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Hello ladies. I have been part of the Bust forums off and on since about '99, and after an extended absence I am back for the best advice I have found.

So, here I am. This is the third long-term relationship that I am bringing to the forum. I am 33, live in San Francisco (in the past I have lived in Boulder, Truckee (Tahoe) and Reno and posted) with my boyfriend, and am at a crossroads.

I love my boyfriend. He is a creative soul who has the capacity to make me laugh and have orgasms like I never had before. He believes in me and I in him. Lately, however, it has been hard to be with him. We have been together about 14 months, living together since October, when we moved in almost out of housing desperation. We both moved here last summer and have had difficult journeys in the work world -- he is currently under-employed, and I just finished a year of hell teaching school here; I will not be returning to the school so I am unemployed, too.

Here are the central issues: he is depressed, understandable, and the sex has all but disappeared. He binge drinks more than I am comfortable with, and I don't know how to reconcile that. I have always thought that I wanted a child, but he is alternately adamant that he doesn't, and jokes about the kids that we will have. I have been depressed off and on my whole life, and right now things are rough. The week before I get my period I turn into a blubbering mess, and he is often the victim of these breakdowns. Do i give up and move on? Or do I persevere? Can this pass? I am in uncharted territory here, and I have no female friends around here to talk to. Thanks for reading.
Hi, Sam. Sorry you two are going through such a difficult time in your lives. What horrible timing. I'm sure it's really frustrating and depressing for both of you to be having career issues and it's nearly impossible to keep those feelings from affecting your relationship. What's worse is that it's purely unintentional. I mean, I'm sure you didn't want to have a horrible year at work. You don't want to be unemployed. And it doesn't sound like he wants to be under-employed. I'm sure neither of you want to be depressed, but depression is a terrible, vicious circle. It feeds on itself. and it takes a lot of work to get out of it.

About his binge drinking - is this something that has only started up recently? Was he binge drinking before his recent problems with depression? I know this is a very serious, specific issue and I don't have any experience with anything like it, so I can't offer any advice here. Hopefully someone else can offer some suggestions. There's a thread about addiction (specifically, coping with loved ones who have addictions) over in Friends and Family. Maybe they can help more.

The baby thing is a tough one because the subject is such a deal-breaker. The only way you can know for certain how he feels is if you just ask him about it. I have a feeling that he's not entirely sure how he feels about kids. Maybe he just hasn't sat down & really thought about it? I know a lot of people who've said that they've never seriously considered kids until they found themselves seriously considering marriage. Then again, he may have made up his mind ages ago. There's only one way to find out for sure.

I'm not sure what you should do from here. I don't know how much of this is you releasing tension & just venting or what. Also it's hard to know how much of these problems are related to the depression, how much is temporary and can be overcome OR if they're permanent deal-breaking issues.

I suppose that some of it is venting, some is legitimate concern. The depression is difficult. I am seeing a therapist, but with the job loss, that may have to end after my next appt. next week. My boyfriend has been out of town helping his mom this week, and I was out of town and out of cell range all last week, so part of it is missing him and feeling lonely in a city without friends. I may have hated my job, but it gave me somewhere to go everyday. I don't know how we are going to cope when we are both home and unemployed, or when I get the home-based work going that I am anticipating.

The baby thing is such a toss-up. Lately I haven't even wanted kids, but then I see them on the bus and... I don't know. He is scared to have a child for the most ridiculous reasons: what if the kid gets sick? what if the kid dies in an accident? what if I am too old as a mother and the kid has defects (I'm 33)? He is terrified, but I think it's all about his dad, and the fact that he was not a great dad and then he died two years ago in an accident, and bf is not over it. Ugh.
So... Major breakthrough, I think. The boy and I spent the weekend with several other couples and friends, and the two young (17 mos and 3yrs) children of the hosting couple. The ride home was started off with fairly frank conversation about children and our relationship. I said that I am confused by his attitude about children, and he said that he needs to figure it out, that he knows that I am going to give him an ultimatum (his word) and he needs to know what he is going to do. I don't really want to do the ultimatum thing, but he's right. Then we talked about careers, his and mine, and he said that he can't think about having a kid until he has a job that he knows will support us, which is not happening right now. I was supportive and encouraged him to follow the things that make him passionate and think big, the money will follow. Now I need to work on doing the same.

Hi everyone. I don't visit here often, but it's been a rough year for me and the boyfriend, and I'm starting to wonder if I need to go for therapy or something to keep things working. I don't even know what to say or where to start. It's been 3 years, we've been living together since we started going out, and just bought a house together. We've been really committed to eachother since the beginning, had an amazing connection and amazing sex life, I mean it was as perfect as it gets. But last year I started having a lot of problems in bed, that we're still recovering from, and everything else seems to be starting to go downhill with it.

I don't know what to write here because we don't fight about anything, we agree completely on what we want from our relationship and our life together. I really do think it's just that it's been a very stressful year. We've moved twice, both changed jobs, I finished grad school and have only been able to pick up contract work and am getting really tired of not knowing when I will have work from day to day, and when I will be earning money. We've moved back to the city where both our families live, which has also added a lot of stress and new responsibilities, never mind now having a mortgage when I don't have a steady income and don't know if I'll be able to afford to go back to school now.

I have my way of dealing with stress, which is to focus on the things that need to be done and get the stressful situation over with, which doesn't help right now when the stress is just about dealing with change and settling in to a new life, it just means I'm obsessing about things. But it also means I turn off a lot of my emotions, and my sweetie isn't feeling very loved right now. I don't know when I got to the point where stress makes me not want to have sex ever again, instead of needing some love and attention to help me feel better, but I'm there. Even when I do want to, my body won't cooperate, and I stay so tensed up that it hurts too much to even do anything. At this point, I'd rather never have sex again than keep trying unsuccessfully and then cry because I just don't understand how we can have gone from what we had before to not even physically being capable of having sex. My boyfriend has been so supportive and tried so hard to help, but it's been like this for a year now. I thought we were working through it and things were getting better, but we just had our first fight about it last night.

I don't know what to say, I don't even know where to ask for help. I think the only problem is that we're at different points in our lives. He just got a great job that he loves and we moved because of it. I feel like I've been at a turning point in my life for the last 2 years where I don't know if I've chosen the right career, and even if I have I don't know if I can actually get it off the ground anyways. I'm not happy with who I am or where I at this point in time, and so by extension my relationship suffers. I guess I just really need to vent about it, I've lost touch with a lot of my friends from moving around so much and don't have anyone to talk to about these kind of personal details. Thanks for listening, anyways.
I'm sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time right now, angie. Have you considered meeting with a therapist to sort out some of this stuff you are going through? I would say more, but, it would be more advice giving and it sounds like you just want to vent right now.
No, please, I'll take any help I can get right now! I'm at the point where I know something's wrong but I don't have a clue what, and so I also don't know what I can do to fix it. Other than accept that there are times that life is like this, and wait it out until it gets better again. But that strategy hasn't been working very well so far, and I don't like that I'm apparently letting our relationship suffer in the meantime.
What happens when you two talk about the problems in your sex-life?

It sounds like you're struggling with penetrative sex. Are oral sex and masturbation difficult as well?
Hi persi - we've always been very open about these things - in the past we spent a lot of time sharing our fantasies and talking about thing we would like to do (and then doing them). It's been a bit harder to talk about problems, partly because I feel they are solely mine and don't want him to think it's his fault. I am starting to realize it is a reflection of our relationship though, not just me, but in the meantime I usually end up crying because I am pretty frustrated with myself, and he is confused but he knows that stress always affects me this way, and he says "it's OK, we will wait until you feel better and I can take care of myself until then. Just tell me what to do and when." Oral sex and other such activities are no problem, though I've never really been a huge fan of receiving when it comes to any of it, I only really like the giving part. We were successfuly using those activities as a stepping stone and everything had gotten a lot better until recently, when our life got crazy again. Right now I have no interest in any of it, at all. So I'm pretty sure now that most of our problems are about the relationship and me not being happy right now, that's why I decided to post here even if it partly belongs on another thread.
Boo, that sucks! mad.gif

I'm not a big fan of receiving oral sex either, so I sympathise.

I was just thinking that as this has been going on for a while, he might be starting to feel a bit rejected, and it might help things if you both had a chance to air some of your feelings. Perhaps it's not just about the sex for him - perhaps, if you're shutting off your emotions, he misses the intimacy. As you've had such a great sex life in the past, I'm guessing that sex was one of the main ways in which you emotionally connected to each other. If sex isn't so easy at the moment, it might be time to work on communication.

By the way, he sounds awesome, so I am sure everything will be fine!

How about promising each other that you won't try to have sex for a couple of weeks? Have kisses, cuddles etc but nothing below the waist? Maybe if you're not worrying about sex your body will relax and be able to enjoy the physical contact.
Yeah, sometimes the pressure to do sexual stuff kills things pretty effectively. Cuddling, massages, other sensual ways of expressing intimacy, though, is it an option to turn to those more often for a period of time?
I definitely think that's what we'll be sticking to for the time being. It's weird, how at the start of a relationship cuddling and all that comforting stuff always happens anyways, but later in the relationship when you really need it, it seems to disappear. Or maybe that's more a symptom that we're lacking in the intimacy department right now. But yeah, we're going for at least a few weeks, as long as it takes, without thinking about sex, so there's no pressure at all. I wish we would talk more, but you know there's just not much left we haven't said to eachother.

I think that yesterday when I first posted, I just got really freaked out. we don't fight much, and I hate that I'm making myself feel like I'm letting him down or not loving him enough. But we will get there, I have faith in us. And he is very awesome. happy.gif
Also, good to know I'm not crazy in my opinion on receiving! I dunno why, I just don't find it all that much of a psychological turn on, and most guys are confused by it or think it's something they're doing wrong. Physically, I can tell they may be doing all the right things, but... meh.
Angie, so sorry to hear you're going through such a stressful time. You've experienced so much change & you have so many big concerns weighing on your mind, it's no wonder you're feeling tense. I had a similar problem during the first year of our marriage, so I really sympathize with you. I totally get how the problem did not start within the relationship - your concerns are all about other things - but it's so hard to let go of that tension. Luckily, we managed to fix things even though our stress level didn't decrease, so maybe you can see some improvement, too.

I think you may need to put intimacy back on your schedule. I'm not just talking about physical intimacy. Rather, I think it would be good if you two could be alone and just hold one another and talk for a while. Sit on the couch or get in bed, wrap your arms around each other, and just talk softly about what's on your minds. If you want to talk about your fears, do that. If you want to tell a funny story from your day at work, do that! Just get back in the habit of opening up to one another. If you do this while holding each other, then you'll have physical and emotional intimacy all in one. The point is not to end these sessions with sex. The point is just to feel connected.

Since you're so overwhelmed by stress that these sessions are not happening spontaneously, I think you need to schedule them. Make appointments. Write them down on a calendar if you have to. Just 30 minutes at a time once or twice a week will be enough to get you started. I know it sounds lame and cliche to make appointments for intimacy. However, if you're having trouble remembering to do this stuff, then it's really the best way. Just think of what it really means when you schedule an appointment. When you make an appointment to see your doctor, you're saying that your body and your health is important enough to focus on that thing alone for a certain chunk of time. When you make an appointment to speak with a work colleague, you're saying that your working relationship and the issue you need to talk about are important enough to focus on without interruption for that chunk of time. Your relationship with your boyfriend deserves that type of consideration and attention, so in many ways, scheduling an appointment to be alone together is a very loving gesture. Talk you your boy about it and see what he thinks. I get the feeling that he just wants to feel wanted and needed - that he wants to know that you think about him and you love him - so hopefully he'll appreciate that you're taking steps to make your relationship a true priority in your day-to-day schedule.

One last thought: Are you taking any hormonal birth control right now? I was on the pill during that time when I was having trouble and I think that may have made things more difficult & painful on a physical level. After I got off the pill, intercourse was no longer painful. My sex drive increased, too, which REALLY helped a lot, of course!

Hope this helps! Best of luck to you.

thanks so much - I am running to work and only have time for a quick reply -

I was thinking back ont he best times in our relationship and they were when I moved away from everything to be with him, we spent a lot of time together and every nigth snuggling and talking and getting to know eachother. We do need to bring that back, I miss it. Not every night, it's goof I have some friends I can go out with here, but more than we do now!

I went of the pill in January. I think being on it had started a lot of the problems I'm having now. The physical problems have disappeared for the most part, but I've built up this huge mental block around it, and am still trying to figure it all out.

I will reread what you wrote later tonight and probably post again. Thank you so much for your support, everyone, I know it may sound silly put I think this is a turning point in our relationship, and a rough spot in my life, and I am very glad to have all your advice and help here.
Good morning, ladies! I'm new here and looking for some advice. I'd so appreciate any you could offer.

I've been in a relationship with a wonderful, loving man (J) for a short while and we're moving in together this weekend. Most of the time, all is blissful. We have complimentary personality types and living styles; we're equally affectionate and we don't ever compete. I'm more in love than ever and I believe he is too.

Here's the problem: We were introduced by "Andy," J's step-brother and a guy I work with and with whom I had a several-month sexual affair last year. Andy and I had nothing in common and never even attempted to date, build a relationship etc. It was pretty meaningless, really, but fun enough for me at the time. J knows all about it. On top of that misfortune, he also knows about an ill-advised, drunken, experimental threesome that Andy and I had with a girlfriend of mine (which I did not enjoy at all and regret anyway). The threesome is what really gets him. Every few days, he gets in this horrible mood, sulking and angry and just tortured by this knowledge. "It's the ultimate sexual fantasy for a guy and you did it with my brother," he says. He's a reasonable guy and recognizes that he has no right to be angry with me because none of this really has anything to do with him. Andy is his best friend, really, and is around all the time. But, J won't discuss this with ANYONE except me. He doesn't want his friends to know anything about it. He says he wants to be open and honest with me but I'd rather he just got over this quietly instead of trying to make me feel bad when he gets all miserable. He says that he gets visions in his head about it and just feels sick to his stomach. I can't really understand why it bothers him SO much but I try to be supportive. There's obviously nothing I can really say or do to undue that he knows too much.

Ladies, ever dealt with anything like this? Any miracles? THANK YOU!
QUOTE(edie52 @ Jun 15 2009, 03:58 AM) *
Stargazer, I asked him, and he said "someone who knows how I'm feeling and doesn't have to ask." I guess lately I've been second-guessing my intuition more and more and started asking him how he was feeling all the time. I also thought it was something people were "supposed" to do in mature relationships, communicate even the obvious and talk about our feelings all the time.

Sorry if this post is a bit late for the conversation but I really felt I had to comment.

I disagree somewhat with some of the responses to your concerns here regarding the appropriateness of having to ask "how are you" "all the time." In my experience, when you find yourself asking how he is all the time, it's because you know he's not well and you are seeking an answer that is precisely NOT what your intuition is telling you. I think it's akin to having self-esteem issues manifest themselves by you begging for compliments. I have found myself falling into this "are you alright?" and "what are you feeling?" and "how are you?" habit whenever my guy, J (I've posted about him recently), gets moody. I know what's wrong. I know he's feeling lousy. I know that if I ask, I'll either get the truth, which I don't want to hear, or a lie, which is at best useless and at worst destructive.

I happen to be highly interested in the Myers-Briggs personality types and I find it interesting that my type, the ENFP, is very likely to do exactly this thing we're discussing, i.e. the asking-bordering-on-pestering regarding one's partner's state of being. I am making a conscious effort to avoid this behavior lately and I'm finding my guy being less mysterious and sulky, I think as a result. If he's even a bit annoyed with me for any reason and acting moody, I ruin the fun of sulking for him if I just ignore it and let him talk to me if he wants to rather than get myself into a mess by hounding him about it. If I know perfectly well he's not in a good way, I just accespt that instead of seeking a different answer.

no1? why don't you go to the newbies thread <here> and introduce yourself. it just helps us get to know you. plus there's free cookies + martinis!
QUOTE(girltrouble @ Jul 16 2009, 02:25 PM) *
no1? why don't you go to the newbies thread <here> and introduce yourself. it just helps us get to know you. plus there's free cookies + martinis!

Sorry for jumping in unannounced! wink.gif I posted an intro on the newbies thread.
Eh, it happens.

I really didn't know what was up with my relationship for a while there. We'd been going back & forth for so long. A couple months ago I was ready to just lump it for both of our sakes. We'd stopped talking about what was important & were just mostly communicating physically when we did get to see each other.

But last time I was home, we spent two days talking. He's finally accepted that I don't know where I want to go or what I want to do with my life & that my staying here isn't a dodge to keep from moving in with him, but a necessity. I've accepted that I need to start making more plans for the future beyond the next couple months & that I need to take his needs, our needs more into consideration.

He's going to be here this weekend, it looks to be something of our "coming out" party locally. He's met my fam, but our big town thingy is this weekend & we're gonna do all the dumb stuff together. Now if I can only muster the energy to clean the goddamned house . . .
Ha ha, you can tell from all my typos that I was in a rush last time I posted!

AP - good luck this weekend. sounds stressful but good smile.gif

no1 - I'm not sure what to say about that, it's a toughie. He is not really playing fair, since he is upset about something you certainly can't change. On the other hand, I can see why he's jealous. The suspiscious part of me wonders whether he is trying to guilt trip you into having a threesome with him now. In the end, if you 2 are going to have a long term relationship, he is going to have to get over this. Have you discussed it in depth, maturely without him getting all pouty over it? I found that the direct approach was the best way to deal with my boyfriend when he had his little jealousy fits early on in our relationship. He is very much over them now, there was some baggage involved and then also learning to trust when neither of us were very trusting people to begin with, but it was easy because we were a great match and very dedicated. But if J is actually getting sick to his stomach, that's pretty intense, and something that will cause problems over time if it isn't resolved. It may take work, are you both strongly dedicated to this relationship? It sounds like J is otherwise worth it, but I imagine he may have some other security and confidence issues that make this such an emotional problem for him.

And finally - I was away at work last week, and came home all tired and grumpy, and my sweetie definitely showed why I love him so much. He told me to go shower while he made dinner, the house was all cleaned up when I got there, and one of the first things he said was "I want us to spend time together tonight" and we snuggled lots, and talked, and the next morning we made up for all of our problems in bed last week. It was all very cozy and romantic. I know now that these things won't always happen naturally for the rest of our lives, I know he knew I was feeling shitty and put in the extra effort over the last few days to be as sweet and caring as possible, and it was very nice. I am working on returning the favours this week. Juggling 2 jobs is making it difficult, since I'll be working more than 8 hours as day most of this week, but I am dedicated.
It has been awhile since this thread has been used!

I don't have a real problem, I just want some feedback. I happy to say that The Geek and I will be spending Christmas with his family this year. It was my decision. Last Christmas I was miserable. I didn't want to spend another Christmas dealing with all of the tension within my family (and all of the cigarette smoke dry.gif ). So, my family knows what is going on. We are seeing them for Thanksgiving and doing Christmas gifts then.

So, with doing the holidays with his parents, I want to make sure that I don't step on any toes. Because I have always had to plan travel for the Holidays, I always plan early. He does not. Last Christmas he put his Christmas shopping off late, expecting to be able to get it all on Christmas Eve. Well, his job went haywire on Christmas Eve and he ended up giving his family IOUs for Christmas. They were displeased. The Geek hates shopping more than anyone I know.

So, I am pretty friendly with his mother. I did some painting for her this summer and we got pretty chatty. I sent her an email today letting her know what are plans were because I am positive that he would not remember to do that (he loves his family but just sisn't much of a planner.) I also, with The Geek's permission, asked her for a Christmas list. The plan is that I will do the shopping this year rolleyes.gif , and the gift-wrapping, etc.

So I guess my concern is that I want to make sure that it isn't odd that I am planning or suggesting plans in his place. There have been hurt feelings on his mother's part, in the past when her daughter-in-law and son forgot to consider what she might want to do (as in, they spent every holiday with her family which I just don't get.) I want to make sure that no one's feelings get hurt or ignored. I think it feels weird because I am The Geek's girlfriend, not his wife. Do you know what I mean?

This is also nice for me because, as my mom and I are a little strained right now, it is nice to have his mother actually interested in what is going on with us. She even wants to join me for baking Christmas cookies, something I never get to do with my mom as she lives in another state and never visits. Is it wrong that I am enjoying some mother attention?

Anyway, any input would be appreciated. I think what I am doing is okay, I just want to make sure I don't go overboard.
Kittenb- I think what you are doing sounds okay- more than okay, even. You are making things easier on both the Geek and his mother by taking on the planning and shopping- and also on yourself, as you'd probably be stressed too watching the Geek leave it all until the last minute.

And I don't think it's weird with you being his girlfriend and not his wife. My boyfriend's family, especially his Mom, have made me feel like a part of the family, and I've noticed my family is making the same efforts to make him feel that way. As more and more couples are opting to keep dating or co-habitate in place of marriage, it's become totally normal for a boy- or girl-friend to be considered part of the family, and that includes celebrating big holidays together.

I think the fact that you're conscious of it means you won't go too far. I would just be open to signals from the family about where you stand, and tone it down if you must. But I'm sure it'll be fine! Also, talk to your boyfriend about it- he'll be able to offer you insight into his family and how much space they need, what their reactions mean, etc.
I think you're doing fine KittenB. I'm pretty much with everything edie said, you're not gonna go overboard because you're aware.

I'm already stressing over the holidays myself. I've already decided to blow off Thanksgiving because my 35th birthday is that weekend & I sure as fuck do not want to spend it here. I wanna throw a blowout party for my friends & have a nice dinner with HB at B&W.

Which leads me to Christmas, which I also do not want to spend here. We've been talking about going somewhere but haven't decided where exactly. My family is gonna be pissed, but the idea of spending a week somewhere with my baby sounds good enough for me to not really care.
Kitten, I think it's great you're being sensitive to how your actions might come across but as others have said, I think you're not out of bounds at all. And wanting some mother-time, in whatever form, is totally fair enough in view of what you've written before. Enjoy it.

The mister and I have been planning to spend a Christmas away for years. For him the farther away the better--hanging out in a non-Christian country could be interesting. The problem is from here such holidays (because they take place over 'the holidays') have to be booked far in advance. I'm a planner, he=less so, although he's good for advance longhaul stuff. Hopefully we'll get to it.

I have never had a problem, in theory, with both of us going to our respective families at christmas--I always felt that I didn't want to give up visiting mine so I wouldn't get in the way of him visiting his. I lived in a different country/continent from my family for over 10 years, so I savour my time with them when I can get it. Also, I love christmas with my fam: it's mellow and generally family-drama free, which is a gift in itself.
kitten, it sounds like what you are doing is just fine. Also, you may not be the Geek's wife but you guys have been dating for a while and now you're living together. How long has it been now?

And also, unlike his brother and sister in law, you're actually taking into account what his mom would like to do. I think she really appreciates that.

And another thing, at least you enjoy going out and doing the shopping. When I lived at home I was often the Christmas shopper for all of the gifts in the family. My mom would give me the list and some cash and I was able to go do it because I am a fast shopper and I have more free time than other people in the family. I bet his family will appreciate getting actual presents as opposed to IOUs this year.

Man, all this talk has got me thinking about Christmas now, lol! I love that time of year!
Just wanted to add my voice to the choir! Kitten, you're doing everything right. Don't worry about it. I'm sure his family will love getting to know you better. Enjoy it!
" you'd probably be stressed too watching the Geek leave it all until the last minute."

You got that right. It would make me insane.

" guys have been dating for a while and now you're living together. How long has it been now?"

It has been two years this weekend. With the move and everything, we both almost forgot it. Yesterday I looked over at him, after the train went past the restaraunt where we had spent our 1st anniversary, and said, "Oh! Happy anniversary!" We had decided a while ago to just exchange cards and we had already planned to spend tonight in with good food. Yesterday, I found a cute card and bought a big peice of red velvet cake for dessert. When I got home, I discovered he had not done the dishes as I asked him to (or any of the other house chores that he could have done mad.gif ) I was in bed before he was home (it has been a busy week.) I woke up earlier than him this morning as I open the library on Fridays. My plan was to leave his card as a little suprise on his desk. As I was writing in it. I had to kept telling my very cranky morning self, "This (the dishes, the trash, etc) is temporary. I always love him," otherwise my sweet sentimental card was going to get a lot bitchier, haha!
Hi kittenb, I just want to join the choir to say that I think what you are doing sounds fine to me as well. In fact, more than fine as you are actually being very thoughtful and considerate of past family experiences as well as the feelings of your boyfriend and his mother. I'm sure that it will be appreciated that you WANT to be such an active member of the family and that this will trump your official marital status.

I must say that I can especially relate to your post because there is far more drama on my side of the family when compared to my husband's family. My family loves to see us and we make an effort to time share on holidays but it is much less stressful and much more carefree when we are with my partner's family. It feels good because we want to see them rather than having a mix of wanting to see them and commitment that sometimes happens with my family.
Hi Kitten, don't worry I'm sure his family will be thrilled. If you were actually making all the decisions for him, that would be one thing, but you're not, you're just making sure that things actually happen. Just make sure that you make him do some of the Christmas chores so you don't get burnt out!

I also have a similar situation with my sweetie; his family is much more stable and, well, normal than mine and so I really enjoy spending time with them. Don't feel guilty for enjoying that attention, I think it's one of the bonuses of being in a committed relationship. It's normal! I used to feel guilty too, because I often like spending time with his family more than I do spending time with mine, but I'm getting used to it and realizing that all along my family has been equally wonderful, it's just that they really do need to be enjoyed only in small doses.
Hey guys... I need some help.

As some of you might remember, my boyfriend and I have been having problems since the spring at least. I wrote a long post after a talk we'd had about him being distant, maybe wanting to move out, and how the whole dynamic of our relationship was off-kilter. Anyway, since then things have gotten better and worse and better and worse about 2 dozen times.

He's still confused about what to do with his life and kind of depressed (has been since he graduated over a year ago), and it's only gotten worse. I always thought that if my partner was depressed I would "be there" for him and help him and be the strong one, but its incredibly hard because as a result of it he doesn't treat me very well- he's distant, doesn't seem excited to see me, and I don't even know where I stand with him anymore. So now I'm depressed and confused and etc. as well.

So last night we talked about it (again). I accused him of being distant and withholding his feelings, and that I wanted to know "how he was feeling." He said that was a huge, vague question, but also answered that he felt kind of rotten and doesn't know what to do anymore. I said I meant how he felt about me/us. He finally admitted that he finds our relationship "uninspiring" right now and the reason why he doesn't talk about it more is that he doesn't like thinking about how his feelings have changed. He said he's not sure if it's going to work. He stressed that he cares about me and that I'm "special" to him- but he never said that he loved me... even thought I said it to him. That's been the hardest part. This morning we were holding each other in bed and it was really tender and we were talking about it again- he said it was "really sad" even talking about breaking up- he seemed regretful that things have somehow come to this. And I've been obsessing over what happened between the time we were happy and now, if there's something I could have done differently. But I know I need to look forward.

I know that from everything I wrote it seems clear where this is going (downhill, fast). I don't know what to do, though, because we still live together. And I still have a bit of hope, I need to have some hope, because I really love this guy and I want it to work. I know I'm not getting what I need emotionally from him now and I deserve more. But I'm just thinking... if things do get better for him... like if he gets a great job or goes to therapy or changes him outlook or figures things out... maybe he'll feel more passionate about our relationship again.

I guess I'm just wondering if anyone has gone through this, specifically with a partner who is depressed. I'm curious about what happens in, say, a marriage when one partner is feeling a lack of passion or having a crisis. If I wasn't questioning his love for me I wouldn't be freaking out quite so much. I'm trying to think of things we can do to shake up our stagnant relationship- things that are scary, but I guess I don't have much to lose at this point. I might move out, or suggest a break or seeing other people- none are things I 100% want, but I us both to be happy. For the record, I do agree that our relationship is stagnant.

I guess there's not much hope if he's fallen out of love, but at the same time, I don't believe it's as black and white as that. Relationships change and are messy, people have all types of different arrangements and break up and get back together and sometimes need to be alone to figure their shit out. You know?

ETA: Holy mother this is long. Sorry!

I'm afraid I haven't been in the same position, so I haven't got any useful experience to share.
Perhaps if you suggested moving out / taking a break, his reaction would tell you how he's really feeling?

I imagine that taking a break or seeing other people would both be impractical unless you moved out first. Is there anyone you could stay with for a while, say a month, so that you can both have some space to figure things out without making any permanent decisons?

I'm sorry that you're in such a sucky position, and I really hope things improve soon.
edie, that is a really tough situation. I don't know that I can offer any truly helpful advice, since I've only been through a much milder form of what you're describing. About two years into our relationship my boyfriend was feeling depressed and started acting distant and aloof. We didn't live together but I tried to help him as much as I could. I bought him the book Positivity, which he said helped a bit. I encouraged him to seek help, but, being uninsured and low on money he wasn't able to afford it. What ended up really helping was that we moved to a foreign country together. Before we moved I was quite scared -- I knew that if he was really chemically depressed, or if it was because of our relationship, then it would come out in the worst way once we moved. But it was something I really wanted to do with or without him so I went ahead with it. It turns out that his depression was mostly situational. He had graduated college a few months earlier, lost contanct with a lot of his school friends that moved or just drifted away, he was working a crappy 3rd shift job, and he wasn't writing once he didn't have the structure of school. Moving to a completely foreign culture sort of snapped it out of him -- it's quite difficult to be depressed when you're in a new and exciting place, trying to learn the language and just figure out how life works in Asia. I still see some signs of mild depression in him sometimes, he does too, but here he's more likely to be proactive about avoiding the things that trigger it, like forcing himself to write on a schedule, getting out and exploring nature, etc.

Anyway, like I said, I'm not sure I can be of too much help, since there were other complicating factors in the state of our relationship, and since I honestly don't know how things would have turned out if we had just stayed in the same town/same situation we were in. I have a feeling they only would have gotten progressively worse. It took a real physical, geological change for things to change with him and us. I would think that your boyfriend is going to have to do something about his depression. It doesn't sound like he's depressed because of your relationship, which means if he can deal with his problems then perhaps he would eventually be capable of loving you the way you deserve. If he doesn't, then I wouldn't see how it could get better. Just ruminating on a problem generally does not fix it. Work with him to do something to deal with his depression, perhaps then he can have more mental clarity on whether or not he's still in love with you and wants to be in your relationship. I hope things work out okay for you.
QUOTE(likeanyother @ Nov 2 2009, 03:01 AM) *
I would think that your boyfriend is going to have to do something about his depression. It doesn't sound like he's depressed because of your relationship, which means if he can deal with his problems then perhaps he would eventually be capable of loving you the way you deserve. If he doesn't, then I wouldn't see how it could get better. Just ruminating on a problem generally does not fix it. Work with him to do something to deal with his depression, perhaps then he can have more mental clarity on whether or not he's still in love with you and wants to be in your relationship. I hope things work out okay for you.

i agree for sure.

i was in a similar situation where my ex (sorry to say, not for me but for this example) just would not help himself get out of the his depression, out of his situation that was helping the depression (job stuff), and was pushing me out when i tried to help. we went to couples therapy, to which he was not fully cooperative, and i went to therapy myself, where my therapist said that i could only do what's good for me. as much as i loved him, as much as i wanted to help him feel better, and as much as i wanted the relationship to work, i couldn't force him to help himself.

it took me quite a while to realize the relationship was hopeless. years, in fact. it's when i felt like i tried everything. therapy, vacations, talking to his family and friends, showing him job ads, school applications, etc.

does he acknowledge the root of his depression? does he want change?

Thank you for your responses.

Persi, I absolutely agree that taking a break or seeing other people can't work while we're living together. I don't have anyone to stay with, I literally don't know anyone who has a guest room. If things were really dire I could sleep on someone's couch, but that would throw such a wrench into my life in terms of school and work and just make everything harder for me, and I'd probably resent him for having the apartment all to himself. When I've mentioned moving out to him, I didn't get much of a reaction- he was like "yeah... maybe." I feel like he's either unsure of what he wants, or unsure of whether that will change what he's feeling, and on top of that he's not feeling motivated enough to make a big change.

Likeanyother, thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like your boyfriend's depression was similar to what my guy is experiencing. From the just having graduated to losing friends, being unmotivated, and working a crappy job. I agree that he needs to do something about his depression. He doesn't have the money to see a therapist. I think a big life change could make him snap out of it- particularly something positive and exciting, like what you're experiencing. It's not the easiest thing to orchestrate, though. He's probably thinking about breaking up because that's one of the biggest, most obvious things he can change. Although he did acknowledge that while breaking up or seeing other people might distract him, he doesn't think that it would make him happy.

Nickclick, he does acknowledge the root of his depression, and does want to change. He says he needs change. But he's not sure what area to change, nor does he have much motivation. He definitely said he's disappointed with life and he feels like time is just passing and he's not doing what he wants. It's mostly a career/future thing. Our relationship was not the cause, but now it's a factor. I feel like it's just another thing that to him has become routine and predictable. We've both talked about how we should do more things and expand our social circle, but neither of us is proactive in that area.
edie, you're Canadian, right? I don't know about the states but I know that here we have a lot of good free options. It might take a while to see someone but it sounds like your bf really needs some therapy. I know that when you're depressed it can feel impossible to get out and do things to change your life. I spent most of my depression just wanting to stay in bed all day and not do anything. But you really just have to force yourself to get out of the house, get some fresh air and get a change of scenery. Maybe you could take him out somewhere that neither of you have gone before.

I think the hardest thing about depression is that it's almost like a bad addiction in that the person dealing with it has to want to help themselves. You can whine and say that things need to change but ultimately you have to be the person to get up and help yourself.

My friend had an ex who dealt with depression and just expected everyone else to change for him. He was on anti-depressants but he expected the pill to magically make him happy and he didn't want to go through the work of therapy. I know I've said this a million times before but my own recovery from depression was only 10% medication. The other 90% was seeing a therapist every week and talking things through and learning coping mechanisms.

A few things, my ex had substantial depression, and yes, it is hard to deal with. he didn't open up about a lot, but I was always there for him. And, ccg, I'm so with you on the magic pill. My ex never engaged in any sort of therapy whatsoever.

I have depression and use the example of ym relationship with my best friend. It's hard to care about anyone when you have such a self loathing for yourself. that's not to say he doesn't care, but he may not know how to care. you get so wrapped up in yourself and your emotions and what's going on in your own head. I said terrible things to my bff (who is a man), and we scrapped and it was dreadful. the key to us not parting ways was that we talked about it. If he doesn't want to (or perhaps, doesn't know how to verbalize what is going in his head) it's tremendously difficult.

I think a big question here is what YOU feel about all of this. Do you think that you can get through this as a couple, do you even want to find out? To be perfectly blunt and honest, how much do you want to take?
cc_girl, I am Canadian, and you're right, there are free options through the public clinics, my understanding is that there are long waiting lists, but I suppose he should get on it. Maybe I'll call and inquire for him.

Culture, what I want is for things to be the same (ok, that's impossible, but as good at least) as they were before. I do want to find out if we can get through it, but I don't know how much I can take. Like I said, I want to stand by him because I love him and that's what I'd want someone to do for me. I absolutely don't want to turn my back on him. On the other hand, I don't want to be a fool who can't see the writing on the wall. It's heart wrenching living with someone in what's supposed to be a romantic partnership, and not even knowing if he still loves me or wants to be together. It's also frustrating not understanding to what extent our relationship plays a role in this, and what I can do on my side to change things. But of course he doesn't even know the answer to that question, so how could I?
Wow, edie, you are in a really hard situation here. ((((edie))))

I know that this conversation has been going on for a few days and maybe I missed my opportunity to speak but I just thought I would jump in for a second (ETA: or an hour, as it seems from my rambling), if that's okay. I just got out of a relationship with a depressed individual, and from what you can all plainly read - I got out of it, so things did not turn out so well for us.

Ex and I dated/lived together for just under two years (one year and eleven months, pretty much to the day) and it was a hard go of it. There were a lot of warning signs that I should have seen and probably did see but ignored, because I am a person who always, always, always looks for the good in people, even when it's obviously that someone is fucked up. This man had issues about his weight (and he was a normal weight, size 34 waist, which I think it average for man), about the size of his penis, about the way he looked, about what he was going to do for the rest of his life, etc. You name it and it was an issue for him. I mean this quite literally. He started to go to a counsellor after he finally told his parents that he and their old neighbour (a woman more than twice his age) had a relationship between the times he was sixteen to twenty-one and they finally realized, "Well shit, maybe this is what has been bothering him for the past seven years!" (his parents are not the best people, and that's the best I can say about them). So yes, he started to go to counselling and things started to pick up but then he stopped going and we were right back where we started. Constant fighting, he constantly belittled and controlled me, etc. He wouldn't do anything I wanted to do - or anything at all for that matter. It was not a good scene and no way to live. We still talk sometimes and he gives reasons for why he acted the way he did, but there's no excuse. He says he loved/loves me, but it never seemed that way when we were together. I 100% believed then (and now) that we are better off without one another. It just didn't work.

I'm sorry I went into this big long description but I kind of wanted to tell you what he was like. He was an abuser, but he did these things because of his depression. He did the things he did to me because he felt horrible about himself. I am hoping that it's not going that way for you as well, but one can never be so sure. Do I think it's doable for two people to have a relationship when one is depressed? Absolutely. But it's a lot of work. I couldn't handle it anymore. I knew before I got into the relationship that he had OCD and thought I could deal with it, but that is a whole other kettle of fish. The OCD was impossible for me to handle. I think if you really want to work on your relationship - and he does too - then you can make it. But it has to be 100% from both people, you know? If you think he is worth it fight like hell. If you think you can't handle it anymore then (in my opinion) it's best to get out now. I waited two years when I shouldn't have waited one more second after he disappeared for a whole day for no reason at the beginning of our relationship and now I'm worse for it (another story for another day). I just don't want to see you getting hurt because of his issues, you know?

I also felt the way you do - I didn't want to turn my back on him. I said this constantly, even when my brother was dragging me to his place to live because he knew that I couldn't get myself out of the situation I was in, kicking and screaming the whole way. I didn't want to hurt Ex, but I had to. The problem was, being with him was making me turn my back on myself and it's hard to live with what I've done to my soul now that it's all over.

Again, I am completely sorry if this was out of line. ((((edie))))
Well rogue, my ex was the same way. The depression made him very angry and because he had self loathing for himself and low self esteem because of it, he was convinced I was cheating on him with someone somewhere (which, I enventually did).

hence, it can be difficult to be invovled with someone who has any mental illness.
Hrm, CH, that sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever heard one! Guy is afraid you will cheat on him so acts like an arse until you actually do in fact cheat on him. My ex was the exact same way, only this time I never cheated on him. I have cheated in the past but something stopped me with this guy; maybe because I was afraid he would physically harm me if he ever found out. He was a lightning bolt, that's for sure.

But yes, I agree. Mental illness is a very difficult thing to deal with in a relationship. It can be done but sometimes there is a cost.
Rogue, thanks for you concern, but the situation is not abusive in the least. In fact, if anyone's more jealous/insecure it's me (I try to be aware of it, though). He is more distant and detached (and he's changed more quickly and more drastically). We both have issues and neither of us are happy right now. I am overemotional and he is numb and says he has a hard time feeling anything. So we're having a hard time understanding one another. I guess we're both kind of experiencing situational depression, except that mine came after and is a response to how he's acting and treating me. So I guess my instinct is to fix him first, but that's probably beyond my control.
i guess what's to be learned from these stories is that the relationship has to be strong enough and worth all the work to repair. i dunno, edie, maybe that's something to think on. of course you want to help him, but will it be worth it to you in the long run?

what usually helps me through depressive moments is making a to-do list. if he's not proactive, maybe you can gather some resources (articles, his friends, etc) to help you list ways to help him out of this. that may help you feel less helpless, and maybe something will work for him. if not, at least you won't leave feeling you didn't try all you could think of.
I'm glad to hear that you're not in any way threatened by what is going on in your relationship, edie (well, not in the abusive sense). This must be really hard. It's definitely not going to be an easy decision to make but I hope that you are okay with whatever you choose. You can only do what you feel is right, no matter what. ((((edie))))
classy lady

I have both been the depressed one and been the depressed one's partner- both are incredibly difficult situations. When I've been the depressed one I have depended on my partner for happiness, which they couldn't always fulfill (really, who can "fix" anyone?) I felt even more alone. As the depressed one's partner I've felt that I could solve their problems, I could be the constant light in their day to keep them looking up- but it's exhausting and left me feeling inadequate.

Relationships when one or both partners are dealing with depression can work. It's just important to recognize that depression is an individual battle. The most you can do is support the person and be there for them, and always remember to take care of yourself.

I hope that things are looking up.
Hi everyone. I am wondering who here has been in long distance marraiges or committed relationships, and if anyone can give me some advice on how to make it work. I'm thinking of going away for grad school next fall, I would be living in the US for at least 2 years to finish my residency. It's about a 7 hour flight from our home in Canada (if you avoid stopovers, anyways) and we would see eachother probably once every month, and over the summer, if we can save up the money. I've only just started applying, and my boyfriend is being so supportive, but I can tell in the way he's been acting that he's already very stressed out about it, and I know he doesn't really want me to go. not that he would ever admit it, he doesn't want to hold me back from having my own life and career. But I don't want having those things to mess up my life with him. We've been together 4 years, own a house together, and things have always been really great, he's "the one." Knowing that I am making him unhappy is not so great. Has anyone else out there had to try to make something like this work?
I should add that we already did one year of long distance for my master's degree, but it was only 3 hours drive away and we saw eachother almost every weekend. It was tough some days, but only because we missed eachother so much. It never caused any fights or any actual relationship problems. I know so many other people who did the long distance thing for school, and their relationships were fine through it all. for the most part, anyways. But so many non-academic people have looked at me like I'm crazy when I tell them this is what we're thinking of doing.
Angie, I know some people who managed to make it work, including a couple of Busties.

Sheff and I had to do the long-distance thing for a year. It was extremely stressful, but we held it together. I think we were able to survive it because we definitely made communication a priority. Hell, when you're far apart, that's pretty much all you've got! So we took full advantage of it. We talked on the phone nearly every day for at least 30 minutes. We set a specific time for that daily call & did our best to schedule our lives around it. Sometimes we'd talk to one another twice a day on the weekends. We also set specific dates for when we'd see one another again. We only got to see one another for a week every 3 months (and I still had to work during the day while he was visiting!), so your monthly visits sound heavenly to me. There were times when I felt like the only thing that kept me sane was the fact that I could look at a calendar and know exactly how many days were left until we'd be together. It was really really tough to be apart sometimes, but in an odd way I think our relationship grew stronger because we went through that.

I think that if your boyfriend is supporting you and your dreams like this, it's an excellent sign that you can make it. Sometimes it will certainly be painful and rough, no doubt about it. He has every right to be worried about how much this will hurt. But some things are worth the temporary sacrifice and it sounds like deep down he understands that. In the long run it sounds like it will be worth it. Just hold onto the thought that you plan on spending your whole lives together. Two years is just a blip in that lifetime.
Angie, I haven't done the long-distance thing, but I think that if I was in your boyfriend's position I could cope with it as long as I knew that we had shared life plans at the end of the LD period.
Thanks rose and persi. It was good to hear about your experiences rose, that you for sharing them. We always also did the daily phone calls when I was away for the first year, and the only times I had trouble were when he was travelling for work and we couldn't call eachother for a week at a time. I know doing this for school won't be so bad because I will have a lot fo freedom in my schedule to come home a visit. hopefully we'll have the money for it, though.

We have always been very committed to eachother, since we first met, our relationship has been very solid and there have never been doubts about our shared life views and goals. We already know that being apart won't change that. But the one thing I am worried about is that I know he will be jealous - his first wife cheated on him and left him when he was away for school for 2 years, and it is going to be hard for him to get past that. He gets a bit jealous about other guys anyways, but has worked very hard during our relationship to overcome it and to always remind himself that I am not the same kind of person that she was, and because of that it's never been a problem before. but I'm worried that the great distance and long times we will be apart will make it much more difficult. He is being very supportive though, and he is thinking so much more about me than himself. He's already been researching the places I could live while I am there, and doing background reading on my potential supervisor's publications. He already knows more about the schools I've applied to than I do!
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