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Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:55 pm
by scn
Hi there,

I’m so relieved there are resources like this for people like us. I am really struggling at the moment with my (ex?) boyfriend, who suffers from severe depression.

As a bit of context, we are both in our late 30s and I’m retraining as a therapist myself so I do have some insight into his condition and I’ve experienced unipolar depression before, though I am now medicated and have support. My boyfriend is undiagnosed and very, very resistant to both therapy and medication. He dismisses both outright and despite my best efforts I have to accept that is a dead end.

Over the course of our 14-month relationship I’ve suggested he might be bipolar, which he acknowledges could be the case as he can swing from massive highs to deep, deep lows. I also suspect he is experiencing anhedonia.

He has major commitment issues, splitting up with me for three months during an earlier bout of depression. After recovering from that and reconciling with me, he was regretful and very apologetic about how much he had hurt me, promising never to do it again.

Previously, he has never had a relationship longer than a year. His relationship with me has by far been the most serious one he’s ever had. He has introduced me to his daughter (the result of a brief, three-month fling in his 20s), who is by far his most precious and valued person. I know that was a very big step for us and I was very moved.

He professed love, telling me he thought he had been in love before but that he now realised nothing came close to what we had. We planned to move in together later this year – a huge step for him which he admitted he was anxious about - and had started looking at holidays for the summer. In January a much-loved family member of mine took his own life and he came with me to the funeral and supported me through what has been one of the most devastating times.

About six weeks ago I began noticing he was sliding into a low. He could see it too and we tried giving each other space, spending quiet nights in, basically anything we could to try and stop the inevitable decline. Nonetheless, he continued to withdraw, our sex life dwindled to a halt and he would often cancel seeing me altogether. He withdrew from his friends and slept for hours on his days off.

This weekend he broke down and said he is not happy in the relationship and though he loves me, he no longer has ‘those feelings’ for me. He says he is still attracted to me, but does not feel like he did previously. We both cried and when I asked if that meant we were not to see each other again, he was adamant that was the last thing he wanted.

We have come to an uneasy truce whereby we plan to continue seeing each other as ‘friends’, meeting frequently and spending time together much as we have been, but without the intimacies we shared. He doesn’t want to see or sleep with other people because ‘that’s not what this is about, I can’t be with anyone, not just you.’

I’ve asked if he thinks his feelings for me will return and while he acknowledges that they might, at the moment he doesn’t think that they will. I’m stumped as to how somebody could fall out of love so abruptly and wonder if cold feet about moving in and his general commitment phobia are what are driving this.

My friends and mother are furious and think I should cut contact and move on, but I’m not ready to and if there is a chance he’ll come back, it’s one I want to take. After all, he’s returned to me out of a bleak depression before.

I am in a lot of emotional pain and I would love to hear some success stories from people who have been through similar situations and where perseverance and patience has paid off.

Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:19 pm
by james80
So sorry to hear what you are gping through.

Obviously with your background you know what's going on. Probably far more than is usual with someone who initially finds themselves in this position. As you know these sort of situation don't often have happy endings...but some do!

Reading your post a few things would give me reason to be optimistic...

1. He acknowledges he has a problem, despite being resistant to treatment.
2. You understand issues around depression and things like Anhedonia
3. He s come back before
4. You obviously mean a great deal to him.

Do you think he would react badly to any contact? Obviously the usual advice is to give them space and look after yourself but it seems to me like the main thing here to give you guys a chance is for him to seek professional help in the form of medication and therapies.

Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:23 am
by vitasw
Hi Scn,

I think james80 makes some very valid points and I wish you and your partner all the best.

I would just caution that you are a professional caregiver (or training to be) in a relationship with someone who needs professional care, I think you need to be careful that you aren't unconsciously crossing that line. You can't act as a substitute therapist because your partner is resistant to seeing one - it's not your job and it' not healthy for either of you.

All the best,


Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:06 am
by lilliep
Hi Scn

I’ve been in your position for 8 months now. I got exactly the same story from my man, he loved me as a friend but nothing more, he still cared about me and didn’t want to loose me, he wanted to stay just friends but couldn’t promise he would ever love me as anything more than that. We were together for 4 years previous to this. Similarly whilst he acknowledged he had a problem he refused to get help. His depression was caused by a life situation that I admit has been seriously tough on him but is almost over. I’ve played along with the just friends but it’s harder than you can imagine and after 8 months of patience and no change in him I’ve given up. I told him just friends couldn’t work because I loved him too much, which he seemed to be sad about but I’m not sure he totally accepted. When he suggested maybe we should stop meeting up if it upset me so much he looked surprised when I said I agreed. He said he split with me to protect me and save me from hurt, because if we were together he might have cheated on me. Yet he promises me he hasn’t seen anyone else since we have been ‘just friends’. I wish I could give you a more positive story, at the start I was very positive, but this is the reality I’m afraid. I wish I hadn’t agreed to just friends.


Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:40 am
by scn
Many thanks for your replies.

My situation has deteriorated significantly. My ex has confessed to a fairly substantial cocaine habit which is indelibly linked to his depression.

We had a very serious incident on Saturday in which the police were called, and which signified a new low for him. He claims he is now committed to recovery but I am still sceptical and very much still in shock over what happened.

The relationship is over. He says he can't focus on a relationship while he's trying to straighten himself out, that he feels 'toxic' and like a stain on my life, but he's terrified of what comes next and wants us to stay in touch.

I've looked hard at myself and I think I'm showing signs of co-dependency because I STILL want to be there for him. I feel sick and ashamed of why I can't just walk away. I can't think of what is so appealing that I should stay. I'm in a bad way.

Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:12 pm
by lilliep
I’m so sorry Scn. It sounds like he has serious problems and whilst you want to stand by him I don’t think it will do you any good. Tough as it is these people won’t get better unless they get help and I hope he does. I’m in the same position right now. My man has a court hearing tomorrow (he may get access to his children awarded at this one) and I’m desperately fighting the urge to offer to go with him as I always did. I can’t stop caring about him but being with him knowing he no longer loves me is making me so down, my self esteem is rock bottom and I feel like the most unlovable person alive. I think we both need to give up on these men for our own sakes. Keep posting here and people will help and support you.

Take care

Lillie xx

Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:07 am
by scn
Thanks Lillie. The only thing I can console myself with is that I did everything I possibly could to support him. From practical research on therapies and medications to squeezing oranges for him in the morning so he'd have something nice to wake up to. That's important to me because the 'what if I had done this, that etcs' tend to torture me. I know I was true and poured my heart into it.

After the police incident this weekend he sent me an apology that was all about him. Not once did he acknowledge how frightening and disturbing it must have been for me, not once did he try to see it from my perspective. He is simply not there anymore and while a large part of me wants to wait and will him back, your experience has shown that is unlikely and I've got to do my best to separate emotionally from him and acknowledge his condition is now contaminating me too.

I love him but that last two months have been such an enormous strain, I have to admit there was virtually no happiness at all for me. I have to ask myself why it's appealing to stay under those circumstances.

Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:13 pm
by lilliep
Hi Scn

It sounds like you have done all you can and more for him. In my experience depression and the total lack of empathy means these people are very self centred and blame all their problems on other people. They appreciate nothing you do however much you put yourself out for them. The 8 months I have spent in the ‘just friends’ zone have been draining. The love I felt for him has diminished and there have been times when he’s been really hurtful and I’ve hated him. I know it’s not him it’s the nasty person he’s become but he’s not willing to try to get the lovely person he was back by taking medication or getting proper help. It’s almost as if he enjoys being the uncaring and cold person or feels safe being that person.

We deserve better and right now I feel like you do. I still don’t want to give up on him if there is any chance, but I remember I’ve been thinking this for 8 months and I know I have to give up. Stay strong and keep posting here if you need support.

Sending hugs

Lillie xx

Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:55 am
by scn
Thanks Lillie. I don't know how long you have been on these boards, but has anyone had it work out for them after something like this?

Re: Depressed boyfriend is emotionally flatlining

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:48 pm
by lilliep
Hi Scn

I’ve been here for about 7 months. In the group of people I mainly talk to only two of us are still in contact with out partners and both of us are far from out of the woods yet. Never give up hope though. If you want to keep trying then you should, only you will know when you want to give up. I’m still not entirely given up on my man, he’s got contact with his children sorted by the court and it’s lifted his spirits a little. I know having them back in his life will make him happy and I’m willing to give it a little longer.

Keep posting here, there are lots of people in our situation and we all help each other. I’m always happy to listen and help if I can.

Lillie xx