I have been in a relationship for 3 years. at one point we broke up for a time because he felt like it was time to get married or we should break up. so he broke up with me, because he felt like he was not able to commit to marriage. we spent a year apart. he took that time to decide if he could go ahead with marriage. he came back to me and said he wanted to get back together and get married the next year. but he wanted to ease back into a relationship first. 2 months later his mother had a massive stroke and almost died. she is now in need of care. she can’t yet walk, but we are hoping…..so there is a lot of time that he and his brother are putting into it. so we put the marriage thing on hold for a bit. then this past march. we talked about it and decided to book a place for next march. he said we would get engaged “now”. well, 5 months later, no ring, no proposal. i asked him about it a few times and he dodged the question. we went on vacation to aruba. had an amazing time. when we got back, i asked about the proposal….because i expected a proposal on the trip….especially since the wedding is 7 months away. he said he is just not ready. so i told him i was leaving. i mean. these were things that we planned. he asked me not to go. i told him he could have 2 weeks. 2 weeks to see if he could actually propose because he wanted to….not just to keep me from leaving. well, we talked 2 weeks later. and he said he just can’t do it. he is terrified that it won’t last. said he loves me, i’m his best friend, he wants to protect me and take care of me, he knows i’ll be a good mother and wife, loves that i take care of him and know him so well, we have a great time together. he doesn’t wanna hurt me.
he talked to his brother. his brother said that if there is something holding him back…he shouldn’t proceed because he will end up hurting me and it’s not fair to me.
problem is…..he is unhappy. has been depressed for probably 20+ years. does not form lasting relationships. i am his only friend besides his brother. only ever has one friend at a time. usually a female. one that he feels needs taking care of. he is so unhappy. just mildly. is able to work. but that is about it. he doesn’t do anything else. doesn’t work out. smokes. he is never truly happy. can’t make a decision about his own life…..but is able to make decisions at work. does not do anything socially. does not talk about his feelings. when i left his house for the last time, he told me i was his only friend. and he wasn’t talking to me about things, so i know he wasn’t talking to anyone. he is a physician and knows he is depressed. knows he needs help. but won’t do anything about it. he changed his mind about 5-7 times about us being together. it is emotionally hard on me. i have been asking him to get help for over 2 years. i feel like he is self destructive. the only thing keeping him from drowning right now is his responsibility to his mother. to taking care of her right now.
i know that there is not really any hope for us….even though we discussed getting married. had plans. had the wedding planned. knew where we wanted to go on our honeymoon. talked about our future kids. where we would buy a house. and these things he talked openly about. without pressure from me. i just don’t think i could trust him not to run again. a marriage is hard and i want someone that is going to stay and fight. i know if we did get married. he would over analyze everything and convince himself that things were bad because he is so unhappy. so i know there is no hope for us. but i so want him to get help. what can i do to help? i hate to see someone that i dearly love doing this to himself.
A. What can you do to help? Discuss your concerns with him. Suggest that he attend counseling. Counseling could help him address his longstanding issues. If you are willing, you could also be part of the counseling process in some capacity. For example, you could offer to help him find a therapist, drive him to the sessions or simply be a supportive friend while he undergoes therapy. You could also offer to attend some of the sessions with him.
Regarding the relationship, the two of you were essentially setting deadlines for when you “have” to be married. Apparently, you both felt pressured to marry as soon as possible. Why the rush? Why do you have to be married by a certain time? It is unfortunate that two people who love each other ended their relationship prematurely largely because of an artificial deadline. It would have been psychologically healthier, and better for the relationship, if there had not been a rush to be married. I would have encouraged you to stop focusing on a marriage deadline and to have let the relationship develop naturally.
Throughout your letter you refer to your ex as a friend but I suspect you may continue to think of him as a potential spouse. If that is true, it is understandable. If you love someone it is difficult to let them go.
I believe you both could benefit from counseling, couples counseling to save the relationship or one-on-one counseling to address individual issues. Should you decide to give the relationship another chance, don’t focus on marriage. Simply enjoy each other’s company. There is ample time to be married in the future. I wish you and your ex the best of luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Sep 2009
Randle, K. (2009). Depression of a Friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/09/10/depression-of-a-friend/