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Dealing with a depressed partner

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  December 1, 2011 08:19 AM

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It was a good chat yesterday.

In other news, information has been posted about the next Love Letters contest/event. Please sign up for the Dec. 15 reading and party. It's all about missed connections.


Q: Hi Meredith,

I am a 30-year-old woman who has been married before. My ex-husband was obsessed with video games and basically chose to play them instead of spending any time with me. A few years ago I finally got a divorce and left the situation.

After going on dates here and there, I eventually met my current boyfriend, "Jay," through mutual friends and I felt instantly attracted to him. We started dating and have been together for over two years now. Things have been up and down. We've briefly split up a few times, but things have been great lately and I love him more than anything.

Here comes the problem: We both struggle with depression. Mine is seasonal, while his is sporadic and seems to be more severe. He tends to go through fits of depression where he will sleep all the time. Lately he's been sleeping or playing video games instead of wanting to spend time with me. The problem is that he doesn't realize that it's as bad as it is. When I've gotten upset and said that I feel like I haven't spent much time with him, he thinks I'm being over-dramatic. The other problem is that he hasn't been as attracted to me as he was just a few months ago. He says it's just because he's depressed, but yesterday he said that it's because he's bored with me and doesn't feel like being physical. I asked him if it would always be this way -- because I can't live like that ... so now I'm at an impasse.

At what point does me being understanding and wanting to wait it out through this fit of depression turn into me being a doormat and letting him walk all over me? It's genuinely wearing on me and now I am feeling depressed as well. I love him more than anything and always want to be with him in the future, but is there a future if he doesn't even want to sleep with me anymore?

– Beyond Depressed, Boston


A: BD, you asked him whether it would always be this way. Well …. what was his answer? Is he concerned about these feelings of apathy? Is he seeking treatment for this depression? Is he doing what's necessary to save this relationship? Does he want you around in a year?

Sorry to pepper you with questions, but you should be asking him (and yourself) about all of these issues. I believe that most couples can get through lulls bad patches, but both partners have to put in the effort. You learned in your first marriage that you can't fix a relationship on your own. If Jay isn't willing to help with this, you're doomed.

The big question for Jay is: "What do you propose we do now?" He knows that you can't stay together without having a sexual relationship. He knows that you're unhappy when he's off napping. He either wants to work on finding a compromise and fixing this (which calls for therapy – maybe even with you), or he's willing to let you go.

Get some answers. See what he's capable of. Be honest with yourself about how much you can get done on your own. You can't wait out bad patches for the rest of your life. Depression has to be treated -- yours and his. Are you both getting the treatment and help you need?

Readers? Is this fixable? Should she just leave now? Anyone have advice about dealing with a depressed partner? What's with the video games? Discuss.

– Meredith


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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.

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