was working a lot and would get really tired, or sick, and would sometimes cancel plans. His dad was also sick, so I know that was stressing him out.
    But since this conversation, things have only gotten worse. He started canceling plans constantly, day of, with no real excuse…just “I can’t” and then suggest we do something the weekend after, but would never get ahold of me to make the plans. Wouldn’t reach out to me hardly ever, it was always me making plans and texting just to say hey, never him. I figured he just wasn’t into me anymore and just didn’t know how to tell me, or he met someone else. Either way, this was not normal behavior for him. He was always very clingy, always wanted to be talking, hanging out, Snapchatting, some nights we’d be on Skype until 5am.
    Back in June I believe, I mentioned to him we hadn’t talked for a while (I think it had been a couple weeks) which is VERY rare for us. He ended up telling me how unhappy he’s been. His dad had a stroke, he hates his job, hates where he lives, dealing with other kinds of family drama. Just said he’d been down and “in a funk.” I immediately told him he can talk to me about anything, and I totally know that feeling (I’m clinically depressed myself, which he actually helped me through a few years back). Since he told me that, I’ve maybe only seen him 3 times, which is also not normal at all. Whenever I saw him though, he seemed generally the same. Not too unhappy, but maybe a little tired. But would mention he’s been down and thinks he’s depressed. We’d be laughing in the car and he’d say things like “it feels good to laugh”…he would mention how he wants to do this and do that sometime soon, like go to an amusement park and go visit his brother who I’ve never met before, and he sounded so excited while he was making these hypothetical plans. Sounds amazing, but deep down I knew it was never gonna happen, and I was right because he never brought it up again.
    Now here we are in December and I haven’t heard a single word from him since October. He’s stopped responding to my texts. Hasn’t reached out to me first in months. My best friend tried messaging him on Facebook a couple weeks ago. He read it and never replied. He knows he can talk to me. He knows I still like him and want to be with him. If he doesn’t want a relationship now, that’s totally fine. But there’s no communication on his end. None. And I feel guilty for being upset and wanting to just forget about him and move on. Because I know he’s going through something, but does that give him the right to flat out ignore me? He needs to tell me what he wants/needs/feels because he’s losing me, and he knows he is and he’s not doing anything to prevent that.
    I don’t mean to be selfish here, but I’m hurting too. He’s hurting me. I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t want to put more on his plate with my problems with him. But I’m ready to start my life, and I was hoping it would be with him but as of now, I feel like I have to move on.
    What I’m wondering I guess is, is it wrong of me to walk away and give up on him while he’s like this? Is it selfish? He isnt getting help or trying to make anything better. He’s not trying too hard to keep me around…though in the past he’s apologized and said the only people he’s talked to
    really are his roommates, only because he lives with them. He said he doesn’t really even talk to his family much anymore, and the only person he would really hang out with is me or his brother. I just don’t know what to do. 5 years he’s been my best friend and someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but I’m exhausted. I keep hoping he’ll become the old him again…and I feel guilty for that.
    Any advice would be wonderful. Thanks so much to whoever read this whole thing!

  11. LifeIsGood says:

    I’ve been reading all the comments and replies, and reached one inescapable conclusion…the longer you hold the door open, the longer it takes for a person to realize they need help. Why would a person, especially a man who cant admit ANYTHING that might be unmanly like a mental health issue, get help when they always have you as a fallback? They can come and go at will, they can abuse you mentally and physically, and then they end up blaming you for THEIR depression. Worst of all, they never seek help, because it’s YOUR fault, not theirs. Why would you keep the door open and let them continue this cycle?
    Trust me, I’m writing this not out of anger, but sadness. Sadness that so many women think they can ‘fix’ another human being. NO ONE CAN FIX ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. The only person who can fix you, is YOU!! You can take meds, you can see doctors, but if you dont want to change, you WON’T!!! And there’s no reason to change or help yourself when there are always people around reinforcing the idea that bad behavior is okay, and that it’s okay to hurt others, because there’s an illness involved. It’s NOT!!
    Yes, these men probably suffer from mental illness, but also ask yourselves what YOU are getting from this type of twisted relationship. Do you enjoy feeling like a martyr? Do you like having someone abuse you because you imagine that means they care? The people who read this paragraph and get angry because they think I’m being rude, insensitive, or stupid, are the very ones who need to look hardest at themselves. I was there myself. Until I realized that I was contributing to the problem. My husband would never seek help as long as he had me to abuse. And maybe he would not seek help AFTER I let go and shut the door, but that was no longer my concern. Because I finally realized that until I helped myself, I couldn’t help anyone else. I was just prolonging the problem because of all the typical excuses..we were married, we had kids, he REALLY has a heart of gold (he didn’t), oh we’ve been married so long I can’t just walk away…..blah, blah, blah. What I was really doing was turning myself into a martyr, because don’t you know women are supposed to ‘stand by their man’…..
    End the excuses. If you really care about someone and want to help them, then let them know they must help themselves, because you can’t fix them. If they care enough about their relationships and themselves, they will do it. A lot of times they will walk away and start the cycle with another person and even create another whole family to inflict themselves on. That’s part of the illness, especially for a guy. It’s not something you did wrong, or that you’re unlovable. It’s THEM!!
    I finally had my breakthrough when I realized how NICE, how HAPPY I was without this troubled man in my life. Everytime he walked away, and I had the quiet of my own thoughts, I realized I enjoyed the quiet, the lack of constant conflict, and the serenity of not having a troubled person bring me down. And yes, he DELIBERATELY tried to bring me down, because my happiness was a source of his anger. How DARE I be happy, when he was so miserable!! Like happiness and serenity are a crime. Yes, I KNOW it was part of his illness, but when people use an illness as a weapon, it’s time to leave. And that’s what he was doing…the suicide threats, the resistance to seeking help, the insistence that it wasn’t his problem, it was all my fault because I wasn’t a good enough wife, woman, etc. But if it was all my fault, then why was I happy whenever he wasn’t around, yet he continued to be miserable?
    Yes, I have those regrets for the wasted years. Especially since I realized I was prolonging the problem. I wasted those years, convinced things would change, that if I only understood and

    • Faith says:

      Hi Lifeisgood. I fully agree with what you wrote. No mental illness is an excuse for abuse. And it is true that some people will use their illness as a weapon to have control over one’s feelings. Yet, this is a matter of character. Not all depressed people are sadistic or find joy in making you miserable and dragging you down with them. You have to separate the illness from someone’s personality. Sometimes it is hard to do. But, as you said, considerate, caring people will try to sort themselves out and not hurt their loved ones. Or, if they realize their behaviour is hurtful they will try to control and conquer it in every way.

      • LifeIsGood says:

        I would never say ‘all’ people are the same way under any circumstances. The problem I’m seeing here though, is that so many women are willing to forget about boundries, and about taking care of themselves. Sometimes there are even children involved. I urge these women to start taking care of themselves and their children, instead of lying to themselves. Yes, the men may have a mental illness, but that doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice yourself or your children. These men may not be doing these hurtful things deliberately, but they are still doing them and it can affect you and your children for the rest of their lives. There is always a ‘spillover’ from a mentally ill person, and you must take that into account. Will it affect your family, especially your children? I’ve seen several women on this thread write about how they felt they were becoming depressed from dealing with a mentally ill person in their lives. And how the erratic behavior affects the rest of their families, or even worse, how the situation is affecting their OWN self esteem. All this in the name of some sort of loyalty, or the belief that this is all you deserve, or the best you can expect from a boyfriend or spouse.
        Did anyone notice that the overwhelming majority of posters on this thread are female? That’s because women are raised with the expectation of nurturing, no matter the pain. And I’m calling BS on that expectation. I know, because I went through almost 30 years of of nurturing a depressed and angry man. Until I sought help from therapists in dealing with the pain, NOBODY ever told me that it was okay to draw boundries, and that it was okay to let go. Nobody ever brought to my attention that not only was I perpetuating this man’s mental illness by my behavior, but I was actually using his ‘dependence’ to feed my battered self esteem. I actually thought I could solve this problem, and that I was being a good wife by being ‘loyal’. I wasted almost 30 years in a twisted relationship, sacrificed my family and friends, and in the end was left to pick up the pieces after I let go. I do not want to see other people, not just women, waste their lives on a twisted codependent relationship. All my loyalty, my nurturing, made no difference, except that it fed into my spouses (and my) belief that if I just did the right thing, all would be well. In essence, what we both believed was that his illness was MY FAULT. And we both avoided seeking help because of that belief. Even after I got my head on straight, my husband continued to avoid seeking help. And became angrier, because I had disrupted the dynamic of our relationship by becoming happy, confident, and no longer dependant on the twisted ‘validation’ that he offered. Oh, he kept trying to suck me back in, by leaving the door open juuuuust enough, by giving me hope that he may return, that he was going to seek help. He actually did go to a therapist, and was delighted to tell me that the therapist said I was a nut. (It’s all my fault, remember?) He was not willing to let go of his comfortable self protective assumption that I had caused all our problems. He also began telling all who would listen that I was a whack job, in an attempt to cover or deflect from his own problems. But I finally realized three things: 1. I CANNOT fix other people, 2. I was happy whenever he was gone, while he continued to be miserable, so therefore 3. I was NOT responsible for his misery, since it was present all the time, even when I wasn’t there.
        People will often manipulate others, especially when there is a mental illness involved. They may not consciously do it, but most people will go to any lengths to protect themselves and their own psyche. Admitting mental illness is tough, especially for ‘strong’ men. They WILL manipulate in order to cover themselves, to reassure themselves that they are okay. Why do you think they bounce from relationship to relationship? Because IT’S NOT THEM, IT’S YOU….or YOU, or YOU (In other words whomever they are with is the problem). You have two responses: Buy into the premise that there is a magical cure and only YOU can facilitate that cure (make yourself feel responsible and important), or admit that you are incapable of fixing other people. If you choose to leave the door open and let this person continue to wreak havoc on your emotions and your life, that’s your choice, but just understand that you are contributing to the problem, not fixing it.

        • Faith says:

          “If you really care about someone and want to help them, then let them know they must help themselves, because you can’t fix them. If they care enough about their relationships and themselves, they will do it.”

          I have copied this phrase and put it on my notice board. I am thinking I will put it on my fridge as well 🙂 I know it is true, yet I keep circling back to doubt.

          • Tutti says:

            Hi faith I’ve just stumbled on this thread and it’s so nice to know that I’m not alone. We’ve been together for just over 1.5 yrs and in that time he’d left me 4 times. Always the same cycle, I see his patterns, stress, loss of appetite, upset stomach all the time and I know it’s coming. He’s not abusive in a way where he blames me for anything but he just cuts me off, tells me (usually by text) that he can’t do this anymore, that I deserve better, that he doesn’t know if he feels the same etc and then he disappears! In that time I text I call, I cry, I can’t eat I can’t sleep. It’s truly horrible I feel anxious, angry hurt and frustrated with him. I don’t speak to many of my friends about his episodes anymore because partly I’m embarrassed and because they just don’t understand.
            He has a lot of past trauma and a previous toxic relationship with his ex who he has children with. She still abuses him, controls him and uses his kids as tools against him constantly which is the source of s lot of his pain.
            I love this man more than life itself, and when he’s not down we have a fantastic relationship and it’s that which means my door will always be open. Each time he retreats I go into NC and he usually comes around after a week or so, gets in touch tells me he loves me misses me and that he’s truly sorry. We then spend the next 3/4 weeks coaxing him round and then things are great again for a few months before it happens again. He quite often feels suicidal and has attempted this before I met him a good few years back.
            What I’m trying to say is yes it hurts, yes it’s hard but I will never give up on him. At least I don’t feel like I’m there yet! Yes I get extremely angry that each time he’s able to go so cold and completely cut me off like he does. We’ve had cancelled plans to live together and trips away and broken plans. But I am determined to stand by him. We’ve had counselling together before but it didn’t work, and he was prescribed pills but doesn’t want to take them. I have to keep telling myself that THIS IS THE ILLNESS NOT MY MAN!
            He’s my best friend. We both have children and have previously been married to other people but we have a connection with each other that you don’t just find everyday. I may come across as naive to many in here but this horrible evil Illness can do one as far as I’m concerned! I would swap 2 weeks of turmoil for 2 days with my ‘normal’ healthy man. I will always stand by him as I would hope someone would stand by me if were me going through this. Yes it can be frustrating yes I do scream and cry into a cushion quite often, but my love will never falter, I love every part of him. And it’s for that reason, no matter how cold and draughty it is with it open, I will not shut my door!

    • Bella11 says:

      Hi everyone. I am also going threw a very hard time. My ex of 3.5 years has also suffered depression throughout our relationship. The last 6 months have been hell and she has finally left me this time “for good” apparently. In this time the one of the many changing reasons for why we need to separate is that she didnt like living in our house and our lifestyle. It has been 1 month since the break up and she still wont actually move. I have tried so hard to be here for her and to understand her depression but im realising there is nothing to understand. I have also had to suffer all the beautiful symptons of depression. Walking out. Coming back. Ignoring me. My favourite is being blamed for everything. Its almost funny if it wasn’t so sad hearing the reasons why nothing is her fault. It is mine of course. I have also recently become a ‘tyrant’ apprently. This is because i have been aaking her to move because I’m literally falling apart and so hurt i just can’t do it any more. I have been seeing a counsellor and i have come to realise i became codependent and unfortunately she became pretty emotionally abusive. It has just exploded. We had a fantastic relationship and i do think both of ushad not been ever happier. So sad to see how its turning out. What i find the hardest is that i have to do everything on my own. My feelings are my own because she can’t seem to fathom i have a say or could be hurt. It’s so self absorbing. I needed her not that long ago because i was having trouble with a family member. She could barely get a sorry its happening to you. That was the last straw for me and i asked her to leave. I understand that it’s depression but damn it hurts. I feel like nothing and a fool for still wanting her back. I still fantasize about her magically getting better and we can work on this together. It’s slowly sinking in that she not going to change and it kills me. I have finally got to a point where i dont blame myself, but that still doesn’t make anything better right now. I really feel for you all. I go threw being resentful, angry and then sad. Then we press rotate and do it again. I also feel like such an idiot now for still being nice and trying to get any reasoning from her. We get close and then i get a message saying I’m not in the mood to connect today. And that’s a nice message! It’s so hard knowing you may just have to walk away. I have done alot of thinking. I love her so so much but is this really what i want? Can i do this for the rest of my life with her. Every few months she leaves because it’s all “too hard and to much” i don’t think can and yet i still want her. I’m so lost right now. How does it all turn to shit so quickly. Who is this person that looks like her but when she speaks i don’t recognise them at all. It also kills me she seems fine to everyone else. Special treatment is reserved only for me. It gets worse. I asked for 3 years if she cheated on me at the start of our relationship. She lied the entire time and just recently admitted it. Who is this person? How did i get it so wrong! One last thing. The reason why i think I’m losing hope on anything getting better. I was going threw my things. I found a letter she wrote to me at the start of relationship. It was an apology letter because she had got very drunk one night and let’s say didn’t behave very nicely to me or my friends. (One of many stories i realise now) she could of wrote that letter yesterday. The excuses were the same. The reasons were the same. It hit me like a truck! I listened to her say throughout our realtionship she is working on herself, seeing a professional and so on. It reaffirmed to me that she has always been like that and has actually done nothing for it. I guess i must of been arrogant because i always thought we could fight this together. That has been my lesson. She has to want to! So now im left with a shell of someone i used to know and is still the most selfish person i have ever seen. She is moving tonight apparently. I got a message that she has been thinking that it would be good as its hurting her. Yep once again. Ir hurts her!! Nothing about myself was mentioned. She used to be sorry and apologetic for the break up. That lasted about 2 weeks before it just went yo her being annoyed with me. She does need to go because i ferl like I’m turning abusive now. I have been hurt enough. Right back at ya! This is not me and now i have a whole new hurt and anger that i have stooped so low because of her. She says she wants to be friends. How? You don’t even seem to be a good friend. Plus i can’t be. I love her. I told her that. So I’m no good until i get over it. I have tried to be her rock, offered support even while she was breaking up with me but she kerps pushing me away. Then pulls me back and repeat. This time i think the pushing is working. If you don’t want me ehy like an idiot do i still want you. Even after all you have done. Isn’t love grand. I’m so happy there are pages like yhis. I don’t ehat i would do without you guys. I generally thought i was all alone and to embarrassed yo tell people what was happening. I have been lately and it’s heartbreaking to hear how many have suffered. Im here for guys! This page is for us to vent. We always have to be understanding and take shit from them because theyre sick! Well good for them. I’m still red and raw from everything so my sympathy for everyone treating other people like shit because they’re depressed is really getting old quickly. Go ahead and be sad and miserable. I was always there foy you but don’t start being an a##hole about it and keep using the same excuse. Gets old……

      • tiff85 says:

        Hi, I too feel the very same. My partner and I have been together 9years. We got engaged last Christmas. We haven’t had the easiest of years with family deaths and bitter exes but we got through it together. He has been badly withdrawn for about 5 months now, stopped going out couldn’t work, avoided friends and family including his mother in fact she aggravated the most! It’s been creeping up for about a year now and I tried getting him to see someone but he wouldn’t with the typical ‘tablets won’t fix things, counselors know nothing ‘. Last Monday I went to work like normal and he called me mid morning to say he needed a break to sort his head out and was going to his brothers for a bit. He then text Wednesday to say he couldn’t do this anymore it’s not me he loves me which is why he can’t talk to me….I have 2 children from a previous relationship 10&12 yr old boys. Their dad is currently dying of cancer so things have been fraught but not between us. The kids are at that age where they try and push boundaries but they are having a shit time so you can’t blame them. I don’t know wether my partner has panicked at the thought of them being with us constantly I just don’t know, nothing makes any sense. I’m heartbroken, can’t eat, sleep or function. I know I need to get a grip for my kids but I too suffer with anxiety and am struggling with the current situation regarding my kids. I’m just lost and embarrassed. My heart breaks for you all suffering with similar issues but I’m glad I’m not alone. ????

        • Bird says:

          Hi Tiff85

          I am so sorry to read your message. Your situation sounds incredibly hard. Mine is similar minus the children and I have found it so difficult. I can only imagine when you are trying to be there for your kids as well.

          My husband left for five weeks, left me in limbo that whole time not knowing if he might come back, was sending me mixed messages, then sent his friend around to break up with me – 12 years we had been together. However since knowing for sure that it is over, it has been easier to handle. Getting over and thru that limbo stage is the most important. It allows you to look forward.

          What else is really important is surrounding yourself with good people. Be open with them. Tell them what is going on. People will be there for you. It’s amazing how many people will rally round.

          For the feeling like an elephant is sitting on your chest and sick stomach, try paracetamol. Also – make sure you eat. I ate well for the first two weeks and since then have been surviving on chocolate and coffee, it hasn’t done me any good.

          I wish you the best of luck. You are not alone. Post here again if you want to keep chatting.

          • tiff85 says:

            Hey, thanks for your reply. According to what he’s told his daughter he’s told me ‘it’s over’ but all he said was I can’t do this then had a rant about the kids and everything else he can’t cope with. It just couldn’t be at a worse time 6 weeks until Christmas, my children’s father probably has about that time left too. I feel like he’s been spooked at the prospect of having the boys full time despite talking about adopting them earlier in the year, he has also struggled to deal with the death of his dad’s sudden passing 4years ago too. Elephant on the chest description…exactly that I feel like I can’t breathe, am avoiding paracetamol as Iv embarrassingly barely eaten since he’s gone and have lost over a stone in a week????
            Iv cried all my tears and go through moments of anger to devastation.
            Can I ask if you know the reason he left? Was he depressed…..sending a friend is a really shitty and spineless move and I thought my text was bad enough. Luckily I do have amazing people around me, but it doesn’t help my heart. How are you coping? It’s nice to chat to someone who has been through similar and as much as my friends say ‘ I know how you feel’ ….they really don’t not after this much time under this circumstance. X

    • Kay says:

      I posted here a couple of years ago and was saying basically the same thing — they have to fix themselves and keeping the door open indefinitely doesn’t help them do that. I actually had a therapist in one visit for marriage counseling tell me everything I needed to know — “this is a problem you cannot fix, only he can fix it — so you need to take care of yourself, take care of your daughter and stop trying to help him.” It was such simple advice, I had a hard time accepting it — it took me 3 more years before I finally took his advice and slammed the door shut for good. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life — for me and my daughter to stop the madness consuming our lives! The next year I met an incredibly good man (divorced from another depressive) and 6 years later we married and now my life bears no resemblance at all to the chaos we lived in before. And, guess what, my ex-husband met a very, very nice woman and now she’s dealing with the same reoccurring depressive episodes along with lying and projecting, and she reached out to me, the ex-wife for advice. I guess you can imagine what I told her she should do!

      • tiff85 says:

        It’s simply the not knowing, he has acted completely out of character for him but seems fine around his brother and the ignorance is just driving me crazy. He’s been in my kids lives since they were born and he hasn’t even spared them a though. Apparently it is them that he can’t cope with, I’m stuck in limbo as we have a house so I can’t just move out or move on yet I am struggling to be here. I’m glad you and your daughter have found happiness and it is encouraging to see that people get through this, it’s just a bit too raw, scary and lonely even thinking about it right now.

    • tiff85 says:

      Hi LifeIsGood,

      I need to be at that place you are at, you seem to have this shit down to a tee. My partner of 9 years walked out on me and my sons last week, we got engaged at Christmas, says he loves me, he just can’t cope. My sons father has terminal cancer and their paternal grandad has just been rushed to hospital with pneumonia, so it’s a tough time at the moment and I’m left to pick up the pieces. My eldest is Being bullied at school too and is getting quite angry with things. I want to hate him and be pissed at him for abandoning us when we need him more than ever but instead I am wallowing feeling sorry for myself but more so my kids. They have enough shit going on and within a couple of months they will lose their dad and stepdad who has been in their lives since birth. But I also realize his actions are not him he would never do this kind of thing so he must be in a bad place. He’s been withdrawing from everything and everyone for a while now after struggling with his dads death so is the kids dad being at deaths door triggering all his emotions? So many questions unknown and wondering what I have done to deserve this. Our relationship has always been solid.

      I’m hoping he comes back from the few messages Iv had it says’ I can’t do this blah blah wel see what happens in a few months but I need to sort myself out or I’m going to be in hospital’.
      I’m just desperate to talk to someone that gets it and has got through it to help me because I’m quite broken right now. X

    • Tammy says:

      Nicely worded.

    • Christine says:

      I know this is an old post but this has just happened to me your exact situation. I just wanted to tell you this is the first real and helpful thing I have read.
      Thank you & I hope you’re doing ok ????

  12. T says:

    Even though he’s so depressed, and has been the whole time I’ve known him, he’s shown himself to be one of the best people I’ve ever known. I want to believe that if I’m patient with him now, and he can get through this, the reward will be worth everything I’m going through–the waiting, the emptiness, the disconnect–however long it lasts.

    The thought of moving on and seeing other people makes me nauseous. Every other guy seems like such a d*****bag compared to him. I can’t accept that he’s just gone. It would be so much easier if he would get abusive, then I would know I have to move on, for my own mental health. But he’s such a good person, and it’s not his fault, he’s just so hard on himself….

  13. Lauren says:

    I’m so hurt and confused. I was seeing a man who was recently divorced. He has 2 kids that he shares custody with his ex. Everything was beautiful at first, he told me he was falling hard for me. We have so much in common and share core values, faith and our personalities are very similar.
    After a few months things started to cool off. He stopped calling as much and I could tell something was wrong. He finally told me that he doesn’t want a relationship right now. He said he’s “in an intense funk” over the divorce and now his ex is with a new man. I asked if he just needs time or if he knows he doesn’t see a future with me. He said he might just need time (although I kind of think he just wanted to spare my feelings).
    I am trying to move on with my life but having a terrible time because part of me is holding onto hope that when he heals, he’ll come back. My family says I should just forget about him but that’s really hard to do when there’s a tiny bit of hope that he’ll come back. I loved him. He and I had the deepest conversations about everything and now he’s a different person. My heart is in pieces.

    • LifeIsGood says:

      Lauren, you’re a wonderful, kind, caring person. And this man saw that and used you. He used your kind caring nature to first punish his ex (see, I dont need you, I can GET another woman), and when that didn’t work, he decided to put you on the shelf until HE was ready to resume the relationship, if ever. The way he did it was by telling you he might just need time. He left the door open juuuuust enough so that he could slip back in whenever HE felt like noticing you again. If you’re okay with that, with someone controlling your emotions like that, then more power to you; I wish you all the best. But a truly good man would have told you from the start that he was in a bad place and wasn’t ready for another relationship. He would have refrained from involving your kind caring nature until he felt that a relationship was possible. But he didn’t truly spare your feelings at all, he PLAYED them. The next step is up to you, but remember, YOU DESERVE BETTER THAN THAT!! God Bless..

    • Michele says:

      Lauren how long were you with him?

      • Lauren says:

        Only about 3 months, so it was short lived….but the intensity of our conversations was so strong. He had me believing he was falling in love with me.

        • Catherine says:

          Hi Lauren,
          He didn’t necessarily use you. My ex from when I was 17 & 21 didn’t see each other for 7 year, then were pen friends for 8 years – through divorces etc. We finally got back together in person & our experience was almost identical to yours. He’d just lost his sister to cancer & was struggling. Then his Mum was told she was drinking herself to death. She didn’t stop – he fell apart. We didn’t see each other for months at a time but were still ‘together’. Then he broke it off. After a few months, we found our friendship again, slowly. After another year, we kissed again. We sort of started dating but very casual because he doesn’t want a relationship. At Christmas, he told his friends, at New Year my best mate had a go at him for not getting his act together – I was furious – we agreed she didn’t understand. Since then I’ve seen him slipping into depression. My Nana just died & last Saturday we went out with his friends & he told me he can’t kiss me anymore, even though he wants to, as I deserve something better – someone who wants a relationship – someone to come home to. I wrote a letter telling him that’s my decision & I like what we have. Anyway, on Wed he told me he was too tired to meet, yesterday when I asked to see him (the funeral is tomorrow) – he told me he’s ‘done’, ‘it’s not personal’ & he only wants to have his kids around. He doean’t want to see anyone, until he sorts himself out. That won’t happen as he won’t take anti-depressants, won’t see a counsellor & is self-medicating which makes it worse. I don’t know if it is personal or if I’ve lost my best friend as well as my man.
          I have no words of wisdom – but wanted you to know that 18 months ago he told me, ‘in my right mind I wouldn’t want to lose you, but I’m not in my right mind’, which kind of sums things up really …
          Hope you’re feeling a bit better.

  14. Theophilus says:

    Gay men have the same problem with partners.
    You might want to make your articles mote gender neutral.
    Women aren’t the only ones who deal with this.

  15. Sarah says:

    I have been following this blog since the breakup happened 6 months ago. My partner seems to be a typical case of clinical depression acted out. He suddenly left after 6 months of downward spiral of conflicts, behavioural changes, withdrawal and then diagnosis of severe depression. We were living together for 5 years by then. First, he decided to take a break, but said he needed to sort himself out, as many seem to say here. Then he broke up with me with panic attacks. He walked away saying he needed to do everything to get better. I was there, shocked but I was there. The situation precipitated, unfortunately, very quickly, into blaming me of not offering passion and love and basically saying he was not happy with me, and turning the whole ‘depression’ argument into a pot of resentment and blame. He said he was empty, which is a sign of depression, that he needed to be alone. Then, very quickly, I found out he started a new relationship (and I honestly I believe he found the girl after he left). This broke me. Truly, after months and months of living with depression and dealing with it, I could not rationalize it any more. Long story short, depression continued, and his panic attacks, but so did the new relationship, escalating into something serious, while I was picking the pieces of our life and still be there to pick up him when he cried his eyes out during an episode at the phone. I pushed him to go to a doctor during this time, he got on antidepressants. We never met again, since he had deep anxiety and was scared of me. He admitted depression was continuing despite the new relationship, but he did nothing to stop. Fast forward to now, I am very depressed and I am alone, and he seems better. I am trying my best to heal but this depression thing really makes it hard to understand, he did loved me deeply and still says he loves me but he is not in love. On top of this, he still makes contact with me with guilt, now he realises the damage caused. However, this only send me into full-on regression on my healing as is such a mixed message but he has no intention to reconcile neither stop with some rational thinking.

    I did some therapy, but the depression issue was not really acknowledged like in this blog. I am still wondering if what I have experienced is reality or a big cover up that defies logic . I hoped to come to this site with some insight on the journey with a partner with clinical depression, perhaps a lesson learned and some tools to deal with this. As it turns out, I just come here with my journey and no much advice.


    • Annie says:

      Sarah your story may as well be mine except we were together 35 years! I finally felt i had reached a better head space where I had built an emotional wall between us and I could try and move forward and I hot the phone call with the sobbing, asking for forgiveness etc. I regressed immediately in my healing and it made me angry. No one wants to see how broken someone they care about is. My heart strings are knotted and my head is a mess. I have no idea how to progress and this constant stress is unhealthy.

      • Sarah says:


        I am sorry you are going through this hard time. What helps me to heal and find some stillness is to focus on certain thoughts and mental images:

        -when you get the urge to over-analyse the situation, breath and think that he walked and that is all there is to know.
        -“I am a loving, caring, worthy person” when I blame myself for hurting so much, for so long. You hurt because you have the capacity to love this much, this capacity is in YOU, and will be accessed again
        -This too will pass. Life is full of joy and sadness, this is a long tide but as everything change, this too will, one day, change.
        -You did not cause his depression and you cannot bring him out of it. No amount of words can help. -Distance helps you both.Distance allow you to get the mental space (and health) you desperately need to regain in this moment.
        -If this love is meant to be in your future, it will. It will find his way no matter how long will it take and in circumstances that you don’t have to control of.
        -There is peace in knowing you can take each moment as it come. In time, your head will regain the space it needs to plant a new beginning for yourself and set new goals.
        -There is a big emotional and life lesson in this. For you and for him. You are growing massively out of this painful experience, becoming more human, more compassionate, and better at loving without possessing.
        -If you wish, practice yoga. Consider meditation and consider also religion if that is something good for you. All these things help in hard times.
        -Continue to read, write, reach out. But remember to let go of rumination after a while, just go for a walk and see friends. Allow yourself to just BE FREE for that moment, without holding all the answers to your future.
        -There is beauty in the intensity of life, even in the hard times. Life is unpredictable and in constant change. Nobody is spared of the sheer randomness of life. Embrace this unknown by being kind to yourself, hug yourself as you swim in one of life’s waves. Let go

        My best wishes

  16. Sara says:

    You keep the door open for one reason.
    So you do not abandon the person.
    Be there, understand but do not stay in that place with them for your own sanity. Only they can find a way through their depression.

  17. amy says:

    Ah, me. All of you have really had a tough time, and I feel less isolated for having read your stories. My boyfriend broke up with me 34 days ago, after being together for about 15 months. He originally said that I ‘deserved better’ which is not something you want to hear. We both cried. It was awful. After about a week, we started trying to talk, in fits and spurts. We’re each other’s best friend, but both socially awkward. Abut two weeks in, we had another conversation. He pointed to not being happy recently and not sure if he could go another five years of possibly being unhappy until we could be together. I have children, almost an empty-nester; he didn’t want kids. I didn’t want a stepfather for my children, nor did I want to make a ‘happy family’. I wanted to look forward to a life with him after my kids were gone. Interesting that he was thinking about that same future. Then again with the deep conversations, after about 30 days. This time, he started saying that his life was worse, then he quickly amended that to say most of his life was better when we were together, and that he misses me. And then the bomb: he said he has a lot of self-loathing, and thinks he has a lot of work to do before he can make a life with someone. I started wondering how I could support him as a friend. I’ve started reading everything I can about helping a loved one with depression and self-image issues. I can be his friend. I am strong enough. If we get back together at some point, I will be ecstatic. But if we don’t, I know that I am content being there for him. I know none of us are perfect. But he was perfect for me. I am a better me for knowing him. I want to be a better me because of him.

  18. Hopeful143 says:

    For me it was more of a way to coup with him no longer being the person he was. It was letting go and detaching slowly without him fully being gone. During his push and pull ordeal i new his short moments of clarity were temporary but (and sad to admit) i got to experience and feel his love like i once did and would enjoy it while it lasted. I have closed that door just recently as i couldn’t take the emotional roller coaster anymore. I told myself the next time he’s gone i will let him go for good and i have. It took time but finally realized i needed to start looking out for myself. We have two children together so unfortunately i can never go NC but i don’t initiate any calls and keep it short. When we see eachother i treat him kind and with compassion as i know he needs it, my children need to see it and it helps me heal too. Hating him and being angry is far more exhausting and draining. It took a while for me to realize that i deserve more respect and the only way i would get it was by giving it to myself.

  19. Sadicorn says:

    Hi All,

    Firstly can I say how hearing all your stories really resonated with me and gave me comfort to know I wasn’t the only one going through this.
    I’d been with my now ex boyfriend for almost 4 years before we split for the final time this weekend.
    The problems were never as severe within the first couple of years, but I was very aware of his demons.
    He often said to me that he felt dead and empty inside, the only problem was that whenever I spent time with him (we were long distance) I could never see it or truly appreciate it as physically to me he was so happy.
    Last year, around February out of the blue he told me he could no longer be with me and that he felt guilty for wasting my time (I should also point out we have a 10 year age gap) and that he would never marry me or want children due to his hatred for the world. When I say out of the blue, it was a different man that I could not recognise, cold and emotionless as he told me all the reasons we couldn’t be together.
    I didn’t really understand the severity of depression at this point and reacted like a ‘normal’ person so to speak and said “fine” – why would I want to be with someone who clearly didn’t want to be with me? And we didn’t speak for 5 months.
    I was heartbroken and by this point I definitely left the “door open” as I had no understanding as to what really had just happened.
    Anyway time moved on and I didn’t, and somehow we ended communicating again. I remember walking back to my desk and finding a two page email as to how low he was really feeling- I had no idea. I met up with him several times after that, but it was his comedown after Glastonbury that really bought all his emotions back- he was a mess. I found out that during our 5 month break, that he had been seeing another girl for a couple of weeks. This broke me. We broke up for him to be alone and he found someone else. He explained to me this soon fizzled out as he openly explained to her he was never over me and they had a big fight about her wanting him to remove me off social media. Still it hurt.
    We carried on, he took antidepressants and did amazing trips together. He treated me to holidays and really made a huge effort for my birthday. He openly expressed his love for me which he had really struggled with in the past and I really felt that the break had made us stronger.
    Anyway fast forward a year later, and after a romantic break in which he had surprised me with. and almost to the exact day last year, he has ended it with me again. He often expressed to me that he needed to “go away” and sort himself out, to be honest I think it was escapism at its finest. We have just spent the weekend in London together in which he had already told all his family that he was going to end it- his mum cried. Once again it came out of the blue. He had spent the previous two weeks in Africa with his brother in which he had come to these realisations (I’d like to also point out that his brother has no idea how depressed he is). Emotional was an understatement. I knew the depression “fog” was back and that anything I said/tried to fight for was lost. He told me he had to be by himself and that I deserved so much more- a life with someone who could put me first. I tried to tell him I wasn’t going anywhere and that we could get through this again together, but it was pointless. He was determined to “set me free” and that although he loved me, he felt guilty over the fact that he could never offer me a future (a future which he wasn’t willing to explore because in his mind I needed the marriage and babies).
    He was robotic, but at the same time very emotional (he cried over me deleting him off facebook) and clung to me the whole weekend. I’d like to also point out we broke up on the Saturday and I stayed with him until the Monday. On the Sunday morning I woke up at 4am and just watched him sleeping next to me telling myself that it couldn’t be it. I should have left the next day but I needed answers.
    I spent the whole of Sunday analysing him every way I could, it helped me to realise that this guy didn’t even know his own decisions or what he was saying – everything was a huge contradiction. I took comfort in the fact that he was so lost rather than just being cruel for the sake of it.
    I really believed that he thought he was saving me, but all I could see was my love for him and that love conquered all right?
    When we said goodbye, I found it hard to cry even though he was in bits. We cut contact and I deleted him off social media as I know how much he watched what I did- this had to be for good this time. After some serious reflection the last two nights, I felt relief that he had done something I should have done ages ago. I just couldn’t leave him because I thought he needed me.
    I feel guilty that he is now truly alone, but I cant do anymore for him whilst this “fog” clogs his brain once more.
    I’ve started the process of “closing the door” because it started to effect my own mental health, and he needs to work this out by himself. I hope in the future we can be friends because we have a great bond with each other, but for now I need to take active steps of moving forward and regaining the person I was before depression engulfed us both. I can’t do this “break” on an annual basis- it’s killing me.
    I just wanted to share my story because I’m at the beginning of a new chapter.
    I’m sad and conflicted but this has to be for the best. I’m hoping he sorts himself out and finds happiness but I can’t see it happening anytime soon- I think he is also in love with his misery.
    Is anyone else at the same beginning? Am I right to cut contact and leave him by himself? I know he won’t talk to me for months and months possibly years because honestly, I think he’s waiting for me to “break” and to buy into the whole misery monologue and depression show once again X

    • Linda says:

      Wow your story is so similar to mine . My partner just upped and walked out on me and our 4yr old daughter . It’s been a crazy 18 months blaming it on anciexty I think it’s more than that . Really tried 2 help him with couciling but He has totally turned on me like it’s all my fault. He overdosed November just gone and left us 2 days later … He won’t answer my calls or see our daughter but still drops money to me every week and still see s his other 2 kids 2 his previous relationship every Sunday . But wont see our little girl is he doing this to punish me? She misses him like mad . Just wish we could be friends but feel like we will never see him again . Finding it so hard to just forget about him but that seems the only option I have because am getting nowhere with him at all . Infect the more I try seems to push him further away !

    • K says:

      Thanks so much…this is amazingly like my journey. It helps to hear that someone understands. It is so difficult.

    • Annybella says:

      I think you are right to cut off contact. I resonate with your feelings of guilt over if I believ he needs me and if I love him I shouldn’t be there for him? But much like a drowning victim that you are unable to regain control of the moment you need to get yourself to safety first. In the end as long as you are in contact you are not safe. Their intentions may not be malicious but they are very selfish and the end result is that it will hurt you. I am at the same point you are in that I have just made the decision to move forward alone and not accept what limited contact he gave me. But I am not questioniong the decision. The person I see today is the always the person he was, he just did not show me before. Good luck and good for you for moving forward and closing the door.

    • Bird says:

      This story resonated with me for so many reasons. My husband and I have been together for 12 years. The last year he’s had depression and it’s been hard. He left me last weekend. I’m heartbroken for so many reasons – the could have beens and that I have put so much in to looking after him and then he throws it in my face. I keep begging him to come back, he won’t. I know I should let him go but I love him, I love what we had and I feel devestated that this is happening.

  20. Sarah says:

    We keep the door open because of 2 reasons,

    First, we want to believe that we are in a relationship that you see in movies. You know, the relationship where you would do anything and everything for him, and vice-versa. We want to believe that we can talk the talk and walk the walk. We want prove our selves during these times and prove that we can keep things stable when he cant. THIS is a relationship, its not a 1 way street so why cant we be strong for him when he was for us?

    Second, the moment we stop you know we are online looking at articles about when he will come back, did we make the right move, How long does this silence last, ect…. But it just takes that one article that tells you that you didn’t try hard enough, That friend who doesn’t saying they would have held on longer or Society screaming that all you had to do was try harder, learn quicker and just stop putting your feelings first. its the double sided sword that we call media and unfortunately it cuts deep.

    That is why we keep the door open, because love and regret are just as real as depression. only difference is, we were forced to walk against our will.

  21. Angie says:

    Very good writing and spot on about a partner dealing with the chaos from a depressed partner.

  22. Jenna says:

    For the past year my husband of 20 years and I have been entertaining the idea of getting a divorce. The initial reason for this was the fact that he was going out too often for too long. While he was going out he swore to me up and down that he was not doing anything inappropriate. He always assured me that he drinks with the men or go fishing. Still it bothered me that he was gone from early mornings til early mornings the next day. These nights became too often, I was getting very lonely and he’s attitude was becoming more arrogant, self righteous and entitled.

    He pleaded and expressed how much he didn’t want the divorce the whole time. He just wanted me to be more understanding and allowed him MORE freedom.

    Fast forward to 2 months ago… With other people’s recommendations and speculations I finally insisted on looking through his phone while he was sleeping. Before I had the chance he woke up and grabbed the phone and said he didn’t want me to touch it. That said it all. He was now caught. He finally confessed he was contacting someone n he has been doing this for the past 3-4 months but he never slept with her. However a month later I found out he has been cheating on me with other prostitutes for a year. Two different ones, consecutively. Not only was he paying for sex, but he was carrying on a relationship.

    I shared this info with many people, including my two older sons, his younger brother, a few of my friends and his, and my family. Initially, when he found out that more people knew about his affair than he thought, he was very remorseful. He got down on his knees and cried and apologized and begged me to forgive him, that he us willing to move us out of our town and start fresh. He knew my love language was affection so he even slept with me 7 days straight. After 7 days I left to Houston with my mom deciding to move on from the marriage. However, it wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. The thoughts of him betraying me, lying to me, planning his double life he lived and doing all this knowing that my four sons and I would be left devastated, be completely broken, couldn’t be forgiven. I needed answers.

    I started calling and texting him with numerous questions and accusations. This made him upset and angry. And the whole time I did not hear I’m have one ounce of regret or remorse as I heard him before I left to Houston.

    After about 4 weeks I returned home to work things out. He also said he wanted to work things through. But what he said and what he actually did did not match. Since I’ve been home he hasn’t spoken to me at all about the situation. Instead, he has been drinking nightly, watching TV or playing games on his phone, screaming and getting annoyed with our boys, and kept a well distance from me. He even placed a body pillow between us in bed and kept a blanket over his head and watch his phone. I once took the blanket off and he was reading/watching a porn with me, his wife, mother of his four sons, lying right next to him.

    My question to him has always been… Why do you still want to be in this marriage? Why are you still here when you don’t even want me near you, see you, and think I’m gross?

    Just recently, maybe in the past four days, he has opened up a little more. He tried to understand what I was going through as the betrayed, which he never once did before. In the past he wanted me to get over it and never speak, ask about his affair again. But again, I’m not convinced he’s in. I’m 100% sure he’s here because he’s not ready to be fighting this life alone. He will leave once he gets his stuff ready.

  23. Victoria says:

    I have recently asked my husband to leave after tealising he does not believe he is depressed enough to try therapy although he is taking medication because he feels so down after being in a m8serable marriage and that is what he tells everyone. He had a txt affair and did nothing to work on himself or repairing the damaged telationship he just left blames me and then tells me with pity in his voice that it will get easier. WTF it is 7 days since I discovered his affair and one month since i realised he is depressed. He feels nothing so is oblivious to any pain he is causing. I am flabbergasted by the horror my life has become because he is too proud to admit he is depressed. What happens to women in these scenarios is they get emotionally abused till they cant take amymore and then they are discarded by men who go on to ruin other lives!

  24. Kate says:

    Hi everyone. These discussion boards and forums have helped me tremendously to gain at least some insight and understanding of what has happened between my ex boyfriend and me. There are still so may questions left unanswered, and while for me I don’t think the door is still open, not understanding means I still dwell. And while I know I will never have a satisfactory explanation, there are sill nettles that I can’t seem to let be.

    In particular, I just cannot understand why he (and I imagine many other depression sufferers) will not be forthcoming with me about depression being behind our breakup (if you can even call it that). He has suffered from depression for years, but takes antidepressants for it, and to my knowledge, was always honest with me about his condition. Long story short, our short but wonderful relationship was beautiful until almost overnight he changed, pushed me away, and without ever actually breaking up, it was over. It took me a couple of months to realize this probably had to do with depression. Last month, (five months after all of this happened) he casually contacted me to tell me he “never meant to go this long without talking to” me. This hurt me tremendously. I responded minimally and we haven’t spoken since.

    What I don’t understand (among the many many things in our situation that I don’t get) is the the way he will not just tell me that he is depressed. He wanted to talk to me, and he had the opportunity to explain and repair, and he didn’t. I just don’t understand it.

    • Ana says:

      Dear Kate

      It’s like my story. How are you doing now? At some point he just disappeared (we work at the same place, but he was obviously avoiding me there as well, so I kept it professional, while in private, he woud just not answer any message/call, so I stopped trying). Then he came back, said I mean to him a lot, but never actually wanted anything more – my questions about us remained unanswered. For a bit over a year he kept leaving and comming, every 2-3 months or so he disappeared for 2-3 months. Every time he came back, he was happy, that ‘he is out’ and ‘I am still there’. It has certainly been extremely unsettling for me – I was literally hoping, he doesn’t return until his last ‘return’ recently, when it was me actually wrapping it up saying that I just can’t be there anymore, being the best friend (but not partner because partnership was ‘too big of a responsibility’ for him and because he is ‘not good enough’) as what he wanted when he was back is trust and deep emotional intimacy. All that was just stopping me from opening up to potential partner, with whom I would like to share this intimacy and many more. So it was me at the end breaking the bond. It did not bring rest (hope it will with time) as I love him dearly and truly believe he is in pain and wholeheartedly wish him a recovery and peace, but at the end I felt nothing more than a miserable abused enabler of his ups and downs. And the trust was gone…

  25. My boyfriend and I have been together for over 4 years. I’m in my mid fortys he is in his early fifties. I am divorced with two teenage children. He has never been married. His devotion is to his mother and father, both of who are very dependent on him. His father has advanced alzheimer’s and my bf has been basically been taking care him everyday, driving one hour back and forth, after work every day. His promise to his 88 year old father is to never put him in a nursing home. He has since become depressed, watching his father deteriorate and his mother grow weak from the situation in the process. His brother is bipolar or depressive or both and lives in the same house.

    He started becoming very depressed months ago and began on medications, he has is now “maxxed out” on two antidepressives (which basically started taking without therapy, because he taken them before). He is sensitive to my tone, and has said I sound frustrated with him all the time, and that I treat him like “sh&t”. I don’t think that I have acted unreasonably frustrated, just the normal, when you can’t spend as much time as you can the person you care about. I don’t think I’ve treated him like “sh&t” at all.

    He stopped taking my calls one day and texted me back saying he was done with feeling bad about everything, including our relationship. He was done feeling bad about me, said somethings that didn’t need to be said about my parents, kids and ex-husband. He pretty much hit below the belt, taking aim at all my insecurities. I still don’t know exactly what triggered all this anger. He pointed out my tone and the way I sound when I get frustrated with him. All to end a four year relationship in a series of text messages.

    I told him I was sorry, that I would try harder. That I would change, again (he shut me out once before and didn’t speak/call/text for a week). What do I change? How can I change? Will it matter?

    We are both working professionals that have to put on a “game face” at work. Still, I can’t figure if it is his depression and his terrible and sad state with his parents, or just a regular break up between two people who can’t make each other happy anymore?

    Any thoughts?

  26. Beth says:

    I wanted to write to say thank you for setting up this website, it has been a bit of a life saver to read about other similar situations for me in the past 2 months while my boyfriend of 8 years has undergone some serious mental health problems and broken up with me.

    In the time that we’ve been together, I’ve always suspected there were some underlying issues (my Dad is bipolar and has had several breakdowns and there are some similarities at times in mood patterns). He also works in the arts, a very unstable profession, and so has had periods of depression when not in work. However, we have had an incredibly loving, supportive and joyous relationship even allowing for these periods. We have been very vocal with each other that we are the loves of each others’ lives and talked a great deal about a shared future.

    He has been a periodic weed smoker on and off since his teens and has what I suppose you would call an addictive personality – in the past two years he has begun to experiment more with other types of drugs and on reflection I think had an episode of psychosis about a year ago that he passed off as something else. This drug use has always mostly been recreational, but in the last year it has concerned me as there seems to have been an anxiety around needing various drugs to have a good time at events etc when normally just being with his friends would be enough. This July, he was under a lot of pressure at work and his aunty (also bi polar) had a break down and was sectioned – a really frightening experience for him, particularly as he also said to me that he recognised a lot of himself in her behaviour. He was away working at a festival for the whole of August and I know was taking far too many drugs and drinking too much, going on 4 day benders basically.

    He came back and confessed to me that he had cheated on me (several times really) when on one of these benders and that we couldn’t be together anymore. He cried and said he didn’t know what was happening to him and that he was becoming some kind of monster. He then had a hugely frightening episode of psychosis that I had to get him to A & E for – full on delusions, seeing things, erratic mood swings – angry one minute, then crying / laughing manically. The doctor told him he’d had an acute episode of psychosis and that he needed to stay away from drink and drugs and referred him for further treatment.
    6 weeks on and he hasn’t been back for the further treatment. He has mostly stayed away from drugs which has given him a bit more clarity – beforehand he said he was finding our relationship and me as well as our friends and his job full of pressure and restricting him. However, he has basically isolated himself from me, close friends and family (partly I think because of shame over his behaviour, partly because everyone has been concerned he won’t seek help). Last time I saw him he said he enjoyed being in psychosis and had felt on the edge of breakdown but wouldn’t seek help because he was scared of being locked up (like his aunty I suppose). At that point he had also been ‘down a weedhole’ for the past few days which obviously hadn’t helped any paranoia. We’d agreed to not have contact for a bit but i had told his family about my concerns hoping they could help him seek help and then he went mad, contacting me saying how dare I speak to his family about this, that my attempts to psychoanalyse him were insulting and that I should know ‘he would be seeking no help whatsoever’. I know this is so obviously him lashing out, but it is still devastating.

    I’ve had to tell him that I can’t see him right now, because his behaviour is just too damaging right now and he won’t seek any help. It’s driven me to seek mental health support myself, because his behaviour towards me suggests that I am desperate to prove that he is mentally ill as a reason for why he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me – but it is a big factor I’m sure. He says he loves me still and I believe that he does, he has been distraught about his actions as well as me, but until he seeks help to get to the root of what his problems are I just have to step away.

    The problem with this kind of situation is where does the person you love end and the mental health problems begin, or vice versa. We have genuinely had such a great relationship, he has been completely faithful until this point in time and I of course still love him as I know he does me, even if his behaviour right now doesn’t necessarily suggest that. The person that I’ve witnessed the past few months bears no resemblance to the man that I have loved for so long but I think that he is still there, if he can tackle the things that are wrong. Only time and him will tell, but in the meantime the door very much has to remain open as far as I’m concerned.

  27. Tiffany says:

    Hi my name is Tiffany! I been doing alot of reading and trying to understand why my boyfriend of 4 1/2 years. One day out of the blue tells me he isnt in love with me any more..he was blaming me for everything.
    I fight my own battles of P.T.S.D and depression i do therapy and take meds. He is a alcoholic and fights many demons no matter what i do or say i make him angry my children made him angry his moods were every were he is in a rebound relationship…I had to put a protection order against him cuz he was getting verbally abusive then i came across men and deep depression,and all the sighns fits him. So now on top of alcohol he is using drugs with his rebond to cope instead of getting on medication and seeing a counselor. His behaviors are out of control…i hope he gets a slap into reality soon before anything worse happens.

  28. beenthere says:

    At some point, a woman feels that the negative assumptions by the husband can’t all be true, and that she is indeed lovable, and not lacking in every way. She has been put down, made to feel undesirable, un-fun, and lacking in passion: a total dud. So when the husband leaves, his misery goes too. Women experience a lot of pain while the husband is depressed and acting out. I think that this pain is sometimes seen as not as important as what the man is going through. Depression can’t be an excuse for bashing one’s spouse. If I were to talk to a man going through this depression, I would say that it would be better to wait before taking any rash action, especially moving out. And be kind to the wife, be careful with your words. The things that are said, the devaluation of a whole marriage experience, and the devaluation of the wife as a worthy partner takes its toll. Sometimes the door isn’t open very long.

    • Kay says:

      You do have to protect yourself first. Think of it like this: when you fly on a plane and you get the safety instruction about loss of cabin pressure and using the masks — they always tell you to put yours on first, then help others. You cannot do anything for anyone else if you are suffocating. You also cannot fix someone else’s problem. At my first visit with a therapist during the first serious depression episode – he wisely counseled me along these lines. “Take care of yourself and take care of your daughter” he said. “Stop worrying about him — it’s his problem and only he can fix it — this is one of those times in life where you are not in control.” I did not trust those words at that time, but 3 years later after 3 separations, I was a believer. My heart goes out to all of those suffering through this — the struggle to be a good, helping spouse is strong and feeling the need to keep the door open is powerful and often wrongly emphasized by others around us not living our life. But sometimes slamming the door shut is the only way the depressed partner will get their act together — enabling them to do nothing doesn’t work in the long run.

      • Debbie says:

        have been reading the stories here for a few hours.
        I am slamming the door,,, no more enabling… he is not 100% there for me. he chooses his mother over me. His family has a history of mental issues..not going to do this anymore..wish me luck.. and i hope you all get out before they suck the joyous spirits that you all are out of you..

        his mom! nothing but problems since the day i met him.. last year , on the phone, she really hurt my feelings, i raised my voice to her, i’m sorry but i’m human, and he took her side, a year later and he still is on her side and said that it’s my fault, i shouldn’t have called her.. I had no intension of yelling at just happened because of what SHE said!

        i kept trying to convince him to get therapy. 2, 3 years now..he won’t . good man, works hard, smart..severe depression.. he goes to work every day year in and year out..
        yet he is emotionally frozen. and does not see it as a problem! I asked him” what can i do to help you? ” he said “about what?” I said ” your sadness” he said he wasn’t sad.. his son of 25 (not mine) died 18 months ago…how can he say he is not sad? Bul$*^t He is and has been devastated! Who wouldn’t? I can’t imagine. He refuses help. I told him that “I think of his son and would like to mention him but because you never bring up his name i am afraid to mention him.” He doesn’t know how to advise me so i don’t talk about the boy. sad because i want to remember the good times and respect the person he was with memories and stories..

        I have been to counseling , before we got together and many women groups so i know people well. I think he is so very very depressed i am extremely concerned that he will never come back. he’s gone.. i have tried for years,,because our trouble started before the son died..give him space, get him out of the house for an event. he won’t go hardly anywhere for years except work..months go by and we do not get in a car together.. he will not take me to dinner, lunch, he has never bought me jewelry(not that it matters really but he could have said the words) or said he wants to be together forever and care for me until death do us par t. The first 2 years we made lots of future plans together for when our individual children went off to college…

        the kids have been out of school for 4 years!

        .this is not the life i want. life is too short, i almost died myself and want to live a happy honest rewarding life and meet my spiritual goals. live the golden rule..His being miserable is slowly killing the whole “us” and me. i am an artist and it sucked every bit of creativity out of me..i am a singer and i have not sung a note in years.

        I am going to leave is all packed. not telling him..i gave him warning..he is not a child.

        and he won’t help himself..i worry he would harm himself.i am afraid to leave him alone. i don’t think he would because he has a 70 year old mom to take care of..but you never know with severe grief…he lost a lot of people in his life and the clincher was his son, 25, drowned 18 months ago and he has not or ever will recover… he refuses therapy.

        . i wanted to put my foot down and demand the therapy or leave, before his son’s death…
        now, how could i leave my man suffering from such grief…i stayed i went on a vacation alone, he won’t plan save or take a vacation, or travel,

        i come back and he didn’t say he was glad i was home, that i was safe, that he was happy to see me, has not see a single photo of my trip! nothing! it has been months and i told him how much that hurt me. I insisted on therapy… he still won’t go..

        then a few months ago he said he tried to get an appointment and needed a referral from primary doc….but..sneeky..he told me that he also wanted to switch his primary anyway…so months later he had transferred his records to a new primary, no appointment with them and no therapy..

        meanwhile he makes things worse. i said” don’t you see that the longer that you put off dealing with your grief and depression, it drives the wedge further and further until it is too late?” no answer…

        also if i try to start a conversation about my feelings, that i can’t keep feeling no love from you, no communication, no happiness, no sex, that he needs therapy to get us in a healthy place again, or what we can do to repair the problems, he just lays there staring into space. and will not answer.

        I bear my heart and soul and he says nothing..I get angry and yell” just answer the question!” Are you or are you not going to find a professional to talk with?” he says either “Are You?” or “what question?”

        and i tell him he broke my heart, ( i was very sick for almost 2 years, in bed mostly. it was devastating, and he never went to the doctor with me even when i came home crying and told him i couldn’t keep going to the doctors alone, he didn’t go with me for a kidney biopsy ! )

        so i called him on it. the not going to the doctor with me..his excuse was ” What did you want me to do? take time off every time you went to the doctor? ” I said no, but in the beginning when it was really hard, 2 hrs to specialist in snowstorm!)

        I suspect he is a narcissist. his way or the highway, shove feelings under the rug, he is always right. can’t compromise over a paint color for the bathroom..just goes out and gets it with out even telling me or asking me what i would like…now depressed from too much loss, death of loved ones. he has no feelings and refuses to smile or laugh or talk..

        our relationship 9 years and i did it, i let it spew.. no more protecting him…he hurt me too many times, leaving me sad, alone and crying without never I am sorry. Why can he never say he is sorry? what is that?

        .. I said, ” I was there for you..always, for richer or poorer, sickness and health, honesty, respect, I never ever lied to you. I told you the first week we met that when the trust and respect gets broken there is no repairing agreed! Why can’t you just do the reading, read the web sites, get an appointment with a therapist because you are sabotaging this relationship and hurting me every day… i held your hand when you needed me. I did everything you asked of me, and you can’t promise to be there for me in sickness or health? You can’t still can’t be honest with me? (He would lie or forget to tell me about purchases, after agreeing to discuss purchases, he would buy something for $400.00, the bills etc and we are on a very tight budget)
        I tell him i am not the meanie but he is now purposely punishing me with he stone walling, silent treatment, won’t tell me his thoughts, dreams, plans, nothing..he will for a week or so then stop.

        I said ” i want commitment, marriage vows, I am , and have been all in 100% and if you are not able to commit to richer or poorer, sickness and health, at least if you told me you will not be there for me in sickness, that is ok, just say it, because then i would at least know where you are coming from ..silence.

        I am leaving.
        I am not doing this anymore. he is not a child. he won’t have my back 100 % he left me high and dry when i was sick, (he worked and paid the bills not like some of the stories here)
        he didn’t stand up to me with his mother.
        I am done being walked on..
        I am walking out.
        The way I see it is I tried more than my share, I lost all my money in a money pit house flip he refuses to lower the price on and sell.
        I lost my best friend and lover, my muse, my soul mate. He can’t deal with the death of the loved ones and won’t help himself. Odd..I was so sick for so long and he had hardly any interest about my upcoming appointments.or blood tests…there were times i went to the doctors, never mentioned it, waited to see if he noticed …he never said, “do you have any appointments coming up?”

        But 2 friends from work passed away, he was very up set… then I was sick, then his son and his step father ..
        and he was not worried about my health? I got a second chance to live. actually my 3rd! I am alive and want to live! i almost died. he said he does not see me as disabled…I was like ” What does 7 doctors and 3 years in bed mean to you?”

        Deep deep issues..his dad died when he was 12, his brother when he was 27? and refusing therapy? I know his antidepressant , the same kind and dose for 12 + years is not working, but he refuses!
        so sad..I am jumping ship before it goes down..there is no repairing the holes. I am off this crazy train to no where. Such a shame he can’t come up for air as he is brilliant and talented and handsome and used to be kind and giving and loving.
        I can’t leave the door open. A crazy mother, a depressed son, and NO ONE wants to talk about it but me..
        I am taking the $750 I saved and getting out of the winter snow, driving south to a beach in my van where i know a nice camp site. I will be free to start new. Hard at my age but I do not have a moment to waste crying over some man that never intended to be my forever and ever honest partner. I feel led on, taken for granted, and he got me $12,000 in debit.
        And I am the one that is disabled!
        WAKE UP SISTERS! if there is no compromise, desire to be mindful and care for another feelings. if they refuse therapy and mope around for years and tell you that you need therapy (and i do have a councilor and read! ) run! Run like the wind..Run like Forest Gump..Just run, scrape that gum off your shoe and don’t get involved with anyone like that again.
        be kind to yourself. we women have so much love and kindness to give, we deserve better and being alone and healthy is better than hopping that they will come takes years for people to become emotionally evolved. years to get the depression/meds under control. these people are just not blue and had a hard time and get will be a forever thing and unless they are on board and do their work and reading, you will suffer.
        i wish i could have gone 18 months ago when i got well, but then his son and this money pit house.
        Now is the time that all great women take it upon themselves to pull themselves up by the boot straps and move on to a brighter future.

  29. Kathryn says:

    I have just experienced a similar situation.I have known my lovely man for nearly 20 years – we only officiallt got our act together 4 years ago but since that time, we fell very deeply in love.He had claimed he had always known there was something special about me and had deep feelings for me prior to us getting together.We easily slipped into life together and it was wonderful.Not to say we didnt have the odd argument about doing the dishes but it seems its a common one.He told me he loved me on a regular basis and I would never imagine today that last Sunday he left to for a visit to his Mums and he phoned me that night to say he wasnt coming home and he needed to be on his own, when i asked if he didnt love me anymore he said ‘no’ but prior to this he hadnt changed in his love and affection for me and we actually had amazing sex the day before he left.I knew he had suffered with anxiety and depression since we got together and always encouraged him to seek help.He seems to have always struggled to motivate himself to work and finds it so hard to communicate sometimes he just doesnt speak.He told me the night before he didnt look to the future and was just trying to get through each day.He also told me that he doesnt want marriage, kids and a mortgage and it was unfair on me as I did – for the record Ive never been sure I wanted these things either but he didnt want to listen.I am now heartbroken he has gone – its like he has changed overnight and doesnt want to know me.Since the call on Sunday, I have only been able to communicate with him by email – he stated he has been to GP and got Sertraline and been signed off.I have told him I love him and miss him and I would be here to support him and care for him if he wanted but he just keeps saying ‘I need to be on my own.Im sorry’.It just seems so sad that he’s left so suddenly and i feel bewildered.All of his belongings are still at our home we share and he has taken very little.Im just so unsure how to proceed – i dont think he will contact me – should i continue to contact him or should I just leave him on his own as he has asked?!Its so hard as I just didnt see this coming and it seems so extreme.

    • michelle says:

      Hello i have a similar situation. My partner does the same leaves doesn’t take anything or very little and doesn’t wish to communicate. But refuses to see the doctor. How are you getting along now. Its very difficult I’m sorry

    • Valerie says:

      Exactly whats going on with me, I was kinda hope that he left his belongings with me…
      And I am having the same doubts, do I try to comunicate, do I stop comunicating, what do we do?
      Did u get any insight about it? Please let me know…

  30. Stefanie says:

    Hi. My partner of 4 years left 2 months ago. For the last 2 years of our relationship I felt more like his caregiver than his girlfriend. It was obvious that he was going through depression. A year ago he started threatening to leave and would threaten me with this periodically. He had emotionally withdrew from me for that year as well and blamed me for everything under the sun. It was bazaar and illogical the things he would say and there was no way for me to take any of it personally. We have a 2 year old daughter together and were planning to get married.

    He threatened to leave again this past March and I finally told him to just leave. He did.

    I didn’t initially intend on keeping the door open for him. However, after a few weeks I got myself together emotionally and realized that 1) we have a family to support and raise; and 2) although I can do nothing about his depression (he must be the one to seek help), as the mentally healthy partner of our relationship, I must stand in the gap that separates him from our family.

    For me, its not just keeping the door open for him, but believing in him and having hope that he will figure this out for the survival of our family. We have regular contact with each other because of our daughter, and if not for her, I would probably just move on. But in this day and age of throw-away relationships, I feel the responsibility to stand up for my relationship in the hopes of saving my whole family–so I keep the door open not only for myself, but for my daughter and for him.

    Its simply what I need to do right now.

  31. Marie says:

    Hello, my name is Marie.
    My story is that i have known a guy for 2 years. He was in a relationship and i was single. We were only friends at this stage, then comes a day when i started to tell him everything and we became best friends.
    However, the girlfriend did not accept that and left him. I have always been counselling him not to give up on that girlfriend as she was a good one. Though i know that that girl didnt like me. One day i told me to choose between me and that girlfriend because we were way too close. He choose the girlfriend and i was still here letting the door open.
    One day the girlfriend break up with him as she was done with all those stuffs happening regarding me!
    I took great care of him as a best friens as i could relate to how bad he could have been at that time.
    Weeks pass by and we get closer till the day we have our first kiss.
    I started to feel something for him but he kept on telling me that his mother would not appreciate that we are together as i am one year older than him. He kept pushing me away, stop talking sometimes as everybody was gossiping about us and his mother and his aunt said bad things on my behalf.
    I took it very personally and started to hate them.. Then happens that his mother prevented him for using his phone. But despite, he used the phone of a friend to call me and meet me!
    It goes on like that for a while.
    one day i told me i love you, though we used to say that to each other. He told me that i should not say that and that we should ne realistic, that we would never be together..
    That hurts me a lot..
    But still i continue to go and meet him, kissing, hugs..
    Then at the end of last year he told me that we can be together. I accepted. I was extremely happy.
    But comes one day when he started to be mean, he mistreated me a lot, swear at me, tell me many rude words And during two months it goes on like that.. Till the day i start to have anxiety panics, palpitation, crying, vomit, did not eat at all, i loss a lot of kilos as i loved him very much and did not want to lose him at any cost.
    He started to talk about girls at his workplace and i dont know why but i felt like he would have left soon.
    I started falling into a depression, i visit a doctor and he told me that if i dont make a move, i would have to go in the psychatric department and there they would put me on medication and for a 20 years old girl, it would not be good and it would have secondary effect on me.
    Then i tried as much as i can to stand up, but this day he stopped talking to me. He did not talk to me at all.
    Until the day that he sent me a message on whatsapp to tell me that he is breaking up with me.
    I was at my worst..
    Its been two months now, i still think of him. The doot is still open.. I am still waiting but his friend told me that he met a girl at his workplace and things would be serious between them soon.
    I know this girl and this girl hate me.. So i guess that they would be in a relationship just to hurt me..
    But i love him so much and as he was my best friend, i would have never imagine my life without him..
    But from my part, i dont text, call, message, or something.. Him as well..
    When i see him, i dont say hello or something like that.. I just go straight..
    But when i see him i tremble, i feel bad, i want to vomit, my mind is not at its place and feel so sad..
    He was my everything.. There is not something i can do without texting or messaging or calling so that he can come back ?
    I love him from all my heart. I thought that it would be okay after some weeks.. But still the door is open though he hurts me a lot..
    I know i should let him go but how do i that??
    How can i accept that he is no more here and that he will be no more here ??
    How can i accept that he is with another girl??
    Please help..

    • Aaron says:

      Well knowing in the beginning that he had a girl friend you should not have never allowed yourself to have feelings in that way for him. It’s was best just to stay a friend to him. Yes I know when you emotionally care for someone things tends to become very hard, even if he did expressed feelings towards you. What you did was became a doormat to him. That is not cool. I’m sure he may give off to you that sure guy you want, however look at how he left you in your feelings. Real men dont do that to women they love. Neither a real friend would do you like that. I’m pretty sure you are a very attractive young lady, however don’t be a doormat for a loser guy.. SIMPLY NOT COOL….I hope thing will get better for you soon. Leave him a long …don’t even try the friendship any more.

  32. Anonamous says:

    Wonder if any of you can help me. Been with my b’f for 6 months totally In love and adored one another. He then had a bad accident and broke his pelvis almost died and couldn’t walk for 6-8 weeks in immense amounts of pain and on a lot of pain killers. Understandably during this time he was distant, I did everything to support him paid bills whilst he was out of work moved us out of a house to a flat incase he had ongoing problems, a few weeks after he was Distant he caught a bug and couldn’t take any of his pain killers he was the person I fell in love with again, telling me he loved me how he was so glad I never gave up on him, what an amazing future we where going to have. The illness cleared and he went back on his pain killers, I could slowly see him disappearing again. Whenever I asked when he was coming home ( he was at his dad’s) he like just push me away.he said he was in a dark place and confused. He started on fluxotine as he though he was depressed. He’s only been on it a week or so. He never did come home, he broke up with me blocked every from of contact, demanded his stuff and wouldn’t even talk to me when I dropped it off sent hi dad out instead. Is this just the depression, shall I hang on hoping he comes through it or just accept he’s changed and it’s over. I love him so much it hurts so bad to think it was all lies.

    • Amy says:

      This happened to me too. He has a problem he needs to solve on his own. I believe that with time he will come back but he needs to find himself on his own now. It will only go downhill if you try more

      • Katieee says:

        Did he ever come back? I’m in a situation right now where my boyfriend of almost one year ended things with me. He wanted a break and we kept seeing each other and it seemed to be getting better. He told me he was feeling lost and depressed and was in tears over it. 3 days after that he said it was time to end things because we aren’t the same and never will be. I saw him a few weeks after and he said sorry that the things between us were fixable and it’s more so him right now. He has zero emotions. I don’t know what to do or what to think. I have fallen into my own depression and I’m trying to be strong. We were so in love and everyone could see it. This is the love of my life. He so easily pushed me away. I’m constantly sitting here wondering if he’ll ever come back.

        • Valerie says:

          Katieee, it is just my story, how come do they do exactly the same…gosh, mine is zero emotions either, but what kills me is that they do not show this lack of feelings to anyone else but us…and nobody seems to have an answer on what works, how do we deal with them when they are away….

          • Bird says:

            Valerie that is the question I have as well…why do they only show it to us? My husband can be great with everyone else except me…12 years together and tells me I am the one who he is unhappy around. He left me last week, heartbroken and confused.

  33. CB says:

    This article spoke to me so much. My boyfriend of the last 6 years just broke up with me (this is the second time that this has happened). His reasoning was that he had “no other option” because he “wanted to be happy again” and that he wasn’t able to “be the boyfriend that I need or deserve”.

    We had a great relationship together, rarely every arguing and so much love. But there were always struggles when he would become depressed. The first time this happened was about a year after we first started dating. His father suddenly passed away (they did not have a very good relationship) and this put him into a downward spiral. He broke up with me stating that he “couldn’t be a good boyfriend right now” and that “I deserved better”.

    I however, was madly in love and heartbroken by this. We kept in contact for the next year it was definitely mutual neither could let the other go. But removing my “title” as girlfriend seemed to be the only change he wanted. He needed the constant contact with me and would question why we were not talking each day if we did not.

    After a year of not being his girlfriend but being his girlfriend I gave him the ultimatum that I needed for us to be official. We then moved to a new town (for my work) and moved in together for the first time. It was the happiest I’ve been in my life and I believe he in his (his family thanked me constantly as it was the happiest they’d ever seen him).

    This is the third year that we have been living together and everything was going good. He was just completing a work stint since after Christmas (he works away for usually 3 months at a time). He got into the deepest depression I’ve seen and it was a struggle to try to support him via distance. With one week left of him being at work he decided that he needed to break up with me.

    I have never heard someone so upset to be breaking up with someone. He said that he just needs to focus on himself right now and that breaking up with me was his only option. It makes no sense to me as he says that he loves me so much and I am the only person that understands him. He was upset that by the time he gets his life back together I may be moved on but why should he care when he was the one who wanted to break up? He also didn’t understand that breaking up meant that I wouldn’t be there for him to talk to anymore and he still tries to maintain contact between us as much as he can.

    It is so hard for me to accept what is happening because I use his depression as an excuse, he doesn’t really want to break up, he still loves me, etc. I have not seen him since Christmas time as he moved his stuff out of our house while I was at work the other day in order to avoid seeing me in person. My heart is so broken yet I know that I would take him back in a heartbeat. I wish that he would seek help but he says that he doesn’t want to be on medication and that therapy does not help. The mix of emotions is so intense but it is nice to know that I am not alone.

    • Bet says:

      I don’t know what to say to you other than your story is very similar to mine; my heart is broken as he tells me he doesn’t want to move back in with me (I told him to leave over a month ago after finding out he’d been deceiving me over money) but wants me to give him time. I’m 37, I want a child, I really don’t have time when I’ve already wasted 6 years with him when I could have found somebody who loved me enough. I’m so angry and hurt right now but also heartbroken that we’re seemingly over

  34. anon anon says:

    I am a male been married for over 33 years to a pathological control freak. Her moto as well as her 2 siblings and parents is “Rule one- everything is done my way” our whole married life. I put up with it for the first 20 years due to love and children but now I have really tired of it over the last 15 years, I have 3wonderful children which has kept me on the straight and narrow and at home.
    Every holiday every year for 20 years my family have to go on holiday with her parents and siblings in some way or another.

    I have always had a good job that kept me really busy 24/7 so I really never got the time to be unfaithful with another women or even have time to meet one . I have not had sex for 5 years as I have just lost all interest in my wife and I blamed my work on my ED to my wife. Her siblings have divorced numerous times to good partners and their partners reasons in leaving them were the same arguments that I am having. There is no give and take in the marriage. We have all been treated like second class citizens with no compromise in the marriage. I am now retired with little money to leave. I have just met a wonderful women at a charity that I have spoken to about 5 times and I am absolutely besotted with her she has the most beautiful disposition and personality that I have come across. I wish my wife had the same personality, I have NEVER felt this way about another women before and I cannot tell her my feeling because my ethics and principles will not allow me to have an affair on the side . I just cannot get this wonderful woman out of my mind , I dream about her all the time. I cannot leave my present marriage as I have only a small pension , my wife deserves half but once the pension is split I will have very little to use for rent or have a life. Hence, very depressed. Not sure if there are many others in a similar position . I am beginning to think my life is one big Greek tragedy or I am a A hole for not leaving earlier. Don’t know what to do.

  35. Mary says:

    1) A good woman doesn’t kick a man when he is down. 2) The door is and will forever be open as a best friend. Maybe romantic feelings left years ago but depression is a cancer just like any other disease. You don’t abandon a sick person. They are drowning in themselves. The best thing you can do is grab their hand, lead by example and be the happiest woman in the world.

    • Olga says:

      Hello, Mary. I’ve been passing through my boyfriend’s depressive episode and this is a really hard time for me. I agree to all of your words as they reflect my own conclusions. Can I ask you if your experience had any positive outcome after all? Thank you.

    • Violet says:

      Exactly this. The article says that the love seems to be unconditional and that is because it is. If you have decided to love someone you accept them for who they are. You have to be cautious not to let the illness take you down as well but you can’t shut off the love you have for that person because of their flaws.

      • Debbie says:

        i agree, i tried, he never committed marriage. what if that person never expressed unconditional love for you?
        if you both were not in it 100% , only one was fully…how can you keep hoping they will get out of depression and finally be 100% in the relationship?

        If they didn’t have your back on multiple occasions, when you were sick, how long does one wait for them to get treatment and start getting better?

        every situation is unique. If they never say i am sorry i hurt your feelings, then what? just continue a life with someone that can’t love completely?

  36. Mel says:

    What happens when they jump into another relationship at lightning speed and replace the family you had with another? What is all of my bad qualities she doesnt have yet she looks like you? My husband of 6 years and 13 years together left and within 3 months replaced his family, forced my 10 year old son to meet her and stay at his new home within 9 weeks of meeting her and asked my son to treat her daughter like a sister. In the meantime i was coming to terms with my life being flipped upside down and it was all my fault. I felt he was depressed before he left and i know i was partly to blame as i was going through my own issues but he put up an emotional wall and wouldnt communicate with me. 6 months on he seems genuinely happy and im still on my journey trying to heal all the pain that has been caused due to his actions and i know that it is up to me to sort that out. But in my own mind i still wonder if this relationship is to run away from his true depression and that makes me feel compassion and i want to keep my door open. Or could he be genuinely happy which means i need to close the book on my marriage for good. I will always love him because love is unconditional, it makes me feel more at peace if i admit the live otherwise the alternative is hate and that just hurts me and my son. I am confused and my heart has been destroyed especially since i was discarded and replaced so quickly. Do you have any advice? Was it depression? Or was he unhappy that he came across as depressed? If he’s happy now will that depression ever surface or has he healed himself and moved on? I don’t know of i should close my door for good. I forgive him becasue i feel this is part of depression and with work out marriage could end up stronger. I just dont know?

  37. Kristy says:

    Why I leave the door open is a question I ask myself. It makes absolutely no sense to voluntarily subject oneself to the confusion, humiliation, verbal abuse and loneliness that comes with being in a relationship with a depressed man. Especially one who refuses to seek treatment. I think it comes down to a few possibilities. 1- a good woman does not abandon a man in crisis. 2-the sense that this is a good man who is just going thru a bad time and the good man still exists in there somewhere. 3-the “slot machine” mindset where you’ve already invested so much that it must pay off and can’t possibly be that I have wasted my time.

    At the beginning I hung on thru the roller coaster of his emotions because of love. Yes I loved him deeply and unconditionally. A little over a year into our relationship was the first time his depression affected us although I only had suspicions it was depression. He literally disappeared for several months, then suddenly asked to meet and reunite. We talked and then had 3 pretty good years until the darkness descended again and much more severely. He began to get physically rough with me but just claimed he was “getting carried away.” This time I started reading, trying to understand. Unfortunately some of that reading kept identifying depressinon as this third party in the relationship. “It’s not him, it’s the depression.” That message instilled so much guilt when I wanted to tell him he was being mean despite any blog, column or book that said a partner is entitled to defend herself. More attention paid to the fallout of untreated depression. He ended our relationship via text message after accusing me of cheating and I told him he was being a jerk for seeing betrayal when I joined a friendship group who played cards at an ice cream parlor on Friday nights. Discussions about how he was physically hurting me were twisted into me abusing him and trying to bring him down.

    I suspect he had suffered through other earlier stints and they were behind the demise of his marriage and then with his daughter’s mother. A pattern emerged of withdrawal, jealousy and intense self pity. In each instance he blamed the woman and I’m sure he is spinning a tale about me.

    And yet I love him. I remember the man he is when depression doesn’t take its hold. My heart wants to leave the door open but I’m steadfastly remind myself of all the crap. I let my friends and children hold me accountable as none of them support any type of relationship with him. My daughter said it clearly ” We love X but he is acting like a jerk and refuses to get help. Mom, RUN”. So my mantra is don’t let a depressed man ruin your life. Maybe I’d have come to a different conclusion had he been willing to seek counseling. I still cry sometimes, still wonder what if. But I concentrate on having the chance for a life without his depression calling all the shots.

  38. Vanessa says:

    My partner of 7 years left 2 nights ago. Even though I knew he had been feeling low for some time because of financial and work issues (he had been off work for months due to a medical issue), it was still a shock when one night he said he was leaving. Am currently going through a lot of pain, and so is my teenage daughter. On tip of the usual pain of a breakup, I also feel so bad about how bad he must have been feeling about himself and about us. I realise now although the it seemed sudden, he had been going through his own pain for some time. He said a lot of hurtful things when he left – about his life, our relationship and how unhappy he was, how he needed to be on his own now and sort his shit out and stop depending on md, how he wanted to make something of himself and be responsible etc. I am gutted because I love him so much and he obviously felt having each other was enough. But it is this same love which is the reason why I am keeping the door open. I know that despite everything he feels very deeply for me and my daughter who has pretty much grown up with him, and that being away from us is painful to him too but he sees it as necessary. I can’t question that, I can only be here for him because I believe in him and believe in us together. We’ve been through so much before to not be able to get through this. Meanwhile the challenge is for me to go through each day as well because I am really not coping. What can I say? It’s like a part of me died when he left but I need to keep moving and also be there for my daughter who is struggling so much with this loss.

    • tina says:

      Hi Vanessa. Sounds like me…..partner of two years, needed “space” two months ago….no contact, won’t accept calls, return texts…..just doesn’t seem to care at all. I go back and forth….so mad, then feelings of empathy knowing he’s suffering….in silence, and no one else knows of the depression but me, and he is in denial, even though all the signs are there, and depression has been in in past.

      Did your partner return? Did you want him to return? Just not sure if its time to give up or no

      • Lace says:


        I am going through a similar thing. Can we talk?

        • tina says:

          Hi Lace. Anytime you want we can talk. I remember in the beginning how hard this was…….such a waste. 🙁 If you want to give me your email we can talk that way if you prefer.

          • DH says:

            Hi Tina! I have been recently going through the same thing, and I was just wondering if I could talk to you too? Here is my email: doherasy [at] go [dot] olemiss [dot] edu! I would really appreciate your help!

    • momma says:

      My partner of almost 8 years did the same thing a month and a half ago we have 3 small children. I like you am so heartbroken, I am struggling with understanding how he could just up and leave everything we created together. I love him with all my heart even though his leaving and ignoring me is killing me. I always find myself thinking, I hope he finds himself again and realizes what he is walking away from but it just doesn’t seem like he will. Anytime I try to talk to him hegets very angry and refuses to say anything to me. I get bouts of loneliness and think to myself I wish he was here just to simply not feel alone. I get moments where I am so mad at him for leaving and moments where I feel for him because he must be struggling with something within himself. Why is it that he is the one who walked away from everything yet I am the one who feels terrible?

      • Bunny says:


        I feel the same. but it was I who left. His family betrayed him and left him in a terrible bind 5years ago. I moved to be with him… and be there for him when he had no one, but it ended up he was so angry at the world that I became the target of all the abuse he couldn’t inflict on the people who caused the problem. I never could be enough no matter what I did. He needs to heal himself and as much as I love this man he cannot be a part of my life if he cannot treat me right due to past hurts and betrayals. I stood by him, dealt with the excuses and apologies, basically tried to fix everything ! I was left with a deep depression of my own wondering why my love wasn’t enough to overcome the hate he feels. In the end I was heartbroken disrespected and damaged by the man I love above all others, a most horrid state. My personal relationships suffered. I neglected myself and my family, and allowed myself to be persecuted over something I had no control over, I am still heartbroken and always will wonder What IF? myself. I love him still and miss him always, I wont ever “get over it” and feel like I failed. For the sake of your children. be strong. realize its not you, and be there if he needs you. Do not internalize his struggle, but sympathize and be strong for yourself as well.

  39. Kay says:

    After posting my previous comment and taking considerable time to read many of the posts on this website, I would like to add that despite ending our long relationship/marriage due to my ex-husband’s chronic depression (33 year marriage!) the fact that I’m still searching and reading about depression brings home the fact that we never really get over the effects this devastating mental illness has on our lives. The life of myself and, particular that of my daughter, will be forever shaped by his illness and my ultimate decision to end the marriage. It was not something done without investing considerable time in contemplation (and therapy) over how to handle the hand we had been dealt and move forward with life. It was an 8 year journey punctuated by many days/weeks/month of good times followed by intense suffering. Even now, after being finally separated and divorced for almost 4 years, I often transition between relief of being out of the madness and guilt of not having stayed the course. I came to view my life and that of my daughter’s as being too short and valuable to spend in a constant state of uncertainty. Without him we have stability as it relates to every aspect of life — financial, emotional, etc. It is my hope that he can find his way to stability as well and I am still willing to help him if I can, but I will not sacrifice our stability to his well being. Sometimes we have to live with our actions — every action has a reaction — and as long as he had me as a stabilizing effect on his actions, there was not enough pressure for him to seek treatment and stay the course.

    I will add that my ex-husband was raised in a home with father that sexually abused his sisters, and one of his sisters abused him. That whole family is not well and the damage spilled over to all their subsequent relationships.

    I want to thank John for this excellent website — the way you describe your journey mirrors in many ways the experience we have had and I appreciate your non-judgmental approach to how each of us cope and, in some cases, ultimately end our relationships.

  40. Kay says:

    This happened to us and my husband’s depression destroyed our relationship and marriage. My husband had periods of mild depression for over 20 years, but nothing prolonged and we got through those episodes, but our teenage son died in a car accident and he sunk into a terrible prolonged depression. He exhibited irrational anger directed at everyone and eventually that anger turned to me — extremely abusive and hurtful at a time when we were all still grieving the death of a child. I had to insist that he leave because his verbally abusive behavior towards me started to occur with our daughter — that crossed a line and I would not tolerate it. He was gone for several months and had very little contact with me and our daughter during that time, but I kept the door open for him to get better. Kept trying to get him to a therapist, to take medication for depression, etc. Eventually he realized he was no better away from us, so he started medication and working with a therapist — he came home and for a while things were better. No intimacy, but he was home and I was hopeful with time things would improve. But he would not stay with the meds and stopped therapy. Eventually the depression came back on and he left again — this time was having an affair with a co-worker — trying to make himself feel better. Begged me to give him time to get better, wanted to be with his family. I reluctantly decided to give him more time, and he came back again for another year or so. But eventually, there was another loss (lost his father) and that triggered another abandonment — just walked out after his father’s funeral. Same old thing, didn’t love me, never did, etc., etc., had his girlfriend move in with him, etc. But this time I had been through enough bad behavior and his inability to stick with treatment and decided to end the relationship. I ended all contact with him except to settle financial business and we divorced the following year after a 33 year marriage. That was 4 years ago and I don’t regret ending the marriage at all and have been able to start a new relationship with a man who is emotionally healthly. I hope my ex can figure out how to get better and stick with treatment –he knows it works, but just as soon as he starts to feel better, he stops treatment. It’s very sad — it was a good 25 year marriage and I would have never left him and was committed to stay and help him, but eventually all the bad behavior and humiliation he put me through having an affair with a girl 30 years younger, it just worn me down.

  41. Emma says:

    I have just had this situation happen to me. An apparently great guy I was seeing for a couple of months changed practically over night into this cold, unemotional stranger. I asked him what was going on and he said he felt down, tired and sad and didn’t know what the hell was happening to him. He also said he didn’t feel like talking to anyone or doing anything, just being isolated from everything. I am guessing that he has fallen into depression as he had a lot of stressful events happen to him and I understand from that perspective. I told him I was there for him and would talk to him when he wanted but he continued to ignore me only answering my questions with one word answers. I asked him if the relationship was over and all he said was ‘ I can’t give you that answer right now’. At first I wanted to be there for him and support him but there is only so much you can do for someone who won’t even acknowledge your existence.
    This may sound really harsh but last night I realised that enough was enough. I understand he is probably depressed but you know what I am going to put myself first. He is being as selfish as selfish can be so I told him so, told him how poorly he was behaving and ended the whole sorry mess. I feel a lot better for this and TBH I hope he gets better but no-one, regardless of their problems should treat someone else like that. I have suffered with depression in the past and never blocked out anyone like that.
    have some respect for yourself, leave the person to sort out their own problems otherwise you run the risk of becoming depressed yourself.

    • Sian says:

      Emma, you may never get to see this but I just needed to say how helpful this was to read, thank you.

      I’ve been torturing myself over the past 4 weeks about my failed relationship. He turned into someone I didn’t recognise. Being together would never have worked, but I held onto the thought of being friends. He even said himself that I’m the person that he’s closest too, and would want to continue being friends.

      He never meant it. He ignored me. I’ve been reaching out to him- it’s always me reaching out to him, asking how is he feeling, how is he doing- but he never shows any care or kindness towards me. He disappears mid conversation (via text) and now he has just flat out forgotten about me. He could never think about me or show me enough respect or consideration to just reply to me. He was, and is very selfish. I’ve been telling myself ‘if he wanted to contact me, he would’, but that hasn’t really been helping. Having read your post a few hours ago I’ve got a new sentence in my head-‘it doesn’t matter how good the relationship was, it’s over, it wasn’t real, because when I needed him to show me a little kindness, a little care, he couldn’t even do that’. I deserve to be with someone kind. I’m a good person, I care, I listen, I hug. I would never walk away from someone in pain. He walked away from me. He left me in pieces. And he never cared. It doesn’t matter how good it used to be, it’s in the past. When it mattered to me, he wasn’t there.

      • Sad but hopeful says:

        Emma may not see your response, but I just did and – thank you, Sian. My boyfriend broke up with me the very day you posted your comment. He said his depression had worsened and he could no longer handle being in a relationship. We had a good relationship, at least I thought so. I’m still torn over the whole thing. I’ve reached out a couple of times, and he was responsive at first but I’ve yet to hear from him this time around. I don’t know what will happen. I’ve started seeing a therapist, and am trying to stay busy, but I still cry almost daily. But I know things will work out in the end, with or without him. I have to take care of myself now.

        • Bird says:

          Isn’t it interesting how this thread keeps helping even though the other posters may never know.

          My husband who I have been with for 12 years left me last weekend. He is acting the same way as you describe. I keep reaching out and he is shoving me away and when I am distraught at what is going on, he walks away from me (leaving me a crying and sobbing mess – no comfort or care) or doesn’t text back.

          I am wishing for what we had before he became unwell, the happiest years of my life.

          Nothing I say or do now is right by him, he tells me I am constantly criticizing him but I can’t say / do anything without him turning it around on me.

          My heart is broken, and I am frustrated as I want to just be able to fix this and make it what it was.

  42. kristy says:

    First off I want to say I know what it feels like to fall deep into the void. Its very dark, lonely, and cold.
    8 years ago, I was in a very dark place. Food had no taste, I just was never really hungry. I became sickly looking, you could feel my spine, my hip bones poked out. I had a decent job, but that didn’t really matter. Friends from work would call or stop by but I wouldn’t answer, eventually they stopped calling. I used to play poker with the boys from work and BS. I’m a feminine but have always had more guy like interest. In my generation women were never into video games or anything like that.
    I purposefully sabotaged my relationship, slept with another man that was a friend of my boyfriend. Told him. I just wanted him to go away. I bought a gun… I just wanted to die, but never had the balls to pull the trigger. Running away moving got me out of it.
    The Now
    My new boyfriend has the same thing happening and I relate, which makes it harder. His depression can suck me in easily because I’m already prone to it. I’m trying hard to fall in after the drowning man. He tried to OD on pills, I hide most of them so he didn’t have enough. He has a pain killer addiction but he is functional, he has a masters, and works (he has been messing up). He is really really smart. Being on suicide watch all night made me really mess up at my job, because I was sooooo tired.
    2 months later
    I don’t want to go into a lot of detail but he went on an up swing and now he has fallen back down. He leaves for a day or two and doesn’t answer texts or calls. I’m more worried about drugs (him trying to OD) than cheating.

    • MamaBear says:

      Hey Kirsty…have you ever considered that you might have Borderline Personality Disorder? I had an ex boyfriend with it, as well as several friends–and your post reflects what I know about BDB and my friend’s inner and outer experiences. Of course I am not a professional and cannot diagnose, but it might be helpful to do some research on the subject.

  43. Clueless says:

    I broke up with my boyfriend because he was being distant i thought maybe he doesn’t like me anymore but it was actually that he was depressed and i got to know that later after i broke up with him . He used to say stuff like i am not the same person anymore , i dont have feelings for you . I even asked him if he wanted to fix things between us and he simply said he wouldn’t want too . I love him alot and i feel helpless because there is nothing i can do now , but i really want him back .Should i wait for him or should i just move on .

  44. Josephine says:

    Hello, my partner of 13 years has always struggled with depression, I am no stranger to how it walks, talks and acts. However since February of this year he has slowly started a descent into a black depression, an episode which has completely taken me by surprise. Partly because of our circumstances of being separated due to his out of state job. Now that the family has been reunited and we now all live in the state where he works, I see that I am living with a stranger. He lost his mother, his best friend and his dog of 12 years over the last few months and the job is stressful. there has been so much stress with the move and so it was a ticking time bomb for him. I just didn’t read the depression as I was caught up in stuff with the move and getting over our mutual losses. One day, matter of a fact after weeks of me trying to reach him and the sheer resistence and volatile nature of his depression it just reinforced his desire to seek space and state how ending the relationship was a solution at this time and that he would fix it and the depression would fade. In my heart I know thats not the answer, I know he will sink further. So he has detached from all family and my son somewhat and me most of all. he sleeps on the sofa and now checks into a motel up the road at weekends. It is devastating and for me its a great shock to realise that I am now facing having to find work and my own place with my son. he pays the bills here but I really worry about how he manages at work and whether that job will last. Its extremely competitive and high stress. i am angry because I left my job and took my son out of school in our other state. I just didn’t realise how serious a situation I was opening myself up to. But to answer the question you ask, I love him so much, I realise that the depression is a disability. Would I abandon him if he were lying in a hospital bed or crippled in a wheelchair, absolutely not! Depression is a very complex and dilapidating disease, you see your man in physical form but they are like a shadow of themselves, I think its very important for them to know there is hope and that they can trust there is someone out there who will never abandon them. is this always what they remember, no. but I think for us its important that we know we were there, we tried and gave it our very best. To be kind and to be understanding when there is no reward casts great challenges on us but I know only time will tell how each story turns out. I wish everyone peace and happiness. I have my faith , friends and family, my partner is isolated, suffering and in pain. depression won’t destroy my love for the man who is buried deep inside, my door will be open. will it be open a year from now, thats not what i think about. i just take it day to day and try look after my well being and my son amongst all this chaos.

    • mariette says:

      My dear i am in almost exactly your situation. My wedding vows said that i will stand by him in sickness and in health. Because of his depression i fell into depression as well but i seeked help and is now happy in myself again. Some days i feel like just giving up and leaving. But how can i turn my back on my best friend in his darkest hour? Especially now that i know what he is going through! I will stand by him until he files for a divorce. It’s not about keeping the door open for me. It’s about standing by someone you love. I’m just taking each day at a time.

  45. tina says:

    I have walked away from the man that I love. He suffers from depression and does these things mentioned here. He told me before getting into a relationship with me that he has troubles with “feelings” and used to have depression. I did not really think of it that much. After a few months of our relationship, he was into a lot of stress from work. We were having fun one day, he took me out on a very romantic date, stayed up all night and talked about our future. The next day, he said he needs to be single and he can’t feel anything.
    I was devastated. I didn’t understand what was happening… I couldn’t even function at work, always crying, etc. after 3 weeks, he was happy again then wanted me back.
    We had such great relationship. Everything was perfect until he was under a lot of stress and kept mentioning he is becoming depressed. I wanted to help him. He said no, and appreciate my offer. Told me I was the only thing making him happy. Then after few days, left me a message saying he needs to date other women. He doesn’t love me. He needs to be happy. Then needs to be single. I begged him to give himself time to think. He said he already thought of it and that he doesn’t need me. I told him that if he cares or cared even just a little for me, to talk to me and help me understand what’s going on. His last words cut so deep. “Sorry I can’t because I don’t care for you. I thought I did. But I guess I was only lonely and needed you.”
    I waited for him for a little while. I was so hurt. I know he loved me. His family was so glad that he finally found someone who makes him happy.
    I know inside he thinks of me. Maybe even comesback when he snaps out from his depression. But I blocked him from everything and changed my number. I really love him but I am so hurt. I’d like to think he’s really just depressed. I’m guilty that I’m closing the door. I love him, but I guess I’m not strong enough to be the right person for him…

    • nettie says:

      This is horrible and I completely relate, but let me tell you…you’re doing all the right things. It’s hard. It’s devastating. You’re letting go with love and that’s all you can do for right now. I’ve found this site really helpful in my recovery:

    • tina says:

      Tina….I know it has been a while since you posted. Did you ever hear from him again?

      I don’t know how long to try…he says he cares deeply for me, but can’t be close to anyone right now. The more I ask him to get treatment, the farther away he seems. Its been 6 months. 🙁

  46. Suess says:

    My sweet John left me almost a year ago for the same reasons I am reading here. He said he was depressed and didn’t want to drag me down with him. He moved less than a mile away to a hotel. We didn’t even have an argument. His decision to leave came out of left field. We were planning to get married. He did tell me he had been depressed on and off all of his life. He told me it was him and not me. We stayed in contact the entire time. After 6 months, I forced myself to stop initiating contact as much, but always responded to his texts and calls. I felt like I needed to pull away before he would miss me. Well that was a huge mistake because he committed suicide. Now I partially feel like its my fault for pulling away.

    • Nik says:

      You gave me chills. This is exactly what I’m going through right now, except mine hasn’t killed himself yet. I have a feeling he will and there is nothing I can do about it.

    • Nik says:

      And it’s not your fault, I know it’s easy to say, but you can’t blame yourself for wanting to be happy.

    • Elaine says:

      my husband of 21 years and 6 mos. left me Sept.1,2014. Today is Sept. 5, 2014. He quit his job of 20 years unexpectantly to his boss man who said he wasn’t planning on coming back. When my husband called me Sept.1, he said your debit card and car key is in my drawer ( he slept in a seperate bedroom ), and I am going to be gone away for awhile. I said,” Why? ” he said he took a leave of absence from his job, just for a little while. “When are you coming back? Where are you going?” He said if he stayed, he would probably end up killing me, or his self. He never said anything more than that, then he said bye. He had a great job because he liked it, and the boss man said he would definately hire him back,if he came back. I am paralyzed. I just feel paralyzed. I talked to my best friend about it and she said that when he realizes what he has done, and all he has given up, I hate to tell you this, but most people like this most of the time commit suicide. We had everything paid for. We had it made. All I can do is pray.

    • Cynn says:

      Men carry pain , hurt and sadness so much differently than women but until he does get help and let go of the pain deep within, nothing will ever change. I tried to be here and do what I can but I am wanting my partner to leave me, I can’t stand seeing him this way, I lost all love and respect because he is now turning to drugs to cover his problems. I deleted his family from my fb, I am changing my phone number. I was promised a lifetime with this man, but little I knew he was broken, he hid it very well from me. i wish and pray health and happiness and comfort n joy for everyone everywhere

      • lynnie says:

        My partner of 16 yrs has just need diagnosed with depression ( his cause of depression may I add was a awful two years of awful bad luck job, death ) is solution cut me out of his life preservation he called it this is before he told me how our relationship was awful all my fault too.
        Well two months on living in the same house mainly because I do not want to leave love him that much the last time he spoke to me he did say he still loved me and does not want to throw away 16 yrs so I cling on this is not love by my account but then we dealing with an illness but again the silence no hello goodbye nothing like I do not exist stalemate.
        Why do we stay my answer when you love someone to the ends of the earth it does not matter what they do before depression crept in we were soulmates had a wonderful live ups and downs like any relationship wonderful all the same i believe my loving positive partner is still in there so I play a waiting, hoping game that he will come back know it will never be as it was at least I will have tried .
        This site has been my outlet it helps to put it all down and release your thoughts and feelings .

        • Ivoree says:

          I feel your pain my husband who I have been with for 17 years is doing the same thing I love him beyond words and love him unconditionally but he is cold and and distant and wants to be alone and we have two great kids my heart is breaking and no where to turn

          • Lynnie says:

            An update , I stayed with my partner 14 months later the most loving ,decent,man is now still a stranger but with the help of his antidepressant tablets I see small glimpses of him before depression so I still hang on , why I ask myself because my love is unconditional before depression we had 15 wonderful years I see this as a test which I can add I do not want to fail,how have I managed this well I found out every piece of information regarding depression , gave my partner space I could see it in his eyes when it was getting too much so he would go off for a few hours,also his passion crown green bowls he played,this helped when he felt up to it, when he wanted to talk I was there communication listening and trying to grasp how he was feeling also I cooked meals to uplift his moods ( meals to help with depression if he is eating at times appetite loss is a symptom) arm yourself with everything you can find about depression it helps to understand this illness though some never do it is truly unbiased,my partner is still in the spare room which is hard he says he will come back eventually :(((( it’s all little steps and remember invest in you keep strong let him know you are there but on the sidelines it is tough and you are not alone though I know it feels like it find you again ,what did you used to do before you met your partner I starting reading again, I screamed in fields that felt good : )))) go walking take your children, do not keep things bottled inside my one piece of advice be you, and tell yourself every day you can do this I did but remember people are different and what works for one person may not necessarily work for others you will find your coping mechanism whether you stay or go ( believe me so many times I wanted to leave but I could not ) is a very long long road and truly testing I am still on it do not see a ending any time soon but this is my journey everyone’s is different.
            Take care : )))))

  47. Sam says:

    My husband has always had a volatile temper verbally, he seems increasingly angry at the world, and me? I seem to be the main thing that is wrong with his world and whilst he’s mentioned it in a fit of rage when drunk that he was done with us he would wake up the next morning fully apologetic and not not meaning the words he said. Two days ago text me in work about a credit card I have and then went on to rant how his life would be better without me but please don’t stop him seeing our son, the next morning I went to gather some belongings and he stated he didn’t mean what he said he doesn’t know why or what’s wrong with him? He wants his family back and loves us both, he doesn’t know why he blames me for everything that goes wrong in his life or takes it out on me (verbally). I’m back in the marital home but just so unsure, I want to protect my son and my own heart. I
    He’s says at times he just feels so low but he doesn’t know why, generally other than these blips get on really well

  48. nettie says:

    I’m so sorry you find yourself here. What a HORRIBLE place to be. I’ve been through what you’re going through, I know exactly how you feel. If you haven’t already been to the ‘Depression Fallout’ forum and/or read the book, I HIGHLY recommend that you do that. It saved me. There is so much support there.

  49. vanessa says:

    I met a man 9 months ago. It seemed like the perfect timing, someone who came into my life when I needed him most. I had been single for 5 years and was starting to lose hope in finding a good guy. Then I met him. We laughed, we talked, we explored, went on adventures. It truly felt like our souls were connected. It seemed like everything was on the path towards a deep love. Then, with absolutely no indication at all, he left me. For another woman! About 3 weeks ago. And with absolutely no closure. All he said was that I pushed him away, that It was my fault. That i seemed guarded and now he had all of a sudden fell out of love. Then after that….No contact, no answering phone calls, no letters. No explanations, just nothing. I had to find out through Facebook when the other woman messaged me to tell me. He couldn’t even have the decency to explain to me that he was leaving me. I am crushed. Here is this man I thought I knew, now becoming a stranger. I feel guilty, I feel betrayed I keep going over the why its and shoulda coulda wouldas.. I dream of him, and I think of him everyday. I try to fantasize the possibility of his return, when he apologizes and everything will go back to normal. But deep down I know this cannot happen. Deep down I know he is depressed and insecure with himself and so he has just found someone new that he can suck the energy from, to fill the voids that he feels in himself. I just don’t know how I will be able to go on. My emotions trump my thoughts exactly and I feel hopeless, deceived, hurt, anger, sadness. I feel depressed myself. Any advice????

    • Jenna says:

      Im in the exact same situation as you. I spent all this time making this guy laugh treating him perfectly. He gave me all the “oh we should just get married” and blah blah blah.. then all the sudden, poof. he was gone. Took the money I spent on him, told me what I wanted to hear and vanished. weeks later when I called him out he said he wasn’t ready for a real relationship and was too depressed… but of course now hes dating someone. I believe that in your situation, he just wasn’t ready for the settle down aspect. He saw you as someone who was too good for him and his insecurities needed to make HIM the one who was the bread winner, the funny one, the whatever you will. Guys panic before they settle down.. heck, we all do. your best bet is to just delete him from your life realizing that this silver medal he went for cant hold the shine to your gold. And when you do delete him and peace out from his life, he’ll send you a “hi how are you” to which YOU DO NOT REPLY.. YOURE WAY BETTER THAN THAT.

    • GFW says:

      You might try analyzing your dream symbols. Start here…

      Living with or knowing someone who suffers from depression isn’t easy, but oftentimes it is simply the best thing to keep yourself healthy, happy, and that person he was attracted to. Emotions are contagious so we can lose sight and sort of ‘catch’ this if not careful.

      A lot of times men will betray you to protect you. In other words say they found someone else, drop you like a hot brick, it isn’t because they don’t or no longer love you, it is the opposite, because they do.

      Some ideas to put into action.

      1. Writing/journaling: When you write, you can let go of your feelings. Writing your feelings as they come, writing to the person whom you have anger towards and then burning the letter, and writing short stories.
      2. Meditation/prayer: The benefit of meditation and mindfulness for letting go of anger and doing deep emotional work is significant. Learning to focus on the present, shifting your thought to be in your command rather than the other way around, and learning to distract yourself from the past and only go back to it when you are doing self-healing work or thinking of some useful and positive memory.
      3. Managing your thoughts: On average about 50-70,000 thoughts go through your mind every day. What you think shapes your emotional response to things. For example, if you see something as being “scary” then you will have a specific emotional response to that thing. If you see the same situation as “different” or a “challenge,” then your emotional response also changes.
      4. Behavior modification: Changing your behavior can change your thought. For example, have specific stress-management techniques handy so that you can use them if a stressful situation hits you. These may be things like exercising, dancing, or doing some form of an artistic work or sports you enjoy, in addition to doing meditation, having hobbies, and doing something that takes your mind off of the stress.
      5. Creative visualization: Use this technique to release self-imposing and restricting thoughts and burdening emotions from the past.
      6. Working on forgiveness: Whether it is self-forgiveness or forgiving others, this is a must-do for any healing to happen. Self-forgiveness usually has to do with letting go of the guilt and shame, and forgiving others has to do with cutting any negative attachment to people and freeing yourself from their influence.

      I always find helping someone valuable or volunteering somehow in your community, plenty of people need attention. Reaching out is good therapy. Perhaps fostering a pet would be beneficial.

  50. amanda says:

    About a year ago, i met a wonderful man. We fit so well together. We made each other laugh, share the same Christian faith and values, and appreciate old fashioned living. We work at the same place and it was soon obvious to everyone that we care about each other. People warned me though, that he has this crazy list of rules and qualities that must apply to the woman he’ll be with. One rule is against seeing anyone he works with. I was sure this rule would be broken for me because of how he feels for me. Months went by however and mixed signals prevailed. He never asked me out and some days he would be very cool toward me. I finally asked him if i had reason to hope that we would ever be more than friends. He said no, siting his stupid rules and claiming that i got the wrong idea. He said he wasn’t even attracted to me. I am quite a pretty woman. Men stare at me in public. This was clearly a lie. He cares for me very much. Anyone can see this despite what he claims with his words. I have come to find out that he has a very strange relationship with his mother. He is 35, the youngest of three, and the only boy. Neither of his sisters are married either. Apparently their father was very abusive before leaving them and it seems Mommy Dearest feels it necessary to keep all her baby birds in the nest in order to protect herself and them from further pain. This is crazy! My door is still very much open to him because i know if he can see that loving me isn’t a betrayal to his mother, we could all be so happy. This list is a mechanism to keep him from having to admit his fear of what might happen if he steps out on his own. I wish i could explain to his mother that being with me doesn’t have to mean leaving her. He has put me through so much. He has been downright mean in order to drive me away. Recently, he’s seeing that we can be friends. It’s still clear that he feels a lot for me. I pray for the day he and his family see that our love is a blessing, not a threat. I won’t give up yet.

  51. Nettie says:

    Hope, I know exactly how you feel. I feel this every single second of every single day .

  52. hope says:

    I guess for me it is the loss of a beloved that keeps the door cracked open. I miss him bottom line. I miss our connectedness and our love and especially our laughter. I know I have to move on. I understand this intrinsically. Yet my heart longs to wrap my arms around him and kiss mim and tell him how important he is to me. This is the 2nd time he has cut off all contact and I fear it will be the last. I am grateful for this site and your stories. I wish I had found it sooner as I may have been able to react more effectively. Now I can’t even apologize as he interprets everythingI say as poisonous and toxic He claims I broke him and he can’t ever be well with me. I know that is not true but it cuts to the core none the less. This web site is invaluable. Thanks you everyone who contributes.

    • amanda says:

      Something just won’t let us give up huh? I doubt that you’ve done anything wrong and need to apologize. I pray everything works out for you.

      • hope says:

        Thank you. He has been vicious for the past many months. I saw him for the first time since may 2 weeks ago and he projected all his bad acts onto me. Told me I closed the door on our relationship, I was never there for him, I was needy and depressing. Yikes he is the most needy and depressing person I know. So yes I am moving on. Yes it sucks. Yes I miss him. Yes I love him. But he doesn’t own his illness or his bad acts. I am worthy and deserving of a mature and responsible partner. He is not that. I love him. I forgive him. I miss him. I wish he would get well and come home. I just don’t think he actually will.

        • patty says:

          Gee,I feel I’m reading my life through all your stories! I honestly thought I was the only one going through this. my husband left me over a year ago and I’ve left the door open also…he has a girlfriend but won’t be honest with me about it.I’ve also decided to not call,text,write. Any more letters etc…he never responded to any of them. we should already be divorced but have a substantial property settlement.I told him to do it, get appraisels put house up for sale etc…because I didn’t want the divorce..he hasn’t moved on anything,what’s your take on this.what is he thinking? is this false hope on my part?

  53. iblong2gsus says:

    It must be this winter vortex…
    2 years ago I reconnected with a high school friend on facebook. We knew each other back then but weren’t very close. In fact, he had dated 2 of my dear friends back then. Anyway, flash forward 20 years and there we were chatting and joking online, getting to know one another and both wondering…what if?
    I had recently broken up with an ex and he and I were discussing what had happened when he decided to share with me that his wife of a year and a half had come home and told him that she thought she had wanted to be married but she didn’t love him and never did! She had 3 boys of her own that he had been helping to raise during the time that they were married. He took care of them while she finished nursing school, etc. He was also finishing up school to make a career move. He was in a band that was pretty successful locally and had even played out in CA a few places. After she ended things he decided to move back home after he graduated. He wanted to be around family.
    He moved back home on my birthday weekend January 2012. He invited anyone that wanted to hang out the following weekend to celebrate his homecoming. I went. There were 3 other girls who showed up. One was a very dear friend of his who he’d known since he was a kid. Another, my old friend from high school that he had dated (you know, the girl who was infatuated at 17, dumped and pining over whether or not she could get him back because she was “in love”. Yeah, still wondering and pining apparently!) and her friend for support. So, the 5 of us hung out all night, had some drinks, talked, laughed, sang along with the jukebox…had a blast! That night, he had offered for me to stay at his Aunt’s house on the couch because I had an hour and half drive home and he (nor I) wanted me to have to drive home after drinking. When we got to his Aunt’s he stopped me outside the car and said, “what if I told you that I’ve been wanting to kiss you all night?” To which I relied, “what are you waiting for?” So, he did. It was nice. He asked me out the following weekend and we continued to date while he was looking for an apartment in the city where I lived and a job. Everything was wonderful. He was attentive, affectionate, fun and we were officially a couple. Then, Feb 14, 2014 happened…I started noticing that he was beginning to back off a bit. The cute texts stopped coming as frequently, he stopped saying he missed me, little things, in my mind, at the time, the kind of stuff you expect will dwindle a bit as the newness of a relationship wears off. We continued dating and getting to know each other. During this time, I found out that his marriage had only been over for 4 months when we started dating. I also found out that it was not his first marriage. He had been married out of college for 7 years. She also walked out on him. I found out that his father abandoned him and his mother when he was a young boy. Also, when his mother remarried she and her new husband was preoccupied with an ill child of his that lived in another state so they traveled quite a bit which left my boyfriend to live with an Aunt. Even after the traveling subsided they decided it was best for him to stay there. I also found out that his mother had told him that she never wanted him. His Aunt became very ill with cancer and passed away. His whole life has been one abandonment after the next. After 18 months, I suggested that maybe we get a place together since we were discussing a future together anyway and it would save us some money. Well, apparently, during the first 18 months we were dating, he was closing up more and more inwardly. I noticed but I thought that if we talked about it we could work through it. 20 months in, We talked, he was realizing that he had a pattern of jumping from relationship to relationship and this was the first time he had lived alone for years. He wasn’t sure about moving in together. He wasn’t even sure what he wanted. He didn’t want to break up but he wasn’t sure what he wanted. He did realize that he had been feeling depressed and that he’d lost interest in a lot of the things he used to love, including playing guitar. Okay. I texted him the following day and heard nothing back from him. In fact, I heard nothing for 3 days! This was extremely out of character and actually caused me to wonder if something serious had happened to him or his step father, who, by the way, had been very sick, had to have surgery and was having trouble recovering…also causing my bf stress. I went to his house only to find out that he hadn’t texted because he just didn’t know what to say. He had been thinking a lot about what I said to him. About not being able to say I love you, not wanting to move in, etc. We talked again. I asked if he ws break ing up with me and he looked as if I had punched him in the gut. He said no. So we talked and continued to date and things seemed to get a little better. I told him that I wasn’t rushing him and if he needed to work through some stuff then I was okay with that. I just wanted to check in on occasion to see where we were. That was November 2013. January 22, 2014, he came to my house and told me that he just wasn’t feeling anything for me. I asked him if he was feeling anything at all. He said not really. He didn’t know if it was the depression or if he just didn’t love me that way. Fine, we decided to break up and he decided to go to therapy. We still talked on the phone, texted, even hung out once a week. Everything was a fine as it could be even though I was hurting. And, I would usually end up tearing up at least once while we were hanging out. He knew I was transitioning and said it was fine. His new was scheduled to play the Hard Rock on Feb 21. I had a ticket. We were supposed to go to a show the following night that we had paid $70 each for and he was moving to his new apartment that weekend so I had taken the weekend off to help with that. Well, on Feb 15, the texts stopped coming again. He promised he would never do this to me again…I sent him a text on the 20 to ask for my tickets for both shows, then, I called that night. He called back and said he had my tickets and would drop them off after work the 21. Then he told me that he needed to disappear for a while. That it had nothing to do with me but he needed to work through some things. And he has. I know he has baggage to deal with and that his illness is real. I suffer from depression myself. It just hurts so badly to know that I can’t do anything to help him or fix the situation. It’s so hard to understand how he can say that he really cares about me and then cut me off. I realize he says it’s only temporary and that when all is said and done there still may be a chance for us. I should be happy that he’s willing to take the time to go to therapy and work through things and that he cared enough to be honest with me and that he didn’t want to lead me on when he’s really uncertain of what he even wants. Why does is have to be so difficult?

  54. tigerlily says:

    I think for many of us, the door is still open because we accept that to a certain extent, this was an unforseen illness that has affected someone we love.

    If my partner got diabetes, or gout, or Parkinson’s or some other disease or disorder that might in some ways cause a life change and adaption for me, would I leave him?

    I suppose at a point, the level of adaption and compromise on account of an illness or ailment sometimes becomes more than a partner is willing to accept in any of these cases. But for a lot os of we can find compassion and acceptance that our loved ones didn’t bring this condition upon themselves and we feel obliged to be supportive of them as they muddle through it.

    Perhaps, the support and aid we continue to lend enables our loved ones to stay in the throes of depression longer or indefinitely, but to a loving person the alternative of turning your back on an ill loved on is unthinkable, unless you have a sound sense that turning away from them is the only way to help them.

    I am not sure in all cases if that is true, maybe so. It is a hard pill to swallow, that is for certain.

    • mm says:

      Well said. I just made another post about this. I finally had to walk but everything you said is true. You hold on and help them because they are sick and ill. But unlike cancer or a physical illness the mental illness can change the SOUL of the DP and I think that’s the difference. And when the soul changes, at least with my DO, I lost him. He became a different man. I’d remind him that this wasn’t him. That he could beat this. Eventually he went from crying when I said it to screaming at me . I beat myself up all the time thinking I did the wrong things. I said too much. Too little. Did too much. Too little. What if I had x y and z? Seriously I’ve driven myself mad over it. I feel guilty. Helpless to help. But I echo your well stated emotions. It’s hard to walk away from someone sick but if we stay are we just enabling them? I finally walked but I worry and pray for him daily. And I am quite sure I’ll always miss him.

  55. ba says:

    My husband of three months left yesterday. This isn’t the first time either. He left for five days three weeks into our marriage. His reason is he is not happy here. Over the last month his behaviour has mirrored your posts on depressed men. Come to think of it his behaviour has always mirrored these posts.
    It’s easier this time around but I’m still dying inside. I haven’t told my kids yet and i would rather die than do this again. Your post helps me make sense of all this but they also have destroyed my hope for his permanent return. I know in my heart now he will never realize his depression and will continue this pattern for the rest of his life.
    What you say in”why is the door always open” is true-it is one less reality to face. He has caused me and my children so much pain in the short time he has been in our life. At the same time my heart remains open if not the door. If he came to me and admitted he has a problem and asked me for a third chance and started the recovery process I would stand by his side. It would take a long time for the door to be open though.
    Thanks for your insight.

  56. Jeannette says:

    I met the guy of my dreams 9 months ago today. We’ve both been through some very difficult relationships – both been left and cheated on, etc. We thought we’d finally found each other. I always joked about us being old together and that I would have to be the one to die first in old age because I would miss him too much. The whole relationship was so lovely. We always held hands. We spoke every day throughout the day, all day. He always said he loved me, xoxo’s, bought me little love tokens, etc. It was sweet. 5 weeks ago, his father who’d been suffering from lung cancer (whom he had a very severed relationship with due to abandonment when he was a kid, but my ex was trying his best to be there)took a turn for the worst. I suggested that he go over there as quickly as possible, as he might not have a chance to say goodbye otherwise. He did and he helped his father the last week of his life. He saw his dad suffer a great deal, but he never got what he wanted, that resolution. His dad. He called me throughout, with updates, to unload, etc. He wanted to come home for a couple of days (his dad lives in another state) for some ‘normalcy’ before heading back to deal with the aftermath. He really wanted to come straight to me before he headed to his own house. He asked me to go with him and his son to the funeral, etc. for support and I went, in a heartbeat. It was difficult. I saw him start to shut down. His relationship with his step and half brothers is chaotic, but family nonetheless. After the funeral we headed back home, where Christmas awaited us 3 days from then. It was more chaos, it was busy, it was a whirlwind of having to do last minute shopping, wrapping, hosting dinner, etc. 3 days after Christmas he decided very impulsively to quit smoking. He warned that he’d probably be a not so nice person for the next few weeks. Between Christmas and New Year’s he became more distant, detached, numb, sad…A couple days later I noticed that our online communication was a little different, not as warm, etc. That night I asked him if everything was ok, if he wanted space to himself that weekend, I was more than happy not to go to his place for the weekend if he just wanted to be by himself. He said he had a lot things in his head, a lot of things were coming up. I had him call me to clarify a few other cryptic things he said in text and he just said it, with no hesitation…I don’t think my heart feels as strongly as yours does for mine. I’ve tried so hard to feel ‘passionately in love’ with you but that should just happen on its own. (I WAS IN SHOCK) He doesn’t feel ‘in love’ with me. He thinks I’m amazing, caring, supportive, the most amazing woman he’s ever met but he can’t feel that ‘passionately in love’ piece that he once felt. (Who does after nine months???) I asked how long he’d been feeling this way and he said 4-5 weeks (basically 1 week before his dad took a turn for the worst.) That was that. He’s shut the door. The person I once knew is gone. What I’m hearing does not match what he was like. At all. He bought me a vintage typewriter for Christmas (I’d once said it would be fun to have so that I could type him love letters) that he carefully researched. 4 weeks prior had bought me a sterling silver antique spoon that was stamped “I love you more than coffee”. 5 weeks prior had said in a text “When are you coming over? Feels like I haven’t seen you in forever. I had a bad dream that you broke up with me and I woke up all sad.” See what I mean??? I just doesn’t make sense. But he just turned that switch off. He told his neighbor that he thought I was amazing but didn’t want to screw up my life. He also said that I could be the perfect woman for him but he honestly didn’t feel ‘in love’ and no once could force him to feel that. I’m so confused. I’m so HURT and SHOCKED. I miss him like crazy. I failed to mention that he’d been on anti-depressants when we first started going out. He’d been on a pretty high dose of Lexapro for 2+ years. He decided to stop taking them cold turkey 4-5 months into our relationship claiming he felt better and that he wanted things to function a little bit better ‘down there’, which had been impacted due to the meds. I need advice.

  57. Mandy says:

    I’m not sure if my situation is a hopeless one, but i’ve always been somewhat of an optimistic person. My ex broke up with me a little over a month ago. He said he didn’t feel in love anymore and he wasn’t happy. Hasnt been since september. He said it had nothing to do with me, but it was him. He regrets his decision but said it had to be this way. Now.. my ex has suffered from depression in his past. In his teens, he resorted to cutting himself. About a year before he met me, he was addicted to pain killers. When he met me however, he changed. He was happier. Didn’t lash out as much as he used to. We had even planned on getting married and having a family. We adopted a dog together (lives with him). There was a point when he did start feeling down in our relationship. That was when he was held out of work for two months for an accident. But when he started work again, he seemed his happy self. My ex is also very into bodybuilding. Twice in our relationship, he cycled pro hormones. It basically killed his sex drive. He did his last cycle in August, and when he finished, and his sex drive didn’t return, I assumed it was just the drugs. I started to notice that he didn’t say I love you as much anymore. Even though he would always tell me he needed me. I guess I just put it all aside. A few days before he broke up with me, he seemed completely normal. He asked me to come over, so I did. We cuddled in bed and he made love to me. So when he broke up with me, I was so confused. I started thinking, maybe it was the steroids. He finally got his hands on the real stuff, and started cycling it about a month before the break up. I’m sure the steroids had something to do with the break up. Most likely enhanced what he was feeling, making it easier for him to walk away. He was so angry during the break up. Started blaming me for ruining his life, but blaming himself for ruining my life. It’s been three weeks since I talked to him. He stopped the steroids, and has since gotten less angry according to his mom. But now he is smoking marijuana. And I know he is doing it because he doesn’t want to feel anything. Doesn’t want to come to terms with everything that happened. Now I’m left wondering what to do. He needs to face reality. And I do love him very much and want him to get better.

  58. Hurt and wiser says:

    I had been with my BF for nearly a year, the first 3 months as friends getting re-acquainted after years apart. He was separated from his wife with no going back. We had feelings for each other and when i thought he was ready we gave it a shot. It was all good and kept re-assuring me of what we had and so we continued the relationship. because at first I was emotionally distant from him but i was just being careful. AS we went further in, I saw him change, age, stress, anxiety and depression set in. The beginnings of divorce and the realization this is happening. I saw something had died in him. I started to feel it was me i wasn’t making him happy anymore. He put obstacles up and we became a struggle in his eyes. He sought help after admitting and through his tears he does have too many issues to talk about but needs to go see someone. I was so proud of him that he found the courage and strength to do this. I stayed supportive and sought help for myself (which he did not know i was doing). However, i think it all go too much for him, suddenly i needed him to support me, I was transitioning jobs and homes, living arrangements for me was not ideal. He didn’t have it in to support me and didn’t want that responsibility after everything he was going through. I know he cared and loved me very deeply and I knew him better than he knew himself, which scared him. He went cold on me, I could see it was killing him that we were falling apart. Through tears he told me he couldn’t commit to the relationship i deserved and didn’t feel anything for me anymore. I was shattered to hear that, I told him OK i will step back from us so he can focus on him and work out what he wants. Because I did not want to force him to have a relationship with me and we end up hating each other. It was not less than a week he started dating someone else and is now in relationship with her. It has only been 2 months. It hurts because i gave and showed him love, tenderness, compassion, unconditional love but when I needed that he took the easy option of finding someone who was already established in steady career and owned a house because his life was a mess and needed that comfort and stability. He couldn’t wait and stick by me, like i did with him. We were texting at low level but now it’s like I no longer exist to him and that we never happened. I had to go and collect my things from his old place after he vacated because he couldn’t do the right thing and return them.

  59. Go Ahead, You Can Hate Me says:

    I am a man.

    Many say I “suffer from depression”…

    the truth is, I suffer from pathological anger.

    I have been lied to, cheated on, had my possessions destroyed by carelessness, been taken for granted, sacrificed my hobbies, enjoyment, and personal space; been dumped for rich guys, been dumped for macho guys, had dates walk out on me because I drove an old-dilapidated truck. I have been ignored and treated like furniture or a fashion accessory. I have been manipulated, and had sex doled-out like a dog biscuit. I have had my home invaded and taken-over as if I didn’t exist. I have been told that I should live in my man-cave in the basement like all the other men. I have pleaded for my significant-others to go do things with me that I’m interested in. I have tried to break the vapid discussion of nail salons with thoughtful conversations regarding the course of mankind. I have been repeatedly ignored when answering the same question for umpteen times. I have requested that my possessions be treated with respect, over, and over. I have spent my hard-earned money on women who were more than happy to accept the favors and lead me on, while only biding their time for more promising prospects. I have been castigated for holding doors open.

    But, I have always lived my life with passion.

    I was divorced with kids and working 60 hours a week by the time I was 25. I was earning over $60k/yr. by the time I was 30. I have lived with 8 women, and been madly in love infinite times, and had my heart ripped out one less time than that… I have had over 25 different jobs…

    Many times I have stayed out all night dancing till 6AM. Many weekends I have stayed in bed screwing all day. I have gone up and done aerobatics in airplanes, ridden in balloons, ridden motorcycles, jet-skied, camped, snorkeled, deep sea fished, sailed in catamarans, played volleyball, trained in martial arts, I wrote poetry, built furniture, am an excellent artist and cook, I am an excellent auto mechanic because I am an engineer… when I was in my 30’s and went back to school, young women invited themselves to my place to “study”, and I have had sex with too many women to remember their names and faces… I used to bicycle 20 miles every day before dinner, and when I was flat-broke, I would run 3 miles every night after school. I have lost everything, three times…

    The happiest I have ever been in my entire life was when I finally emotionally recovered from my divorce, was dirt-poor, working two jobs, and was living alone, with only a drafting board, an exercise machine, a reading lamp, a bookshelf, a recliner, a mattress on the floor, and was driving a rusted-out and broken-down pickup truck. I have never felt more alive.

    Now, I have a nice car, a 2800 sq. ft. house, and have worked my way to the threshold of a 6-figure salary, nice furnishings, nice clothes, and the same live-in girlfriend for over ten years who is honest, loyal, mellow-tempered, self-reliant, and makes more money than I do. I have never been more miserable.

    We have no life together. Her entertainment consists of dinners in fancy restaurants, going to movies, watching TV, traveling, and reading… she lives vicariously, she risks nothing, she prefers things she can sit around and talk to other people about as she holds a glass of red wine in her hand.

    I am tired of telling her the same things over and over without her remembering. I’m tired of things that I have sold my life to obtain being abused. I’m tired of her disorderly and careless habits wasting the one life God has given me. I am tired of dragging her to do things she doesn’t want to do. I am tired of her not valuing those aspects of the very core of who I am. I’m tired of her taking no interest in those things that are precious to me. She lives life at the edge of unconsciousness, on autopilot, totally detached from the world around her, predominately unaware of what goes on around her.

    Night after night I sit next to her, numb, staring at the TV.

    Sometimes, we make a big ordeal out of “going out” and she dances two songs and we are done. I have no passion for her, she has bad breath because she eats garlic constantly, “it’s good for your cholesterol.” She has bad feminine odor, bad flatulence, and has let herself go because she is lazy and unkempt from living a privileged life. Exercise for her is pulling weeds, or making a show doing yoga in front of the TV. She is sexually inhibited and prude, she is incapable of using the term “tits” or “boobs”.

    Her cooking is terrible, because it suits her, and she doesn’t really care if anybody else likes it. I have not time or desire for any of my former hobbies because we are now both unemployed, and all the money I’m willing to spend is for maintenance on the house that is consuming my soul. A house I bought so she would be happy, a house that she stood in the doorway of and cried when we moved in. I am so emotionally drained that I have nothing left for my lifelong creative hobbies. The only emotion I feel these days, if at all, is unfocused, un-directed, anger.

    Life has become a bland, boring, water torture.

    Three miles away, there is a beautiful widow who is 20 years my younger. She thinks I’m dashing, brilliant, and hilarious, and I think she’s gorgeous, sexy, ambitious, and funny. She has three beautiful kids that are brilliant and hard-working, like her. She loves the outdoors and does a lot of the hobbies and sports that I once did. She loves my house and still mentions it occasionally.

    I can easily picture me stepping into their lives and giving the children a father, giving her a husband who respects her and treats her like she deserves. Someone who understands her difficult life because he has lived it himself, is not scared of it, and is willing to be a partner that helps her through it, believing that having a partner to work with me in this adventure of life is worth more than all the money and comfort in the world. I stumbled across a description of “My Dream Girl” that I wrote back in 1986… this young lady fits that description to a “T”. “Ain’t it hard to belong to someone else, when the right one comes along…”

    Pride is a painful burden.

    When we love someone, we place their well-being ahead of our own, and their happiness becomes more important than our own. For a while, the end of a relationship can be concealed from a numb and self-absorbed partner, and they may remain happy. But, sooner or later, a person who truly loves their partner may still realize that staying in a relationship they no longer want is still, also toxic for the unconscious one. Sometimes, doing what is in the long-term best interest of someone you love too much to hurt, requires hurting them anyway. If we love someone, we realize that it is more important that they be ultimately happy… than that they be specifically happy only with us. If you love them, let them go, let them be happy elsewhere.

    In the end, while a wife is sitting in a marriage admiring herself for how wonderful she is to her husband… her husband may be wishing he could be somewhere with a woman who was thinking about him and his needs, priorities, and desires, instead.

    • gg says:

      Dang, I wish you were my neighbor “three miles away.”

      I never had children – not because I didn’t want to, but because I never met the right guy – so rather, I have possessions. Cars, motorcycles, snowboards, “things.” I take very good care of all of it. I’ve always believed that if it’s not yours, you should take even better care of it (rental cars, for instance!) I’m not a frilly girl, as you can probably tell.

      I love the outdoors. I’d rather do anything but sit in front of the TV. I’m willing to try almost anything once – “aerobatics in airplanes, snorkeled, deep sea fished, sailed in catamarans, trained in martial arts, built furniture.” I’d like to snorkel and sail more than once. But alas, we are merely virtual pen pals.

      Good luck to you, and to me.

    • Aileen says:

      Wow…do I have a lot to say…but first, let me test my thread.

  60. Optimistic5 says:

    I am in a very bad place at the moment trying to come to terms with my partner ending our relationship after 20 months suddenly.
    We were very happy told each how much we loved each other everyday. We didn’t live together and this was part of the problem for him. He had been divorced for 3 years but was still sorting finances out with his ex. All his money was in the large family home he once shared with her and his daughter. The ex didn’t want to sell the house so they are going to court. This has been very draining for him as he is living with his parents and feels ashamed to be a man in his 40s living with his parents. I have always reassured him that things would get better and it doesn’t matter where he lived as long as we are together. He said I made him very happy and wanted to grow old with me, and talked about looking at living together one day when everything was settled with his ex.
    One night he asked to see me, he told me he can’t do it anymore. I deserved better than him, he loved me but hated the fact he couldn’t offer me anything. I told him I don’t want anything only him. He wouldn’t change his mind.
    He now won’t communicate with me, I have seen him once since the split 6 weeks ago and he couldn’t look me in the face.
    Now to make matters worse I have found out I’m pregnant. I have told him, and a week later he responded by saying he can’t speak to me about it but will support me with whatever my decision. How he can support some he can’t look at let along speak to I don’t know.
    Is he suffering with depression? I love him so much even after he turned his back on me.

  61. Jen says:

    I would appreciate any thoughts or shared experiences anyone can share-thank you!

  62. Jen says:

    Hi everyone,

    In August my husband moved out. He has suffered from depression his whole life. We have been together for 18 years, lived together for 12 and have been married for 7. We have been through many struggles. I have always felt that his depression has been a barrier to our intimacy. Which unfortunately caused me to put up some barriers of my own. Thus, we struggled. We both love one another very much but in the past year he has just gotten further and further away from me. Without any discussion of the need for a separation, I came home one morning after walking the dog, to find him packing boxes and telling me he was moving out.

    We have had conversations about our struggles and never came to any solutions. We tired to have children in 2010 and I found out I cannot. That threw him into a major depression by 2011. So badly that he told me that his life will have no meaning unless he has a child of his own with his own wife and since I couldn’t give him that he would have to find someone new with whom to make a family. I told him that if that is how he felt, he needed to find a new place to live. He decided he didn’t want to leave me, and stayed. He started medication and we went to counseling together for a year. He went off his meds after 6 months and within the year he moved out of our room and became more and more withdrawn. He has told me he has been suicidal on two occasions since 2011. He also expressed suicidal thoughts in high school. He has never shown any angry behaviors as described.

    He does not want to be on medication and has told me this is “just the way he is” and that because of that we just aren’t good for each other. Many times he has said ” I just want to be happy”. Before he was diagnosed (in 2007) I always took it to heart that I was making him unhappy.

    When he left he told me he just needed to end the pain. Since then he has told me he still loves me and doesn’t want to waste the last 18 years of our loves. He moved 4 miles away so he could ” be here if I needed him”. He said I can still have contact with him. He is still paying his half of the expenses on our home.

    I am heartbroken and confused. I really don’t think he is ever coming back. He started counseling and told me he wants to include me at some point. He leaves the door open just enough to give me a spark of hope.

    This site has been very helpful to me. Thank you to all who have posted. I love my husband but I don’t know that I will have a chance to love him again. This all makes me very, very sad.

  63. h is for hope and happiness says:

    Hi there,
    My husband and I have been together for 17 years and we have 3 small children. Like most people I thought we had a great relationship. Friends and family even commented that we have the “perfect” relationship, I believed it too.

    Until last year my husband picked up a new hobby. I supported him and went with him because it was also our “date night”. But he became so obsessed with it that he started pushing me away. Cracks started to show in our relationship but I tried to ignore it and pulled inside myself more. Communication, trust and honesty just went out the door. My husband always had a roving eye and enjoyed his porn, but I turned a blind eye because I trusted him. I would complain about it sometimes and he just became more secretive. There was never anything wrong with our sex life because I have given him every fantasy he has ever had.

    In June we were still ok, I had a nagging feeling that we need to sort out our problems but didn’t know how to. In July it all changed. He became angry, stayed away late from work. I would ask him what’s wrong and what I can do and if we are still ok. He would only reply that he is stressed at work and finances but it would sort itself out and he will be ok. In early August he dropped the bomb to say he is depressed and things need to start to change.

    I tried to help him to get help but he only pulled away further and further, staying away and not coming home anymore. In September I found out he is seeing someone else, they work together. She is 21 and he is 37. I think this has been going on since July. He has moved out of the house but says he sleeps at the office, I don’t believe him. As I can figure out it started as an emotional affair. I asked him if they are having sex but he said: “No, not in that context”. He is adamant that it is over between us and he sees a future with her. But he has yet not asked for a divorce.

    He is slipping further and further away from me. He ignores my calls and texts unless it’s about the kids or money. I think he is falling in love with her more and more. I used to be overweight after I had the kids but I,m only skin and bones now. All the weight I’ve lost will take other people a year to lose, it took me a month and a half. I have also only been sleeping about 3 hours in 3 days. I have never been in such an emotional turmoil and have thought of ending my life but I could never do that to my kids. I love them too much. It took a wake up call from my mother to make me see what I was doing. I was neglecting myself and my children over this obsession over my husband to get him back.

    I’m not very religious but I started talking to God. And yes I’ve also had my fights with Him because He didn’t want to do what I was asking Him to do. Slowly but surely, I’m getting better, I’m eating again and the Lord is working through me while I’m sleeping. I was ready to tell my husband on Monday that I want a divorce, but all the things that came out of my mouth was just wrong and my husband fled out of the house angry before I could tell him. Of course I raged with God of how could He put words in my mouth to anger my husband and push him further away. On Tuesday it became clear to me that God meant for me to hold my tongue over the divorce. He made me realise that we made a vow before Him , for better or worse, in sickness and in health. He is sick right now, and I know that he would’ve done the same with me if I was sick. I’m still confused over what I must do, what I must say anymore. I’m seeing my husband today and am very nervous to open my mouth but God has told me last night to be still and calm now. To leave it in His hands now. He will show me the way. I strongly believe in our Lord Jesus Christ right now. He is our Saviour and we must put our trust in Him. My door will always be open for Him and him. Amen.

    • Angie says:

      I feel for you and your situation. A 21 year old doesn’t know life and he is making a huge mistake. Do please take care of yourself and continue to put this in Gods hands. This husband of yours is very lost.

      • h is for hope and happiness says:

        Hi Angie
        Thank you for the encouragement. I have yet to see my husband. Everytime I feel sad and hopeless, I grab my Bible and feel an instant calm coming over me. I’m taking one step at a time. I am in therapy myself and making plans for me and our kids’ future. It’s going to be difficult for me on Saturday because it’s our 11th wedding anniversary but I’m sure God will carry me through the day. I am staying positive and decided to be positive towards my husband because nothing else works anyways. I’m taking each day as it comes and waiting patiently for God to do His work in my husband.

    • patty says:

      Wow….you almost told my situation word for word! My husband and I have no kids together,but he has a grown son and I have a grown daughter. he was married 3 times before we hooked up and he was only 35…we married and were married 23 yrs.I had been married once before also. it was a mistake from the beginning but was in that marriage 13 yrs.when my current husband and I met it was magic,at least I thought so. he started changing about 5 yrs.ago at least that’s when I started to see changes.some of the changes were my fault. I know I took a lot for granted but I thought we were OK. we were best friends above everything,again at least I thought. I found some things,high heels,stockings,women’s clothing in his man cave he thought were well hidden. He denied any wrong doing,then he said it was his fantasy to wear these things. the show size made me believe it may be true… Size 11 is pretty big for a woman,and he wears a 10 and a half. don’t know if he was bringing women in when I was gone or I’d he was wearing this stuff..what do you think…either way I think its sick

  64. Lili says:

    This is a very good article, especially in my case. My partner of 4 years is going through depression and he have hit the very bottom of it recently. Now he feels too much pressure from the relationship, he feel that because he can’t respond to me emotionally he owes me and its the pressure that drives him even more deeper into depression as he feel hes incapable of love or a relationship. Today we finally had another talk. And i have to say, thank god, he have accepted that he need professional help. While i assured him that i am completely aware of his loss in the ability to feel. I will give him the space he need, but i will be here to help and support and i am okay with that. He said that knowing now that i am ok, have lifted a huge weight off his chest. I guess like all women, i have hope. It was so much happiness then suddenly that man’s gone. There’s no word to describe how hard it is, but he has not given me the final words of ending the relationship, and with him now going to get help. I can only pray that we will see the end of this, together.

  65. Beachcomber says:

    My husband and I are retired educators and have been married over 30 years. We have grown apart and become best friends instead of lovers. A great deal of traumatic events have led up to this. I went into exploratory surgery for possible ovarian cancer in 1997. It was just supposed to be an endoscopy and my family was well aware that I did not want a hysterectomy. By the way, this all happened a little less than a year after I lost my 59 year-old mom to Alzheimer’s Disease. Her illness was very depressing and difficult for me. (I am now the age she was when she got the disease.)
    Anyway, when the doctor looked in with the endoscopy, he found endometriosis and while I was still under anesthesia , he talked to my husband and had him sign for the complete hysterectomy. That is when my libido plummeted, despite several types of Hormone Replacement Therapy. Well, actually, my libido had lessened during the illness and death of my mom, too. I was pretty resentful of the hysterectomy because it truly was not necessary. I was in no pain, but the doctor convinced my husband to sign for it.
    Then, out oldest child (teen) began having problems with depression and OCD. He became difficult to deal with and was hospitalized in a treatment facility by his psychiatrist. After our son began college, we discovered that he was not attending classes and had begun using marijuana regularly, taking prescriptions drugs and drinking excessively. After about 8 years of on and off supporting him and kicking him out, his therapy has helped him stop using any drugs and stop drinking entirely. But those years of his addictions were very difficult for my husband and me and caused us extreme stress.
    The last three years of my teaching career were extremely stressful for me and I had to take Zoloft to get through it. I developed high blood pressure from the stress and had to be hospitalized. The Zoloft worked for me and I was weaned off of it.
    I became very distrustful of him and our relationship when during my 3 year depression due to a rumor about a supposed affair between him and a co-worker. I wanted to believe him when he said it wasn’t true, and we even sat down with the woman together and talked about it. She was a teacher’s aid at the school where he taught and he had even taught her when she was younger. The two of them were assigned duties at school where they had to supervise children together. She was close friends with the teacher’s aid in my husband’s classroom and hung out in there with her a lot. So, the situations at work placed them in the same places at times. This was a very unstable woman who had a reputation of always needing drama in he life, and she was married with two children. We later found out that she had been telling people she was having an affair with him.
    I just about lost it when all this occurred and my husband got so despondent that he left me overnight and called and said he would only return if I told him I believed him. I never had the chance to process the entire situation and have felt that he controlled me and bullied me into saying something to him that I wasn’t ready to say…or feel. This was the very week of our younger son’s graduation and I felt like I had to say those words to avoid ruining our son’s graduation.
    I think I have harbored resentment about this for years and have also had doubt because I wasn’t able to process it at the time.
    Now, my husband is very depressed and is staying at his parents’ house. We are expecting our first grandchild this spring and I am thrilled and he is not. Says he doesn’t want to be a grandfather because he says he does not want to get old. He runs for long periods of time. He works out at the gym for hours and hours (like maybe 4) and he has lost weight. His normal weight is around 190 because he is very muscular and in good shape, but now weighs around 170. He has stopped eating hardly anything at all and is losing a ton of calories that he is not replacing. He started losing his hair a few years ago and is extremely sensitive about that. Very sensitive.
    He says I have pushed him away for years and that he doesn’t feel connected to our home anymore. He says he feels like his universe has shifted. He says his dog doesn’t love him anymore. He looks terrible and too thin. He has this sadness in his eyes and can barely walk around, but runs a 5K every weekend.
    We have an appointment on Monday to see a marriage counselor and he has an appointment Tuesday to see a psychiatrist (the one who treated our son.) I don’t know what else to do next.

  66. reallysuki says:

    Firstly, everything I say comes from a good place and if it sounds harsh I apologize, but in my life I have found that dealing with depression is a harsh reality. I ended a six year relationship 2 months ago. We had the ‘honeymoon’ period for the first couple of years, but my partner suffered depression for the majority of those years but I chose to blinker myself to it, to make allowances. Withdrawal, abandonment, exclusion, refusal to socialize with me, interact with me and no sexual intimacy for 2 years were ‘normal’. Last year was the biggest/longest episode. Fine in the morning, normal chit chat, plans for him to call over that night and then ? No contact for six months, no word, no text, no phone call, no email no answer,(from him) but plenty of tears, anger, worry, frustration, begging, pleading, bribing, threatening (from me). Then he came back and things were ‘good’. Then 2 months ago he snuck out of my house at 5 a.m. not be heard of for 2 weeks. He came back again, no apologies, no acknowledgement of the pain and grief he had caused me and something clicked in my head and I realized that there was NOTHING that I could do. That I was hanging on to something that was good a long time ago but right now in reality wasn’t there. I have a long history with depression. My mother suffered from clinical depression her whole life. My Dad is my hero. He did his best to shield me as best he could but you can’t shield anyone in the orbit of depression. One thing I learned from him was not to put your life on hold. To get out and do things that make YOU happy and to not put your happiness into the hands of someone else. I ignored this life lesson for six years, possibly because I always felt guilty because of my mum’s depression and now here I was in a relationship as an adult in the exact same situation. Hard lesson learned. I cannot fix anyone. I had a huge need to be needed and my depressed partner fulfilled those needs for me. That was how I learned what ‘love’ was from my mum. Her withdrawal and indifference to me made me want to make her happy, to fix her. When it didn’t work I felt guilty and blamed myself. I was a kid then with no choice. Here I am, an adult with a choice repeating the exact same patterns. The big break of six months devastated me. the last break made me actually for once look at myself, my own needs, my own thoughts and it made me strong.

    When my partner walked out 2 months ago and then came back I told him that this wasn’t something that I could handle. this was not the kind of relationship that I needed to fulfill myself and that if I stayed in the relationship I would only ending up resenting and probably eventually hating him. I wished him all the best, told him I would always be there if he needed to talk, but I couldn’t be his crutch/scapegoat anymore. We have parted with love in our hearts for each other but an understanding that we can’t continue. My partner refuses to get treatment and for that I am truly sad but my own self and my own happiness must take precedence

    I guess what I’m trying to say is ‘the door is always open’ because, particularly women, we love to nuture, to help, to fix. For me it was also guilt and a fear of being on my own. I sat down and thought about being alone and I realized that there is probably nothing than can make me unhappier than the constant withdrawal, rejection and exclusion being thrust upon me by my (ex)partner. I think when someone reacts by withdrawing, you need to grieve your relationship, take stock and invest in yourself. Depression is a fiercely selfish illness! But I needed to make my happiness MY selfish need. And I have and I have grieved, took stock and stood up and very gently closed the door.

    • Cecily says:

      Thanks for writing this, hard truths and all. It’s a reality I’ve had to acknowledge in the last couple months and as difficult as it is to accept, I know that closing the door is the best thing I could do for myself.

      Best wishes as you continue to focus on yourself and start to enjoy living again.


      • VG says:

        Thank you for writing this. I hope I can have the inner strength to gently close that door if need be..

        • reallysuki says:

          VG you are probably a lot stronger than you realise. You need inner strength whilst trying to support someone suffering with depression and when you turn the focus and that strength on to yourself you’ll see.

          Keep strong and keep the faith <3

      • reallysuki says:

        And to you Cecily. It is possibly the hardest decision ever to make but as long as it is the best decision for you then you know its the right one. Its not easy, but every day gets a little brighter and the load a little bit lighter.

        Keep strong and keep the faith <3

  67. Angela says:

    My partner (ex) and I were together for over a year and a half. I knew he suffered from depression although he would never talk about it. He always used the brave face option. I had never clicked with anyone the way I did with him. He was funny, kind and considerate. He had a lot of money worries and lost his job. He drank a fair bit as it helped him cope and get some sleep. Every now and again he would go into moods where he would say something nasty but this was seldom rather than the norm. He had a bereavement a couple of months ago and we seemed to get closer than ever for a while. Then out of the blue he sent me a message saying his heart wasn’t in it and he had to change his life and that he had to do it alone but maybe we could be friends. That was about a month ago. He initially ignored any texts then started replying to the occasional one and now we are back to no contact atall from him. My problem is this … I love him. But as each day goes on my self esteem gets lower and lower. I want to be there for him but he has shut me out of his life. I tried to keep contact with little messages saying I hoped he was out enjoying the sunshine etc but he stopped replying. After a while I sent him a message that I felt like a pest and if he ever wanted a friend he knew where I was but I wouldn’t be sending him any more messages. I cried after sending it as all I want is my old boyfriend back … Not the cold stranger he appears to be now. Guess it’s time for me to try to heal and for him to have alone time. So very sad though.

    • e says:


      I’m in a similar position to you. I think less contact for a while is best. I have been advised that giving it time. If you like see it as a chance for you both to heal a little possibly a few weeks or another month? and then you can try to have a conversation.

      This is my plan at the moment, until i get the chance to have a conversation i will do everything I can to look after myself and try to assume that the relationship really is over. I can’t stop the little dash of hope I have and I don’t think we should try to push that away but maybe see it as just something small.

      Let me know how you get on too

  68. Cecily says:

    Hi John
    (or anyone else who has experienced a similar situation and would like to offer support/advice),

    I want to thank you first for sharing your thoughts and personal experiences; they have helped to clarify much of what I was going through emotionally and mentally with my depressed partner.

    I wanted to ask your thoughts on providing support to an ex-partner who is depressed and not actively seeking help.

    I’ll try and give you a short synopsis of my situation. I am currently in a period of no contact with my depressed partner/ex-partner. It has been a month and a half since I last saw him and over a month since we last spoke (I don’t live with him). His last episode ended in a break up. Circumstances brought us together again not long after the breakup and we gave the relationship another go. I had read about the the symptoms and effects of depression during his last no contact episode and considered myself better informed but still did not see the warning signs that another episode was on its way.

    About three months later, after giving it another try, our relationship started slipping again; he was often short with me, didn’t initiate intimate contact and I was generally unhappy with our time together. All the warning signs were there but I failed to take notice. Our last conversation ended in an argument. He let me know that he was starting to feel depressed again but did not let me know earlier because he knew I would get mad. (I had threatened leaving him once if he put me through another no contact episode). However, I feel that I was pretty supportive during his last episode; he even described my behaviour as “perfect” during that time. We had a small argument over him pointing out my flaws and me asking how would he like it if I did the same. I told him he should stop acting like a baby and get his life in order (I know, not very nice to hear if you’re depressed). After we ended our phone conversation, that was the last I heard from him. I called about a week later in a frustrated mood and left a message telling him that I didn’t expect to be hearing from him soon and would not hold my breath to hear from him.

    I know that I cannot stay in a relationship like this and although I did love him, I’ve rode the emotional roller coaster for too long. Of course, I would love to stay with him and long for the intimate, happy moments we had but they are too few and far between to sustain a healthy relationship.

    So, here’s the jist of my question: I’ve made up my mind that I cannot go back to him when or if he makes contact again, but I feel the need to make amends. I also care about him enough that I don’t want him to waste his life this way. He has made it clear before that he doesn’t want to be back on medication and I know that you can’t help someone that doesn’t want help. I think he is in quite a bad place right now, I have no way of knowing other than showing up at his doorstep but I don’t want to intrude like that, as I know that solitude is one of his ways of dealing with his depression. Should I write him a letter? Let him know that he’s a great guy, with a lot to offer and not to be to afraid to ask for help if he needs it?

    What a frustrating situation to be in, but as bad as it seems for myself, I understand enough about depression to know that it’s much worse for the sufferer.

    Any advice would be much appreciated and best wishes to all of you out there dealing with depression in one way or another.

  69. Anonymous says:

    Such a good question. My husband left me with two small children (ages 2 and 4) earlier this summer. He has withdrawn almost completely. He is in counseling and we even tried couples counseling for a little while but he was so totally withdrawn that there was no point anymore. He continues his own counseling for now and sees the children sometimes.

    Why is the door open? Well, maybe someday it won’t be. For now, my heart and door remain open because:
    – This man who has suddenly left out of the blue is not my husband. When I look at him I see a stranger. I don’t want to be married to this man, this man who has left, but my heart longs for the man I know and who has been my lover, partner, best friend, and co-parent all these years. That is the man to whom my door is always open.
    – He is my family.
    – I vowed to remain with him in good times and bad and in sickness and in health. He is sick. These times are bad. But they aren’t the entirety of our life together, and they don’t define our marriage and our family.
    – I want to treat him the way I would want to be treated if I were as ill as I believe him to be.
    – I see his longing to be with our children. I hear about how much pain he’s in. He looks like a hollow person to me, a shell of himself.
    – I miss him. We had a wonderful marriage – a great friendship, great comfort together, great sex. Not perfection, nothing shiny and false. And I’m sure there were problems that I didn’t fully appreciate (my anxiety, especially after having children; his inability to ask for what he needed ). But I miss the partner who’s now gone. I miss that marriage and that family and I’m not ready to abandon hope that they can be reclaimed.

    I hope (though at the moment I am not hopeful exactly) that our marriage will survive. The door isn’t open, no questions asked, no demands to be made. If we can preserve our marriage, we’ll both need to continue therapy. And we’ll need to be in therapy together so that we can handle things differently. Keeping the door open doesn’t mean excusing the awful behavior and accepting him back without making demands. It just means that I want my family to be together. I know that will take a lot of work, but I just can’t imagine how it couldn’t be worth it.

    Oh, and my children. He is their father and he’s a wonderful, wonderful father to them, especially when he’s himself, when he’s not this hollow, sad man. I owe it to my children, who are so small, to help their father, to do everything I can to help him be whole (which for now is almost nothing aside from granting him space, which has been so hard, and I have mostly completely failed) and to leave the door open so that he can come home and make their family whole again with me.

    • Felicity says:


      You expressed yourself beautifully there and I agree with you whole heartedly. We welcome the return of the people we initially fell in love with, not the return of the unrecognisable shell that left us. There is great difficulty in letting go of the memory of the great man we fell for, in reality the shell of the man is what could be there to stay. We just don’t know. Sometimes hoping for hope is the more painful option. I hope that what is best for you will come to you. Just as I hope the same for me. I miss the man I fell in love with terribly, but the man he is now is not good for me. Nor is the man now good for you.

      There is comfort in knowing that others are going through the same thing as me. I makes me much more aware of how common this situation is.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Anonymous –

      That’s a beautiful statement and wonderful guiding thoughts for keeping the door open. It can’t be easy to reach this balancing of heart and head, and I’m sure it’s not easy to keep it going. But your thinking and feeling pretty much match mine right down the line.

      All my best to you and my hope that you can get the man you married back some day.

      Thank you for writing this.


    • hopeandlove says:

      This absolutely captures my heart and soul. You could have not said it better. My husband ran away just over a year ago after a few months of very strange and troubling behaviour. He left me and my 3 teenage children. He comes and goes on his schedule and we never know who will walk through the door. A man who is withdrawn, a man who is extremely happy or maybe someone we might actually recognize.

      I too feel like you – I can’t just close the door. There is a man in there who is desperately trying to feel anything. He is not well. I made a vow to him over 20 years ago to love in sickness and in health. Just because I deserve better does not mean that I give up. It does not define me , him or our marriage or our family. This is just a trial that we have to go through. There has to be a reason for this – maybe growth for both of us. Maybe for him to learn how to like himself, love himself if I dare dream. There has to be something good that will come from all this pain. Do they not say rises from the ashes is the Phoenix. Could this not be true for our husbands, our marriages, for us.

      I agree with every statement you made. Please know you are not the only one going through this. I understand. Not many in the real world do though. They want us to move on, let go of the love, the pain and start fresh. They have forgotten what it meant to love, to take a vow to love and honour or they just have never walked this path before.

      I find the outside influences hard on me. I believe in me, my husband and the life we were meant to have, not the one it has evolved in.

    • mariette says:

      O my goodness. I can’t believe how many of us is out there… well said my dear. I will keep my door open for the man i fell in love with!

  70. Felicity says:

    The door is open because it is not us that has left. They left. I am currently going through a very painful situation where my depressed partner ended the relationship and I had no other choice but to move out. The door is open because I believe in his recovery and I believe that love and happiness can be “found” again. I have decided to take a step back from in all in order to heal. I have not closed my door permanently, only to keep out the storm, but there are no locks, chains and bolts on it. I agree with John to a certain extent with regards to communication. Yes this could all have been avoided if we communicated properly but with the nature of depression regardless of what I was saying it was being filtered through ski goggles of a different colour and though massive winter ear muffs. So all the closeness and honestly that i was conveying was being translated as “I am not happy with you. I do not like living with you. It would make me happier if you left me” when in reality what was being said is the total opposite. I miss him dearly and I am dealing with my own grief, abandonment and worries. I long for him to come back, I wish he would. But if I chase it he will run further down into his rabbit hole. My door is not locked, it is pushed over to keep out the tornado that has ripped though it and is circling the perimeter. But there is a door bell, there is a knocker and there is even a key under the mat. I hope they are used. I pray that they are.

    • VG says:

      Have you ever said that to your partner?

      My door is not locked, it is pushed over to keep out the tornado that has ripped though it and is circling the perimeter. But there is a door bell, there is a knocker and there is even a key under the mat.

      I really like that..

      • Lili says:

        what a lovely description indeed, it’s perfect.
        But i guess thats what’s it like for all of us. While no final word has been given for my own relationship, so im somewhere in the middle. No action have been taken yet to recover what has been lost, its too early for that. But no definite line have been drawn for ending it. And he seemingly agree to still continue to see me and be together. I have taken a step back from being around him as much as i could, as he claims it gave him alot of pressure from not being able to reciprocate love at the moment. So im going to limit communication as much as i could. But i guess for all of us abandoned SOs, the person who hurt us is not the person we devoted ourselves to, and we are in hope that person who ripped our hearts out and left with them will follow his way back home and put our hearts back into that empty hole our chests.

  71. Nicky says:

    “I think, though, that if the closeness and honesty – the learning from each other – had been there, it’s more likely that the man would not lose touch with that”

    I was surprised to read the quote from you above John, as it contradicts everything you’ve been saying about depression and why people leave. My boyfriend was trying desperately to let me in and talk about how he was feeling… It was just too much for him to be able to cope with. After a month or two of trying to keep things going with me, he could no longer handle it- knowing he was hurting me all the time.

    The closeness was there but that was part of the reason for leaving…

    A friend of mine who did a similar thing to his girlfriend told me that he had to end it because being with someone he loved so much and thought so much of and who he thought he didn’t deserve, was too hard. It made him feel even worse about himself. Every time she did something kind, it reminded him of how he was feeling and he felt he didn’t deserve her. It just amplified the pain he felt by having her in his life.

    Why leave the door open? Because you love them and want to help them. As you said its an illness. If someone came home with a broken leg you wouldn’t ignore it or do anything other than jump up and make sure they could get to their crutches!

    If someone is in a delicate mental state then telling them it’s over and closing that door might be pushing them over the edge?

    For me, I know my boyfriend is hurting enough. I don’t want to add to his hurt. I fear he may be seeing someone else to try to make himself feel better and by getting rid of me… None of that matters. I need to be able to walk away knowing I did nothing other than try to show my love and support. It’s about me as much as it is him. I ended the relationship the way I started it – with love in my heart. I could get angry or tell him how much he’s hurt me, but don’t see how this would help. If he won’t get help at the moment, making him feel worse is just cruel. I don’t think it would make him realise what was going on or face up to things. He already knows, but is refusing to admit it to himself. I think it would give him an excuse… He’s blaming me and if I walk away it will become a “she never loved me, it was her fault” cycle. As it is, he knows it’s not me. By me being kind it makes his behavior seem all the more odd and, rightly or wrongly, I think that will make him see what a mess he is in.

    Realistically… It’s not possible to know the answers to any of the questions we have. Half the time the people we want the answers from haven’t a clue what is happening to them or why they are doing what they are. Just as we feel confused, I think they are equally as desperate for an answer as to why they are doing what they are. Some people can’t cope with not having a clear answer. My boyfriend said he was confused and didn’t know how he felt. Being confused is a place. He couldn’t cope with it… If he felt confused that must mean he didn’t love me. Accepting confusion as a position was too much.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Nicky –

      It took me a while to find the line you quote since it’s in one of the comments rather than the post itself. There is a little more there – “at least that’s what happened in my case.” And then I say how difficult it is to generalize. I don’t think I’m contradicting everything I usually say – the post as a whole is about how hard it is to offer advice. I describe being caught between a rational, judgmental view of some of the men in the stories (I’m probably still blaming myself here too for my own past) and the emotional power of love and all the other feelings that take over when the person you’re closest to walks out. I’ve never suggested that speaking angrily to a depressed partner would help, but I have said that being honest about your feelings – in a supportive way and when the other person is able to hear what you’re saying – could be very helpful. You bring out a central problem – the pain of living in confusion, and both partners are deeply confused at a time like this. I can talk about depression being in control or responsibility for consequences, but in a human sense when you hear someone sobbing their heart out in agony, rational explanations don’t mean much. People in love are hurting.

      This post has always given me trouble – I’m on thin ice and wind up falling through. It was more about my frustration than anyone else’s situation, but it doesn’t come across that way and should be edited or pulled. I’m sorry if the post and comment were offensive or seem coolly dismissive of such powerful feelings. That wasn’t the intent at all.


      • Sahmmy says:

        My husband of 23 years bounces between both types described above. The door is open to the future, but not to abuse, and drama. I set boundaries through my actions not words. Husband knows he must speak to me respectfully or I walk away. I will not hash out grievances until he shows evidence that he is no longer ‘confused’.
        Why? Because I love the man I married, I am committed to the vows I made of for better or worse, good times and bad, and so on. Because I have faith in the man I married to find the courage and the strength to look within and find his answers. Because I know this is not about me or our marriage or our children (who are also blamed).
        I understand, leaving the door open, and not lying in the doorway, is a tricky path to walk. I have found that by healing myself, and focusing on myself and my children has given me much needed strength. I keep moving forward. The door is open, but I am not standing there with open arms. I am kind, and polite when my husband contacts me, but I offer nothing. He needs to figure this out on his own. He cannot do that if I am trying to “help”, fix, or control. There are times when I express my confidence in his ability to fix himself, times when I have to zip my lips and shake my head in disbelief, and times I simply say “You know that is not true.”

        I have found that no matter what I do or say, he will spin it around, so I must say very little, and do what is best for my family.

        Thank you for blogging. Knowledge is power!

        • John Folk-Williams says:

          Thank you, Sahmmy –

          This is a powerful statement, and I hope your husband can find the courage you speak of. I can understand the difficulty you capture when you talk about leaving the door open but not lying in the doorway.It must often be a hard set of choices you have to make. There really is no other way but for your husband to deal with his pain without blaming it on you and your children. My best to you all —


  72. Hopefull says:

    In my case he has left me because he belives that he needs to be alone to get well (he is seeing a therapist and started meds last week). He treats me with respect, and says that he hope that we will be togheter in time again. When we speak it honest, loving and respectfull.
    If I were to close the door now, I feel that I gave up on us. And when I have such strong feelings for him, I belive that the best thing I can do is to wait.. I don’t want to be the person “that ended everything”. If this is really what he wants, and not just the depression speaking, he will have to do it himself.
    I think that if we are going to have any chance to come out of this together as a couple again, we can’t shut the door. I am afraid that if I shut the door now, he will never come back..
    Is this just my desperate attempt to not cope with reality? Do you belive I should shut the door, and that he will come back to me no matter what if the love is strong enough?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Hopefull –

      To respond to this and your other comment, I think the basic caution I raise in a few of these posts is: are you taking care of your needs? I know that it seems like the most overwhelming need now is to hold onto him. I can’t say if that’s the right thing for you or not and wouldn’t try to counsel you to stay in or get out. You mention not wanting to tell him how much you are hurting because you don’t want to add to his worries. But relationships are all about sharing your feelings – it can’t be one way – and in my case I found it important to hear from my wife when she was at her limit. It was part of the reality of my depression that I was hurting her as a direct result of my behavior. I had to face that and decide how I was going to handle depression in the midst of this most important relationship. I fear that the patterns of leaving a relationship to get better and/or hiding your emotions to help your partner aren’t so good for the long run. There are other possibilities between leaving completely or staying but hiding your feelings. If you could find a couples therapist who had experience dealing with the effects of depression on a relationship, that would be another way of handling it.


    • Jeannette says:

      How do you keep the door open??? That is my question. It’s only been 2 weeks for me, hence my confusion – and pain. He told me he lost the ‘in love’ feeling, and had been feeling that for 4 weeks – as he was going into a depression. Says he thinks I’m the perfect woman, am so amazing, etc. He’s tried to feel “passionately in love” but can’t. He told me over the phone 2 weeks ago, and we haven’t seen each other since. Communication has been shaky, the first couple of days, and now none. Help.

      • VG says:

        Coming from an almost one year past depression fallout, it doesn’t matter what WE do. The D ones are going to do whatever is in their mind at the time. I think in these situations LOVE is not enough. If it were then so many loved ones would not be deserted by their depressed partner and especially once that partner has it in their head that the love is gone its next to impossible to make the think otherwise. There’s a great messageboard where a lot of us are, Depression Fallout Message Board.. I highly suggest pouring everything out there

  73. jane says:

    I have been with my boyfriend for 2 years. It is a relationship of quite extreme highs and lows. When he’s in a good mood we have such a great time together and are really loved up and I know he adores me. But when he goes in a bad mood he completely shuts me out, says horrible things to me and then refuses to comfort me when he makes me cry, he’ll look at me like i’m a stranger that he despises. He becomes really cold, like no-one i have ever encountered before, and it is completely opposite to the super-affectionate side of him. It breaks my heart everytime this happens.

    However until very recently I never thought that this could be down to depression. But last night we went out for dinner and at the end of the night he said he wanted to finish with me for good, and that he had been feeling this way on and off for 6 months (even though we’ve had some wonderful times in that period). I was really upset but as we spoke more about it he was saying (not for the first time) how stressed he is, mainly about money, but also that every single little thing that he encounters in life makes him feel stressed. He was drunk but said he feels suicidal, and he hates everyone and feels so much anger and aggression. He said he hasn’t been happy in 5 or 6 years. He has said this stuff before but i only just added it up and realised these are all symptons of depression. He is loud and outgoing around his friends but he is very shy around new people and considers himself a shy person. We resolved in the end that we won’t break up, for now. But he goes in these awful moods with me between 2 and 4 times a month, anything can kick them off – I have never cried as much as i have done in the past 2 years with him.

    We agreed last night that he should get some help, and he seems willing to try anything if it will help him feel happier. Please can you help and give me some advice on how to help him?

    thank you.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, jane –

      I’m sorry you’ve had to go through such a tough time. The great thing is his willingness to get help. That’s the most important thing for him – but he and you will need a lot of patience. It’s easy when you’re starting on treatment to expect that a medication or a couple of therapy sessions will make you feel happier. When they don’t give you the immediate reward, you can easily get discouraged and wave off any further attempts, thinking I’ve tried that and nothing works. Whatever is going on with your friend – it could be depression or something different – needs to be diagnosed carefully and a treatment plan developed with the help of a professional. Recovery takes a lot of time and the active participation of the person trying to get better. There is a limit to what you can do, other than offering your love and support. It sounds like your relationship depends on his getting better, and I hope you can be clear with him how his depressed behavior affects you. There’s no easy answer to your question – one of the important things you could do is get help for yourself. You’ve been taking an emotional beating for some time and it might help to sort things out with a counselor.


  74. Able-me says:

    Hi John,

    I will have a look at the message board you recommended.

    Thanx for your prompt reply

  75. Able-me says:

    I am in a very complex situation can someone please advice?! About fourteen years ago i met this wonderful human being and we fell deeply in-love with each other, our connection was wonderful though we were young we told ourselves we will get married someday. After two years we lost touch because he moved to a different city for his studies and so did i. After many years gone by I meet someone else and got married with a daughter (6years old). Though I have been married for 8yrs now it is not a happy one at all and I have decided to seeking divorce but worried for my daughter.
    I heard from one of our close friends that he(previous boyfriend) is seriously depressed since he heard I got married to somebody else and that we wants to talk, I gave him a call and we talked for very long hours mostly him doing the talking, he told me how he still loved me ( I must say I feel the same way towards him. He said his life has not been the same since, he said it is me he wants and nobody else, he told me about his condition (being depressed) and I am the only one he can talk to about it. I feel so guilty and somehow responsible even though he has never said anything of such to me. We have been talking everyday ever since (3months) and he said he has never felt better,I have also noticed the change and we have plans to meet soon.
    There has been a sudden change of behavior from him lately , he doesn’t reply my texts as he used to, he only sends two texts one in the morning and one at night and in the texts he only tells me of his feelings towards me and nothing about him even when I ask, usually as soon as I ring he picks the phone now he just lets the phone ring and when he does pick the phone he hangs the phone up immediately . it has been very worrying and confusing for me. I have been to many sites trying for find and learn more about depression that is how I got to this site and I must say I am very happy as i have learnt a lot and I am still willing to learn more. I love him truly and dearly and want to be there for him. Sorry for the long….. I just needed to share my experience

    Thank you

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Able-me –

      You’re right. This is a very unusual situation, and I’m not sure that I can really advise you. There is something strange about his behavior – the fact that he never contacted you directly but arranged through a friend to signal you that he was in need and wanted to talk. I have to say it sounds a bit manipulative to attribute his depression to something you did – simply getting on with your life after the two of you separated. You did nothing to feel guilty about. You’re not responsible for his feelings, and his treatment of you now sounds angry and punishing. That could be related to depression, but that doesn’t excuse or make any more bearable this polar swing from declared love to what I would call emotionally abusive behavior.

      If you haven’t found it already, you should try the Depression Fallout message board. There are thousands of people posting there who have suffered from the depression of their partners. It can be a very helpful site.


  76. Shay says:

    Forgot to say “thank u” for your response to my last post John 🙂

  77. Shay says:

    My boyfriend never responded to my text that I needed to discuss the outstanding contracts and business commitments we have. One deadline has passed to the tune of $10k. Does anyone have an opinion on actually sharing the posts John referred me to with him? I has been two weeks since I have heard from him and I don’t know if that means he’s just decided to leave our 5 yr. relationship and business without discussing it ( to the angry me, that is such a cowardly way to do it) or if I should treat it as a depressive’s need for space..I have started seeking advice as to how to handle his neglect regarding the business matters. Just not sure about sharing the posts and possibly trying for a face to face discussion on his turf..

  78. Shay says:

    Thanks Tony,

    The article I sent was about a chef he respects (my BF is a chef), who went through a bout of depression and how he managed to help heal himself with cooking. (along with other methods of treatment). Perhaps that was seen as unsolicited advice.. He has always been open to positive encouragement, articles,books etc and admitted his depression to me when asked if that’s what he thought it was. (that was all before the wall went up 11 days ago) When I suggested a natural course of treatment (after he said “no meds”) he immediately started taking the Omega 3’s, exercising, etc. It’s like he had the fight with his mom and someone turned off a light switch in his head..

    I called this morning and left a message to our business contracts that need his attention. Very kind, upbeat message about work. Nothing about him being out of touch etc. Still no word back from him and there are about 30k worth of contracts that we have committed to in our catering business that I can’t execute without him. I can give space personally (although it kills me) but I don’t know how to handle the business issue. Financial problems are part of his issue and this would take a huge weight off of him. I guess that does not matter to a depressive? Just icing me out- is that the main objective?

  79. I see that it’s very hard to make sense of what’s happening. My one thought is to ask– you say you emailed him an article– could this be seen as unsolicited advice? Could he feel that you’re telling him what to do to get better? That may be well-intended on your part, but can be seen by him as a kind of insult– that you, someone who never experienced depression, can give him a quick and easy solution. There are no quick easy solutions to depression and he may feel you just don’t understand this and you’re minimizing his condition.

    Maybe this doesn’t appy here, but it’s a very common response from a partner to try to solve his problem. You can’t, you can just listen and be supportive and understanding.

  80. Shay says:

    I am in a similiar situation. My long distance (2 hours away)depressed boyfriend had not called me in 10 days. Only a brief text telling me that he was on his way to go swimming and that we will talk later. There was no argument preceeding this silence. I have known he was depressed for about 4 months now and he has agreed to try a more natural course of treatment recommended in Steven Ilardi’s 6 step program.(Heavy doses of Omega 3’s, excercise, etc.) He began 30 days ago. (at the moment he is against anti- depressants).

    I read time and time again that you need to give your depressed partner the space they desire, but can anyone give advice on when it’s ok to reach out without making him feel pressured? I emailed an article once, called twice and have not received any response. We have never gone more than a day without contact.

    We have a business together which he is totally ignoring, a booked vacation at the end of the month- things going on that need discussion..

    He has not asked me for space but his actions speak louder than his words.

    Should I make another attempt to reach out? Wait a while longer?Call, text? If I get no response, is it a good idea to just drive down and show up on his doorstep? We have to speak at some point and my fear is that he would walk out of a 5 year relationship
    without so much as a conversation, a letter, etc.

    He is under tremendous financial pressure, difficulties with an ex wife, 3 teenage daughters and so on. He says he feels tremendous guilt where I’m concerned. He can’t understand why I love him, that I don’t really need him, he should have married me by now etc.

    I am paralyzed. Fearful of a fatal mistep. I don’t want to be manipulative by calling from a different number, feigning an emergency at work, etc- but I don’t know what to do. I seem to be the primary target of his withdrawal…

    Any advice?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Shay –

      I wrote a few posts about this very problem – how to get through to someone who’s not responding. One of the things I emphasize in those posts is the same thing Tony mentions – how easy it is for messages to be misread. It works both ways – when there are so few signals to read each is given huge importance. It’s easy for him to view any contact from you as not about him at all but about you. And you are reaching out because you love him and are afraid of “a fatal misstep.”

      It’s easy to understand intellectually but very hard to grasp emotionally that you really can’t do anything to change his depression – and your actions won’t be the decisive factors in what happens to him. I believe that missteps on your part or worries about his feeling pressured are not the problem. You need to be clear with him about your emotional needs – I think all you can do is be as honest as you can about what you feel and need – and what your boundaries are in the kind of behavior you can live with – and not worry about doing the right or wrong thing.

      One of the posts is called How Can You Communicate After Your Depressed Partner Leaves? on this site. That post links to two more posts (2 parts of How To Find Hope After Your Partner Leaves) on my other blog, Recover Life from Depression. Maybe those 3 could be of some use.

      My best to you —


  81. Evan says:

    Hi Shannon,

    I live with a depressed partner.

    If he hasn’t told you not to contact him then it could well be worth while to keep sending stuff regularly (at a rate you are happy with). This will let him know that you care even if he doesn’t feel this at the moment of have the energy to respond even if he does.

    Then if he does come out of the depression he will know that he is welcome to contact you.

    My 2 cents.

  82. I’m not a therapist and I’d invite comments from others on these difficult questions. But I’d tend to agree that you keep trying, maybe try a phone call? I dont know why he’s not responding– I think you have to look for cues from him as to how he feels and what kind of support he wants from you. It can be very delicate, eg he may not want to be reminded of his depression now, so maybe you just avoid that topic for awhile. How about suggesting an outing you think he’d enjoy?

  83. shannon says:

    So what do you advise? Initially I sent a mail reminding him of the good things we had -telling him Id like to understand, and that I would like to meet – I got no response. I left it a few weeks . Then I mailed again and told him that I realised that he must be in a deep depression and that I was sorry that I had not realised sooner and sorry for being selfish . I said that I would stop trying as that semed to be what he wanted – still I got no response. I read somewhere that you shouldnt stop trying to reach someone that is in this position – is that right?

  84. Shannon,
    My comments were not directed at you but were intended to add to the general discussion. I should have clarified that. Your comments that you’ve learned the importance of listening and learning about the illness show your empathy, which I think will go a long way in this or any relationship. Many partners just blame the sufferer or the illness itself and don’t ask if they themselves could have done more.

    I recall a friend once saying that she found her husband of 20 years home early from work crying over his depression and she said something like, “I’m not going to sit here and listen to you cry over this.” I was shocked– where’s the empathy? Where’s the love? They ended up getting divorced and she blamed him for everything. Sadly, that’s not uncommon.

    It seems to be especially hard for a person to accept a man being depressed, because that’s not the way we view masculinity. But men have human frailties too; they often try to work thru these problems or cover them up, but that doesn’t usually work. I think that a partner or friend needs to earn their trust as a listener and then they’ll open up more.

  85. shannon says:

    Thanks for your response John -unfortunately, I dont know any of his friends,(he always told me that he didnt have any) I know where he works but thats about it – and I would not want to alert anyone or spoil anything for him there so there is no real opportunity to talk to anyone who knows him.
    Tony’s comments asume that the non depressed partner in a relationship understands whats going on from the start. I know it was my fault but the fact is I did not respect depression. I didnt have any real idea of the enourmous imapct that it can have. I am an optimistic type of person by nature and until now Ive never come into contact with anyone that has suffered with depression so I had no exerience of it and probably considered it all on the same level as feeling a bit down – people use the expression – Im feeling a bit depressed today so easily- they dodnt understand its true meaning either.When my man told me he’d suffered with depression in the past – I took it with a pinch of salt – I didnt realise then that depression is an illness and as such can be a wrecker of lives. After the firts time he went into a depression, I did some research and then I began to understand a little. But he didnt really talk about it apart from at the very beginning . He told me that he had been perscribed with stronegr drugs and it would take about 6 weeks or so for him to get back to normal. Over that period he didnt tell me of any symptons, he just told me that he was definetely getting better and soon he would be back to normal. We spent time together, we went out to the seaside together , we spent evenings together and talked and laughed as we got to know each other we talked about his job/my job and the stresses and strains of each – remember this was a relationship in its infancy. But over this time, I didnt attempt to get him to tell me how he felt about himself, I didnt attempt to get him to discuss his feelings of depression. He referred to his past hospitalisation for depression occassionally and clearly, I should have offered more support and perhaps tried to get him to open up more about his feelings during those moments but I didnt.Its only now that I realise that I have been selfish, and I should have been a better listener. Was it because I didnt know enough or was it becasue I didnt realise just how bad he was feeling?I suppose looking back, he did change a bit over time, but from my limited knowledge and from what he told me , I thought he would get better and for a very little while he did as I said in my last post- but only for about a week maybe two and then he just disapeared.I know that if I had my time again, knowing what I know now, I would have tried harder, found out more about his condidtion, ,and I would have said less and listened more – I’d still like the chance to do that but until then I just hope he is coping OK and can see a way through.

  86. I think it’s vital to remember that no matter how much your partner’s depression is affecting you, that can’t compare to the misery of depression itself. Realizing this and showing compassion and empathy are key to maintaining the relationship.

    Depression does often cause you to retreat, but when I did try to open up to my wife, I found her unable to understand and quick to judge. Being judgemental is the worst. How can the other person really know what you’re going through, particularly if they’re not truly listening? I think of all the things I’ve read that encourage you to find a caring, understanding person to open up to. But if the listener doesn’t show these qualities, you’ll stop opening up, and then you’ll drift apart.

    So don’t always blame the depression sufferer. A really strong, loving relationship and a willingness to listen and care and make sacrifices can save things I believe. On the other hand, depression can be the ‘last straw’ in a relationship already showing signs of weakness.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Tony –

      That is the other side of it – the non-depressed partner who won’t or can’t understand. It’s easy enough to stop trying to talk to friends or acquaintances who don’t get it, but not your partner. Not talking is certainly a sure-fire way to lose touch with each other. It’s a strange dynamic – here are two people who need each other but aren’t getting the responsiveness, compassion and love they need. Maybe the judgmental response is partly a reaction to losing the emotional availability of a depressed partner – a sort of self-protective tit for tat. It’s also the worst thing you can face when you’re depressed, and certainly the illness of depression runs deeper than the early impact on the other partner. As time goes on, though, depression really is contagious – perhaps there’s an instinctive fear of being drawn into it.

      At any rate, I’ve never been satisfied with this post and need to have another go at it.

      Thanks for your comment, Tony.


  87. shannon says:

    Hello everyone – Its so interesting reading other peoples comments but I almost feel a fraud to post a comment here because my relationship is/was with a lover and has been very short – only 4 month in total. initially my man was so loving and attentive – he created a wonderful feeling in me and my life became exciting. I belive that we made each other feel good on so many levels. Early on he told me that he had suffered with depression and had been hospitalised a few years back. When I asked if he was better now he told me that you never ever really get over depression, its always there . So our relationship progressed and we got on very welll – he was very attentive, we talked about going forward with our affair . We spoke on the phone exchanged emails texts etc and met up once a week – sometimes for the evening sometimes for the night. It wsa a great relationaship and we seemed to become very close. Suddenly, my emails and texts etc were not answered and I didnt hear from him for about 2 weeks. When I finally did hear from him he said that his depression had kicked in and that he might be a bit distant for a few weeks but we would be alright. We saw each other weekly after that – still had a great time but didnt spend any nights together for about 6 weeks . Then he said he felt better, things were great again he felt like a tiger and couldnt wait to get close again. We had a great night together and for a few days afterwards we sent messages and texts etc to each other – he was almost his old self then suddendly – Nothing . no response to calls, no response to emails just no response at all. it was such a shock. My first thoughts were that he must have found someone else, he just went of me etc, but this is a middle aged man , a decent person – not a person who would behave that way – I mean just not communicate what ever his reasons – surely he just would have said ok look its just not working, lets cooll it or whatever. So I kept trying to get some response for a while for a while, but I did stop trying although secretly I have left the door open because I hope that he will come back. I know that he tried to kill himself in the past and that is when he was commited so I only hope that he is OK . I still think of him a lot , and I feel that I would like to help him and offer him some hope but how can I do that if he doesnt communicate ?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Shannon –

      First, please don’t “almost feel a fraud” – the length of a relationship, how far it’s progressed, etc have nothing to do with posting here. The relationship is vitally important to you, and you have exactly the same questions and depth of feeling as someone would after 30 years of marriage. What depression does to a relationship is terrible, and you’re in an especially difficult spot. Since he’s not communicating at all, you might try to contact a friend or family member of his – is there anyone you know, or whom he’s mentioned who might be able to tell you something about him? I don’t have any answers if the partner won’t respond, but here’s a post I wrote about that not too long ago on my other blog.

      If he does get back in touch and seems ready to pick up where he left off, I would suggest having a serious talk with him about his sudden breaks in the relationship. Depression or no, he’s still responsible for the effect of his actions on you, and I think it’s important for you to let him know exactly what you’ve been through. Stopping all contact, leaving you completely in the dark and understandably worried about his condition – that’s behavior I think is unacceptable. If I were you, I’d draw a line about what you can take. I know that’s easy to say from a distance, but it’s something to keep in mind.

      My best to you –


    • MVKU says:

      Shannon – this is years later but I hope you will see this…..what happened in your situation? This mirrors my own experience right now, like you I’m hoping he will contact me again but I’m enduring almost 5 months so avoidance.

  88. Mary says:

    Its only been a month and half since my partner forced me from his home and has refused to see or speak to me over the phone. When this all started I was convinced that I would keep the door open. I tried at least with emails. However, even these emails hurt as he goes from blaming me to blaming himself. I started entering my own depression but immediately sought medication, therapy, and spiritual support. I am still sad very sad at times. But I am taking care of myself.

    As for why? We are all made in the image of the divine…just because he is not acting like the divine does not mean that I close the door on him. However, my door will not be open to him lying to me nor will I tolerate his emotional abuse or blame. I guess it is all relative this door.

    I have to pause for a moment and ask you are you really stating your self-doubt aloud. By asking this question are stating that “There is no way that I deserve this kind of unconditional love – after my non-love of myself and after I have little faith in myself.” Well relationships help you find the Divine in your heart, and there is no way to destroy that real love. You deserve it! Recommit to love yourself and you will understand the why and how the door remains open.

    • John says:

      Hi, Mary –

      Your compassion seems to run deep, and I imagine there’s a lot of serenity you’ve also found in your faith. It’s often hard to separate the person from destructive behavior, but you’re so right. There is always that inner core, and I can understand keeping the door open to the best in that person. And that it’s only possible to embrace someone else if you can also live with yourself in that way.

      Thanks so much for your insights!


  89. Wiggle says:

    Hi John,

    For me, it’s one word; hope. Hope keeps the door open. Hope that they’ll recover and the man I originally wanted to be with will re-appear.

    However, in my particular situation he’s made it very clear that he doesn’t want me around and as it’s his house I’m the one that’s had to leave. So although I’ve left the door ajar, I’m cutting contact for my own sanity.

    A friend in a similar situation came up with a great comment; ‘I’m shutting the door, because it’s just too draughty leaving it open’.


    • John says:

      Hi, Wiggle –

      That’s a good hope to keep alive – though I’ve always found it hard to stay realistic and keep hope away from fantasy. I think you’ve made a great choice – go for your sanity! I’ve heard from so many who just can’t stick with that priority.

      And I love your friend’s comment!


  90. liz says:

    How can I keep the door open? I love him and just like any major, chronic and possibly deadly illness–how can I abandon him? I’m the most important person in his life. Has it taken its toll on me? Yes, but never my self-esteem or my self-worth. Our relationship is similar to what you mention in your reply to Robin. Strong bond. On again–off again closeness. And yes, our intimacy has definitely been effected…we have to rebuild that each time we get back together. It’s a huge strain and there is no piece of paper or children to keep us tied to each other. Maybe in time when I can reflect with a true sense of honesty, I will be able to fully realize the impact of this relationship on my life but right now…at this very moment I’m happiest with him. Even when he closes his door to me…my door will always be open for him and he knows that.

    • John says:

      Hi, Liz –

      It’s wonderful to hear about a relationship that is such a source of happiness – and that you keep rebuilding when you have to. So many people take some form of distancing as the end, but every relationship I’ve ever heard of has those hard times. You mention the absence of other ties to keep you together, but often those are just a cover for poking along without a real attempt to remain open to each other and really close. I really admire your determination to keep things alive and not just routine.


  91. Jaliya says:

    Love and memory keep the door open for me. I know who the essence of my husband is … even as I wonder now if he’s in a depression.

    I’ve had major depression for most of my life and I see its contagion. It’s so important for us to see beyond the narrow “me and you” focus that we tend to assume when someone we love is in depression. There are so many factors involved … everything from the neurochemical to the cultural … It’s such a huge endeavour to excavate the reasons, one brick by one …

    I wait for the crack in his door — the tiny movement ajar that will admit me, at least to the edge of the opening.

    I think of a book that has saved my sanity and augmented what little wisdom I’ve gleaned in how to live through depression and all its wreckage. The book’s called A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, et. al. Written by three medical doctors / psychiatrists, this book makes clear that it is our bonds, our relations, that make or break us as persons. Depression demands breakage … Depression wants us to rupture all our bonds and sink, alone, into death.

    I think, in relation to men … There’s so much that’s expected of men in our world — to be always strong, tough, unfeeling, predatory, ahead of the pack. How exhausting that must be! … and it tears at the heart. My man is of exquisite character … and I fear that he’s sinking. I’ve got my hands full with my own situation … and I hope that the knowledge I’ve acquired will help us to see our way through. We’re starting a course next week that focuses on intergenerational trauma and its effects … I’m seeing this course as a lifeline and hopefully my love will see … something … clearly — I don’t know what that “something” could be, but I pray that he’ll see it enough to crack open his soul’s door a little more.

    Love doesn’t conquer all, but it sure paves a way …

    Thank you, John, again …

    • John says:

      Hi, Jaliya –

      I’m sorry to hear about your husband – how hard it must be when you’re both dealing with depression at the same time! It’s hard enough for a well person to communicate and support a loved one with this malady.

      Thanks for reminding me about A General Theory of Love – I’ve looked into it from time to time but haven’t really absorbed its ideas. I’ll do that now – I’m glad it’s been such a help to you. I’ve been reading more about relationships as central to personal development, and that view makes so much more sense that the fictional idea that it’s all a matter of the solitary individual figuring things out alone.

      I’ll be thinking of you and your guy and hoping that he’ll start to open up again.

      Thanks for this, Jaliya. Your ideas are always powerful and so beautifully expressed.


  92. Robin says:

    My depressed partner and I are still together. I say “still” because she has tried to end it several times. I think that if she did leave, I’d keep the door open for her. I don’t feel angry with her for the emotional pain I’m going through because I don’t think it’s her that is causing the pain (by withdrawing, being silent), but the depression. And the depression isn’t her fault, and even the fact that she’s refusing treatment. This illness makes you think that there is no hope and no point in trying anything.

    I think I’d keep the door open because I know she loves me and it’s the depression that is making her feel unworthy. Therefore, if she recovered from depression, she’d come back to me.
    Hopefully, we’ll be able to avoid this.

    • John says:

      Hi, Robin –

      I think that a strong relationship isn’t totally forgotten during the depression many people experience. It’s there as a reminder, even if it can’t be experienced as before, and can keep someone from doing something as drastic as leaving. Every depressed person doesn’t become completely insensitive and abusive – many have periods of reprieve and can make contact again, at least for a while. That helps maintain the bond, though off-again, on-again closeness can strain trust to the breaking point.

      Your partner’s blessed to have you in her life – and I’m sure she doesn’t forget that.

      My best –


  93. MK says:

    Hi, John,

    It’s been one week since I discovered your site and it has been a life saver for my mental health.

    My experience falls in the second category, and our break has only been since early summer. My answer to your question about the open door is: because I still love him. It’s as simple as that. Love holds the door open. I have loved my husband for 25 years, and it is a deep and strong love. He is a good man, but we didn’t truly understand the extent of the darkness he carried around inside him until recently. This whole experience has been a complete shock to me, but I am thankful to have finally realized this isn’t about me and there is nothing I can do to make the depression go away. What a relief, and such a freeing realization.

    I have accepted my husband may not be coming back, but I pray that his heart will be open to what is really happening with him. He’s in denial and believes that he is depressed because of the circumstances not that he is a man with depression. In his search for how he feels and what he needs, I hope and pray he can accept all of who he is and manage the depression which has darkened his vision of our relationship. The door can’t be closed by me, it can only be shut by my husband. He’s trying to make things right, and has done his best in certain respects to protect our son and me from himself.

    I hate the separation and I hate the drama depression has dropped into my life, but I love the man. I love him.

    • John says:

      Hi, MK –

      That is a powerful realization, that this is not about you but about an illness that has distorted your husband’s perception. Your deep love and generosity of spirit are inspiring. Denial is a terrible thing but so powerful – especially because consciously it doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. There are always things to point to, circumstances and people to blame, and so denial defends itself.

      I’m sorry you’ve had to endure this, but also glad to hear that you’ve found ways to accept what’s happening without victimizing yourself.

      My best –


  94. ClinicallyClueless says:

    Although this has not happened to me, where my husband’s own depression has caused him to leave. But, I think some key healthy factors include lenght of the relationship, quality of connectedness, quality and satisfaction and commitment of the marriage, and the amount of love and care and unconditional love of the woman.

    Also, there are unhealthy ways. Will I be able to find someone else, what if I’m left alone, he is the only one…and the list could go on, but it is based on low self-esteem.

    The other part about not having any consequence. If it were to happen to me I would not allow him back unless he were willing to commit to individual and couples counseling for, at least, one year. Couples counseling would be an absolute must.

    For me, I love my husband so much and understand about depression that I couldn’t not let him back.

    The interesting thing is that many, many men become or show symptoms of depression in their 40-50s. It is also roughly around the so-called “mid-life crisis.” I wonder how many couples miss the depression and just chalk it up to mid-life crisis?

    Thank you again for such a well-written and thought provoking post!!

    take care,

    • John says:

      Hi, CC –

      As you say, the quality of the connectedness is a sign of health in a relationship. Some of the stories people write here emphasize the shock and confusion from a sudden change when that level of connection is completely broken. How could everything good about relationship disappear? I think, though, that if the closeness and honesty – the learning from each other – had been there, it’s more likely that the man would not lose touch with that completely and be reluctant to go so far as leaving. At least, that’s more or less what happened to me. Relationships are so unique that I hesitate to write too sweepingly about this sort of thing.

      I always look forward to your thoughtful comments. Thank you.


  95. Liz says:

    I have to respond right now because this post is so important for any partner of a depressed person to read. I have the partner who retreats into himself and shuts the door on our relationship time and time again. As I write this, I know that I will write again with more of my thoughts on “Why is that door always open”. I’ve been living this reality for over a year and a half and like you, my rational side sees that I should move on but my emotional side is dealing with the love I have for this man. With that being said, I am much better than I was 6 months ago but I have a long way to go. I will get more specific in my next post. It’s early in the morning here and I need to re-read your post a few more times to let it resonate. John, your posts are a blessing to me. They have been instrumental in my journey with this relationship…thank you.

    • John says:

      Hi, Liz –

      Thanks so much, Liz. That means a lot to know that the posts have helped you through this period.

      I’m glad you’ve come so far.


      • Valerie says:

        Dear Liz and John,
        It seems that life doesnt change, here I am in 2017 living this hell on my own, nobody believes me that he is sick, they think he is just another bastard, and I cant stop crying cause we were perfect together and all of a sudden he treats me like an enemy and avoid me all the tine…I was trying to comunicate, and he still answers, but I can see that its like a sacrifice, so I will stop it for a while….please let me know how do I act to have him willing to come back home asap…I miss him so bad

  96. Evan says:

    Well, it isn’t always; some people do the shut door.

    I think it is kept open because of habits and dependence. Also because it is recognised that the depression is separate to the person. Also because this means there is hope that the person will return (which can happen in bouts).

    My feelings are split. There is both admiration and concern. Admiration at not giving in, concern at the damage that holding the door open can do.

    • John says:

      Hi, Evan –

      I guess the damage of holding the door open takes precedence for me. The dependence you mention often leads to the belief that one can’t survive without the other. It’s like losing a part of you because your own identity has been so compromised. Of course, separation and divorce are traumatic for anyone, and there’s always a long period of getting over all that’s been lost. It’s always hard to generalize!


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