Q: I've been dating my boyfriend for 1.5 years now. The shortest way of describing our relationship is: the best of the best - and the worst of the worst. I need perspective on how to communicate......
He is incredibly unhappy with his life - works a crappy job which I can testify for because, until recently, I also worked that job. He doesn't do anything except play video games, watch movies, eat and sleep. He has tried really hard (for him) to get out of this routine but somehow he is never in the place emotionally to deal with any of it. He has been at the same job for 6 years almost and it is eating at him. I can see it every time I see him. Recently, we have had a relatively wonderful relationship. I have historically given him too much attention which causes him to back away. I have taken time to understand him as well as myself more and have tried to moderate myself better, but sometimes he begs for attention (not literally, more physically - and usually the type of attention that requires babying him - not romantic etc) and though he begs for attention, in the end he always seems to resent me for giving it to him.
We will make plans and look forward to them for days and then he will show up dazed and glazed, treating me as though I have caused him all his life's pain......and he will silently schlump along with me as though he resents me for dragging him around. He rarely, if ever, vocally advocates for himself. After getting half way to our planned date or dinner or whatever - he'll just slow down and stare into space..... leaving me to pry open the gates of conversation which he always acts like he hates - but he never gives me an option... Hours later, I'll say - do you want space?.....and he'll say he supposes he does... and I'll be left to pick up and leave alone - regardless of where we are.
These are somewhat vague details - but this sort of interaction happens often - with varying degrees of severity etc. Until recently (i.e. 3 days ago) we had gone a while without this type of interaction. and now it feels even worse because it reminds me of where we came from - - and I'm scared that we're headed back there. He goes to therapy - though doesn't really seem that inspired or never talks about it as useful - more like an obligation. He talks about EVERYTHING like it's an obligation.
He has a few friends and, once in a while, will get together with them when they plan it. He often talks about wanting to do more with his good friends, but never really follows through with it. He rather spends one day a week with a group of friends he continually reports to me as subpar and boring - controversial...... I don't know why he doesn't put his energies towards better friends when he already had them in his life. These friends he does like always come first if it's a toss up between me and them. He may invite me to participate with them, but he never keeps a plan with me if he has the option of being with them.
All in all, there are some absolutely wonderful aspects of our relationship that I adore.......however After a good long time of battling these aspects of his moodiness and lack of motivation and my reactive smothering - - - thinking we got past it - grew from it - - now it feels like we're back again. I know there is always the potential for relapse - - to have a bad day, a bad week... Sometimes we lose motivation, lose our way.... but I'm beginning to lose my mind. His moods take over our lives and he seems unwilling to seek proper help for it. He always allows me to be with him until he can almost not take it.... and then he dumps me on the side of the road (not literally), wondering what I did.
I have learned to back off, to let him be for a few days... Where I struggle most is how to communicate with him what I need.... How, keeping in consideration his depression and stress, do I talk to him about how he is hurtful? He has never said sorry to me and I have rarely ever seen him act grateful. He seems to be more grateful when he is feeling well - - I suppose that could be something many people have in common - - - gratitude is perhaps hard to express when you don't feel confident or happy with yourself.
Any advise on how to talk to him, how to communicate with him would be welcomed. I feel really alone in this relationship. It is all about him - he never participates with me and my interests etc... and I have come to participate more with him and his interests as it seems one of the only ways to be with him...
This is going on for so long; I am so incredibly frustrated I imagine I could write for a long long time.... Thanks for opening up your minds to hear me out. - L
Hi, Lucy. To be truthful, I'm wondering why you've stuck with this guy for this long. You don't need to "baby" him or tiptoe around his moods because he's depressed. As you said, it sounds like it's always all about him. Well, what about you? If you really are the one who is always making accommodations for him, this isn't a real relationship, you're the caretaker and he's got a great deal going. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but you say he isn't really getting the proper help for his depression. How about medications, is he on any of those? I don't think you should worry about how to communicate with him, just lay it on the table. He may never be able to give you what you need. Sure, things are good sometimes, but it sounds more like waiting around for the "crumbs" when he's occasionally in a better mood. And I wonder how much of this stuff is just part of his personality, such as the lack of motivation and follow-through. You obviously care about him, but it can't be all you giving 100% and him nothing or you will soon grow resentful, if you aren't already.
I'm going to suggest you check out this blog, Storied Mind, to read about depression and relationships. It's written by John Folk-Williams, who has been living and dealing with depression for a long time and has some very down-to-earth perspectives. There are also comments there from other people and you might find it to be very insightful.
What do you think he would say to going to a couples therapist with you? That would be an excellent place to have a discussion like this and then you will more easily see where he's coming from and if there's hope of things getting better.
I wish you all the best, let us know how things are going.
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