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 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.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). Should I Leave Him Alone?. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/13/should-i-leave-him-alone/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.