Should I Leave Him Alone?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My boyfriend and I have always known he suffered from depression. His therapist recommended that he break up with me so that he could work out his own issues alone. I am willing to do whatever he needs me to do in order to help him, even if that means leaving him alone.

The trouble is, he still wants to remain close friends. This is difficult for me because I want to be there for him, but I can’t just set aside my feelings for him and be “just friends” very easily. I am still in love with him.

Should I be friends with him in the hopes that he’ll recover eventually and want to resume our relationship? Do I abandon him because it would give me a chance to get over him? What if I support him for a long time and then he finds somebody else? I don’t know what to do that will hurt both of us the least.

A: “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words” ― Shania Twain, “From This Moment On”

I can feel how difficult this is for you. Being in love with a depressed person can be one of the more challenging experiences in a relationship.

But you would not be abandoning him by honoring his request and not putting yourself in the turmoil of a friendship. If his decision is to break up because of his depression then this must free you to date others. To put your life on hold waiting for him has both of you in orbit about his well-being. This is not good for either of you.

Friendship does not mean you cannot date nor should it. What your boyfriend is conveying to you by making this decision is clear: he cannot be in a romantic relationship with you. I would accept that, begin dating, and allow him the opportunity of dealing with managing his life. When need be you can be the friend he needs and sing his song back to him.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Aug 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Should I Leave Him Alone?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/13/should-i-leave-him-alone/