Every night that he comes home and winds up browsing the internet for hours, I feel like I'm going to scream.
Am I a nagging worrywort, is my boyfriend mildly depressed, or both? And what's the best way to work on it?
posted by brisquette to human relations (39 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
My boyfriend (Charles) and I have lived together for about two and half years, since he moved to this state. We were thick as thieves to begin with, but as our relationship nicely mellowed we became more okay with not spending all of our time together. However, way back in January we had a discussion about how he needs to reach out and find his own community of some sort. He then had some dramatic medication-related mental health issues that pushed that goal to a back burner while we tangled with the craziness, but around middle of summer stuff felt like it was back to normal, and the lack of friends and interests became an issue.
I feel like Charles doesn't have any friends, really. There's one guy (Joe) who he chats with sometimes who shares a similar background (computer stuff, history, online gaming), but that guy has a freelance sort of web business and I get the impression that they could be closer buddies if Joe wasn't so busy.
I think part of the not-having-friends thing is rooted deeper in a lack of interests. Recently, it seems like unless I make something happen (plan dinner, arrange events), he won't do anything except be on the computer. I'm pretty sure he doesn't play WOW or anything anymore, and it's just random browsing and searches that he uses as a path of least resistance to his evenings.
The last couple of things we did with other people didn't seem to go that well. We went to a large dinner last weekend, and although I know he's not as chatty as I am, even when we were in a circle of three people whose conversation showed them to be funny, nerdy, and non-judgemental, Charles' answers to their questions were flat and monosyllabic, almost. A couple of friends we've hung out with several times were over at our house, and as one of them fixed our guitar (which Charles has talked about learning), Charles sat on the couch in the room, browsing the internet. Later, when our friend offered to teach him a chord, Charles said he was tired and wanted to go to bed.
It seems like it's rooted in a mild depression. He had a really bad experience with a psychiatrist and depression meds, so maybe that's why he doesn't want to admit it?
I just feel like he's not trying anymore. I brought it up a couple weeks ago when we were out (the only people tucked in the side room of a bar), and as I kept asking questions about what he wants to do and what he feels, he wound up getting totally upset and standing up and having a kind of aggressive freakout because I wouldn't let it drop. He was apologetic later and said he'd work on things, but hasn't shown too many signs of following up on the conversation. I've sent several e-mails where I've tried to outline things and not be too accusatory, so I'm not in his face as much and so it gives him time to think about it, but he hasn't responded to those.
When we wake up together in the mornings, he's usually sweet and loving, but by the time he gets home in the evening, or when I come home in the evening, he's usually withdrawn. I asked him about the difference between the two times, and he says he really only looks forward to going to bed, and why do I bother him so much? He only wants to do easy things, other stuff is too hard.
So that kind of sounds like depression, right? But I'm sure it can't help if I just nag about it and make him feel bad. But I'm sick and tired of going through ups and downs, especially when he denies that it's an issue.
The other night, I basically gave him three options.
1.) Move out in January and do his own lazy thing (we wouldn't need to be broken up, neccessarily, he just would need his own space to be in because he's driving me nuts).
2.) Agree there's a problem and set accountable behaviors for us to work on (me giving him space, him getting out of the house), and going though the Feel Good Handbook together.
3.) Agreeing there's a problem but that neither of us have the right tools to solve it, and calling in either a professional or someone we both respect to figure out how to solve things.
He hasn't responded yet.
I'm 26, he's 23. I'm relatively happy where I am (decent job, fledgling creative endeavors that seem to be going good places, pleasant enough rented home), he mostly seems lackluster and like he doesn't care about anything...except sometimes, on the days where he does care about things. Unfortunately it seems like caring about things needs follow through, so when you only care 2 days out of the week, it makes plans difficult.
So am I handling this right? What else should be happening, here? Is it fair to be this annoyed at someone who's probably depressed, because their constant web browsing and withdrawnness is bringing me down when I'm trying to work on my own creative projects and live a normal life? If he agrees to work on things, what should our parameters be?