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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is my break-up real, or is it his depression talking?

    My boyfriend of 15 years left me yesterday. He told me he loves me but he does not think the relationship is working for either of us anymore.

    The thing is, he has suffered from severe depression for the past two years. It took us a long time to recognise, but he is seeing a psychologist once a week for the last year and is on medication. He did this last year, but came back after a few days, saying it was his depression talking.

    As far as I know this year we have been growing a lot closer, working hard.

    It has not been easy, and is not what it was. He tells me he loves me, but only touches me when I reach out. Sex does not happen. He is emotionally distant, but says that he has very positive meetings with his psychologist. Then out of the blue he drove home in the middle of the day and said he cant do this anymore.

    I think Christmas might be a trigger because it happened last Christmas and this time of year has always been a hard time for him. Do I hope, or do I mourn?
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  • 1

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    Jeremy Barbouttis

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist, Sex Therapist

    Jeremy is an expert in Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, Sex Therapy, Relationships & Addictions. Jeremy is a Clinical Supervisor with the Australian Hypnotherapists Association.Specialisations: Stop Smoking Hypnosis, ... View Profile

    It is not a good feeling working at a relationship and then to see all of your hopes dashed by your boyfriend doing something like this. I would talk to him and keep talking to help identify any patterns or triggers, and to be aware of these. Ask him about his depression and how it was ‘talking’ if it indeed was. I would also ask him what changed that made him come back after a couple of days. What was it like being away? Have you discussed the lack of sexual activity? 

    I notice you begin your question with a statement that you feel the relationship is not working for either of you anymore. What do you want in the relationship? Is this something you want to continue with? Have you asked him directly about what he wants to do with the relationship?

    After an experience like this one, you would be wondering about the relationship and where it stands. That is where you might think about talking to someone to help work it out. You could speaking to a relationship therapist to help you both work things out and what to do either way. Whatever you decide, they can help you either get things working better or transition out of the relationship.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Ash Rehn

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Sex Therapist, Social Worker

    Mental Health Medicare Provider of focussed psychological strategies, Counsellor & Therapist specialising in ‘sex addiction’, pornography issues, gay counselling, online therapy. For more information: www.ForwardTherapy.com View Profile

    It sounds like Christmas is a difficult time for him, particularly if something similar happened last year as well. Is the door open for him to return to you? Have you made this clear if it is how you feel?

    One thing I sometimes suggest to people in similar situations is that they (ie you) meet with a counsellor / therapist who would be ok with inviting your boyfriend in as a consultant to your own therapy sessions. In other words, you invite your boyfriend to accompany you to, or sit in on, the sessions and let him know that you would appreciate his contribution. One way to put this to him is that the sessions are for YOU but it might help YOU in your own life if he could contribute to, or be present at, the sessions because he knows you well. I have worked with many couples in this way. When partners are no longer described as, or see themselves as, ‘the problem’ but instead as helpful supporters to finding solutions, they often gain a new sense of themselves as useful, helpful and important in the other's life.

    I wish you and your boyfriend all the best in finding a way forward.

  • I am a psychologist in private practice.I also lecture and supervise psychologists/psychology students at University.I work with clients who suffer from depression and anxiety. I ... View Profile

    This is a very difficult time for you. On one level it may be that your boyfriend is depressed and he  may well come back as he has done in the past. It may also be that he really broken up with you and he simply had not told you the real reasons for his decision. Either way you are the other person in relationship and you are entitled to think about whether you really want to be with him. Particularily  since he has broken up with you once before. I think from psychological  counselling yourself to help you make a decision about what you really want in a relationship.

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