< Back to front page Text size +

He's sick. Can I leave?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  August 5, 2009 10:48 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Thank you for all of your personal stories yesterday. Not surprisingly, I had some Draco Malfoy dreams last night.

Here’s a letter. Don’t forget to chat at 1 p.m.

Q: I enjoy reading your columns everyday -- it provides such a welcome distraction at work. I find myself in a difficult, sad situation, and would appreciate any advice you and your readers have to offer.

I have been in a relationship for about four years. My boyfriend and I are very young -- we started dating when we were about 20 -- and we’ve had a great relationship and are very much best friends. We agreed early on there was no need to rush and get married, but we frequently discussed our desire to be together for a very long time. Two years ago we moved in together and it was wonderful; we had a great life, great experiences, great friends.

My boyfriend has always had health problems, but a little over a year ago, things really got bad. There’s no need to go into the details, but suffice it to say, it isn’t going to go away, and it has impacted every aspect of our lives. Because it is often difficult for him to move around, we started going out less and less. Our home became less social as he didn’t like having people over as much. His interests narrowed, his mood soured (he’s being treated for depression). Our sex life dried up. I took it upon myself to do whatever I could to make life better for him; I have taken on more and more responsibilities; I physically take care of him; and I have been patient, accommodating and understanding as our lives changed.

Now I’m at a point where I have accepted that this is not temporary, and I feel increasingly hopeless. I have all of the responsibilities in the relationship, with no help from him; I ask for help when I think it is reasonable, but the general rule is, if I don't do it, it won't get done. What's more is that we basically have no lives. His only real interest now is sitting on the couch watching our favorite TV shows, and it’s the only activity we really do together anymore. I’ve told him on more than one occasion that I miss the things we used to do together and with others, and that despite his pain, I hope we can try to have some fun again, even if it’s limited. He tries sometimes, but even if he manages to get out the door with me, we usually can’t stay out for long before he wants to come home. I’ve tried to broaden his interests beyond the TV even within our apartment (books, board games, video games, anything) but that hasn’t really worked either. His interest in other people has also reached new lows, so socializing beyond the infrequent visits of our few remaining close friends is rare. I have started going out on my own from time to time just to escape the negative and monotonous atmosphere of our home (I always make sure to invite him), but it’s not the same, and since our jobs take up much of our time, it doesn’t feel right to spend a large portion of my limited free time elsewhere. I’ve brought up all of these problems separately on numerous occasions, but I have to be delicate about it because he quickly begins to feel massively guilty and depressed, and sees himself as inadequate.

I feel isolated, stuck, and sad, and have been fighting the urge to flee. I think he may suspect my feelings, because he is reminding me more frequently how he loves me and couldn't go on without me. But I just don't know. On the one hand, I have all the responsibilities of the relationship, and none of the emotional or physical joy that should come with it. I don't think he is either willing or capable of living beyond the lifestyle we currently live. I’m 24 and I am terrified at the prospect that this is it, that this is going to be my life. On the other hand, he’s still my best friend, and I love him and deeply care for him. He’s in pain, both physically and emotionally, and he needs me. If I left, it would break his heart, and when I think about the reality of that, it absolutely shakes me.

What should I do? It’s been over a year, and I feel I have tried everything, and things are not getting any better. Am I a horrible person to be thinking about leaving him?

-- Stuck and Hopeless, Boston

A: S&H, You’re allowed to leave. You’re 24. You didn’t sign up for this. I fear the longer you stay, the worse it will be when you bolt.

He’s your friend. You owe it to him to be honest. Tell him you’re not up for this. You can’t commit to this life, at least not as a romantic partner. You can explain that part of your decision is about age and place in life. I truly believe it’s not just his illness. You want to discover more of the world. You want to get to know yourself better. That's what unmarried people do at your age. You will feel like a jerk -- but being a jerk is better than being a martyr.

Give him the whole picture. Explain that you’ve thought about leaving for a number of reasons, but that his health and depression has kept you around. Tell him you've lost track of how serious the relationship would be if his illness wasn't a factor.

If he can’t get his mind around losing you -- if he begs you to stay (and he probably will) -- assure him that you’ll be there as a friend if he wants you around in that capacity. Remind him of all of the other people in his life who care for him. Tell him to seek out as much support as possible. Dealing with a chronic is miserable. He needs to learn to cope without alienating everyone he loves. If you fear that leaving him will send him into a dangerous depression, talk to his friends and family -- even his doctor. It's their job to get him through this.

There’s no way to avoid feeling like a bad person. It's going to be ugly and there's going to be a lot of guilt and shame. But that's life. You can’t always be the good guy. And frankly, I’m not sure that sticking around would make you the good guy. It would just make you miserable.

Go be 24.

Readers? Am I awful for suggesting that S&H bail on a sick person? What would you do in this situation? Share here. Letters to right.

-- Meredith

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

236 comments so far...
  1. I think the fact that the BF seems unwilling to compromise his feelings for the GF (maybe go out once in a while even if it makes him uncomfortable), he has selfishly made you his lifetime caregiver, and not life partner. Partners are just that, sacrificing for the other. The BF is making zero sacrifices here, and I predict is all ready to play the guilt card.
    You should make your exit, try to be graceful, check in once in a while, but God girl-you have a full life to live. Good luck.

    Posted by ramel99 August 5, 09 11:24 AM
  1. Run Jennie, Run.

    Posted by billy August 5, 09 11:24 AM
  1. Yes, you're awful, because you would tell a man to stick it out for
    the woman if the roles were reversed.

    Posted by Ron Mexico August 5, 09 11:25 AM
  1. Sometimes life just isn't fair. It's not fair that your BF is sick. It's not fair that you're stuck in a relationship doing all of the work but receiving none of the benefits.

    In my mind what this boils down to is vows. You are not married; you never vowed to be with him in sickness and in health. I agree with Meredith. As hard is the breakup is going to be -- and it will be unbelievably difficult on both of you -- you need to free yourself from the burden the relationship has become and re-discover life beyond the sick bed.

    Posted by RiversRage August 5, 09 11:25 AM
  1. Tough situation but if you are not happy and he won't make more of an effort to at least be social then you have the right to move on..

    Posted by techdood August 5, 09 11:26 AM
  1. Meredith is right, S&H needs to leave and leave now. She is miserable, as is her boyfriend, and their misery together will not make either one feel better. They are committed, but not married, and S&H is not bound by law or ethics to stay "for better or worse."
    It may be morally repugnant to some judgemental busybodies that she leave, but the hard choices usually are, especially when it comes to staying in a relationship not because one wants to but because one feels she "must."
    Both individuals involved are young, child-free and unmarried. There is no reason for S&H to stay in a relationship she will eventually regret, with a man she will not love and may even despise in the end.
    It is the one piece of Meredith's advice I disagree with, offering friendship to the boyfriend. S&H does not have to offer to stay in any type of relationship with her boyfriend simply because he is ill. S&H should not feel any guilt for being honest and ending this relationship and moving on with her life.
    S&H is willing to acknowledge the issues, look at her contributions to the situation and try to find ways to improve not only her outlook, but her boyfriend's. Based on the details provided, he refuses to confront the negative toll his illness, depression and refusal to deal with either are having on his life and by extension, his girlfriend's life.
    Dealing with a significant other suffering through a chronic illness that leads to a debilitating depression is not easy and S&H must admit she can not fix him. If her boyfriend wants to wallow in his misery, she does not have to be dragged down with him. She will not a bad person for choosing not to continue the relationship.

    Posted by Miss J August 5, 09 11:27 AM
  1. Break up with him. Make it clear you are no longer boyfriend and girlfriend. Then move out.

    All that said, you can still be a "friend". Look in after him. Help him arrange other caregivers. Support him when you can. Be anything you want to him, just not his girlfriend.

    And for yourself, move on...get "out there" again, whether it's dating, activities or other friends. You're too young not to do otherwise.

    Good luck!

    Posted by Alvin August 5, 09 11:27 AM
  1. Meredith I think you are horrible for suggesting S&H bail on him. It's not his fault he is ill and after all the time they have spent together and all the love they have for each other that will probably kill him to have her walk out the door. She can't take care of him and have another relationship. What if he gets better soon? What if he doesn't? Well, if he doesn't then at least you did the best you could with him during the time you have together. Life is about the challenges we face with one another, not bailing on someone you are in love with just because their health is failing. If anything let him be the one to say, look, I need constant care, this isn't fair to you, and make the decision together. Otherwise, I pray to you and people everywhere that you don't fall ill because your significant other isn't going to hang around until you are well again.

    Posted by Steve August 5, 09 11:27 AM
  1. I think she needs to ask herself, if she were this way, would her boyfriend stick around with her, knowing they'd made a commitment to each other? If she can honestly say no, then she can feel free to leave. Otherwise, I think it's pretty awful to just leave him because it's inconvenient for her.

    Posted by Steve August 5, 09 11:27 AM
  1. S&H: That situation is a nightmare. It sounds like you feel like the walls are closing in on you - because they kind of are. I would suggest that you not just leave, though - for your own sake and for his. Are you at all open to going to couples therapy? Seriously, consider it. Maybe there is no hope of things improving to a level that is tolerable to you, but I think it would help both of you.to figure that out together with a trained professional to help the conversation along - so that way when he is saying, "I can't go on without you," there is someone besides you in the room telling him (hopefully) that such a statement is unfair and manipulative and not a reason for anyone to stay in a relationship. Just think about it. In your case, I imagine this will end up being break-up therapy of sorts, but so be it - when you are thinking about him two years from now and wondering if you did everything you could, you will know that you did. Take care of yourself in the meantime.

    Posted by StudioCity August 5, 09 11:28 AM
  1. S&H,
    Your letter struck a chord with me. I stuck around with a girlfriend who said she would be miserable without me and who I feared my actually kill herself if I left. We didn't go out much, my friends became alienated and we became incredibly isolated. We married, had a child and I was miserable for most of 11 years. We finally divorced and she managed to get along just fine. I'm in a great relationship now but I can't tell you how much I regret missing out on my 20's. Even if you try to stay- what is bearable when you are 24 will become intolerable when you are 30. You know that you need to leave. Good luck!
    suggest that

    Posted by abnerdday August 5, 09 11:29 AM
  1. We spend a good part of our lives caring for children, elderly parents and ourselves when necessary. At 24 it is not fair for you to be tied to this kind of emotional rock. Be his friend and help him when you can, but please don't waste the best years of your life as a martyr. Not knowing the nature of his illness, I can't quantify it, but your BF is suffering from severe depression and needs clinical help. As a friend, you can help him get that help. Beyond that, don't feel guilty for not wanting to spend your life commiserating with him.

    Good luck,
    DrK

    Posted by DrK August 5, 09 11:30 AM
  1. I predict there won't be anyone today that says that you have to stay. It's all about how best to pull away and Meredith's advice is proper, so start setting the ball in motion. You deserve you're life.....

    Posted by TD August 5, 09 11:30 AM
  1. dear LW -- I feel for you. You seem to be a kind and generous person. At some point, your willingness is going to sour, and life is going to be even more difficult and unpleasant for both of you. Meredith is right: you can do it gently and with his blessing (however reluctant), but you need to leave and be a friend and help out when you can. No need to be a MARTYR at 24.... it is only going to make you bitter and angry and sad. Be a good friend, but move on with your life. Martyrs never win - for themselves or for others that they are sacrificing. Good luck and God bless.

    Posted by chins August 5, 09 11:33 AM
  1. I agree totally with Meredith.

    I know its not going to be easy, but if you don't do this now, you are only going to resent him, as time goes on.

    You deserve to be happy.

    Go and be 24.

    Posted by violet500 August 5, 09 12:08 PM
  1. how sad. you are not his wife, legally you are not tied to him, so you should leave this situation. If this young man needs care, where are his parents & family? Perhaps he should move home if he can so his family can become his caregivers. You should go get some short term counseling to help you work through the feelings of sadness, anger, and depression that you will inevitibly feel once you are gone. good luck - go get a life.

    Posted by linda August 5, 09 12:08 PM
  1. (Sorry if this posts twice -- server error occurred on my first attempt)

    Some here have said you made a commitment, and so how awful to leave. But you know what? You did not actually make a commitment. You are not married, you are dating. There are different rules for dating than for marriage -- surprise, surprise -- and you should not feel bound to a boyfriend the way you would and should be to a husband. Yes, you live together, and yes, and 22 and 23 and 24 you've talked about how you want to be together a long time. But you *did not get married.* You are not obligated to spend your life with this man.

    You did not bail as soon as he got sick. You did not ditch him. You've tried, and worked, and taken on his care; you've tried to support him emotionally and physically, and you have sacrificed a lot in doing so. You gave it a shot - you honored your relationship and your friendship in doing so. But outside of marriage, you do not owe more. If this is all you can do, it is okay to recognize that and move on.

    People who say otherwise are confused about the difference between "dating" (yes, even when co-habitating) and "marriage."

    Posted by jlen August 5, 09 12:08 PM
  1. S&H,
    Long time reader, infrequent commenter. Speaking from experience, I was that guy that became dependant on my girlfriend during my late teens, early twentys. The girlfriend at the time did break up with me. It was traumatic, but it was the best - worst thing that ever could've happen.

    It's been years since, we've both moved on. The point is that sometimes leaving someone is the best option for the both of you. You need to leave for you, but you also need to leave because it may end up being the best thing for your boyfriend over the long run. You cannot control what he does after the break up. What separates all of us is how we face various bouts of adversity. Some people give up, or blame everything on certain things. Then again, there are some that start to realize all the areas where they went wrong and start the long rebuilding process.

    It is not easy. But, it was the best thing she ever could have done for me. Good Luck. Let us know how/when things change.

    Posted by mefunny23 August 5, 09 12:08 PM
  1. While I don't have personal experience with this type of difficult situation, I have read several real-life stories in magazines and it seems like sometimes leaving is what the sick boyfriend needs to get his act together. Without having someone there to rely on for everything he will be forced to become independent and he may end up happier as well. Just another angle to consider.

    Posted by Mrs. Edward Cullen August 5, 09 12:08 PM
  1. S&H,
    Long time reader, infrequent commenter. Speaking from experience, I was that guy that became dependant on my girlfriend during my late teens, early twentys. The girlfriend at the time did break up with me. It was traumatic, but it was the best - worst thing that ever could've happen.

    It's been years since, we've both moved on. The point is that sometimes leaving someone is the best option for the both of you. You need to leave for you, but you also need to leave because it may end up being the best thing for your boyfriend over the long run. You cannot control what he does after the break up. What separates all of us is how we face various bouts of adversity. Some people give up, or blame everything on certain things. Then again, there are some that start to realize all the areas where they went wrong and start the long rebuilding process.

    It is not easy. But, it was the best thing she ever could have done for me. Good Luck. Let us know how/when things change.

    Posted by mefunny23 August 5, 09 12:08 PM
  1. I agree totally with Meredith.

    I know its not going to be easy, but if you don't do this now, you are only going to resent him, as time goes on.

    You deserve to be happy.

    Go and be 24.

    Posted by violet500 August 5, 09 12:09 PM
  1. I agree totally with Meredith.

    I know its not going to be easy, but if you don't do this now, you are only going to resent him, as time goes on.

    You deserve to be happy.

    Go and be 24.

    Posted by violet500 August 5, 09 12:09 PM
  1. My only thought is that before you breakup with him you try a support group for caretakers. It might help you deal with the stress of taking care of him, and maybe others in the group can give you strategies on how to make your life easier, and to deal with his depression.

    Also, you say he's being treated for depression, which is good. But, are his medical doctor and therapist aware of the effect this is having his life? The decreased activity, the unwillingness to do anything, etc.? Maybe if they knew his role, or lack of, in managing his depression they could encourage him to be more active, or have some way of snapping him out of it.

    Oh, and one last thought - when he starts to whine that he's inadequate, try this line on him: You are not inadequate, but you are acting like it! You can do more, but it's up to you to decide to do more.

    I don't know if that'll help, but it might take to focus off his worth as a person and place the focus on his behavior.

    I feel for you, and I hope that whatever you do your friends and family can give you the support you need.

    Posted by OK Cupid Fan August 5, 09 12:09 PM
  1. "I’m 24 and I am terrified at the prospect that this is it, that this is going to be my life."

    NFM

    Posted by DJMcG August 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. When you say your bf is being treated for depression, hopefully that means he's seeing a therapist. (If not, he should be.) It might be helpful for the two of you to discuss these issues with the therapist -- that way you can express your feelings without needing to be so "delicate" because he will have the therapist there to mediate and make sure he doesn't take it too personally.
    This can really help a lot. I have a chronic illness as well, and my husband and I were on the verge of divorce for reasons similar to yours before we tried counseling, and now we're happier than ever (and, not coincidentally, my symptoms are significantly improved -- all of these things are related).
    If you've tried this already and it's not helping, then I agree with Meredith. Go be 24. You will have done everything you could.

    Posted by Been There August 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. Rico was getting depressed just reading your letter...

    Rico thinks that you need to leave, not next month or next year or next whatever but right now. You need to have the conversation with his family and friends and doctor as Mer has suggested but immediately after that have a conversation with him. Rico advises you to have someone with you when you break the news as it will be difficult for both of you. Sorry to sound so heartless but this guy is using his sickness to keep you and that is truly HEARTLESS. Rico suggests you get on the internet or phone today and seek a new place to live or just go home to your parents until you find a place. You need to be living a life at 24, going out, travelling, meeting new people, learning, and of course SEX.

    Rico has seen people stay with someone while they were sick and even one that married a woman knowing she would be dead in under a year. These cases were different from yours as the sick people were deceased within a year. Rico also knows of married couples that as they age one has become ill (alzheimers, cancer, etc...) but they were married and well into their lives (over 60-80yrs). These are cases also different from yours. You haven't lived yet and Rico gives you his permission to go and LIVE.

    In a sense your boyfriend is already dead. That sounds insensitive but it is the truth. What is a life like that? Rico is sure to have some people upset about what he wrote, save your breath, Rico is a very sensitive and understanding guy and knows this is a tough position to be in.

    Time for you to live... Rico assumes it is a chronic illness as you say which leads Rico to suggest you could use some of your new found free time to raise awareness and money for the cause. Many road races, bike races etc...feel free to get out there and do something for yourself (meeting people and getting healthy) while doing something for him.

    Rico thinks you should be moved out by this weekend. Start a new chapter in your life. Being his friend means a call or a visit, not a daily visit. Make sure you give limits and you may even consider taking a break for a period of time.Talk with the family and friends and doctor to figure that part out. You need to do what is best for you before you resent him more than you already do.

    Have a nice day, it is beautiful outside.

    Love always,

    Rico

    Sometimes you need to let go...sorry

    Posted by Rico August 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. S&H,
    Long time reader, infrequent commenter. Speaking from experience, I was that guy that became dependant on my girlfriend during my late teens, early twentys. The girlfriend at the time did break up with me. It was traumatic, but it was the best - worst thing that ever could've happen.

    It's been years since, we've both moved on. The point is that sometimes leaving someone is the best option for the both of you. You need to leave for you, but you also need to leave because it may end up being the best thing for your boyfriend over the long run. You cannot control what he does after the break up. What separates all of us is how we face various bouts of adversity. Some people give up, or blame everything on certain things. Then again, there are some that start to realize all the areas where they went wrong and start the long rebuilding process.

    It is not easy. But, it was the best thing she ever could have done for me. Good Luck. Let us know how/when things change.

    Posted by mefunny23 August 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. I'm sorry, I cannot offer an opinion without more information:

    -Where is his family? Are they willing and able to care for him at all?
    -What kind of support does he have for his depression? Is he seeing a therapist? On drugs for his depression?

    This is a bit complex - there are many factors at play here. Your options could be to insist upon couples therapy, some type of support group for his illness, or leave. No one but you can tell you what is the right choice - they can only offer options.

    Posted by older and wiser August 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. Rico was getting depressed just reading your letter...

    Rico thinks that you need to leave, not next month or next year or next whatever but right now. You need to have the conversation with his family and friends and doctor as Mer has suggested but immediately after that have a conversation with him. Rico advises you to have someone with you when you break the news as it will be difficult for both of you. Sorry to sound so heartless but this guy is using his sickness to keep you and that is truly HEARTLESS. Rico suggests you get on the internet or phone today and seek a new place to live or just go home to your parents until you find a place. You need to be living a life at 24, going out, travelling, meeting new people, learning, and of course SEX.

    Rico has seen people stay with someone while they were sick and even one that married a woman knowing she would be dead in under a year. These cases were different from yours as the sick people were deceased within a year. Rico also knows of married couples that as they age one has become ill (alzheimers, cancer, etc...) but they were married and well into their lives (over 60-80yrs). These are cases also different from yours. You haven't lived yet and Rico gives you his permission to go and LIVE.

    In a sense your boyfriend is already dead. That sounds insensitive but it is the truth. What is a life like that? Rico is sure to have some people upset about what he wrote, save your breath, Rico is a very sensitive and understanding guy and knows this is a tough position to be in.

    Time for you to live... Rico assumes it is a chronic illness as you say which leads Rico to suggest you could use some of your new found free time to raise awareness and money for the cause. Many road races, bike races etc...feel free to get out there and do something for yourself (meeting people and getting healthy) while doing something for him.

    Rico thinks you should be moved out by this weekend. Start a new chapter in your life. Being his friend means a call or a visit, not a daily visit. Make sure you give limits and you may even consider taking a break for a period of time.Talk with the family and friends and doctor to figure that part out. You need to do what is best for you before you resent him more than you already do.

    Have a nice day, it is beautiful outside.

    Love always,

    Rico

    Sometimes you need to let go...sorry

    Posted by Rico August 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. This is a tricky situation.

    I don't think that it's right to bail on a significant other because of an illness. A serious relationship such as yours is much like marriage withought the legalities - for better or worse, in sickness and in health - you get the idea.

    BUT, I feel that the attitude of the boyfriend with illness makes all of the difference here. It's not the mere fact that he has an illness that alters how you both may live, it's the fact that he has allowed it to seemingly absolutely destroy him and essentially the person you fell in love with.

    I would suggest telling him how you feel before bolting. Express to him that YOU have needs too, and that those needs aren't being met. He needs to put forth the effort to overcome any obstacle his illness may bring and have a desire to lead a happy, full, fun life for BOTH of you.

    Attitude is everything in situation like these. And he's gotta turn his around.

    If after your heart to heart, he chooses - yes CHOOSES - to remain unhappy, bitter, unmotivated, etc. I think it's okay for you to part ways. If he wants to choose to live miserably, let him do so alone.

    Best of Luck

    Posted by EastCoastGirl August 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. "I’m 24 and I am terrified at the prospect that this is it, that this is going to be my life."

    NFM

    Posted by DJMcG August 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. I wonder if the film "Breaking the Waves" would help give S&H some food for thought? Although she sounds far different than "Bess," the film does look at the issues of a partnership in which one is and one isn't. -- I hope her b/f is being treated for his depression. There are some wonderful meds out there. -- I hope she is taking care of her own health; sometimes the caregivers become sicker than the sick. And Steve (#8) - walk a mile in a caregiver's shoes, will ya? Been there, it can be a horror show.

    Posted by reindeergirl August 5, 09 12:13 PM
  1. This is a tricky situation.

    I don't think that it's right to bail on a significant other because of an illness. A serious relationship such as yours is much like marriage withought the legalities - for better or worse, in sickness and in health - you get the idea.

    BUT, I feel that the attitude of the boyfriend with illness makes all of the difference here. It's not the mere fact that he has an illness that alters how you both may live, it's the fact that he has allowed it to seemingly absolutely destroy him and essentially the person you fell in love with.

    I would suggest telling him how you feel before bolting. Express to him that YOU have needs too, and that those needs aren't being met. He needs to put forth the effort to overcome any obstacle his illness may bring and have a desire to lead a happy, full, fun life for BOTH of you.

    Attitude is everything in situation like these. And he's gotta turn his around.

    If after your heart to heart, he chooses - yes CHOOSES - to remain unhappy, bitter, unmotivated, etc. I think it's okay for you to part ways. If he wants to choose to live miserably, let him do so alone.

    Posted by EastCoastGirl August 5, 09 12:13 PM
  1. You should leave this relationship. Your b/f needs to be in therapy if he isn't already. I went through this at 19 y.o. and tried to stick it out and it only spiraled out of control. Out of guilt I married the guy when I should have run as fast as I could the other way. Needlesstosay, it turned into a nightmare for all involved. You are not married to this guy. You are not a bad person for wanting a life for yourself. Sometimes life isn't fair. In time, things will work out for you both. Maybe you'll remain friends and maybe you won't. Only time will tell. Go live your life to the fullest and be happy. You've given all you can give.

    Posted by Beentheredonethat August 5, 09 12:13 PM
  1. Yan-kee Beans, Yan-kee Beans, IIIIIIII liiiiiike my Yan-kee Beans.

    Posted by valentino August 5, 09 12:14 PM
  1. Dear LW,

    A few questions for you.

    Do you see a future with bf?
    Do you want to have Children?
    If yes, will boyfriend be able to have them with you (is he mentally and physically capable of caring for children)?


    I hope the answers to these questions will give you the answer of what you need to do.

    Posted by EBNorwood August 5, 09 12:15 PM

  1. My Dear Stuck,

    Move out. Pronto.

    You are an enabler. Staying does not help this person.

    My guess is that the illness you speak of at least partially involves mental illness and has been exacerbated by markedly increased weight gain. I see no worry in you for him losing his life, and since you obvioulsy are not a superficial person who would bail quickly, I also assume it's not terminal and is something you know in his heart he can handle without you. Short of hospice patients, not moving and not going out is never advised for any illness. This person is not taking care of themselves nor their living space. Your helping is not aiding in this person's improvements, in fact, with what little I know but am extracting from your description, it is adding to their not dealing with their situation.

    I worry about you a bit because I see in you someone more than willing to sacrafice themselves to accomodate someone who offers you nothing. Women are much more prone to do this . Too often you see women with the writing on the wall that someone has nothing to offer them, yet too often the idea of someone having something to offer YOU, YOU having value, never occurs to them.

    I've seen more than my share of illness, injury, and death, and the ones who do the best, emotionally and phsyically, are the ones who fight others who try to help them, the ones with some sense of pride, not the ones who slouch on the couch and refuse to move when their muslces are actually working just fine. This is a young man. My guess is he is capable of, and wound benefit immensely, from getting off that couch.

    And to someone who gives so much of yourself......

    Don't. Stop that.

    Date. Live. and do not get serious unless the boy is asking YOU to get serious. Keep your options open. See yourself as a prize. Obviously you are. Your ability to be strong and give will be a gold mine to somebody down the line and that person best be the type that appreciates it, rather than takes advantage of it.

    Never 'move in' with anyone again. Dont be lazy. Dont be desperate. Pay your own rent, keep your own place and do not give up your freedom and options to move on easily unless someone has convinced you to marry them and presented you with a ring and a date.

    Good luck.


    Posted by A few grey hairs with lots of life behind August 5, 09 12:16 PM
  1. LW - your compassion and kindness to this man is admirable. Get yourselves to couples therapy - I suspect it isn't his illness that is the whole problem here, it's his attitude and he's bringing you down w him. You don't have an equall relationship anymore - he has become an emotional burden. I suspect that if he was functioning in a healthy way emotionally, you would not have had to write this letter. You are being smothered by this man and his problems. Best of luck to you. Keep us informed.

    Posted by Rose August 5, 09 12:17 PM
  1. To be honest I was in a similar situation... He was all ready to have us get married and as much as I loved him I had to also look at my happiness. Many will call it selfish and that I was being mean to him and his ailments, but if he is not going to put any effort into attempting to help himself it will only make you resent him and possibly cheat. (which would be worse) I understand that it isn't fair that he has these ailments but there are SO many people out there with various ailments that live life to the fullest, that people want to be around and that have strong loving ties with their partners. At this point he is allowing you to take all the burden and not helping you out by making you feel appreciated for all that you do for him and the house. Go and have fun! Be 24 and know he will always have a special place in your heart! Go and have fun and DON'T feel guilty because you will only endup hating him......

    Posted by I Understand your Pain August 5, 09 12:18 PM
  1. I used to have a chronic illness that played a huge role in a break-up, even though at the time, neither of us even knew I was ill. I highly suggest the BF isn't just treated for depression; I think he should also find a support group or even just an online networking resource for people with his illness. Knowing you're not alone, and talking to other people about ways to cope help immensely.

    However, whether he seeks out this resource or not, you have no obligation to stay. You wouldn't be leaving because he's sick or because you don't love him anymore. You would be leaving because your idea of a healthy relationship is not one where you are absolutely MISERABLE.

    I bet as you were writing the letter to Meredith, you were thinking, "I'm sure it's not as bad as I think it is." It totally IS that bad. You described a non-paying, full-time caretaker's job, not a relationship. You may love him, and he may love you, but there's nothing you can do to help him learn to cope with his illness. Think about it: you've pretty much sacrificed your life to take care of him, and he's only become more sullen.

    You deserve better. There are plenty of people out there who are healthy OR who are ill and NOT depressed about it.

    Posted by sabend August 5, 09 12:18 PM
  1. To be honest I was in a similar situation... He was all ready to have us get married and as much as I loved him I had to also look at my happiness. Many will call it selfish and that I was being mean to him and his ailments, but if he is not going to put any effort into attempting to help himself it will only make you resent him and possibly cheat. (which would be worse) I understand that it isn't fair that he has these ailments but there are SO many people out there with various ailments that live life to the fullest, that people want to be around and that have strong loving ties with their partners. At this point he is allowing you to take all the burden and not helping you out by making you feel appreciated for all that you do for him and the house. Go and have fun! Be 24 and know he will always have a special place in your heart! Go and have fun and DON'T feel guilty because you will only endup hating him......

    Posted by I Understand your Pain August 5, 09 12:18 PM
  1. There's no doubt part of his problem is in his mind. I can't help but think about Christopher Reeve, and how his wife stood by him until his death. He was inspirational and seemed to be as positive as can be, considering the situation. I'm sure he had many down moments, but in the end, he was a good person, which is why his wife loved him until the end. I have a feeling if your boyfriend had the same outlook, you too would stick by him. Please relieve yourself of this guilt - his state of mind is driving you away, not his illness. If you decide to end the relationship, it's because of the kind of person he became, and not because of the illness. Let him know that you would reconsider staying if he is willing to change. Bless you and good luck.

    Posted by Chris Reeve fan August 5, 09 12:20 PM
  1. I don't usually disagree with Meredith, much less violently disagree. But Merediths advice is a classically selfish response, and it's what's wrong with most relationships I know. Unwilling to work, to sacrifice for each other, to WORK THINGS OUT, rather than bolt at the first sign of real adversity. How many divorces have there been, and how many kids have watched their parents break up, and the experience was usually heralded by the words "I didn't sign on for this..." #3 is correct. If this were a guy, there would be all manners of outcry about him being a selfish jerk. Sorry, I can't be party to such a double standard.

    Meredith, would your advice be the same if they were married?

    Be young! Don't tie yourself down to a guy - forgetting that she was perfectly willing to tie herself down to him BEFORE the illness. You see this is the part that gets me. The relationship was serious. Apparently a loving, committed, long term, "marrying-talk" relationship. This was not the 4th date, not the third month of dating. This is not a simple boyfriend.

    Since details are few, I can only guess, but it sounds like the fiance ....(sorry, they were discussing marriage excitedly and without reservation - as far as I'm concerned, S&H was engaged. And up until his illness, S&H would have probably agreed)

    ...anyhow. since S&H mentions pain, I presume it's a physical illness. It sounds like the he is suffering from depression due to his illness. What he might need is HELP to get out of it. Depression is not insurmountable. You might not have *exactly* the life you'd imagined, but it can improve dramatically. But only if you're willing to stick by the guy and give it every shot it deserves. Unless of course, you love him less because he's sick. In which case, no amount of advice can help you.

    Essentially, S&H's big concern seems to be quality of life. Unfortunately, it's not HIS quality of life that she's concerned with. S&H will miss her ski weekends.

    Just leave him if you have to, S&H - that's what you clearly want to do. You just seem to want someone to ease your concience about it. ~shakes head~ Sorry, can't do it. Leaving him in his hour of need makes you ..er... well, it does make you the jerk. And if you ever take sick with a real illness, you had best pray that whomever you're with at the time has a better value system than you, or else you'll be sick and alone too.

    Find a way to deal, if at all possible. Treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. Hm. I seem to have heard that before.

    But I will give you this - If he is truly breing belligerent about it, if he CAN change and improve and simply won't.... well, then you can start talking to him about the possibility of splitting up. Lay it out for him that, illness or no, there are things in life he can look forward to, and if he's serious about keeping you and making you happy - as the guy that at least WANTED to marry you - then he needs to get some help. Therapy, medication, whatever. His attitude needs to improve.

    He DOES have a responsibility to S&H to come halfway, I'm not saying he doesn't. But I am saying that if he does have some sort of chronic, lifelong illness then there are changes that will have to take place on both sides to make it work. And a year or so might not be enough time to come to terms with the situation. I'm just not convinced that S&H has truly tried everything there is to try, or even wants to at this point.

    Just my two cents.

    Posted by Ceej August 5, 09 12:21 PM
  1. When you say your bf is being treated for depression, hopefully that means he's seeing a therapist. (If not, he should be.) It might be helpful for the two of you to discuss these issues with the therapist -- that way you can express your feelings without needing to be so "delicate" because he will have the therapist there to mediate and make sure he doesn't take it too personally.
    This can really help a lot. I have a chronic illness as well, and my husband and I were on the verge of divorce for reasons similar to yours before we tried counseling, and now we're happier than ever (and, not coincidentally, my symptoms are significantly improved -- all of these things are related).
    If you've tried this already and it's not helping, then I agree with Meredith. Go be 24. You will have done everything you could.

    Posted by Been There August 5, 09 12:22 PM
  1. ARE YOU KIDDING STEVE???? HOW MUCH MORE AWFUL AND UNFAIR IS IT FOR HIM TO ASK HER TO STAY IN A DEAD RELATIONSHIP BECAUSE HE NEEDS CONSTANT CARE??? YOU'RE A SELFISH IDIOT JUST LIKE THIS SICK FRIEND OF HERS AND SHE ABSOLUTELY SHOULD BAIL AND KNOW WHAT HAVING A LIFE OF HAPPINESS IS LIKE

    Posted by aj August 5, 09 12:23 PM
  1. LW wrote: "We agreed early on there was no need to rush and get married, but we frequently discussed our desire to be together for a very long time."

    I think we can all understand how you may be feeling guilty regarding wanting to bail out of caretaking for him. It's an awful experience.

    But always remember he was an equal partner in NOT opting for marriage. HE felt there was no need to marry right away. Instead he was satisfied with you staying with him for a "very long time". If he needs you to stay with him he should have married you. He made a bad decision (to your benefit).

    Guess what? It has officially been a "very long time" for you! If anyone, including him, tries to give you a guilt trip over leaving him,k please remember that he was an equal partner in not making a lifelong committment!

    Posted by Sigh August 5, 09 12:23 PM
  1. I'm going to agree and disagree.

    You obviously care about him and that doesn't seem to have changed. It sounds like you'd like this to continue if only he'd lighten up a bit and become more fun loving I totally agree that you need to engage in a little plain talking, but I disagree very strongly that you should bolt, mostly because it sounds like you don't want to if you can avoid it.

    But how to avoid it?

    First: Having a bad chronic illness can do bad, bad things to your mind. I know whereof I speak. From your description, I assume it's something like MS, so I'll go on that assumption (it it's not, this still applies). If it is, there are support groups around, both for those with the disease and those supporting those with the disease. Seek them out.

    Second: destroy the TV. I'm serious. It's corrosive. Substitute the Internet if you have to, at least that has a modicum of interactivity and makes TV withdrawl a little less painful. The non-stop barrage of nastiness and commercialism that is television will cause nothing but harm. Get Netflix instead.

    Third: therapy. You can get some help with the (whatever disease) support group, but it sounds as if couples therapy might be a good thing. He's doing (or not doing) things that make you feel frustrated and helpless. He may not know it. He is probably frightened and may not even know he's doing it. When you have an illness like that, you don't always (or ever?) have a clear perspective. This is the only item I'd think about making into an ultimatum: Couples therapy or it's over. Because, frankly, without it, it's probably over anyway. It would help both him and you both to deal with his disease.

    Fourth: get some excersise and social interaction for yourself. Ride a bike. Go bowling. Take a pilates class. Join a book group. Start a hen's group. Join a sorority. But just be a member, take no organizational role. The last thing you need right now is another responsiblity. Go and participate, but leave the decisions and organization to others.

    Posted by Nick Name August 5, 09 12:23 PM
  1. Lots of sad letters this week. Sometimes love does indeed stink.

    S&H, I'm torn on this. It's not fair for you to have to spend your 20's miserable. You didn't sign up for this, and you are not married. On the other hand, your bf didn't sign up to be sick and miserable, either. Life isn't fair, sometimes.

    I do think you need to end the way you are living. Let him know that you can't go on this way, but you don't want to abandon him. Regardless of whether or not you move out, you need to have a life. Do things without him, and don't feel guilty about it. Go be with your friends. You may also want to encourage other avenues of support for him, such as other friends and his family.

    There is the possibility that your support is enabling him, and seeing you out there will motivate him to make more of an effort to get out there, himself. Or, it could make him even more depressed. Regardless, that's not your fault. You can try to be a good friend, but that doesn't make you responsible for him and his happiness.

    Posted by two sheds August 5, 09 12:23 PM
  1. If you were married, I'd say that you need to stay and be there for him (after having taken the oath of "through sickness and in health." But you're not, so you have every right to leave. As hard as this will be (and will likely come with short-term guilt), the fact is that you're young and have every right to seek a relationship that will make give you a happy and loving life.

    Posted by Big Daddy August 5, 09 12:23 PM
  1. It sounds like you're both unhappy with the current circumstance. You're unhappy with who he has become and he senses that it makes him unhappy. Who wins if you stay? I think you love him, but you aren't in love with him. He isn't the same person with whom you fell in love. Obviously, he didn't choose to be sick, but he is choosing to allow his illness to overshadow the other areas of his (and your life). You don't love that part of him. When people stay with lovers, spouses, significant others through illness, I'd like to believe it is truly out of love and the need and desire to be with that person despite the illness. You wouldn't be staying for any of those reasons. You'd be staying out of guilt and you will grow to resent him. At 24, you deserve to have a life. It will be difficult for both of you, but in the end you both deserve a relationship with someone you love and someone who returns that love.

    Posted by Ima August 5, 09 12:24 PM
  1. I once was involved with a needy boyfriend who said he would kill himself if I left. After discussing it with a counselor, and much heartache I did leave him. Guess what, he did not kill himself. He survived as will your chronically ill bf.
    At 24 you shouldn't be feeling "isolated, stuck and sad" - it is much too young to be a caretaker. You've tried that it hasn't helped him.

    I think you already know your answer - the urge to flee - is correct. Be there for him as a friend but not a life partner.

    Posted by Joy August 5, 09 12:24 PM
  1. S&H,
    The decision to leave or stay might be easier for you to make if you knew how much of his condition was due to depression vs. his other chronic health issue. In other words, if the depression were cured, you might want to stay with him despite his incurable physical disability.

    You're not his spouse, so privacy laws will prevent his doctor from talking to you. So consider making an appointment for yourself with an independent psychiatrist (i.e. an M.D.) to get some expert information and ideas about patients with symptoms like your boyfriend's (you can describe the symptoms to the doctor).

    People think that depression is just a sad mood, and that someone can "snap out of it". They'll tell you here on LL that your boyfriend should just "make a bigger effort", or stop "wallowing". They're wrong. That would be like telling you to just make your throat stop hurting when you have a strep throat.

    Depression is a physical illness. People who haven't had it can't really understand what it's like. Yes, it includes being sad, listless and disinterested. But it can also include stepping away from your desk, returning 2 minutes later, and having no idea what you were working on. Or making your bed and suddenly realizing that for the past 30 minutes you've been standing motionless next to the bed, holding a corner of the bedspread in one hand. Or, while you're driving, calmly thinking that perhaps you should drive straight into that large tree up ahead, because killing yourself is the logical thing to do. Depression is bizarre, frightening, and beyond the patient's control.

    Depression is often triggered by big life events; the onset of a physical disability might do it. Unfortunately, a year or 18 months isn't unusual for a case of depression. Sometimes the drugs don't work, and you have to let the disease run its course and end on its own.

    Find out more, S&H. His other disability is permanent, but his depression doesn't have to be. I think you'll feel better making your decision, whatever that is, based on what's permanent.

    Posted by TallGirl August 5, 09 12:26 PM
  1. Regardless of the sex of the individual: YOU ARE 24 YEARS OLD! You have made no vows to be there through sickness and in health. What type of a life will you lead? If my HUSBAND were to fall ill, I would stick it out with him... if my BOYFRIEND fell ill when I was 24, it would be another story.
    Do you want to have children? Do you want to have a life outside of your house?
    If the answer is yes - you know what you must do.
    If he isn't making any type of effort to compromise, then it isn't working out. Relationships are about compromise, working together, etc... Not just about what you can get out of one another.
    Don't listen to everyone on here saying it's selfish, they haven't been where you are. Do what YOU want to do

    Posted by Cynical2447 August 5, 09 12:27 PM
  1. The two of you played house together and the real world showed up. Time for the both of you to step back and remind yourselves why you never married – because it's that much easier to bail when things get tough and neither has reasonable expectations to the contrary. In short, a live-in girlfriend is not a lifelong caregiver.

    Also, re #25 "Breaking The Waves" is a tremendous film, one of my favorites. But not one for S&H at this point.

    Posted by Greg Brady August 5, 09 12:27 PM
  1. We live in a throw-away society where people don't bother with anything imperfect or difficult - they just move on. This letter is proof. I hope karma is real because if it is, your future children will almost certainly put you in a cheap nursing home.

    Posted by DK August 5, 09 12:27 PM
  1. You are 24, not married, have made no vow of committment in sickness and in health, and also have no legal rights to support you if something DOES happen to him if you stick it out and waste your young life....he's not making an effort to do anything about the situation (if even there was a little bit he could do) and it's ultimately not your responsibility to care for him....he is being emotionally abusive by telling you that he couldn't live without you. His guilt and depression are not your responsibility nor your fault and don't you dare take the blame for them! And he is making no effort to have any life WITH you....he needs to get a counselor's help (if he's not getting it already - and if he is, it clearly isn't working). If you WANT to try to work this out, then perhaps you can get help together. But it would have to be with a committment from HIM that he would try anything to make you happier and live beyond the lifestyle that you currently do.....

    Posted by Miss L August 5, 09 12:28 PM
  1. I don't think she's awful for wanting to leave. I agree with Ceej - possibly an honest conversation about him needing to meet her somewhere in the middle, and couples counseling might be able to save this relationship if the bf is motivated to participate.

    Either way, good luck.

    Posted by HollyP August 5, 09 12:28 PM
  1. Dear Stuck and Hopeless, Boston,
    I empathize with your situation, as when I was19 my boyfriend of 3 years was diagnosed with cancer and my whole life changed. I loved him, but the stress of his illness along with my being so young made the situation emotionally overwhelming and draining.

    I cannot tell you whether to stay with him or move on, it is a decision only you can make. However, I would advise that if you do love him and there is a part of you that wants to stay, you may want to consider therapy. From your description, it sounds as if your bf may be suffering from depression and
    would probably benefit from some form of counseling. In addition, if this is a chronic illness, joining a support group may help give him the tools he needs to 'live' with his illness, not just exist.

    If you choose to leave, please do not feel guilty. It would be worse if you stayed and ended up resenting him and the relationship. Be true to your feelings.

    Best of luck to you.

    M


    Posted by evie August 5, 09 12:28 PM
  1. THEY ARE NOT MARRIED! Ceej, they are not married. There is a reason we have marriage. Cohabitation is not marriage. Dating for years is not marriage. People, marriage is a huge step and we owe our spouses things we do not owe our boyfriends/girlfriends. Maybe you do not mean to, Ceej, but you devalue marriage when you compare this situation to marriage. No, she did not sign up for this. Had they married, she would have signed up for it. But they did not marry.

    Posted by jlen August 5, 09 12:29 PM
  1. If you're so miserable now, then it could only get worst later on in life. I really feel for you though. It sucks having to take care of someone for the rest of your life when you're not getting sh*t in return. Can you picture yourself, 10 years from now still taking care of him? if not, then, move on. Whats the point of staying when you clearly are miserable. I feel bad for your bf, too. Depression is an ugly desease, and I wish he can overcome it, somehow. So, ya, you gotta tell him this relationship has not been working for you because you feel like you are his nurse, not his gf.

    Posted by ida August 5, 09 12:32 PM
  1. You must stay!
    Sorry, I just wanted to ruin TD's prediction.
    Is he terminal? Is there a possibility for a turnaround?

    Posted by PT August 5, 09 12:34 PM
  1. S&H, I was in a very similar situation in my 20's. My boyfriend of several years was diagnosed with cancer and his prognosis wasn't good. At the time, we had an amazing relationship and planned to marry. I decided to stick by him throughout his treatment up until his death one year later. I have no regrets and would do the same thing again even though some friends and family encouraged me to consider my happiness and my future since we weren't yet married.

    HOWEVER, even though I can relate to you situation, I would not tell you that you should stay. Anyone who says that you're a horrible person for leaving has NO IDEA what you're going through. You are young, not married, and have your whole life ahead of you. I can't imagine that your boyfriend would want you to be miserable...the question is, can he love you enough to let you go? If roles were reversed, would you want him to stay and be miserable?

    At this point, staying in this relationship is not going to make either of you happy because you will continue to resent him. If you were married, I would suggest going to therapy together to figure out a way to make this work. But you're not married, and he has family and friends who can support him. In time, he'll find someone who IS able/willing to sign up for this kind of life with him.

    It isn't going to be easy, but you need to be fair to yourself, and ultimately, to him too. You're not doing him any favors by staying with him and feeling as miserable and hopeless as you do.

    My heart goes out to you. It sounds like you've been a wonderful girlfriend to him. But now it's time to take care of yourself.

    Posted by alipie August 5, 09 12:35 PM
  1. The guy is being selfish. He is not willing to make you happy and it's all about him in this relationship. It sounds to me like you have already made up your mind to leave him, in which case there is no turning back. If you are just asking us to give you a blessing to leave him (or you feel guilty about leaving him and need our approval), you got it. Go ahead and leave. You have every right to do it!
    In case you still love him and want to be with him IF he is willing to work on making you happy, then read on.
    If you think all this unwillingness comes from clinical depression, then it's understandable, in which case meds can really help. But he should tell you that he needs your help dealing with depression (only), and that once he gets better, he will want to do the things you used to do together. And once he says it, you should wait and see if he is really trying to make you happy and is working on this relationship. His actions should speak louder than words.
    There is no doubt that he needs you (who would not want to have a full-time nurse?)...The real question is, does he want to make you happy? Does he really love you?

    Posted by Anonymous August 5, 09 12:37 PM
  1. Dear LW, you say he is getting treatment for depression. Do you mean counseling or just getting an anti-depressant? If it's just the latter, that's not going to do it for him. He needs counseling and you could use it, too. You have too much responsibility for his life. Where is his family? Who's helping out here besides you? How is it that he's able to hold down a job but not do anything else but watch television?
    You are his GF, not his nurse, his mother, his housekeeper, or his shrink. You are not married. If it has come to the point where there is no payback for your overwhelming investment in this relationship other than his empty protestations of love and need, you have every right to pack it in. Yes, he will be hurt. If you stay, you will continue to hurt and resentment will eat away at your soul. If you cannot make a decision yet, I urge you to find a competent therapist or support group to give you coping mechanisms. Please continue to cultivate a healthy life outside of your relationship. You need some happy balance, You deserve it, no guilt involved.

    Posted by Kate's Nonna August 5, 09 12:39 PM
  1. serious lack of morals here.
    serious degree of selfishness.

    a committed/serious relationship should be as committed/serious as marriage.
    it is sick how some people will abandon and manipulate principals this to justify their own selfish actions.

    Posted by EastCoastGirl August 5, 09 12:42 PM
  1. Despite what Hollywood & romance novels would like you to belive, you can NOT be a nurse and a wife/lover/SO or whatever. The lines get blurred very easily, as you are seeing.

    If you decide to stay, you MUST get him to agree that if he needs caretaker help, that help can NOT come from you. If he refuses, get out now.

    Posted by Edz August 5, 09 12:43 PM
  1. run, run, run FOR YOUR LIFE!!!

    Posted by MHK August 5, 09 12:45 PM
  1. We have no control over the situations that we're presented with in life but we have the freedom in how we choose to react to the difficulties that come our way. Since he has fallen ill, he has chosen to let this sickness slowly deteriorate at his will to survive and overcome these obstacles, while you have given your all in making him see there is a fight to be had and a life to live for. His defeatist attitude has only been detrimental to the love you have desperately tried to uphold. No matter the circumstances in life - When one finds a Why to live for they can bear almost any How.
    There will be much pain, though it will not be in vain and your friendship and love shall remain, but You have a life to be lived as well

    Posted by Rossia August 5, 09 12:45 PM
  1. Key to your letter, for me, is whether he is unwilling, or unable. If he is simply unwilling, then leaving him may be the best thing you can do for him, as it might give him the kick in the butt to get over his pity party and take charge of his own health, making improvements where he can, to live a better quality of life. You may be enabling his pity party by staying.

    If he is truly unable, then he gets more sympathy from me. But, you are not married to him, so you are free to leave at any time.

    If you were married to him, this is what I would say: If he really loved you, he would be urging you to leave him, or at least, to go out and socialize on your own, and enjoy all those things he's incapable of enjoying with you. To find others who can meet those needs he cannot meet.

    Yes, that includes having a sex life, if he is completely incapable of giving you one. But sheesh... he'd have to be a quadrapelgic to not be able to cuddle you, touch you, use toys ... and even then, he could probably still do oral - including talking up a mean fantasy or two.

    Because love is about wanting your partners' happiness.

    Sounds to me like he doesn't care about your happiness - he just wants company in his misery.

    How to leave: to discern whether it is mere unwillingness, you need to have a chat with him, and his doctor if he will allow you to talk to him/her. If not, find a support group of similar caregivers for this illness, and chat with them.

    If you determine it's unwillingness, then tell him that you are going to leave, if he doesn't step up and make an effort. Give him a concrete timeline for this - say 6 months. Give him a list of specific things you would deem as signs he's making an effort, such as 1. seeing a therapist, 2. taking antidepressants; 3. making an effort in the bedroom - even if it's just cuddling you; etc. Be prepared to leave - because it may take that, to knock some sense into him.

    If you discover he really is incapable and not just unwilling, then you need a gentle heart-to-heart talk with him. Appeal to his love for you, and for his wishes to see you happy - even if it is at a cost to him. At the same time, enlist family members to slowly take over more and more of his care. Give it some time (keep the deadline in your own mind), and keep talking, talking, talking until he lets you free on his own accord. I think you will feel better in the long-run, if you do it this way.

    Posted by anecdotal evidence August 5, 09 12:47 PM
  1. Good letter Meredith! S&H, you can't take care of him when he won't take care of himself. He's not putting effort into the relationship and even if he wasn't sick, this would be a sign to leave. I spent a lot of time doing things out of guilt, and it just wrecks you emotionally and spiritually and it took me a long time to heal from it. You owe it to yourself to treat you and your emotions with respect, and leaving him is the first step. If you can stay friends, and that's a big if, then helping out once in a while might be good, but please consider yourself first! You will never be a good girlfriend/wife/mother/PERSON if you don't care for yourself. Be happy :)

    Posted by gradstudent6 August 5, 09 12:48 PM
  1. This is my first comment. She has no legal reason to stay. She is suffocating and dying. At 24 she is not obliged to do this and needs to leave to save her life.

    In a different situation, for arguments sake, if they were married and he became ill at 60 yo with Multiple Sclerosis then she has the moral and legal weight on her shoulders to stay and help in any way she could. We all know that isn't always the case.

    I agree with Meredith's advice that she can contact family to alert them of the seriousness of her BF's condition. She could provide him with telephone numbers of medical specialists who might help. She could call his health care providers (HCP) if she has accompanied him to see them before. HCP's can't legally talk to her if she initiates the calls since she is not legally tied to her BF.

    That puts a fine point on this, I think.

    Posted by dan August 5, 09 12:50 PM
  1. Dear LW,
    I feel for you and hope that my experience can help you. I developed a chronic illness when I was 24. Over the 25 years since then I have developed a number of other chronic illnesses (all auto-immune diseases). My then girlfriend stayed with me through the first and all subsequent illnesses. (We have been married 20 years.) She has always been a great help to me, much the way it sounds like you have been to your boyfriend. However, I try as hard as I can to deal with my illnesses and my limitations without limiting our lives. It would be fairly easy for me to simply say that I feel awful and stay in bed or watch TV all day and implicitly or explicitly demand that she take care of me. I think that would be an insult to all that she does do for me. Instead I try to live my live as normally as possible, and for most of the time I can acheive this. Occaisionally I have to recognize that I need to rest or ask for some additional help from her, and she will always give it. It sounds to me that your boyfriend is taking advantage of your good graces and he is not doing his part. I would hope that my wife would leave me and take the kids if I eever weere to live like that. Good luck to you.

    Posted by tired but OK August 5, 09 12:53 PM
  1. Chris Reeve fan,

    I went to high school with Chris Reeve. Yes, he was truly inspirational in how he dealt with his heartbreaking disability.

    But it wouldn't be fair for S&H to compare her boyfriend's attitude to Chris'. Chris was by no means average. He came from a well-to-do, well-educated family. He was smarter than average, more athletic and talented than average, and well-liked and respected while growing up.

    His unusual, lucky background undoubtedly gave him an extra measure of support and self-confidence that he was able to draw on later in life.

    Posted by TallGirl August 5, 09 12:54 PM
  1. It really sounds to me like he has abdicated the responsibility for his life. You leaving may be a wake-up call that forces him to take responsibility for himself again, allowing him to push himself to get back into his life. I am sorry that you are in this position, where you are set up to either suffer as a martyr or feel like a jerk. You shouldn't martyr yourself, and you aren't a jerk to want to control your own life.

    Posted by merilisa August 5, 09 12:56 PM
  1. LOL @ Valentino & the yankee beans!

    This is one of those situations you don't foresee when you say "let's live together!"

    You sound like a caring person. You can't just leave. It would devastate him and you. Talk with a counselor on your own first and get some help about how to do it. Getting family and friends involved is probably going to be part of it. You want to do it in a way you can live with and not beat yourself up over. It can be done, it just requires some thoughtful planning.

    I hope being 25 is better.

    Posted by youcandoit August 5, 09 12:57 PM
  1. “Wax on, Wax off, for you” Haiku

    Two wings between us
    Who shall fly and who shall stay
    Icarus, the sun!

    Posted by valentino August 5, 09 12:58 PM
  1. communication is key in a relationship. you need to learn to discuss issues if you want to be successful in your future relationships, married or otherwise. i think you should show him your letter or tell him how his behavior is affecting you. while he may be angry and full of self pity at first, he should know how you feel. this will give him a chance to see the situation from your point of view, and hopefully handle the information in an adult manner.

    always give your relationship your best shot, girlie. only then should you give up.

    Posted by yer mama August 5, 09 01:05 PM
  1. I agree with Meredith ... you're too young to spend the rest of your life in this relationship. Be his friend, explain your reasoning and then breathe ... you'll feel badly for a little while, but will feel relieved and happy soon.

    I read a story recently about a man in his 20s who fell from the Cliff Walk in Newport on his honeymoon several years ago. He was paralyzed (quad, I believe), and his new wife spent the next two years caring for him night and day. After those two years they divorced, with his blessing, so that she could find a man who could give her everything she dreamed of, including a family, which is something this man couldn't do.

    It may seem selfish to want those things when someone you love is hurting (is it really selfish to want a family, and to want to be happy?), but you're young and if he makes you feel guilty, then he's the selfish one and you would end up miserable for the rest of your life. Any young person who becomes ill or disabled to an extent that it has drastically alterned his or her life, and who truly loves the other person, will let him/her go.

    Posted by ems August 5, 09 01:05 PM
  1. Meredith is on target. Around the same age, I was in a relationship with someone that was chronically ill- he was an alcoholic. It took me a while to realize this as it was my first experience with someone that has the disease. After trying unsuccessfully to help him myself and trying to convince him to get professional help, I realized that my being there wasn't really helping him at all. Despite my telling him that he needed to get help or I was going to leave, he ended up getting a DUI and then his boss fired him for drinking on the job. After that, I just high-tailed it out of there. It was the best decision for both of us. My leaving was close to hitting bottom for him, and he sought professional help soon after. Years later, he still has some problems and I am so glad that they aren't mine too. I was not responsible for his illness, and I shouldn't have to be responsible for his recovery. I remember his father saying to me, if he had a broken leg, would you leave? It was a terrible comparison- broken legs don't hurt everyone around you the way that a chronic disease like alcoholism can. You have so much of your life left… go live it.

    Posted by Been there August 5, 09 01:05 PM
  1. I think the spectrum here has laid it out for you, LW: You can leave, and many people will understand. However, many will not and will think you are a jerk. You make the choice you want to make, and you live with the consequences - life with an invalid or life with a little pocket of guilt and maybe shame about leaving. You have clearly thought out what life will be like if you stay, now compare that with how you will feel if you leave.

    We all love to hear the stories of the strong people who care for sick or injured mates. There is a reason these stories are special: some of us just can't do that. If you can't, don't try, you won't be good at it.

    Posted by Q August 5, 09 01:07 PM
  1. Awful situation, and I'm sorry for you both. I'm not sure there is a truly good answer here. I give you credit for trying to be supportive. Were I to try to break the situation down, I'd probably see it this way: in the long term, it sounds like he may end up feeling miserable whether you stay or go. Therefore, the only major variable is how you end up feeling over the long haul. It sounds like you're not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel if you stay. If you go, you will both feel terrible for a time, but eventually you may be able to find some more enjoyment in life. I would agree with Meredith's suggestion that you discuss with his friends, family, etc if you are concerned about how he will take it if you leave.

    Best of luck to both of you.

    Posted by Terminater5 August 5, 09 01:14 PM
  1. I recommend reading "The Dive From Clausen's Pier". It is about a woman who wanted to leave her fiance, then he becomes paralyzed, and she feels so guilty for still wanting to leave him. I think its also a movie.

    Posted by Julie August 5, 09 01:15 PM
  1. I've never commented before but this letter got to me. First, I would run, not walk, to a therapist to get some assistance sorting through all the various feelings that you are having. While you do not name the illness, it seems to be chronic and will get worse, not better, over time. If you decide that the relationship must end, you will need the help of a trained professional (therapist) to support you through this, since it will be very hard. I think there are additional supports that someone might be able to help you identify also (such as support groups for your BF, etc. where he and you could talk to others who share the illness, etc.). Bottom line: although you seem to have been very thoughtful and resourceful, I don't think you have yet exhausted your options for support for the two of you as a couple; and I think that seeing a therapist will help you better understand what you need generally, from your BF and life, which will help you going forward no matter what. Good luck.

    Posted by blondebomber August 5, 09 01:16 PM
  1. "We live in a throw-away society where people don't bother with anything imperfect or difficult - they just move on. This letter is proof. I hope karma is real because if it is, your future children will almost certainly put you in a cheap nursing home.
    Posted by DK August 5, 09 12:27 PM"

    Boy, that's nice DK... You know, if Karma is real in the true definition of the cosmic force she will not be harmed in this life, but you certainly will be in your next for thinking such awful, judgmental thoughts about people.

    ----

    As far as the problem goes, this is a terrible situation, but as many people have pointed out, they are not married. She has no obligation to take care of him, has made no vows saying that she will care for him whatever his condition.

    One person mentioned that they should investigate whether the attitude changes are a result more of his condition, or his depression and I agree that this would be a worthwhile avenue to pursue before breaking things off entirely. While the depression certainly would be exacerbated by his condition, depression IS treatable, and can be made better, unlike a chronic illness. As someone who has dealt with depression his whole life (and is now in a pretty good place due to the help of medication and therapy) I can attest to the fact that depression can be truly crippling to one's own life as well as to the lives of the people they care about. Of course, he has to be willing to help himself in this regard (again speaking from experience, that's one of the toughest hurdles of all with depression) and if he is unwilling, then you'll be better off without him. That could be the kind of kick in the pants he needs to start dealing with his problems.

    Another thing you should look into is if either his insurance will cover the cost of some sort of regular in-home care (unlikely) or if he can find some government program that will help pay for such a service (possible). You have been unwillingly drafted into the position of full-time nurse and caretaker for him, and that puts undue and unfair stress on you, especially at your age.

    Posted by Bill Goode August 5, 09 01:17 PM
  1. Rico's first of possibly many additional comments...

    Rico wants to see an update if possible with the nature of his illness, what family and friends are still around and how close and, whether he is being treated or not. You mentioned work, do you both work and what type of work? Can he function outside the house? Educated?

    That is important to know but at the same time look at the facts:

    You moved in together to see if your dream of being together forever woudl actually be realistic.

    You are his caretaker and no longer his girlfriend.

    He has basically shut off his and your social life.

    He makes you feel guilty for wanting more (going out on your own).

    This is not a life. You are not married to him and Rico assumes you are not a paid full time nurse in your own home. Do yourself and him a favor and read Rico's first comments. You need to move out this weekend and start your life without him.

    Picture yourself in 10 years, 34 years old, no friends, no life but the repeats on WB showing your favorite shows, a bedpan to empty, medications to dispense, doctor visits, holidays alone, new years eve asleep, never travelling further than the hospitals, no planes, no trips to hawaii, Europe or beyond, no children etc...Imagine having a child with this guy? You think taking care of him is tough, have a child or two...of course that means having sexual contact with him or getting invitro or something...or of course you could have a surrogate father. Bottom line is there is nothign good coming out of this relationship.

    Rico suggests just reading up to his original post and follow the advice, it was good and Rico stands by it.

    If you were married or he was dying (is he?) soon then maybe Rico would feel different. That is not what you said though.

    Dying Young - Julia Roberts wasn't bad either...

    Love always,

    Rico

    Wind turbines would look nice around here

    Posted by Rico August 5, 09 01:17 PM
  1. Personally, I think the most important item of all, whether you stay or go, is to make sure he's getting help for the mental/emotional side of his illness. If he's so depressed you (or he) aren't sure he'll make it without you emotionally, then he needs help. If he's too depressed to go out, he needs help. It was a good point by one or two noters that it's possible it might give him a kick in the seat to get his act together, get motivated to make the effort. But really bottom line, he needs help--help to work on being more willing to be more of the guy he was, or to make him healthier emotionally if you go.

    Posted by Stephen August 5, 09 01:20 PM
  1. What a skank you are. Wait until you get sick someday and there is nobody there for you.

    Posted by Bonita Granville VonDeSoaker August 5, 09 01:24 PM
  1. "Yes, you're awful, because you would tell a man to stick it out for
    the woman if the roles were reversed." - Ron

    Ron, you don't know this woman. Your judgment, the only thing you offer, is callous and meanspirited. It's most ironic because you exhibit the callous disregard for "S&H" that you wrongly accuse this woman of exhibiting towards this man.

    This woman has clearly been tormented by this situation and has handled this relationship with a conscientious heart. She's 24, and she needs to move on and have a normal, healthy, sexual life with a partner. From what is conveyed in this letter, this couple is in more of a codependent friendship than in an actual relationship.

    "S&H," you are NOT a bad person. Don't believe that for a second. Guilt is inevitable in your situation, but your inherent goodness comes through in your letter. You are not demonstrating any selfish or callous disregard whatsoever. You are being reasonable, intelligent, compassionate, and realistic.

    I absolutely, totally, agree with Meredith. And I hope you find the strength to find the happiness you have for so long abnegated.

    Posted by Peter August 5, 09 01:25 PM
  1. As the caregiver of the love of my life before and after we got married, I understand the complexity of the situation you are facing. You need to take full account of the person you are with and the nature of your relationship before you make this critical decision. Given the length of your relationship with him, I think it would be wrong to use the fact that you are not married as the sole justification for leaving him. I doubt that many people go into marriage nowadays with much forethought as to what they would do if their spouse developed a chronic or terminal illness, so I'm not entirely confident that vows alone would keep someone at their sick partner's side.

    Posted by hajjah August 5, 09 01:26 PM
  1. You have the right to a happy and fulfilled life, whether you are married or not. You don't have to rip your life or his apart in order to detach from the situation. You can do it in a thoughtful and loving way without having to compromise your future. Be honest, tell him this is not what you want or signed up for, that you really tried, and that you are not happy and can no longer do this. Tell him you would like to be there for him, but if he threatens suicide or other self-harm then you will need to alert his family and professionals as that is too much for you.

    If he cares about you being happy instead of having fear around losing a caretaker, then he will want you to do what you need to do. He is an adult, and he needs to take control of and be responsible for his situation.

    Posted by yupokay August 5, 09 01:26 PM
  1. When you speak to him as you're on your way out the door, I would stress to him that you are not leaving because he is ill. You are leaving because he surrendered to his illness and decided to stop living.

    I'm hoping those ho would call you heartless are far outnumbered by the people who see the situation for what it is. You seem to genuinely love him, in sickness or in health. However, you are not satisfied with spending the rest of your life on the couch watching TV, and you shouldn't be.

    Posted by Schlippo August 5, 09 01:27 PM
  1. I suspect you have already made your decision and are looking for some sort of confirmation that you are right to leave him. The question is you're asking us isn't "What should I do?' but more, "How much should I hate myself?" We can't help you, S&H. This is up to you and you alone. Either way, your actions will define you as a person for many years to come. 24 or 34 or 44, you're still an adult. Along with being an adult often comes much sacrifice. Whether you sacrifice yourself to a long-term relationship with a physically and emotionallly challenged person or to the idea that you may have left your best friend when things got really rough, that's up to you.

    Posted by Sally August 5, 09 01:28 PM
  1. "Yes, you're awful, because you would tell a man to stick it out for
    the woman if the roles were reversed." - Ron

    Ron, you don't know this woman. Your judgment, the only thing you offer, is callous and meanspirited. It's most ironic because you exhibit the callous disregard for "S&H" that you wrongly accuse this woman of exhibiting towards this man.

    This woman has clearly been tormented by this situation and has handled this relationship with a conscientious heart. She's 24, and she needs to move on and have a normal, healthy, sexual life with a partner. From what is conveyed in this letter, this couple is in more of a codependent friendship than in an actual relationship.

    "S&H," you are NOT a bad person. Don't believe that for a second. Guilt is inevitable in your situation, but your inherent goodness comes through in your letter. You are not demonstrating any selfish or callous disregard whatsoever. You are being reasonable, intelligent, compassionate, and realistic.

    I absolutely, totally, agree with Meredith. And I hope you find the strength to find the happiness you have for so long abnegated.

    Posted by Peter August 5, 09 01:28 PM
  1. I feel very bad for you. Tough decision. But I think you should go. You aren't married, there are no kids involved, you don't owe him anything. It sounds like you are trying so hard to take care of him and make him happy but nothing you do seems to be enough. He isn't happy and neither are you. And that isn't fair. While I understand why you're torn (I would be the same way) you need to take care of numero uno...you.

    Gently tell him your relationship is over but your friendship isn't. Tell him you want to be involved in his life but not at the capacity you have been because it is just too much. He should understand. As you said, you suspect he sees it coming so it shouldn't be a complete shock. Just let him down easily.

    And I'm unsure... my next question would be if you should alert his family before him? I know that he may not appreciate that but it may be the safest route. Not sure how serious his depression is but if this is something that could put him in a place to harm himself, maybe his family should have a heads up first? What does everyone think?

    Posted by Kathleen August 5, 09 01:28 PM
  1. Wow this is what is wrong with today's society. The first sign of any type of a difficult situation and people run. People think of themselves and nothing else. Your 24 not 44! It sounds like he isn't going to be around long so why not make what time he has left comfortable. If you walk away from this person, you are completely heartless. You should all stop and put yourself in his shoes. Karma certainly has a way of coming back around.

    Posted by monkeysarefunny August 5, 09 01:36 PM
  1. I agree that her staying is enabling him to be a patient more than a partner. It's possible to have a relationship with someone that is chronically ill. But being chronically ill doesn't relieve a person from being present as a partner to the absolute best of their ability. Both partners still have to be working hard at the relationship and fully committed.

    It's not fair to make the comparison btw this situation and Chris & Dana Reeve. They were married, they had made a commitment to each other to be together no matter what. Frankly, I don't think anyone would have blamed Dana for walking away and living her life differently, but obviously she felt committed enough to stay. These two are very young and married and obviously didn't have this kind of lifetime commitment when they moved in together. They are not having a partnership anymore -- she is his nursemaid. I encourage LW to leave and also to get some therapy to help her resolve any feelings she might have.

    Posted by move on August 5, 09 01:36 PM
  1. The urge to flee this situation is totally normal and youre not a bad person for thinking it. I dont think many people who read this letter would disagree. I would even show him this letter as a matter of fact.

    Depression however, goes hand in hand with the type of physical disability that you are describing, especially chronic pain. Only a small percentage of people who get diagnosed with that type of a physical disability are lucky enough to be resiliant and bounce back immediately. Some bounce back after a few weeks, months, years, decades, or never.

    Put yourself in his shoes and imagine how useless he must feel as a young man in a relationship and its easy to be depressed. He's probably focused on all of the things he cant do as a boyfriend for you and he feels inadequate. He probably doesnt have a job, sex is difficult, its hard to go places, he has to hear about his friends going to concerts, games, beaches, etc. It would suck and unless he is truely motivated, it will take a long time for anyone to change the way they think and what their expectations of life are.

    Tall Girl #51 hit it pretty much on the head. The one thing that would help me make this decision if I were you would be whether or not he's willing to listen to you and work on this . If hes's not willing to actively work on the depression symptoms then you have to go, but if he's willing to work at it then it would be hard to go

    If you decide to go, dont beat yourself up over it. You are only 24 and no one would blame you. Its a heavy burden to bear and its hard when the other person gives up. If you decide to stay, draw some boundaries. Have a personal care attendant come to your apt a few times a week and help with some stuff. Go to a support group, go to therapy with him, etc. Good luck.

    Posted by Anonymous August 5, 09 01:36 PM
  1. The urge to flee this situation is totally normal and youre not a bad person for thinking it. I dont think many people who read this letter would disagree. I would even show him this letter as a matter of fact.

    Depression however, goes hand in hand with the type of physical disability that you are describing, especially chronic pain. Only a small percentage of people who get diagnosed with that type of a physical disability are lucky enough to be resiliant and bounce back immediately. Some bounce back after a few weeks, months, years, decades, or never.

    Put yourself in his shoes and imagine how useless he must feel as a young man in a relationship and its easy to be depressed. He's probably focused on all of the things he cant do as a boyfriend for you and he feels inadequate. He probably doesnt have a job, sex is difficult, its hard to go places, he has to hear about his friends going to concerts, games, beaches, etc. It would suck and unless he is truely motivated, it will take a long time for anyone to change the way they think and what their expectations of life are.

    Tall Girl #51 hit it pretty much on the head. The one thing that would help me make this decision if I were you would be whether or not he's willing to listen to you and work on this . If hes's not willing to actively work on the depression symptoms then you have to go, but if he's willing to work at it then it would be hard to go

    If you decide to go, dont beat yourself up over it. You are only 24 and no one would blame you. Its a heavy burden to bear and its hard when the other person gives up. If you decide to stay, draw some boundaries. Have a personal care attendant come to your apt a few times a week and help with some stuff. Go to a support group, go to therapy with him, etc. Good luck.

    Posted by sexual chocolate August 5, 09 01:37 PM
  1. 25 will be a much happier year if you end it. I'm pretty sure you know you can't live in this miserable half existence forever. (Atleast I hope you know that you can't).

    Life is too short to spend it unhappy.

    Posted by Sabs August 5, 09 01:37 PM
  1. I am so sorry this is happening to you. I was near tears reading the letter.

    My friend is going through a pretty much identical situation right now. He is in a relationship with a great guy who has been struck with a serious and debilitating illness. Deep down he knows that this is not the same person he fell in love with, but is afraid to leave- constantly feeling like a monster for considering leave for something his fiancé cannot control. It torments him. He has, as of about three days ago, decided to leave him, and is working up his courage.

    What helped him make the choice was a talk with my mother. My father was diagnosed with a chronic illness about 7 years ago (wow seems way more recent than that) and that tore my mother apart. She was shot into a deep depression. It was never an option for her to leave him. I grantee that the thought never crossed her mind. She was devoted completely to him. Perhaps this was the vows, or the 25 years they were together, or the mortgages, or the kids...those are all possibilities, but she says it was because she honestly couldn't, sick or otherwise, envision her life without him.

    She told my friend that if you are seriously questioning leaving, than it is best for both parties to spilt. I know this will be perhaps the most painful thing you have ever done, and you might feel heartless doing it, but after witnessing my best friend and my mother's similar circumstances, I feel it is the best way. Ask Meredith for my e-mail if you'd like.

    Posted by Katherine August 5, 09 01:38 PM
  1. "S&H, " here a link to an ABC News story you may appreciate...and watch 20/20 this Friday...there's a story about your situation. Perhaps either or both can provide you with further insight or guidance.

    Posted by Peter August 5, 09 01:40 PM
  1. Let's put this in another perspective: What would your BF do if you were killed in a car accident tomorrow?

    The plain truth is, he'd need to find someone else to take care of him-- *because he needs a care-taker.* That person does not have to be you. In fact, he *should* be looking for some sort of external care-taking help, in case anything ever does happen to you. He isn't taking responsibility for his life; he's shoving it onto you. I fully understand that the circumstances of his life aren't fair, aren't what he'd want, and totally suck-- but it's still his life, and ultimately his problem.

    Your BF is instead melding two jobs-- caretaker and girlfriend-- into one. That's unwise of him, and unfair to you. You don't need to accept the care-taker job. If you want to keep the girlfriend job, I suppose you can, but it sounds like his depression is squelching the appeal of that job too. You should leave.

    If he threatens suicide, or says he can't survive without you, or whatever-- then tell him to get help, and leave anyway. Because you might always just leave involuntarily by car accident or anything else, and he'd still be in his same mess-- but it's *his* mess, not yours.

    Posted by Joey August 5, 09 01:40 PM
  1. Go some place where you can be completely introspective. Then ask yourself one question: what would I want HIM to do, if our roles were reversed? Answer it with as much honesty as humanly possible, and you will know what to do.

    Posted by CPThree August 5, 09 01:41 PM
  1. Rico and Meredith I completely agree - You are 24 go live your life - yes there will be pleading and asking for whatever to convince you to stay - and yes you will have to talk to the doctors, family and friends - and yes this time will be very filled with mixed emotions like guilt and shame. You will feel better in the long run and not look back with regret and sadness during your mid 20's. This is the time to live you life - not someone who has given up on his own life. Pills are not going to make your boyfriend get off the couch and enjoy the life he has now. PLease enjoy your life now.

    Posted by k August 5, 09 01:41 PM
  1. It's not clear from what you say how ill your boyfriend is, and how much is the depression, and what he is looking forward to in terms of his health. You say he works so can he take care of himself?
    I think the marital counseling suggestion may be a good idea, even if your motive is to ease the breakup process. He may need a third party and a little time. He definitely needs supports other than you.
    I agree your young age is a big part of this picture and of your wanting to flee. You may well have not remained together even if he was well. I don't agree with those commenters who call him manipulative--we readers don't know enough, and your boyfriend is frightened and depressed. Good luck to both of you.

    Posted by elle August 5, 09 01:44 PM
  1. I was in this very position. I wasn't living with my bf, but we had been together for a couple years, discussed marriage, etc. His situation, too, deteriorated, to the point where it was hardly like being with another human being. I struggled with the exact same feelings as you--what kind of person leaves someone in this situation? What does that say about me? But i was lonely, miserable, trapped, and increasingly resentful. i also was dealing with broken dreams--i had wanted to marry him, and he was increasingly unable to even discuss those possibilities.

    Long story short--i left. About a year after I probably should have. And do you know what... in retrospect, it was not only better for me, it was much better for him. Part of what was trapping and depressing him was thinking about what he was doing to me. He really loved me, and felt lamer each passing minute watching me become more miserable too. It was, frankly, a relief to him when i left. He wouldn't have said so at the time--at the time he was so thankful I was there. But he was so relieved to be able to just focus on getting better and learning to cope without dealing with all of my expectations as well I am now married with kids, in a much happier relationship. I have lost touch with him, as with all ex-boyfriends, and I wish him only the best. Don't let anyone guilt you into staying. I'm sure you are a better guilter than anyone else--i know that feeling.
    When you get married, and _promise_ to stay with someone in sickness and in health, then you will do so. I can tell you will. And then you will be held accountable for that promise. But now? i assure you, it's better for everyone for you to go. You'll cry a ton. You'll feel terrible, But you will feel a relief, and also surprise at actually how quickly you get over it, because you've been gone for months now.
    Please update us.

    Posted by been there, sister August 5, 09 01:45 PM
  1. 1. you mention "jobs". his illness can't be that bad if he works full time and hasn't qualified for disability. so he should be helping & not leave you doing it all.

    2. you aren't married. period. i don't care how "committed" you claim to be, you did not make the FULL commitment of marriage. you are not stuck with him till death (is his illness fatal, btw?).

    3. he is taking advantage of you. talk to him first, certainly, but if things don't change you can leave. he is selfish and would not be there if you were the sick one.

    Posted by that's it August 5, 09 01:45 PM
  1. Good thing you guys didn't get married. I'm surprised he hasn't "told you to get your life going without him" - oh that's because he is selfish & miserable and wants you to be the same. Have his family take him in - and you start living your life already. It would be different if you were both elderly and married because at that point that's somewhat the norm of what can happen and you wouldn't be complaining - you'd be glad he was alive and love doesn't just go poof out the window, for some anyway. Tell his family that you'll visit once in a while - but you just can't both be invalids in your early 20's.....

    Posted by Been around August 5, 09 01:46 PM
  1. My wife and I watched a silly TV show last night "Hawthorne" on TNT, the subject matter among other things included a Motorcycle accident that lead to a case where the BF could become a quadrepalegic (sound it out, I know I spelled it wrong) - Paralyzed from the neck down! They were BF and GF.

    I asked my wife if that happened to us before we got married would she have still said yes. There was a pause???.. then she said yes, I think sarcastically! She asked in return, would you still have asked if it were me that got injured. I said no. And I went on to say that if it happened to me, I would not have asked her to marry me, but to go out and find the life she deserved.

    The key here is that if you love someone, you want the best for them. And sometime that means that you might not be included in the best for them!

    Then my wife said she would stay with me if it were to happen now. I told her I would drive my chair off a bridge! We are morbidly sarcastic people!!

    Still the point is that I would not want her to have to suffer that fate with me. I know that sounds terrible, but her happiness is more important to me than my own.

    Good luck with your decision. I would encourage you to go out and find you smile. Sometimes life sucks, but it will suck even more if you have forgotten how to smile.

    Posted by BlameMe August 5, 09 01:49 PM
  1. "a committed/serious relationship should be as committed/serious as marriage.
    it is sick how some people will abandon and manipulate principals this to justify their own selfish actions"

    Eastcoastgirl, then why have marriage at all? If dating is the same thing, what is marriage? Sheesh. So every time in my youth I dated someone exclusively I owed them "in sickness and in health"? You have *got* to be kidding me.

    The vows I took when I got married symbolize -- no, they literally mean -- that this is a new kind of relationship and new, strong commitment. If all "serious" dating is like marriage, *what is marriage for*??

    Posted by jlen August 5, 09 02:02 PM
  1. "Dealing with a chronic is miserable."

    Dealing with flip comments from people who don't understand the nature of 'chronic' is also miserable.

    I'm a 'chronic' - and I get out of the house, see my friends, work full time, and otherwise live as full as life as I am able. Do I sometimes have to cancel because of the nature of my chronic condition? Sure. Am I beyond grateful that my own BF rolls with it? More than I can say. Have I suffered from depression from being so angry that my body has betrayed me so utterly? Absolutely. But seeing what other people on the outside actually think of people like me is so much worse.

    That being said.

    I feel badly for the LW. She's only 24, and she didn't sign up for this kind of life. But I think it's important to recognize that LW recognizes better than most people how her BF didn't sign up for this either, and she understands the nature of his limitations (mental and physical). It is really, really hard to be one of two people in a relationship into which illness has entered - it affects both people. But if this were really about his illness and not about LW's unrelated questions about what else is out there, I think we'd see a very different letter. I think LW is actually checking in with other people to see if they're see her as a bad person if she were to leave her boyfriend, who just happens to have an illness. I don't really see anything wrong with her wanting to leave to see what else is out there, as I suspect she would be doing this anyway, whether he was ill or not. She's also asking incredibly mature, responsible questions of herself with respect to setting up an exit plan, and I give her a lot of credit for that. She absolutely must get his family involved in this, more than it sounds like they are. I empathize with this, as I understand that it can be difficult to do this. But this is more their responsibility than hers.

    If LW really wants to work on this relationship to stay in it but also try to help her BF overcome some of these self-imposed limitations, she needs to have her BF sign papers with his doctors to waive patient confidentiality and speak with them. It's entirely possible the doctors are making recommendations to him that he's not following. She knows him - she'll be able to ascertain whether the BF is willing or able to follow them and to encourage him to do so, or enlist others to help. She needs to stop doing everything he asks her to do, because he'll NEVER be self-reliant (physically or emotionally) (which is a building block to happy, or at least contentedness) unless she stops enabling him to continue throwing up barriers in both of their lives; first and foremost, she needs to figure out when BF is at his best and invite their friends over to the house at that time. LW needs to recognize that she can have a relationship with her BF AND get out of the house to pursue friendships and interests, in fact, I'd say she can't stay in this relationship unless she does.

    Best of luck, LW. No matter your choice, neither will be easy. You're not wrong to leave, and you're not wrong to stay. You're the only one who can decide if this situation is right for you and how to fix it.

    Posted by A "Chronic" August 5, 09 02:03 PM
  1. alright, The lake or the cape? you pick.

    Posted by love for real August 5, 09 02:05 PM
  1. Ceej - LOVE to see what you'd do. For better or for worse applies to MARRIED people, this girl is not. Having this albatross around your neck is hell, just try having kids with this type of environment...Trust me GO GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN. My father was compromised (war vet) my parents entire marriage and towards the end of his life suffered from a great deal of depression as his condition worsened. It was cruel to watch him recoil from life and it is even crueler to see this behavior in my siblings. No one is insinuating the b/f is a BAD guy, just someone who needs more help/caretaking/therapy than any one loved one is qualified to offer. She's 24, it's HER life, and if you resent it now, honey, you will be positively TOXIC by 30, and should you bear children I guarantee the tool set they will garner from growing up with a depressed drop-out from life will not prepare them to live a joyful existence. If he's well enough to work, he's well enough to seek help from professionals qualified to deliver it. The L/W's not the cure for the problem, nor should she be saddled with this problem. GO LIVE LIFE. Enjoy!

    Posted by big dummy August 5, 09 02:07 PM
  1. I haven't dealt with exactly this situation, but my ex was depressed, and it made him a real bastard. All he did was play online games and eat fast food and ignore me. He'd been in therapy for years, but I think you have to want to get better, and he just didn't; he seemed to want to dwell on his so-called problems and take his drugs and indulge in self-pity. When we met, things were different -- we went out a lot and saw our friends and enjoyed the city, but after about a year it just went downhill. I stuck it out another year because I thought he was just going through something and I wanted to be there for him because we were pretty serious, but at some point I realized it wasn't a phase, it was now who he was and the life he seemed to want, and I feel so relieved to be away from him. Therapy might help your guy, but it might also just allow him to self-pity further if his therapist isn't challenging him.

    I just don't think you're doing any favors to him or yourself by staying. He wants you because he's comfortable and you're there for him and he doesn't have to do anything to deserve this from you. It's easy for him. It's heart-wrenching for you. You spent a year being miserable and thinking things would change and trying to change them, but he doesn't want to change. He is happy in his wallowing. It's not going to change. You made a more than reasonable effort and now I think you have to let yourself fly.

    Posted by constellationearth August 5, 09 02:07 PM
  1. Ok, let's say that you decide to stay out of some strange sense of guilt, responsibility or pity for him. Over many years, how long will it be before you begin to resent him and all that you did not experience in your life because you chose to be his caretaker? Two years? Ten? And in the meantime your spirit will be ground down into nothing. You'll feel guilty each time you want to go out and be with your friends, or go out dancing or watch the late movie at the theatre.
    That's right, you CHOSE to be his caretaker. You are at a crossroads of choice in your life and your emotions are yelling out, "GET OUT NOW". That's exactly what you need to do. Call his family, tell them they'll need to step up to the plate and then find yourself an apt. or temporary living situation ASAP. The weight of your current situation will fall off your chest and you will be able to breathe for the first time in years.
    Give yourself the gift of your own life back-choose it now.

    Posted by exvermonter August 5, 09 02:09 PM
  1. I am astonished at the response Steve left at 11:27. They are not married, she has no obligation moral or otherwise to remain with him. He is using her as a crutch because of his sickness and seems to be perfectly happy with their life as it is. Guess what, lots of people are chronically sick and still choose to live life.He seems to refuse to see or acknowledge the unhappiness of his partner. S&H says, "On the other hand, he’s still my best friend, and I love him and deeply care for him." See if he'll go to counseling so he can truly "hear" what is being said and an objective third party can help with guidance. If he refuses or if the counseling fails S&H has done everything she can and she can move on even if with a saddened heart.

    Posted by Christa August 5, 09 02:15 PM
  1. If I was 24 again, the things I would/could/should have done. It only rolls around once, enjoy the ride.
    Sounds like you should also seek individual therapy to unload any "guilt" that you may feel, you deserved happiness.

    Posted by M August 5, 09 02:17 PM
  1. Most of the LW's complaints have nothing to do with that fact that he is sick, rather than the way he treats her in reaction to this illness. He doesn't let her host friends at her own house, but doesn't want to go out. She tries to get him to be active in simple activities in the confines of their own home (board games, books, etc.) and he has no interest. She's 24 and spends her days alone, or at home and pretty much alone even though he is physically with her.

    She states simply that though she takes on this responsibility, she is upset by the lack of emotional or physical joy that usually comes *in addition* to caring for someone you love that happens to need help.

    If he were not ill, and just a couch potato, not one of you would insist that she stay.

    The problem with a lot of people is they try so hard not to treat someone ‘differently’ if they are sick/disabled/mentally challenged that they end up treating them with kid gloves instead of confronting them if/when necessary.

    She is not his nurse-- she should be allowed romantic, social and emotional expectations just as he expects from her. And if she’s not getting that, then she has the right to leave, without being thought of as a “bad person.” End of story.

    Posted by HBellz August 5, 09 02:20 PM
  1. Lets get you un-stuck then. What I read is that you need him to start trying...but I don't feel like you are ready to run? Hope is powerful-and again-you seem like you're willing to try if only he'd do the same? He needs to give and start being a part of this twosome. You cannot do it alone. You should not have to do it alone.
    Tell him everything you just told us. You said he may 'suspect' and 'I
    don't think' ...go find out. Then you decide.
    Maybe tell him what you told us...
    "I feel isolated, stuck, and sad, and have been fighting the urge to flee. I think he may suspect my feelings, because he is reminding me more frequently how he loves me and couldn't go on without me. But I just don't know. On the one hand, I have all the responsibilities of the relationship, and none of the emotional or physical joy that should come with it. I don't think he is either willing or capable of living beyond the lifestyle we currently live"

    Posted by pb August 5, 09 02:24 PM
  1. Lets get you un-stuck then. What I read is that you need him to start trying...but I don't feel like you are ready to run? Hope is powerful-and again-you seem like you're willing to try if only he'd do the same? He needs to give and start being a part of this twosome. You cannot do it alone. You should not have to do it alone.
    Tell him everything you just told us. You said he may 'suspect' and 'I
    don't think' ...go find out. Then you decide.
    Maybe tell him what you told us...
    "I feel isolated, stuck, and sad, and have been fighting the urge to flee. I think he may suspect my feelings, because he is reminding me more frequently how he loves me and couldn't go on without me. But I just don't know. On the one hand, I have all the responsibilities of the relationship, and none of the emotional or physical joy that should come with it. I don't think he is either willing or capable of living beyond the lifestyle we currently live"

    Posted by pb August 5, 09 02:24 PM
  1. Hmm. Something to think about for all the respondents - I think this came up in a chat once. And I think the LW , in that instance, was male. It's funny how that negates a lot of the "a man would stay! a woman gives too much of herself!" commentary. Not positive of the LW's gender here, or if it's the same writer...just food for thought.

    Regardless of your sex, S&H, you were 20 when you met this guy. Let me tell you all of the things I saw in my life at age 20 that have since changed drastically....no wait, the list is too long to share. It seems like this relationship deteriorated in a way that many 20-something relationships deteriorate, with interests shifting and personalities changing. The illness is a sad complicating factor, but it doesn't seem to be the only factor.

    You also mentioned that your BF feels guilt when you are held back by him. In other words, the imbalance and tension of this relationship is hurting him, too. In light of that, it sounds like you might both be better off apart. Do try to be friends, but be wary of that route - it's a slippery slope.

    In short, don't try to the be hero. Try to be a good person, who gives your all to relationships and those you care about. And when you've done all you can, move forward in faith that things will work out for the best.

    Posted by Fievel August 5, 09 02:30 PM
  1. You are not leaving because he is physically sick. You are leaving because he has depression.

    My husband had untreated depression for 10 years (because he refused to go to a doctor). I feel like I endured my 20's rather than lived them.

    If you stay, no one is ever going to give you a medal. He will never say thank you, You will have an awful life, and no one will understand or appreciate what you gave up. From experience, it is EXACTLY the life you fear most. GO!

    Posted by S August 5, 09 02:34 PM
  1. Let’s talk about what this young man should/could do. Where is his selflessness? I know it’s not easy, but if I was in a deteriorating position, I would tell my love to go find lifelong happiness. I would know that I was miserable. I would see her struggling with her “Opening Farewell” (-J. Browne, but best sung by B. Raitt). True love goes both ways. She’s been waiting for him to sign-off on her departure, but it has not come. It’s time for him to ease the pain.

    Posted by valentino August 5, 09 02:35 PM
  1. Would he have stuck around if you were in his condition?

    Posted by JPB August 5, 09 02:42 PM
  1. It probably would be easier if you hadn't moved in together. By moving in with the boyfriend made it easy for him to expect you to be the caretaker.

    Posted by jcbol August 5, 09 02:44 PM
  1. Meredith gave you good advice. You can't be a martyr. I can understand not wanting to further complicate his depression and how he feels about his chronic illness, but we all owe it to ourselves to live to our best potential as well. And from what you described, you have limited your own progression as an individual...becoming more and more socially isolated, feeling sad about current situation, not being able to be honest with your "best friend", etc. If you think about it, the only way a couple can thrive and be its best, is if both people feel they are thriving individually AND as a couple...and right now, neither aspects of that are thriving. Yes, you are 24, but I would say the same thing if you were 48.

    I would have a slightly different response if you were married and had made vows to work on the marriage for better or for worse, but even then, if a relationship is not healthy and both aren't working to keep it afloat, then even a marriage may have to end if one party gives up entirely emotionally and physically for an extended period of time.

    You say he's getting treated for depression. I hope this includes counseling as opposed to just anti-depressants alone. If so, perhaps you can ask if you could come along for couples therapy, so that he (and you) can get support as you relay how you feel about the relationship and your intention on ending the relationship. His counselor should be able to work the inevitable issues that will arise (loss and abandonment for your BF and perhaps shame and guilt on your end).

    You sound like a compassionate and caring person who has loved this man with all your heart (and still do), but rightfully see that you have to live your life to the best of your abilities. I wish you and your boyfriend luck as you get through this difficult time and hope (as Meredith suggested), you both can get past the pain of the breakup and eventually remain good friends and each be fulfilled in your respective lives. My thoughts are with you.

    Posted by brklynmom August 5, 09 02:46 PM
  1. 82 nailed it.

    Posted by 82NailedIt August 5, 09 02:50 PM
  1. The boyfriend probably thinks he cannot (or doesn’t want to) make it without a caregiver. It’s time for an honest discussion of S&H’s feelings, not tiptoeing around so as not to upset her boyfriend. It’s doesn’t have to be: break up or not right now. S&H may be able to set limits: I expect you to do these things (clear the table, laundry, whatever). That will make it clear whether he is willing and able to contribute. Keep in mind that some people will not negotiate and they want a caregiver, and do not care about the other person’s growth. That will become clear when you negotiate. You matter, S&H.

    In my experience, as my mother and sister were depressed, didn’t work, and their respective husbands did *all* the household work and catered to them, for *decades*, Ceej’s response (#42) strikes me as typical of the guilt knife used to manipulate. By calling the caregiver “selfish” for “wanting to ski” – trivializing the need to live vs. their need to have the other person sacrifice to take care of them, it results in the 'caregiver' questioning their morals and and staying in what may be an otherwise intolerable situation.

    It’s also not about an "hour of need" when the other person is ill/depressed for a long time. Enabling is real, and it hurts both people. S&H’s boyfriend may and likely will flounder initially if she decides to leave, but it will be his chance to take control of his life, something he doesn’t seem to be doing right now.

    Posted by Suew August 5, 09 02:54 PM
  1. This is a tough one .. condition does not sound good. I would definitely sit down and discuss options. If you are looking for permission, check the mirror .. hopefully, you learn from this. It may be you someday, so remember to be free with events in the future, as you plan your exit today. Good luck.

    Posted by 1time August 5, 09 03:01 PM
  1. I'm twice your age, and I agree that you are not beholden to taking care of someone who may want to but can't meet you halfway- chronic pain/illness and depression are so often linked and hard to step out of once in the cycle. Is he in therapy, or just meds? If not, he might benefit, in order to develop more conscious awareness of the spiral he is in and how he may be impacting you. While I support your right to take care of yourself, just know that any choice you make will feel hard, and leaving's NOT a breeze, as some will imply- it will be a process of letting go and grieving, and then coming back to yourself. Good luck!

    Posted by Sabrina August 5, 09 03:03 PM
  1. What a sad situation...I'm sorry you're dealing with this, especially so young..
    Well, in a situation like this, I think it's important for the caregiver to get support. Clearest way to burn out is trying to deal with this alone. I support what others have said about getting some therapy for yourself. Above and beyond, have you checked out area agencies, churches, temples, for resources they might know about? What about his family -- anyone around? My thought is, if you do decide to leave, try to work out other supports for him, as best you can, so that the transition is as smooth as possible. Again, a therapist can help you get connected to what's in your area and what's possible...it may be possible to set some boundaries, so that there are certain things you *can* do; but know the limits and what's too much to ask of you right now.

    Having said that, what have the doctors said about the future? is this a chronic situation that may temporize over time?

    Life threw you quite a test -- and for being so young, it sounds like you stepped up to the plate very admirably...

    Good luck with whatever you decide..

    Posted by Barbara August 5, 09 03:07 PM
  1. RE: Fievel: I agree, we don't know what LW's gender is, and I think any discussion on male/female roles here is entirely irrelevant. Male or female, gay or straight, these are two people, and the same standard should apply.

    Posted by bodawg August 5, 09 03:12 PM
  1. 82nailed it..naw, 81 did.

    Posted by 81nailedit August 5, 09 03:15 PM
  1. Good Question Jlen. Why have marriage?
    Marriage means nothing today. Have you taken a look at divorce rates? People get married and divorced almost as often as they change jobs.
    There is a serious lack of commitment regardless of whether you are married or not. The longevity and health of a relationship does not depend on legal documents. -- It depends on the character, morale and heart of each involved.

    If you lack that in your relationships, you will lack that in your marriage. The only difference is that marriage will make it more expensive to leave.. only a few more hoops to jump through. But quite obviously do-able.

    Posted by EastCoastGirl August 5, 09 03:16 PM
  1. Short answer-LEAVE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE...OR LATER THAN IT ALREADY IS.

    Long answer: It is not about the illness but the lack of life he is showing.

    I planned a hip surgery at a time that would make it more convenient for my whole family where I wouldn't have to be relied on as much as usual. I planned it around a work schedule so as not to disturb my coworkers from their work. I have been hurt in an accident and made it to work the next day (sent home because the boss thought I was nuts) and no matter how tired, achy, busy I am I always manage to pitch in my share of the housework, cooking, child care etc... I haven't sat down to watch TV, play a game, read a book in too long because my wife and I with a child manage to have a full and active social life. We not only get out regularly with friends and/or family but we manage to have a nice life at home too, talking, cooking, intimacy etc... You are missing out on living life. I have seen people with terminal cancer have more of a social life than you describe. It's time for you to take action and walk out that door sooner rather than later. You are NOT a bad person for leaving, he is a TERRIBLE person for using his illness to keep you. HE IS SELFISH.

    Read no further, get your suitcase packed and don't let that door hit you in the butt on the way out.

    Posted by from me to you August 5, 09 03:17 PM
  1. I'd have to say that if you want to leave, if the thought of being apart from him isn't unbearable, then you shouldn't stay. You obviously care for him but you're not in love with him anymore - if anything it sounds like what you loved was the life you had together, rather than the person. At 24 that is understandable. I know what I"m talking about, I was caretaking for someone for more than 10 years (somewhat better now, but a very long road), but during all that time, it would have killed me to leave him.

    Posted by Lamia August 5, 09 03:25 PM
  1. The only thing Meredith got wrong was the friendship piece. Make it a clean break, every time you go back, talk or check on him, your guilt and his desperation will open up the wound, Move on, I'd rather feel guilty than resentful.

    Posted by ml2620-2 August 5, 09 03:25 PM
  1. "I’ve brought up all of these problems separately on numerous occasions, but I have to be delicate about it because he quickly begins to feel massively guilty and depressed, and sees himself as inadequate."

    If he really saw himself as inadequate then he would have done something about it...at least a real man with pride and dignity would.

    Have you spoken to your own friends and family about this? What do they say? Does he have a job? 40 hours a week? What does he do? He can work but not fulfill any other responsibilities? Something doesn't add up.

    Leave him, pack up one day soon while he is at work and leave a copy of this blog on the counter along with a note saying you wish him well.

    Not heartless, just a realist

    Posted by you hooked a loser now return him to the sea August 5, 09 03:29 PM
  1. #125- Dude. Settle down. You sound very full of yourself and very stupid.

    A.) You are lucky that you could plan when you had a surgery. You can't plan to contract an illness.

    B.) I doubt he's a "terrible" and "selfish" person. He is sick and sad and scared.

    Take a deep breath, remove your head from your own butt, and be thankful you do not have to make the choice this poor girl does.

    Posted by Katherine August 5, 09 03:34 PM
  1. Perhaps there is room for compromise here... Maybe you could move out, without breaking off the relationship just yet? See how it goes when you are not a live-in caretaker and he must work to be with you. Of course, you know his limitations, so perhaps it could mean dinner at your (new) place and renting a movie on a regular basis - something, anything to bring the life back to your relationship. And whether you decide to leave or not, definitely seek counseling. I wish you the best of luck...

    Posted by k August 5, 09 03:40 PM
  1. If you don't want to leave him without a caretaker, then help him find one- a professional. You're not married so have have not taken a vow to stay with him in sickness or in health. If he were putting some effort into the relationship it would be a different situation, but he's not. You did not bolt at the first sign of trouble. You have tried but unless he makes an effort also, the relationship cannot survive.

    Posted by not a nurse August 5, 09 03:41 PM
  1. Chronic illness is miserable, and helping someone you love through it is almost as debilitating.

    When I was 21 years old, my already-older mother became sick. I spent my entire twenties caring for her, afraid to travel for school or fun, because she relied upon me for company and assistance. Although she encouraged me to lead my own life and explore whichever opportunities I wanted, I loved my mother and was afarid to leave her alone for long because I could never be sure she'd be alive when I returned. At the same time, however, I began to resent being her caregiver and was jealous of all my peers who managed to move across the country, and create new, carefree lives as young adults. Every day I wish I could have enjoyed my twenties as they did.

    My mother raised me as a single parent, and I felt an enormous obligation to care for her. You have been with your boyfriend for only 4 years, and although you love him, I don't see how you have the same obligation. Be there for him as a friend, but I STRONGLY urge you to go out and find happiness before you forget how to even look for it.

    Posted by JDR August 5, 09 03:42 PM
  1. I have been "you" on too many occasions to mention (so much so my parents used to joke i met all my dates at the emergency room)... and the fact is... you don't have to stay. And you don't have to beat yourself up for it...

    .... and you shouldn't be his "medicine" as you deserve to have someone who will treat you with all the kindness and respect you are showing him... and he can't do that right now because he is most likely depressed. And the fact is, he needs to get some help due to the fact that he just lost most of his future (or the future he thought he had). I am SO sorry... but it does get better.

    Posted by hearts broken men August 5, 09 03:43 PM
  1. " For better, for worse,
    For richer, for poorer,
    In sickness and in health,
    To love and to cherish,
    'Till death do us part."

    Think long and hard before you choose to say these words, you are obviously not mature enough to say them now.

    Posted by LeepII August 5, 09 03:45 PM
  1. You only live once. Don't waste your life.

    Posted by Bee August 5, 09 03:46 PM
  1. He is being treated for depression, but is he being treated effectively for depression? Not just medication but therapy, perhaps couples therapy focused on dealing with chronic illness in a relationship. A lot of what S&H describes sounds like severe depression on her BF's part, in addition to whatever the physical issues are. I have known people with chronic fatigue syndrome one of whom became stuck in the house depressed limited life, the other got a doctorate.

    Do your best to get effective treatment for his depression and the stress chronic illness puts on a relationship. Give it a good 6-9 months. Then leave if it's still bad.

    Posted by CouchMouse August 5, 09 03:48 PM
  1. Have you tried a tough love approach? Maybe instead of asking him to do chores that benefit both of you, maybe have him do his own laundry. And then stick to it - do NOT do his laundry. He'll be resistant at first, and probably complain that he can't do it and you're being horrible, etc. But, perhaps he'll eventually be forced to do his laundry, and then begin to see that, yes, he CAN do something.

    Seriously, the more I think about it, the more I think you should find a caretaker support group for you - they would be in a much better position for giving you strategies on how to deal with this than I would. I've never been in this situation.

    Posted by OK Cupid Fan August 5, 09 03:52 PM
  1. From a 20something guy perspective: I think it would help in context if his physical illness was disclosed. It's hard to make a judgement based on this information. However, regardless of whatever physical ailment he is suffering from, DEPRESSION is TREATABLE. It would be my guess based on reading this that his apathy, lack of interest in being social is the big factor here, not his physical illness. If he got some professional help and some new motivation to realize he is still lovable, valuable, and in turn loves and cares for you just the same, you both can get over the physical ailment.

    If he is unwilling to seek treatment for his depression, it's not fair to both of you, and you're both young and it sounds liek you both have a lot to offer (maybe he just doesnt realize it yet). Leaving him doesn't make you a bad person, if that's what it came to. You've been making a 100% effort, he needs to make that 100% effort too to make it work. He needs to understand that.

    Posted by chris August 5, 09 03:59 PM
  1. This really is about more than an illness, it's a lifestyle. Do you want to be a nurse/caretaker at 24 constantly feeling obligated? Obviously not or you wouldn't be writing. If you were MADLY in love with him nothing would separate you. Of course you love him but you love yourself too and this is not a life you signed on for. God bless him and I wish him improved health but where are other friends and family to share the burden? Meredith's advice on how to present your feelings is right on. It will be painful so perhaps you should have therapy lined up for yourself. Keep remembering you are not a bad person for doing what is right for you.

    Posted by senorita August 5, 09 04:03 PM
  1. #125- Dude. Settle down. You sound very full of yourself and very stupid.

    A.) You are lucky that you could plan when you had a surgery. You can't plan to contract an illness.

    B.) I doubt he's a "terrible" and "selfish" person. He is sick and sad and scared.

    Take a deep breath, remove your head from your own butt, and be thankful you do not have to make the choice this poor girl does.

    Posted by Katherine


    I am actually pretty level headed and not at all full of myself. I wish I could have avoided surgery as it was not in my plans to be have an injury that required cutting into my body to repair. However I have made the best of it and dealt with it in the most responsible way I know.

    This guy has a chronic condition yet can work? This guy needs serious help, not a girlfriend catering to his "needs". He gives nothing in return, not emotional or physical. Staying is just not an option. How to leave is the big question.

    I had friends with no choice and they managed to make the most of their very few days left on this earth. I only hope that if I was in that position I would be as brave as they were. There is a reason when a dying man has so many people around him till he dies and a reason why another dying man does not. The will to live. I watched a friend die and since have run marathons, donated to charity, raised awareness, etc...not a day goes by without thoughts of that person. You don't like it that is your perogitive. My friend had more life in him in his dying days than most people I know combined. This girl is 24 years old, she needs to find someone with life and an outlook to the future. Not some 24yo with no will to live.

    Feel free to go empty his bedpan for him, this girl needs to move out now.

    Posted by #125 to #129 August 5, 09 04:11 PM
  1. Hey EastCoastGirl,
    If you were my girlfriend, I'd kick you to the curb if you so much as came down with a cold with an attitude like yours. The relationship is a two-way street and he's not interested in doing anything to keep here in it.

    Posted by aj August 5, 09 04:23 PM
  1. #140, #125, That was awesome!!! AMEN!!!

    You are 100% right, she deserves better. If he has no will to live then why should she go out of her way for him. He had no choice in getting a chronic illness but he does have a choice in trying to live life to its fullest. He is a drain on her. If I had a broken arm and a broken leg and 5 broken ribs and my wife said lets get busy I'd take a tylenol and get to it. Nothing would stop me from having a relationship if I wanted it. I want mine and I let my wife know it with words but more importantly with my actions.

    Posted by Amen to 125, 140 August 5, 09 04:34 PM
  1. HEY aj,

    you make zero sense in that last post.

    perhaps you should read my first post #29. And then feel free to get up to speed on how the rest came about...

    I'm not saying she should stay and suffer. I'm saying make sure you're leaving for the right reasons...


    Posted by EastCoastGirl August 5, 09 04:36 PM
  1. A good relationship should be rewarding on the whole. Yes, every relationship has its ups and downs. However, when the light of the relationship has been sucked out and all that is left is a black hoe then it is time to end it. This is true whether your partner is sick or not.

    Posted by Happily Married August 5, 09 04:37 PM
  1. This is a most unfortunate situation and made more so because of your young age. It is not fair that he is sick, but it is not your fault either. I certainly don't think that you are a bad person for considering leaving. You are not married or even engaged and therefore did not make a commitment to "in sickness and in health." That is an important point here; if you were married, I'd advise differently. I also think that it is unreasonable for you to give up your life to be his caregiver, especially since there is the sense that he has given up trying. It also sounds like the problem for you is less about the work that you have to do than it is about the loss of the person he used to be.

    While love may be unconditional, relationships are not. We have relationships with people on certain conditions - that they don't beat you, that they don't cheat on you, that they are who they are, and if that changes too drastically, the relationship often dies. Your BF is no longer the person he was due to his illness. While some of that is utterly uncontrollable, some of the problem seems to be his response to the illness(es). I think that means it is time to re-negotiate your relationship. I think that the level of commitment you've made to your boyfriend does not require you to be his caregiver forever; I do think that it does require a serious effort to save the relationship.

    Since he is seeing a therapist for his depression (right?), I think it would be worth arranging for some sessions with the therapist to discuss this very openly. The therapist may have some ideas on how to organize your lives so that you could stay together, albeit in a different way than you initially imagined. I think doing anything less than this does not honor the commitment you do have and will leave you feeling guilty and him feeling betrayed. Knowing you've worked hard to save this important relationship will mean a lot for each of you even if it fails. And, who knows, it might work!

    Posted by Nancy G August 5, 09 04:42 PM
  1. she is not leaving "at the first sign of trouble". she has tried to make it work, has cared for him in every way, but he is refusing to live his life. maybe leaving will be the wake up call for him to start living again. i know that there are limitations to his illness but that doesnt mean he should shrivel up on the couch for the next 50 years (while expecting her to stay). this is all about attitude. the fact that he is unwilling to meet her halfway shows me that this stopped being a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and has become nurse/patient relationship. i have a cousin who is paralyzed and in a wheelchair from the age of 18. he was active and athletic before. he has not allowed it to stop him from living. he works, goes to school, has friends, goes out, etc. i also stayed with a sick boyfriend for about 4 years too many. his illness was one of drug use, which of course is different, but staying just enabled him to stay that way instead of changing. my leaving forced him to wake up. s&h, you are not an awful person, you tried to make it work and it isnt. i do think you should sit him down and tell him your feelings to give him a chance to change his attitude. if he still does not want to compromise then i say you have no choice but to leave. i would say the same if you were married. relationship is give and take. not give give give by one person and take take take from the other. i understand there may not be much physically he can do but his attitude needs to change. good luck

    Posted by nemo August 5, 09 04:44 PM
  1. &H:
    You do not make mention of you BF having any family close by; parents, siblings or even friends of his who can help. Do I understand that his illness is incurable and has created the depression or is his illness the depression itself? A friend of mine had a long term relationship with a person who contracted ALS. She spent some of her time helping family members and visiting nurses with shifts up to the end but did not sacrifice her life and she is much older. At your age and not being married to this person, I am not sure you need to feel guilty about taking back your life. If you have a heart to heart talk with your BF and he loves you, he will not want to see you unhappy or expect you to give up your freedoms. If he gets angry and does not understand, do not feel guilty. Tell him you will be there for him but he cannot expect you to give up everything when there is no long term commitment.
    As for those who said some mean things, pay them no mind for they have no clue as to what they would do if faced with your situation. For all you know if the tables were turned, your BF might well walk out on you even if he says he would not. We are humans and therefore not perfect. Get some counseling if necessary but do not let any feelings of guilt eat away at you. It is time to become his friend and let the relationship go for it will become a burden you will soon resent. The best of luck to you both.

    Posted by A Dingo Ate My Baby August 5, 09 04:50 PM
  1. Your not married so you can't be held to for better or worse. I would make sure he's taken care of and then make my exit. Keep the friendship alive if he wants. But to relieve any guilt. I wouldn't want anyone that I loved to suffer throughout their lifetime for me. I would have set you free a long time ago.

    On another note, when I got married I was 32 my wife was 28. She told me she had MS and it could get worse. I did some research talked to experts in the field and we of course got married. We've been married 25 years, 3 beautiful kids. The disease has slowed her down but shae can do more stuff that a lot of people I know. . The difference is she won't let it get the best of her if she can help it and it seems your BF is.
    Follow the little voice in your head.

    Posted by jojobobo August 5, 09 04:51 PM
  1. I disagree with Meredith. "Go be 24." I don't know what the hell that means- I guess it means be shallow and self-serving, but a lot of people are that at 44. If you turn tail and run from this "love" and "best friend" and "possible marriage" now because you're a little frightened of stagnation, you may as well keep running your entire life. There is a time, in any relationship, when one partner leans on the other more. If you quit and cut out because it's getting boring or difficult, maybe that's you, but I'd say, you're laying a foundation for the rest of your life. I guess, maybe, some people aren't cut out to truly love another person and give 100%, or stick it out, even though God, the Devil and a disease should try to come between you. I don't know, with all the tools at your disposal, you ought to be able to make the life you want with this person. It aint easy, but quiting sure is.

    I say you stay in there and fight the good fight for the life you want with the person you want. If you can't pull him kicking and screaming to the other end of the world, then you can always quit. No offense to the rest of these light-hearted, fairweather lovers, but it will make you a better person if you try with everything you have first.

    Posted by hippydippy August 5, 09 04:54 PM
  1. boyfriend is working
    "The Vegetable" is for home
    kick his sorry a$$

    Posted by He Asked For It August 5, 09 05:03 PM
  1. S&H,
    I echo the advice to leave and live your life, however, I'd also recommend that you get some counseling. I'm not at all saying that this will happen to you, but I was in a similar situation (although his illness was severe depression) and left. A year later, my ex committed suicide. It took a long while and a lot of counseling to realize that it wasn't my fault and that there was not really anything I could've done differently.
    Best of luck!

    Posted by been there done that August 5, 09 05:03 PM
  1. Ok, last week you people were telling the 19 year old to run from the altar because few people stay with the person they're with at that young of an age. Now you tell this 24 yr old (who started dating the boy at 20) to stay with the guy because they talked about marriage? This girl is in a "serious committed relationship" and last week's groom wasn't? I'm sure we all talked marriage with more than the person we ended up with. She's not married, she dated the guy in her early 20's, now she wants to move on. Remember...people change in their 20's. Maybe even without the illness she'd be ready to leave. It's not heartless, she has to do what's best for her.

    Posted by gigi August 5, 09 05:07 PM
  1. As someone who was broken up with right after the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and as a person who now lives with a serious chronic illness this column is hard to read.
    The bottom line is this: essentially you have already broken up with him--as you said you feel he can tell your absence--but when you actually do break up with him, I think you need to leave the idea of being his "best friend" behind because it isn't going to happen. You are essentially breaking up with him because of his illness and so being his friend isn't going to do much...it's going to make you feel better but at the end of the day--this guy already FEELS bad enough he certainly doesn't need someone who can no longer be romantically involved with him to be his friend..it will only leave him feeling worse and like there is something fundamentally flawed in him--so if you leave, leave for good.

    Posted by transplantgirl August 5, 09 05:24 PM
  1. You should find some girl on craigslist casual encounters and let him watch. If that doesn't get things moving again, the relationship is truly over and you should just move in with her if you like her.

    Posted by Glenn Quagmire August 5, 09 05:26 PM
  1. Why don't you just think about what you'd like if you were in that situation?

    Posted by Doug August 5, 09 05:45 PM
  1. The Reverend is back - much to your chagrin.

    Let's look at this poor woman's plight yet again. She is not legally obligated to stay with him but she is conflicted in doing so. The bottom line here is that she can't bear to stay with a man who requires much more attention than she's willing to give. As such, and as most of the people here today agree, she must go - leave the relationship and be happy while her ex-boyfriend writhes in pain and self-torment. Surely, his walk without her would be similar as a sinner's walk through the seven gates of hell. My heart goes out to him - there is a place in heaven for you.

    However - to the LW - Go and be free to your liking but your curse is this - you will be doomed to remember him in his hopeless condition and his begging you to stay. His words of 'please don't leave me' will be stuck forever in your mind and his crying will not be erased from your memory. But please - go and be free to do whatever you want. it's your own mortal life.

    And another note - Brother Rico was right on per usual.

    God loves those who loves Him.

    Posted by TheRevHortonHeat August 5, 09 05:52 PM
  1. You are single, young and caring to have tried to work it out so you are mature beyond your years.

    I feel sad for him but you have a life ahead of you. These are the best years of your life - go and LIVE them. He has family and others as you said to help him work through this. The moral obligation has been satisfied in all you have done, but he has an equal moral obligation to let you go and have a better life without this burden. If you had married him, I would feel differently. You have not made that commitment, so you are free from it. You can still be there for him but you do not have to sacrifice your life for his.

    Posted by marj August 5, 09 06:23 PM
  1. I am in a similar situation except married 16 years and he was diagnosed four years ago. I am his primary caregiver on top of being a working mother. (need the health insurance) Will your bf be able to work for long or will you be required to carry the health insurance too? You need to think about these things. My husband's illness was sudden and we all just went with it at first. He needs constant medical attention and much of this is expected of me in this world of out-patient care. When he was first diagnosed I just jumped in and did everything expected of me without coming up for air. I wanted tp do it. but now, I am constantly exhausted and resentful and watching my life pass by and missing valuable time and experiences with my children because my husband can only do so much. I am in a down phase right now but there are more and more of these lately.

    My husband is/was a great guy but he now does nothing but watch television (I can so relate to your tv comments) He suffers from depression, as do I now. and another grim reality a nurse told me. those vows: "till death do us part," were written long before modern medicine and thanks to medical advances, my husband will remain alive and sick for decades. That sounds awful, I know.

    I am trapped. You are not. Make your getaway now. trust me. Please tell him you love him, help him find care if you can and move on. Otherwise you will die inside.

    G


    M

    Posted by Jane August 5, 09 06:24 PM
  1. Rico, Franktalk wants to know why you keep talking about Rico in the first person. Who are you, Wade Boggs?
    Franktalk wants to know.

    Posted by franktalk August 5, 09 07:22 PM
  1. Rico, Franktalk wants to know why you keep talking about Rico in the first person. Who are you, Wade Boggs?
    Franktalk wants to know.

    Posted by franktalk August 5, 09 07:22 PM
  1. "a committed/serious relationship should be as committed/serious as marriage."
    --------- then every gold metal should be as valuable as gold.

    But alas, no, gold is gold and fool's gold is worth nothing more than false hopes for a fool.


    Posted by a few grey hairs August 5, 09 07:34 PM
  1. this whole story gives new meaning to the term sick leave

    Posted by Sally August 5, 09 07:38 PM
  1. S&H, you stopped being his girlfriend a long time ago and morphed into a free and convenient therapist and nurse that he is taking advantage of. No one--even a married person--should have to be a martyr to their partner if one partner isn't sharing the emotional burden. It's not so much that he's sick, but that he's become emotionally lazy. He owes it to you to do all he can to help himself, and you should help only when he has exhaused all other resources. I'm presuming he's insured and has access to services that he is not using. If this is the case, then you should not have to step in because of his poor choice. Bottom line: if he's just going to wallow in his illness without help from professionals, just leave.

    Posted by Kitty August 5, 09 07:47 PM
  1. You're NOT married. This guy doesn't need a girlfriend, he needs a care giver.
    If you really love him and you want to spend the rest of your life doing this then stick around. If not, say good bye and turn the page. Mere is right. Go be 24.
    Good luck.

    Posted by bbqueen August 5, 09 08:28 PM
  1. Simple:

    If you truly love him, stay.

    If you don't, leave.

    (True love isn't about convenience or incovenience nor is it about being 24, 34, or 44. If the roles were reversed, what would you have him do? Would you be okay with it?)

    Posted by SL August 5, 09 09:12 PM
  1. Stuck, please read #'s 70, 101 and 132-they have been through this. As someone who met and married a man who is a quadriplegic, I would do it over again- however my husband does make the effort to go out, be sociable, etc. It's what attracted me to him in the first place-his mental strength and determination. It's all in the attitude and you have tried. I find #132's response especially poignant because I can remember situations which have stuck with me for many years and these situations were about delaying one's own happiness. A woman I worked with had dated her husband to be for many many years however she felt she could not go against her mother's wishes and marry this man (he was a different nationality and her mother objected) and so took care of her mother who finally died at a ripe old age. By then, this lady was almost 60, finally married and her husband died on their honeymoon. She was devastated to say the least. She wasted her entire life and happiness. Life is precious. Your youth is precious-you cannot get it back. You have tried admirably. Give yourself permission to let go and think of yourself.

    Posted by done that August 5, 09 10:22 PM
  1. I agree with Meredith. You have a right to be happy and enjoy your life. Even though he has an illness he needs to take full responsibility for his happiness. He isn't willing to do that and he is pulling you into his black hole. There is probably not anything better that you can do for yourself and for him than to leave. My heart goes out to you.

    Posted by empathetic August 5, 09 10:35 PM
  1. How you handle this crisis as a couple may portend how you handle other, bigger crises later in your relationship, or during a marriage. You might ask what could be worse? I asked myself the same question when a boyfriend broke up with me during a time of crisis (and a friend pointed out that it was better to have it happen then than during a worse crisis later during a marriage). But 15 years later and now happily married (different guy), I can see how so many additional things could happen: you yourself could become ill; one or both of you might be faced with caring for an aging and/or sick parent, you could have a special needs child, you could ache for a child and not be able to have one, you could lose a parent, you could lose a child, extreme financial trouble could befall you. If you can't work this one out, I don't think you'd be able to get through other crises later on. But if you're able to get through this TOGETHER, it might lay a foundation of strength and communication for surmounting other, bigger obstacles later in life.

    I, too, think your boyfriend sounds clinically depressed. The symptoms you describe are consistent (physical pain, general slowing down, fatigue, lack of interest in fun, sex, people, socializing). He needs to work with a counselor and strongly consider medication, especially if he's been this way for a year. If he's already on meds, then they're not working, and he should talk with his doctor about switching. And I agree with others who recommend couples counseling.

    If you can get through this together, you may end up stronger as a couple for it. But together means both of you giving 110%, not one person 75% and one person 25%, or even 50-50. You shouldn't leave him just because he's sick, but whether he's sick or well, you shouldn't be doing all of the work in the relationship.

    Posted by herbsintheburbs August 5, 09 10:42 PM
  1. Hey EastCoastGirl,

    You wrote:

    serious lack of morals here.
    serious degree of selfishness.
    a committed/serious relationship should be as committed/serious as marriage.
    it is sick how some people will abandon and manipulate principals this to justify their own selfish actions.

    IT'S NOT A MARRIAGE YOU MORON, THAT"S THE WHOLE POINT!!!

    Posted by aj August 5, 09 11:46 PM
  1. Just goes to show that people are seldom truly committed to one another -- very typical of what's wrong with American culture. And Meredith, I think you should resign from doing this "column" -- you are clearly biased and almost always take the side of the female -- so your advice often s*cks. As a female, I think you are doing a disservice to both women and men. Polish up that resume, because I see a future for you in doggie day care.

    Posted by Chloe-OBrien August 6, 09 07:13 AM
  1. Come on, how is that much different from taking some poor guy to the cleaners in divorce court. You know how it goes, you just turn it off and pretend like you never even knew them.....

    Posted by experienced August 6, 09 07:24 AM
  1. You are 24. You did consider marrying him, but you did NOT marry him. You deserve a life. And he needs you to leave. He needs to learn to stand on his own two feet, and with you there he never can.

    It's not wrong to want a life. It's not wrong to leave. You know what you must do.

    Posted by VF August 6, 09 07:27 AM
  1. You ARE in a committed relationship, vows or not, young or old. Seek counseling and if he is unwilling and you can honestly say you tried everything then consider leaving.

    What will you do if in 5 or 10 years you are in fact married and that man gets sick or in an accident?

    This attitude bothers me, move in together and don't take vows so you have an easier exit route???

    Posted by Mom August 6, 09 07:55 AM
  1. Being someone who IS sick and someone who cared for a sick friend, I have to tell you to take care of yourself first. You are young, not married and need to leave and live your life. I know what its like to be a caregiver, and I know how unfair it can be. I also know how he feels - ill, lonely, etc. and I wouldn't subject anyone to my illness who wouldn't know full on what to expect. I would rather be alone, than burden someone with the daily depression, pain and symptoms that i have to deal with. Explain to him why you need to leave. Its not his fault he got sick, and its not your fault that you want to leave. Don't let him guilt trip you into staying. He has to realize that you have needs too and the right to be happy. Go! Do not feel guilty. You are not married.

    Posted by tb August 6, 09 07:59 AM
  1. I first want to comment on the "Go be 24" part of this discussion. I was married for a year when I was 24. My husband and I had been together since we were 17 and 16 (respectively). He was and continues to be my best friend, my best support system and the man I love. That we were young when we started together NEVER made me feel like I was missing out on something in such a way that I wanted to leave. No, I never had casual sex with someone I just met, I never went out to a bar to play the field and I never dated around. I "missed out" on these things... but that's it. I went out, enjoyed my friends, traveled, lived on my own and then got to really, deeply enjoy moving in with my husband.

    In short S&H (and other readers) this isn't about age, not really anyway. It doesn't matter if you are 24 or 42 or 124 you're wasting your life. No one should have to do that. Yes, your boy friend is sick. People should still be able to come over. He can play games with you. YOU can go out (with him or on your own). You shouldn't feel guilty that you want to enjoy your friends and your life! That isn't unique to being 24. If you haven't already, I would try couples therapy. It sounds like you love each other and you might feel even more guilty in leaving if you don't try everything. I would move out though, have him find a new caretaker work on your relationship and not on his health.

    Posted by Liz August 6, 09 08:01 AM
  1. bail

    Posted by rocket August 6, 09 08:10 AM
  1. S&H mentioned that he's been sick for some time but that things have declined, and obviously she could not foresee this turn of events. Why should she have to sacrifice her own dreams? If he loves her he will stop being selfish and let her move on with her life. It's not all about him - there are two people in this relationship.

    Posted by Canyourelate August 6, 09 08:22 AM
  1. Yikes!!! This situation is so morbid, even I can't make jokes about it. Although I have never been in this situation, I know of a few who have. This guy is practicing "Psychological Abuse" on you; you may not realize it, but it is true. He will drag you down with him, because misery loves company. You are not Married, you are not even Engaged; so whatever you do, do not pursue a future with him, although I guarantee he will try to "Guilt" you into it (again I have seen this a few times). You are only 24, and at that age you are still finding yourself; if you feel this miserable now, how do you think you will feel at 34? Move out, get your own place; afterward if you still have feelings for him, tell him to get psychiatric counseling (and then maybe after a few months of solo Therapy you can join him for a few sessions, and see if that goes anywhere...).

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 August 6, 09 08:55 AM
  1. Ah yes, yet again, the lemmings jump into the “leave the loser NOW” mob. Did you really read the letter? To be blunt, in between trying way to hard to convince us that she’s done everything that she can, LW has left too many unanswered questions to properly set us up to dispense advice.

    What is the illness? Have you been involved and proactive in the medical process? Have you spoken to his family about your concerns, fears, etc.? Have you sought their assistance? Have you spoken to his doctor? How long has he been on medication for depression? Is it working? If not, has this been communicated to his doctor? There are at least a dozen more questions that spring to mind.

    There are far too many questions and concerns I have about the WHOLE PICTURE and not just the “I’m 24 and my boyfriend has given up on life and I want out” depiction that LW has provided us with. It seems like there is some middle ground that needs to be explored. As inconvenient as it is to many of the lynch mob, there are a whole range of things that can be done in between the current situation (i.e. she keeps trying to motivate him, lots of one on one talk that’s getting nowhere) and the clean break (“start packing now, leave him this weekend and never speak to him again”) nonsense. It won’t be easy and it very well may not work, but LW needs to reach out to others and do more work with her boyfriend. This is not a roommate or casual friend that you can just cast aside like a banana peel because you feel burdened by the current situation.

    - Hoss

    Posted by Hoss August 6, 09 08:55 AM
  1. I'm a day late in responding. I've re-read your letter and the responses. It's either a win-win situation or a no win situation all around, either one stinks. If you leave, you'll feel guilty, especially if he MAKES you feel guilty, not to mention your friends, family, et al. If you leave, you MUST make him understand that you didn't sign on for all of this so early into the relationship and although you love him, you need more than just being the giver. If you don't leave, eventually you will HATE him, HATE yourself and become a very angry and bitter person for being trapped in the relationship. It's very tough, and I am sorry you're going through this, but at your age, there is no reason why you have to stay in a relationship that is clearly not working for either of you. My best to you.

    Posted by californiadreamin August 6, 09 09:15 AM
  1. Is this guy, Rico (post 26) the very BF? It looks like him writing!

    I am living in a very simmilar situation, and thinking about leaving. I am pretty sure it will be for the best.

    Posted by Livingstone Pinto August 6, 09 09:19 AM
  1. I agree with #46, it sounds like MS. If that is the case, the couple should go to thisisms dot com forums for help and advice. I am the partner of a man like she describes, but my man has made an effort to do as much as he can. It was not always like this; there are stages to go through, before acceptance and perhaps treatment, and it is important to be understanding. It is not an easy situation, and it gets harder as time goes by, The depression is the hardest aspect to deal with. If it hadn't been for our daughter, I don't know if I would have made it through that time, but now things are good and I am glad that I stood by him.

    Posted by Been There August 6, 09 09:20 AM
  1. He's immobile, so he can't run after you. That should make it easier.

    Posted by georgie August 6, 09 09:24 AM
  1. You state that you are both working so I infer that he is not totally helpless in caring for himself. There are support groups, agencies, etc to help him deal with a chronic condition. I have a severely disabled adult daughter for whom it is a matter of personal pride to be as independent as possible. Your boyfriend sounds like a manipulative whiner. He needs to learn how to deal with his condition in a responsible adult manner. There can still be joy in life, including the possibility of a romantic relationship. after he has dealt with his depression. I think you should leave & let him get on with successfully adapting to his condition.

    Posted by The Olde Girl August 6, 09 09:36 AM
  1. There seem to be a lot of two sorts of posts here. Lots of "she says she loves him, but she's taking off at the first sign of trouble". How insensitive. Clearly she does love him, or the decision of whether and how to keep her relationship going wouldn't be so difficult for her. She has every reason to consider leaving - it's a sad situation for everyone, and her boyfriend isn't making it easier by not doing what he can still do to live his life and be with her.

    On the other hand, there's also an awful lot of "she's not married, so she doesn't owe him anything." Somehow I don't think it makes a huge difference to the LW whether or not she's married to him. The point is that she loves him and it sounds like up until he really got sick they were incredibly happy together. Considering whether to walk away from that is absolutely gut-wrenching, and wedding vows or none won't change that.

    LW, if you still love him as much as it sounds like you do, give this every chance you can if you have it in you. He's not making this easy, but he does need you, and I think it's still possible to pull him out of this and begin to recover the great relationship you had. He just needs more help than you can give him. As others have said, get his family involved if that's an option, see a counselor, and see if you can get more involved with his doctors and treatment plans. Tell him that you love him as much as ever, but the only way you can get through this is if he's willing to get more help and pull his life back together. I feel for you and wish you all the best.

    Posted by Lala August 6, 09 09:55 AM
  1. I have to respond to Steve (#8). I don’t know if you are one of those “marriage is just a piece of paper” people, but it does show a level of commitment. These two are not married. They have not made a “for better or worse” commitment. If she didn’t have a problem with the relationship, she would not be writing to Meredith. Her problem is that she is feeling terribly guilty for even considering leaving her boyfriend while he is ill. Guilt, however, should not be the driving force behind a relationship. Instinctively, she knows she has to get out. It is difficult for her because it is a long-term relationship. If she doesn’t, however, she will end up a lonely, middle-aged spinster full of resentment. At 24, she has her whole life ahead of her. He is not what she is looking for. She already knows she has to leave; what she needs now is the courage to do so.

    Posted by Robantha August 6, 09 10:13 AM
  1. CALL 911 !

    Posted by 911 August 6, 09 10:18 AM
  1. #181
    'You ARE in a committed relationship, vows or not, young or old. Seek counseling and if he is unwilling and you can honestly say you tried everything then consider leaving.'
    how is he UNWILLING ? ask him again ?
    have you left him last week and back again with him this week ?

    'What will you do if in 5 or 10 years you are in fact married and that man gets sick or in an accident?'
    CALL 911 , people call it HOSPITAL for nothing!

    This attitude bothers me, move in together and don't take vows so you have an easier exit route???
    TELL HIM that it bothers you.
    GET all medical records/go to nearest hospital NOW!
    VOWS - Even if you take it, people get divorced and won't mean anything at all.
    get your medical information in line!


    Posted by Bothers you, what are you doing about it ? August 6, 09 10:22 AM
  1. You have the right to do wahtever you'd like- we for the tim ebeing still have a little free will left in our society. But I think the deeper issue she's asking about is - am I allowed to leave and still be in the right- will it be acceptable for me to justify my abandoning someone I made a commitment to (albeit a personal, rather than legal, one?). And that is harder to answer. I do believe when the genders are reversed in this situation we NEVER let the man off the hook- hes portrayed as disloyal, afriad of commitment, abandoning resposibility. Men have the same right to be happy...

    Posted by bob August 6, 09 10:27 AM
  1. Common law marriage ?
    it is not legal in many states.
    once you there's cheating, all vows are thrown into the gutter,
    you got into this relationship-pit, you get out of it!

    Posted by my foot to VOWS! August 6, 09 10:27 AM
  1. Thankfully you are wise and mature beyond your years to see the whole scenario for what it is. This situation will never change. Although depression is a serious condition, the person who has it also needs to pull his knickers up and make the choice to live again. With medication and therapy he can rise from the depths of depression ... but it's a choice he has to make and obviously he'd rather continue his self-pity party. From someone who has had a very similar scenario for 8+ years, my advice to you is change it TODAY. Leave now and begin your own life again, and you will be amazed at how the guilt will go away with a little time. You did not come into this world owing him or any other person your life/soul.

    Posted by Cynthia August 6, 09 10:29 AM
  1. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last FOREVER!!!!

    Posted by 4everstuck August 6, 09 10:31 AM
  1. I feel for you...I am around your age, in a loving relationship with a guy I have been with since high school. I do not know what I would do if I was in your situation and I hope I never find out first hand. With that said I must say that I work in a home with individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health issues, as well as other serious medical issues. I chose to be the director and give 50+ hours a week, plus being on call 24/7 when not in the office to care for these individuals...but that is just it...this is my job, what I get paid for, this is not my life. I get to go home to a loving, caring, attentive boyfriend and I think you deserve the same. I wish you luck. Follow your heart. At the end of the day you are the only one that knows what is right for you, and for your life.

    Posted by wishingyouluck August 6, 09 10:38 AM
  1. Technically speaking, you had not yet uttered the words:
    "in sickness and in health..."

    Posted by Schilling Fan August 6, 09 11:02 AM
  1. First of all, I would want to know WHY he is sick. Is it induced by his own lethargy or is it a legitimate medical and sporadic condition that was unpreventable?

    Second, I think even though he's sick, he is also being a downer and impacting your life. THere are plenty of "sick" people out there that are able to keep a positive attitude.

    I think you should leave him because he's a depressing person to be around, and it's his DEPRESSION, not his medical condition that is causing the negativity . Sure, he could be depressed because of his medical condition, but that is still something he needs tow work on.

    So, do you want to go out and party sometime?

    Posted by YouAreAllMySons August 6, 09 11:02 AM
  1. I met my current fiance as I was suffering through a chronic illness of my own, suffering through the depression, physical ailments and feelings of inadequacy. I had dated other women through all this but no one like her. She was such a ray of light and had such a great sense of life to her. I already had my own motivation to get better because I was only 25 but she was the extra gear I needed to do so. She stayed by my side even though at the time I had no job, no money, and all the other problems I listed above. She saw something inside me that was worth while and things that about myself I had long forgotten. Give things with your boyfriend a chance if you really love him and be that light for him. Help him find the person you know he is and can be. You will both be better people for it and he will always have a great appreciation for you for sticking by his side. You might learn something about yourself as well.

    Posted by MD-NB August 6, 09 11:23 AM
  1. Can't bring myself to read ALL of the above, so maybe this is a duplicate.

    I'm not going to judge or tell you what to do without knowing more.

    However, if he hasn't been treated for depression very long, and he's trying antidepressants, you may be surprised how much difference there may be in a few months, and possibly in a few weeks. And sometimes there is chronic pain that lifts with the depression. I've seen this with people I know. The first one may not work, and it takes some weeks just to see if it will work. (Like 6 or 8 weeks, sometimes.) It's not going to lift all at once, but big changes are possible quickly, and further changes over more time. Then again, I've read that in a few cases the docs can't find a med that works.

    Posted by LR August 6, 09 11:29 AM
  1. If she is not willing to marry him now, then she should leave now.

    Posted by chuicuito August 6, 09 11:33 AM
  1. It doesn't sound like you're actually in a relationship anymore anyways. He'll deal.

    Posted by Atticus Black August 6, 09 11:35 AM
  1. I have a friend who I have known for over 10 years now, and she was in this same exact situation. She moved to the Boston area from NYC and then fell in love. They dated for 2 years, then they moved into together. 2 years later, he gets a brain tumor. He slowly degraded to the point where he couldn't even tie his shoelaces. She stuck by his side. When he got to the point of hospitalization, his Family came in and pushed her away. They forced her to leave and get on with her life, even though she wanted to stay with him. This made him even worse. While she left at his parents forceful request, he would constantly ask for her and plea to have her back. A few months later he passed away at the age of 26. I honestly believe he lasted as long as he did because of her.

    You need to talk to him. Tell him how you feel. You are only 24 years old and you should be enjoying your lives, not living in sickness. Honestly, I think it comes down to the level of his sickness..... if he is just depressed, he needs to snap out it for the both of you. You two need to talk about it, so he know how much this is hurting you and your relationship.

    Posted by Communication is Key August 6, 09 11:36 AM
  1. I dated someone for a time who had medical problems. He was often in pain which led to cancelling fun plans, or I would be the one doing all the work (driving because he was on pain meds). I even picked up his pain meds once and when I in turn asked him for an important favor, he turned me down with no problem. In the end, we broke up for other reasons unrelated to his illness. Before we broke up (he actually initiated it), I wasn't sure if I could break up with him. I thought, what a horrible person I'd be if I left someone who was ill. The truth was, he was an awful boyfriend, and the health problem was a small part of it. As for you, you are not married. You are not his wife. In fact, he is treating you like a nurse maid, not a girlfriend. You sound like me - you have done everything in your power to make it work and to encourage him to enjoy his life, but due to his depression, he can't get out from under that rock. I say, talk to him, tell him what you are thinking, but ideally, it may be best for you to move on. Good luck with the decision you choose.

    Posted by Newly Single August 6, 09 11:39 AM
  1. Yes, she should leave. Her boyfriend isn't doing what he could do to make the relationship better and is heavily relying on her to pull the load. That is dishonest!

    She doesn't have to make any excuses here. He is not pulling his share of the load. He is not "available" for any relationship right now. It is up to him to do what he needs to do to make himself "available" or stay out of one until he is.

    Posted by BoomersRock August 6, 09 11:54 AM
  1. This is a very sad situation for both of them. Perhaps theraphy can help both of them get on with their lives... as fragile as it is... Sickness is difficult to come to terms with..
    I find Rico's comments negative and with a lack of compassion...It's not all about sex ... Grow up. Peggy

    Posted by Anonymous August 6, 09 11:59 AM
  1. Sounds to me like you have already made your decision and are looking to Love Letters for valdiation. Hoss is right, there are too many pieces of info missing to provide constructive feedback. One final thought, perhaps you are guilty of enabling his self-pitying behavior, which is probably excaserbating his depression.

    Posted by RealityChic August 6, 09 12:00 PM
  1. She should stay and take care of him, because if she leaves then that means the state will have to foot the bill.

    Posted by Dz August 6, 09 12:02 PM
  1. I've suffered from depression and there were times when my ex-wife was the only one I wanted to see or talk to. We did not go out much and she became my whole world.
    But I later came to see how unfair that was to her. *I* made her my whole world, but I did it by stealing her away from the rest of *her* world.
    Once I recognized that, I did everything I could to alleviate things for her and things got better.
    We didn't get divorced over that...there were other issues, but that's not the subject of this letter.
    If you still have romantic feelings for him, then by all means talk to him and tell him your feelings and how you're being overwhelmed.
    If you don't then, leave and let him know why. You deserve to be happy and contrary to what anybody else thinks, that includes even married people.

    Posted by Knotdefined August 6, 09 12:07 PM
  1. You are a grown woman at 24. People are treating you like a child.

    You were in love with him and now remember that you were in love with him. You feel bad because these are real emotions. Your reason is telling you that you need to give yourself a chance. Listen to that voice. Know that you are not bad for doing it. You could have broken up for any number of things in the very near future as most couples do. If you did not leave, he may have left you. You were not committed. You are not bad for doing it. Perhaps you should help him put a support system in place with family, his friends and the state. Then step away.

    Posted by IamChachi August 6, 09 12:13 PM
  1. I had a similar situation, moved out, and was the best decision of my life. I met a girl, very athletic, had similar interests, and had a great time together. After 3 years of dating and living together for a year she developed a bone/joint degenerative condition that prevented her from enjoying the things we did together. I was paying for everything, doing all the work around the appartment, and basically being miserable. I felt like a nurse most of the time and she just sat around talking on the phone and doing nothing. She ended up gaining 30-50 lbs and our bedroom life was nonexistant.
    I left her and met the love of my life, married, and enjoying every minute of it. If I were you I would do the same.

    Posted by ubet August 6, 09 12:38 PM
  1. If you were married, it would be one thing.

    And it answered the question about your love for him.

    If you did truly love him, you wouldn't leave.

    You care about him, but you don't love him unconditionally.

    Let him go.

    Posted by dd August 6, 09 01:10 PM
  1. In this extreme situation and given their ages, I feel your advice is the best way to handle this. It's a very unfortunate and sad situation, but two lives shouldn't have to be ruined.

    Posted by kmpurdy August 6, 09 01:13 PM
  1. In this extreme situation and given their ages, I feel your advice is the best way to handle this. It's a very unfortunate and sad situation, but two lives shouldn't have to be ruined.

    Posted by kmpurdy August 6, 09 01:15 PM
  1. Most of you 20 somethings are selfish and only look out for number 1. You can get away with this for a while and it's not all your fault because your parents probably told you how great you were all your life and you don't know any better. I feel bad for you're parents, when they need you in 20 years you'll have no skills to help them, no built in caring mechanism, and they'll get exactly what they taught you. NOTHING

    Posted by Anonymous August 6, 09 01:21 PM
  1. Have you put the shoe on the other foot, any of you "get out now" types? I hope you never fall in love and get sick, so you can watch the love of your life coldly walk away because, hey, it's not a picnic anymore. I can go be happy with this chick over here. Duhhhhh.... bye. Love, oh, that's just some meaningless, formless concept that has a two year shelf life, max. Or perhaps your brand of love is a directly derived concoction based on emotional compatibility, common interests, equality of looks and health and a mutually agreed upon bottom line. What lovely people. What boring people. What inhuman people. Afterall, it's not about the journey anymore is it, it's about goal attainment. Yuck. There's a better way, you're all just too lazy or to stupid to go find it. I continue to be glad I don't know any of you.

    Posted by hippydippy August 6, 09 01:30 PM
  1. If you really love him, you need to talk to him and tell him that you need him to work on what you need from the relationship. Should you leave him just because he is sick? NO. Should you leave him if he repeatedly doesn't make any effort for you to be happy? YES.

    Posted by yello August 6, 09 01:30 PM
  1. You are not married to him yet. You are not his mom, nor his nurse. Your use of "best friends" in describing your relationship indicates that your relationship does not elevated above the usual girlfriend-boyfriend thing. Help him to setup a viable support system and then say sorry and goodbye.

    You are not a bad person for leaving in this situation. Some other girls will not have given a thought before they leave. Staying in a situation that you don't want to will make neither of you happy. In fact, if I were the guy who loves you, I would have asked you to leave. It is the right thing to do.

    Posted by Sad August 6, 09 01:39 PM
  1. Does anybody care to hear his side of the story before commenting? Perhaps he is depressed not because of his illness, but because he is stuck in a relationship with her and feels it is unfair to bail out on her. Perhaps their home has become less social because she run off all his friends.

    Posted by Alex August 6, 09 02:40 PM
  1. There are many facets to love, none of which is Guilt. There is romance, commitment, friendship, sex.... If the primary reason for staying together is Guilt, then the relationship is already over, even if you are physically together. You feel guilty for wanting to leave, and he should feel guilty for making you stay, or maybe he's using guilt to make you stay. Either way, its not love, nor is that friendship. The answer is simple, you have to part ways. You can still be supportive as a friend, but at 24 you have plenty more things you need to do and experience instead of being a Care-Taker for the next 50 years. Your parents will need you for that within the next 20 30 years also. Don't waste your life, happiness should go both ways in a relationship. Love is not about only responsbility and guilt.

    Posted by JohnTheReviewer August 6, 09 03:34 PM
  1. Hippydippy-
    Yes, if I were the sick one, I would want my boyfriend to leave if he was miserable, unhappy and thought his life was nothing but a neverending cycle of monotonous TV viewing and indentured servitude. I do not ever want my boyfriend to feel he "has" to stay with me because it's what "everyone says is the right thing" to do.
    And to those who say a "committed relationship =s marriage", all I can say is no, nope, sorry, that's wrong. Marriage is two people legally binding themselves together. A committed serious relationship is two people who do not formalize their relationship. When push comes to shove, legally binding marriage vows tend to prove stronger than cursory promises made in the heat of the moment.
    It is not selfish or cowardly of the letter-writer toend this relationship if it is the right thing for her. It is more selfish and cowardly to deny anything is wrong and let the boyfriend continue to live with her under the delusion she wants to be with him.

    Posted by Miss J August 6, 09 03:43 PM
  1. You need to do what will make you happy. It will be extremely difficult to break it off with him, but you have obligations to yourself to be happy and to the people you love to be honest and open with them. It sounds like your boyfriend is not capable of loving another in a serious relationship right now. He's afraid of change, he's afraid of being alone, and he's afriad of not having someone to take care of him. That's not love. He may think and say he loves you, but with the depression and health issues going on, he needs to focus on himself and learn to love himself again first.

    Posted by Blake August 6, 09 08:44 PM
  1. Miss J - You are right, a committed relationship is not exactly equal to marriage - there is something more in making that formal commitment that I think is very meaningful. But I think a lot of people in committed relationships would take issue with your "cursory promises made in the heat of the moment" statement. I've been with my boyfriend for almost 10 years. I do want to get married someday soon, but the reasons we are not married yet are no one's business but ours.

    To imply that, in the absence of "legally binding marriage vows", a couple's commitment to one another amounts to no more than an insincere "heat of the moment" promise is insulting and rather sadly naive. The legal vows don't mean much without enough love, respect, and commitment to go through life together. A couple doesn't just come upon all that the moment they take their vows - they have to have it already, otherwise they have no business getting married. It sounds like the LW's relationship with her boyfriend had and maybe still has all that love, respect, and commitment - marriage or not - and I think that, and not a legal ceremony, is what matters to her in this decision she has to make. I hope that their commitment to each other will survive this tough time they're going through.

    Posted by Lala August 7, 09 09:11 AM
  1. I've been walk out on "sick" person that I didn't like see things going on with her life. That's not the life style I'm looking for if I stay with her. She's been depressed by her failed marriage, heavy debt, long sleep hours, lack of energy, lack of interest for going out, etc. Since the walk out, I found the right partner that gave me better hope in the future as we're on same page about everything in life.

    You deserved better with someone else that give you better hopes. Your soon to be partner happened not have best mental health in his young age. That's his loss if you walk out right after you been patient with him (hope for improvement-not happen yet).

    Posted by KL August 10, 09 04:13 PM
  1. I've been walk out on "sick" person that I didn't like see things going on with her life. That's not the life style I'm looking for if I stay with her. She's been depressed by her failed marriage, heavy debt, long sleep hours, lack of energy, lack of interest for going out, etc. Since the walk out, I found the right partner that gave me better hope in the future as we're on same page about everything in life.

    You deserved better with someone else that give you better hopes. Your soon to be partner happened not have best mental health in his young age. That's his loss if you walk out right after you been patient with him (hope for improvement-not happen yet).

    Posted by KL August 10, 09 05:46 PM
  1. It makes me sad that so many people think that we should just look out for ourselves. Love, real love, is the most important thing in life. People we love aren't always easy to get along with. Depression is killer, and so is chronic physical illness.

    People are saying you can leave this person because you didn't say the vows of marriage. I've seen this happen, that people form these relationships without marriage, and then find that when bad times hit it does matter, because no vow was said, so legally, and by social mores, the person closest to you has no obligation to help or to stay. This to me is more an argument for marriage than against staying.

    Do you really love this person? Do you really, truly in your heart think he is better off with you? Do you think he would stay with you, if the roles were reversed? If so then stay. Stay, and find ways to help him, and ways to make the best of things. But if you stay, don't do it out of obligation, do it out of love.

    Posted by Erika August 12, 09 05:31 PM
  1. "Dealing with a chronic is miserable." Wow.

    You know, your advice stinks Ms. Goldstein, but your ability to be ignorant and dehumanize millions of people is quite impressive.

    I hope you never have to deal with a chronic illness, but if you do, I hope you're not stuck in a relationship with someone like yourself.

    Posted by Anon August 19, 09 03:13 PM
  1. There are so many comments here, I am sure my input will add little, if it is even read at this point, but I just feel compelled to comment.

    I have Stage IIIc rectal cancer, and have been battling it for over a year and a half. I was diagnosed 5 months after my boyfriend and I moved in together. I had many complications, and indeed fell into a depression as is VERY common with life-threatening illnesses. Do not judge if you have not walked in those shoes.

    My boyfriend did indeed "bail" on me. He could not see any future in which I would get better. He saw only how his life was impacted, and how our present was not what he imagined it to be when we bought our house.

    My advice? Couples therapy. Help him to help himself. Try to understand what he may be going through. Talk to others in the same situation. What you may not understand is he may not HAVE the resources right now to figure out how to help himself. If your relationship was troubled before his illness, that may be one thing. If it was as wonderful as you described, then it is JUST his illness that is driving you away. Think about that for a moment.

    Is this fatal? Is there any chance there is a way to find a loving life in there? EVEN THOUGH it might be different than you had planned?

    Don't just walk away. Step up and try to live in his world for a moment. Do everything you can if you love him.

    Posted by Anonymous August 27, 09 11:32 AM
  1. fallen love with a married man i love him very deeply an madly as i am an introvert person cant express the whole situation to him can u hepl me.

    Posted by dipalipathak September 5, 09 01:12 AM
 
ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

Ask us a question

Required
Required
archives