Asking my depressed boyfriend to move out so we can work on ourselves
July 11, 2015 10:31 AM   Subscribe

My previously solid almost 2 year relationship is hanging by a thread. My bf of almost 2 years has been experiencing a depressive episode since May. I'm thinking of asking him to move out and seeing each other a couple of times a week. This is because his depression is rubbing off on me and I want us to have some space while we work on our issues, which will take time.

We love each other deeply and don’t want to breakup. But, we have been unhappy for about 2 months now, which seems like forever. We worked on our other issues such as my need for control and improving our communication and feel better about where we're at.

The one issue that needs a lot of work now is my bfs depression. He is in a place where he is trying to figure out what he wants in life and be more mature, while fighting depression. I think the way I react to his depression is making both of us feel worse. He has been depressed before for a few days or weeks, and I’ve typically handled it better. But the stress of life events (job stuff, family drama, moving, death) is making it harder to cope with a depressive episode of this length.

Things I do right:
-Understanding he's ill and not taking his actions (withdrawal, lack of communication, overall sadness, lack of energy, and enthusiasm) personal.
-Seeing a therapist weekly
-Reading books about depression recommended on Metafilter
-Staying connected with my friends (could do better)
-Encouraging him to continue his meds and therapy. He’s fighting so hard and I’m very proud of hiim

Things I do wrong
-Acting co-dependent: When he's sad, I try very hard not to feel unhappy. Yet sometimes I fail. Especially because he's been unhappy since May. It’s getting harder for me to find happiness. I’ve never struggled with anxiety but I am feeling quite anxious.
-I don’t know how to not feel bad when he withdraws and doesn't show enthusiasm. I understand it's depression but I'll still ask "are you OK?” “Are you listening to me. You're being really quiet." I'm not taking these behaviours personally. But I can't help vocalizing that I feel bad.
-Obsessing about our relationship even when we're not together and feeling bad that it looks so different now.
-Letting his depression make me feel drained because I'm constantly thinking about it and how to adjust to the new relationship dynamics
-He obviously notices the above and it makes him feel bad to see me feeling this way

My current fears and feelings
-Anxious: relationship falling apart
-Unstable: my boyfriend is constantly feeling up and down, happy and sad, this fluctuation deeply affects me
-Lonely: feeling like my boyfriend can't really be here for me and I can't deeply connect emotionally with him because he's fighting his own battles
-Losing myself: His depression occupies a lot of my mind and I need to pay more attention on myself. I've never been an anxious person before this.

His depression doesn't have to make me feel this way. I'm doing some things right but the things I do wrong leave a very negative impact.

What I could benefit from:
-I want to learn to detach myself from his mood. Learn to be happy regardless of if he's happy. Learn to get out of bed and carry on my day although he's slept for 10 hrs and I want to wake him up.
-Stop constantly talking to him about him making me unhappy which makes him feel like he's doing it to me. I like to talk about my feelings as a way to process and make myself feel better. But I need to give him space to be depressed, work on himself and not worry about me.
-How to cut my depressed partner some slack because he can't meet my needs (emotional connection, conversation, listening and not zoning out, regular sex) right now. I know it's not his illness but knowing this doesn't make me feel better
-Basically, I want to be able to establish better boundaries and react better to his depression.

Learning to behave better will take time. While I'm learning to be a better partner and respond better to his mood, I feel like he can't make progress because I keep pulling him down by being negative myself. He regularly asks me for some alone time and I usually leave the room and go to another room. We live together and see each other all the time.

Should I ask him to move out temporarily so we can focus on ourselves? See each other a couple of times a week?

I know Metafilter usually advises against time apart and that relationships should keep progressing and not go backward.

Isn't this a special situation? Or are there any ways to get space to work on ourselves while living together?
posted by Femiluv to Human Relations (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you're doing everything you can to deal with the depression issue - but what is your living arrangement actually like? I think that if you ask him to move out, the relationship will not recover, but it might if *you* are the one to move out. Is that possible given your lease situation?

I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to get into a space where you can feel happy without feeling guilty, and I don't think that dynamic would be the same if you stayed and he moved out.
posted by mibo at 10:37 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's fine if you need to do this for your own health, which it sounds like you really need to do. It sounds like he also needs to focus on himself.

You might break up over it, but you might break up anyway. Recovery from bad depressive swings (and codependence) tends to involve the sort of identity makeover that leaves you wondering why you stayed together as long as you did and not really wanting to be together anymore. It might not turn out that way, but it probably will.

But staying together isn't doing anybody any favors right now so you should try something.

So, no, you don't get any special guarantees that you'll stay together (healthily) if you do this. Don't make "temporary" arrangements that are not financially viable permanently. Plan for failure, hope for success.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:41 AM on July 11, 2015

I think you should move out so that you can see whether you feel better without him around. You don't say how old you are, but... look, I had a couple of LTRs with depressed men when I was in my early 20's and I regret the time I wasted with them. I'm not saying dump him, maybe he'll get better and maybe you'll decide to stay together, but it's entirely reasonable to get enough distance to assess whether the relationship is actually an asset to you or not.

Metafilter usually advises against time apart and that relationships should keep progressing and not go backward

"keep progressing" doesn't always mean stick with it, it can also mean take the next step to get the information you need to figure out whether to fish or cut bait.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:44 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Clarification: He moved into my place so I can't move out without breaking my 1 yr lease.
Me: 24 Him: 25
posted by Femiluv at 10:48 AM on July 11, 2015

Maybe you could say something like, "I love you and I know we have been having some hard times lately. I think it would be best if we spent some time focusing on getting our health to a better place, and for me I know that I will need to do that on my own so I can really get my life together. We are still a couple. We are still in love. I want us to come back when we're more whole so we aren't feeding off of each other's depression and getting into a hole we can't get out of. Do you agree?"

Just emphasize that you want to stay together but you need to live apart so you can come back together when you're both in better places.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:50 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think you want to break up. How would this even work otherwise? Ask him to move out indefinitely? Until he feels better? You want to remain a couple but he needs to go live somewhere else?

When one partner asks the other to move out, that's breaking up. If that's what you want to do, it's a valid decision. You're not obligated to take care of him while he goes through his tough time, but taking care of each other is what committed couples do. It's really perfectly okay if you don't want that commitment, that's a normal decision and it sounds like the relationship is not good for you at this point. You don't have to wreck your life while he figures out his.

But I wouldn't frame it to him as a pause in your relationship, I think that would be confusing and hurtful to him. He needs to know if he can count on you or should start learning to live without you. Maybe you two can get back together down the road, but I wouldn't focus on that possibility with him. He needs to understand that you two aren't working out and that you need to be apart.
posted by skewed at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2015 [24 favorites]

Honestly, 2 months is not that long. If this is someone you want to marry and live your life with, 2 months is a rough patch of short-to-normal length.

Now, on the other hand, you're 24. Maybe you don't want to marry someone who needs so much space and support dealing with depression. That is actually perfectly OK. I have depression, and while it would hurt a lot if someone broke up with me over it (and actually it has happened in the past, though much earlier in the relationship), I can understand it. It's a bitch. But while it's not my fault I'm depressed, it's not my partner's fault either and I know for a fact it's no fun to deal with. (I have my own depressed family members, and I do kind of separate myself from their illness when they're not doing well because it easily drags me back into my own.)

So, that said, if you can psychologically separate yourself from him it might be more effective than actually asking him to move out. If you can tell yourself, "partner is not who he usually is, he's doing his best, but for now he's out of commission and I'm effectively on my own," you might just be able to go about your business and be there with open arms when/if(?) he gets better. But maybe you really do want him to move out because you're feeling suffocated? Or not sure he's the one? And that's 100% OK, even though he's depressed.

Lastly, moving sucks and doing it while I'm depressed is at the bottom of my list of "things I can rationally do with a clear head for all the right reasons, despite the emotional baggage" if I were depressed. Just a thought.
posted by easter queen at 11:11 AM on July 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

There's no shame in realising that you may not be equipped to deal with his particular mood disorder. You could hold on; things could get better or not....and maybe you'll keep it all together for 20 years, only to have it fall apart at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME. In 20 years, you won't feel any less guilty than you do now.

You sound sort of trapped but you don't have kids together and probably not many financial entanglements. Don't let feelings of guilt paralyse you.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:25 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Clarification: I don't want to breakup. I understand that we might not recover at all, or recover from him moving out. I'm also not feeling suffocated by him. We both enjoy living together.

But, if I don't ask him to move out: any tips for how to learn to psychologically separate from his depression when I see him all the time? So I can better take care of him.

Although we live in a 2 bedroom apartment, my brother is also visiting till the end of this month which makes it impossible for him to get alone time in our other bedroom.

Maybe I need to try harder to psychologically separate
posted by Femiluv at 11:29 AM on July 11, 2015

I know Metafilter usually advises against time apart and that relationships should keep progressing and not go backward.

Isn't this a special situation? Or are there any ways to get space to work on ourselves while living together?

No, it's not really a special situation. People don't really move out and then move back in. It's a one way thing. You're not doing well together and I doubt you'll do better as a couple apart. I mean, imagine someone telling you that they love you, but they want you to not be here anymore...that's hurtful and I don't see a loving way to frame this. Being told this AND having to move is a huge burden on one partner in a relationship.

But you should look after your own well-being for sure. So I think you really should consider breaking up with him. Love isn't enough to sustain a relationship when both people are drowning. You have to put on your own life vest. It's okay to know what you can and can't deal with.
posted by inturnaround at 11:29 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Clarification: I don't want to breakup. I understand that we might not recover at all, or recover from him moving out. I'm also not feeling suffocated by him. We both enjoy living together.

Of course you don't want to. But if someone told me they wanted me to move out, I'd want to break up with them. I wouldn't want to be with someone who didn't want me around. And you not wanting to break up doesn't mean you shouldn't. I think sometimes the right thing to do is often the hardest.

But if you're determined to stay, stop thinking that it's your job to make him happy. That's too much of a burden. Re-establish your own, separate self. Get out of the apartment. Take a class at night. Go out with friends.
posted by inturnaround at 11:39 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe I need to try harder to psychologically separate

I would say yes, probably. I had to do this with my own partner, when he was stuck in a rut over some family issues. I knew I couldn't handle it (I was so angry at them I could spit, and telling him what to do was not a cute look on me), so I had to kind of think, how would I act and behave if I were single? Where I am in this relationship-- what do I want, what do I like to do? Who am I? How would I behave if these people were not in my life, making me so disappointed and angry?

It turned out to be really good, even though it was initiated due to this awful thing. I started making myself happy again (I changed my job, made some new lifestyle choices) and my partner started seeing what my needs were (wrt the situation) and meeting them. We're much better off now. It was like a mental break from the responsibility/pressure of dating and living together and caring about all the things he cared about.

Tips as to how to "separate"... I would say 1) leave the house a lot, unless you LOVE being at home. If you can go out to read or hang out with friends more often, it will help. 2) Throughout the day when you're alone, think about what you really feel like doing that evening (take a bath? read a book? study something for work?) and when you get home, do it-- don't get sidetracked into codependent type behaviors, just do your own thing. 3) Get really absorbed in something productive, like a class or new sport or something that takes up your mental energy and excites and distracts you. 4) Think about what you'd be doing right now if you were single, and do that, but with the knowledge that you also have someone in your life who cares about you and splits rent with you and generally makes life easier, even if he's not at 100% right now. Yay!

Number 4) was a big help for me in overcoming codependent behavior. A relationship should be a cool perk, not the whole substance of your life. Of course it's very important and emotionally fraught, but if you can let go of the fear that the relationship will disappear... let go of the fear that things will change... let go of the pressure you feel to make things work out... it will be easier. You'll realize that a relationship is supposed to enhance both of your lives, not replace them. And you won't be as scared of things ending. You'll realize that if things are bad enough to end, it will be better for both of you in the long run. (You seem to have some fear over this, since the change in the relationship is taking up so much of your mental energy.)

Think of your relationship like a marathon. You'll feel different throughout the course of the race, and you have to pace yourself, and listen to (and respond to) your needs. Things are weird now and it's saddening, but it doesn't say anything implicit about the future. You could come out on the other end with a better relationship if you treat yourself right now.
posted by easter queen at 11:43 AM on July 11, 2015 [37 favorites]

I moved into a separate bedroom when my ex was going though a year long depressive episode. We did eventually split up and looking back this was probably the first step towards that, but at the time small steps were all I could handle. That is ok.

I also recommend a self-date night every week. Go out with friends or take yourself out, but every week take some time for yourself.
posted by CMcG at 11:43 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

There is literally NO way you can live with someone having a depressive episode and not feel affected. None. No way. Not possible.

I agree your boyfriend might benefit from moving out and dealing with his issues without the stress of cohabitating. I don't understand the advice for you to move out? That's not good for him. He has a problem, he needs to address it.

May to July is long enough. Ditto, it is possible his living situation is excacerbating things for him.

You'll have to use your words and talk to him, but I don't think letting this turn into 6 months, then a year or more is the right thing. Get a dialogue started. Something has got to change. I wish you both luck.
posted by jbenben at 12:02 PM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

I understand that you don't want to break up and that you feel the need to put your oxygen mask on first (which is commendable, by the way), I just don't think you can do both things at once. There is nothing wrong with not being able to handle your partner's illness, be it a mood disorder or whatever else, but the answer there is to break up kindly, not separate.

How do you think he would handle looking for a new place? Would he feel rejected by you asking to move out? I would be surprised if he didn't. It would be one thing if you were the one to move, with the stress and the effort and the mental strain of finding a new living situation, but asking him to do it while working on his depression AND while still dating you might create too much of a cognitive dissonance.

Could you transfer the lease to him and move out yourself?
posted by lydhre at 12:03 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

OP, please don't let him live there with the lease in your name. Please.

It's not his lease. He moved in second. It's easier for him to find a new roommate situation than for you to take financial risks or hit up your landlord and break the lease early.

A depressive episode that doesn't require hospitalization should not preclude this person finding a new roommate situation.

If he is in no shape to find a new roommate situation with reasonable time and help, then perhaps he needs to be in hospital treatment or living with family. I urge you not to try to provide care to this person you are not medically, financially, or legally able to provide. Specifically if he needs increased psychiatric care, letting this fester is prolonging the moment he seeks more effective help.

But that's worse case. Pretty much he sounds able to go see apartments and find roommates, so get that in motion if possible.

Don't feel guilty. It's bad to let this fester. You're OK.
posted by jbenben at 12:11 PM on July 11, 2015 [8 favorites]

Kicking him out isn't going to make his depression better.

I think that the key, if you want the relationship to work, is accepting that you can't take care of him. Only he can take care of himself, and maybe not even that, but for sure you can't do it.

If he's irritable with you or whatever when he's depressed, you could ask him to work on his behavior. He can't treat you poorly, no matter what. That's a minimum requirement for being a romantic partner.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:16 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

By transfer the lease to him I mean getting his name on the lease alone, obviously, previous to the OP moving out. The landlord might be amenable to that. That shouldn't put the OP in any financial danger, no more than breaking a lease but finding a new tenant willing to move in would.
posted by lydhre at 12:24 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can you take a weekend or week long trip by yourself to give everyone a breather? It really helped us get some time to re-set without anything so dramatic as moving.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:02 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

First, I have two questions: what has your therapist said about the situation? What has your brother said? You sound self-aware, and that you're realizing that you need to take a new direction so things can get better, in whatever form that'd be in.

It sounds like taking some time apart could be very positive for your long-term success, even if it's hard in the here and now. Ultimately, it's about setting boundaries so both of you can thrive, individually and together, neither of which is happening right now. I have had relationships where there were major inequalities that got very heavy with time. The way they got better was by my (or the other person) setting boundaries. Creating this boundary may break the relationship but it sounds like NOT taking a break (or at least setting new boundaries) would definitely end it. Depression is an illness, and I have great compassion for your boyfriend; I am not blaming him for how he feels. However, it sounds like he needs to extend his support network so he's not leaning so much on you; again, it's not necessarily that he wants to burden you but that's how things are right now. I can see how his moving out would require him to tap into those resources so he can continue to work on getting better without your feeling completely depleted.

I'd start this as a conversation, where you basically say what you said here (but not so much: "You're getting me down so you gotta leave. But I want to stay together." More that you love him and want to stay together, but that you are seeing how you yourself are getting worse, which is bad for you, for him, and for the relationship. That you think some time apart physically would be important for maintaining the relationship, at least from your end. And you listen to him and talk about various options: you take a weekend away or he takes a weekend away, he stays with family/friends for x-weeks or you stay with family/friends for x-weeks; he tries new therapy options, you look for more therapy options, you try couples therapy, etc. Breaking up is always an option for either of you; talking about it as a possibility can be scary but it also can be empowering because it makes staying together more of a choice that both of you make (or at least reaffirm.) I wish you both luck, whatever should happen.
posted by smorgasbord at 3:32 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My boyfriend is actually on a trip with his best friends for 5 days, which is good time apart for us. We still talk everyday though...

My brother thinks if I'm gonna ask him to move out, I should just breakup with him. I'll be talking to my therapist about my co-dependent feelings and how to handle these during my next appointment on Wednesday We went for couples counselling for a month, but our therapist suggested we halt and focus on individual counselling for a little bit. It was going to be a huge financial burden to do both.

At the moment, I'm still unsure what to do. I think figuring out how to share less physical space together or still sharing space while emotionally separating from his depression are my two options. I am also going to show him this thread so we can do some brainstorming together.
posted by Femiluv at 5:18 PM on July 11, 2015

I think framing this as something that you can and should handle in a particular way, rather than acknowledging that these are feelings about the situation and your relationship, may be serving to insulate you from those difficult feelings and reality of where this relationship might be heading. I can't imagine moving out being anything but a step towards breakup, rather than mending the relationship. Things like these are not things you are doing *wrong* per se, but rather natural and completely human emotions when someone you care for, even deeply, can't bring the kinds of things to the relationship you really need: I don’t know how to not feel bad when he withdraws and doesn't show enthusiasm. and Letting his depression make me feel drained... You don't choose to feel certain ways, you just feel them. You really owe it to yourself, and to him, to examine how much your wanting space is for you to not feel drained and bad anymore, and how much you really think it is a positive step for your relationship.

I highly advise against showing him this thread. I would feel extremely exposed, put-out, and undervalued if my significant other revealed that they were asking internet forums if it was time or not for me to move out. Yes, this is a legitimate place to seek advice and perspective; but it is a slippery slope to somewhere bad to bring him into this. People can go through things during relationships and, with the support and understanding of their partner, make it through; but there are far more numbers of issues and things that inherently require fixing outside of being in a relationship. These are not personal failings on either of your parts if this is the case.
posted by incolorinred at 6:04 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Showing him this thread seems unnecessarily cruel.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:16 PM on July 11, 2015 [12 favorites]

if i were in your position i'd ask my brother to leave, and see how that helped, before doing anything else. especially if the problem is related to "space". making a critical decision like this, when someone else is kicking around, is going to be very difficult. you need space to argue, fight, make up, whatever. even if you're cool with it - he's your brother - your partner may not be.
posted by andrewcooke at 6:20 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think asking him to move out is maybe jumping the gun a little bit. There's other potential solutions to this problem, and you might be surprised at what ideas your boyfriend comes up with if you discuss the matter with him. I think your first step is to just have a serious discussion with him about the overall problem, and when you get to the point of working out solutions you can present moving out as one potential option.

This involves him too, so he should be given a chance to participate in the decision making process.
posted by sam_harms at 6:56 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I lived with a partner for a while (and things imploded for unrelated reasons), but his brother stayed with us for most of it.

I didn't like it. It changed the dynamic and made me feel more like a roommate than a partner. I felt like I couldn't ever really be myself as I was with my boyfriend because his brother was always sitting around in the living room.

I think, if you're getting to the point of asking your very depressed boyfriend to pack his shit and move out, you need to ask your brother to leave early first. That may give you the time and space to see what it is that you two as a couple really need to do next.
posted by mibo at 6:56 PM on July 11, 2015 [11 favorites]

Oh, and btw, it is possible to have your boyfriend move out and still maintain a relationship. I know because I've done it, and we're still together after 12 years (we own a house together now). If the two of you really love each other, if you both understand why you're giving each other more space, and are both committed to still maintaining the relationship, then there's no reason why living in separate locations for awhile should destroy everything you have together.
posted by sam_harms at 7:05 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think your goal of not feeling sad when he is sad is completely unrealistic. You are involved in each other. That is not co-dependent, that is normal. If you didn't feel sad when he was sad that would be because you didn't care about him and how he felt. I am sorry. That is how empathy works.

It is totally reasonable to have a goal of being able to do other things despite feeling sad that he is sad. That is a goal that is about managing your own emotions. But no amount of therapy is going to make the underlying emotions disappear. 'Boundaries' are about keeping a part of you that's just you. They are not about denying the basic realities of how humans interact with one another.

If you can't deal with being involved with someone who is suffering this much, that is sad but a thing that sometimes happens. You need to accept, however, that this may happen in any relationship because people get ill and upset and this inevitably, always upsets the people who care about them. Always. Some people 'catch' emotions more easily than others but that's not really something that can be changed, it's part of how you are made. What you can change is how you react to it.

Move out, don't move out, break up, don't break up. But don't have as a goal something that will never, ever happen.
posted by Acheman at 6:35 AM on July 12, 2015 [6 favorites]

The challenge I see here is that depression is typically not a one-time thing. It's something that you live with for your entire life (I have). Even if you have medication to help manage it, depressive episodes will occur.

I agree with easter queen that if a two-month episode like this is having you consider something as drastic as having him move out, this may not be the relationship for you. Even people who manage their depression well go through situations like these, and some partners are better able to detach themselves than others. It sounds like that's very challenging for you.

As someone with depression, if I was in your boyfriend's situation, I would view being asked to move out as a sign that my condition is something that is just too difficult for you. As Acheman said, that's very sad, but it happens. I would ask to break up.
posted by anotheraccount at 7:51 AM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all for your very insightful comments, please keep them coming. I will not show him this thread!

Reading everyone's comments makes me feel very validated. It's a reminder that a lot of the things I feel are normal and there are many potential solutions to the problem, including breaking up.

Acheman's reply really resonated with me and gave words to something I've been struggling to articulate for myself. One of the major reasons why I feel lost, lonely, unproductive is because I am unable to do other things and be myself despite being sad.

I think what has happened is that when the depressive episode first started, I thought it was gonna be another weeklong thing. I felt sad like I always do when this happens but didn't put my oxygen mask on immediately because I didn't think it was that bad. I thought I could cope. I never had to really detach myself from his depression because I always coped very well before.

Unfortunately, this episode has lasted 2 months. During these 2 months we've also had other tensions in our relationship and other terrible things have happened to me (job, family drama, many friends moving, etc). I feel very overwhelmed.

When I'm sad (because of his sadness or just sad in general) for a few days, and unable to do many other things because I'm sad, it doesn't seem so bad. But, being sad for a 2 months and unable to do many other things because I'm sad is making me feel pretty terrible.

I need to change how I react to his sadness. I don't know if I can make this change (which is good for me, and him) while he is being sad around me all the time.
posted by Femiluv at 10:37 AM on July 12, 2015

There is normal give and take in relationships, and it sounds like you have been very giving over the last two years; especially the past two months. But, you needed to *take* during some difficult times in the past two months and he wasn't able to give. That would make anyone sad that their partner was not there for them. Is that a pattern you have had before in this relationship where your needs are not being met despite the surplus of giving you have put into the relationship account?

The two months out of two years also raised my eyebrows as jumping the gun a bit, *unless* this is fitting into a larger pattern of established relationship dynamics, or you have been living together less than six months (in which case I would wonder if he now felt he had a safety net -you-, and didn't have to take as much proactive responsibilty for his health, adulthood, and the relationship).

The word depression covers a pretty big spectrum - is he still able to work, pay joint bills, do housework, nurture you/the relationship, or have those fallen to the wayside? If they have fallen to the wayside what has *he* done to build supports for the things he isn't doing, or is the default assumption that you just take responsibilty for his half of the relationship as well as your own half?

His depression isn't his fault, but it is his responsibilty.
posted by saucysault at 10:59 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I don't mean to thread sit but a few more things I want to clarify:

He is very functional. He is in grad school, does housework, pays bills. Not too sure about what it means to nurture me and our relationship. We try and go on date night once a week.

Yes, there's a pre-existing pattern of me giving and him taking in this relationship even when he's not in a depressive episode. This is a dynamic we're trying to change.

I'm not sure I understand what 2 months out of 2 years means re: jumping the gun. We have been living together less than 6 months.
posted by Femiluv at 11:06 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

The two months out of two years was refer cing the fact that out of two years you have had two months of difficulty/stress and you are effectively willing to break up because of that. A two year relationship should have enough foundational stability to weather two months of stress. It this sounds more like you were building the foundation alone and he was in a deficit position when he pulled even more resources away from the relationship. And it it possible you just aren't a good fit for each other and living together has made that even more apparent.

I think considering the less than six months living together that suggesting that you live apart (but not necessarily break up) is what is needed to stop this from being a permanent dynamic in your relationship. Good luck, I feel for you and how much you love him, but you need to first look for yourself here.
posted by saucysault at 11:44 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

My credential is that my wife has suffered from depression and anxiety to a greater or lesser degree for the 43 years of our marriage.

My prediction is that if you ask him to leave, the relationship will dissolve. He would never be able to trust you to have his back.

Whether it is ethical to ask him to leave depends in part on where he has to go. Going to live with his mom is different from going homeless on the street.

On giving and taking in a relationship. When asked about his unsuccessful marriage to Carrie Fisher, Paul Simon quoted Mike Nichols. Nichols said that in every relationship, a person is either a flower or a gardener. It's easiest when there is one flower and one gardener. Two gardeners can sometimes work, but two flowers almost never does. You have to find what works for you, and get over the notion that it's ought to come out even.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:47 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm very much with saucysault here: his depression isn't his fault but it is his responsibility.

Frankly, at this point I'm wondering if it's more about a relationship incompatibility becoming apparent than a depressive episode per se. It sounds like you're doing much more giving than taking in the relationship, and it's manifested itself since you two moved in together. Unfortunately, I see a bit of a "traditional" gender dynamic here, too, where women end up doing more of the work at home; of course, maybe I am assuming here so please excuse me if I'm wrong.

It sounds like finding a new solution while you're both living together would be most ideal. However, if living apart is the step you need to reset things, by all means pursue it. Breaking up is always an option, too, as you know. Your brother was encouraging you to break up: I don't know if it's because he's seeing something we can't and has great insight or if he's just jumping to conclusions. If you two are very close and you trust his judgment, I'd give him another listen.

Ultimately, I think it'll all depend on the conversation you two have when he returns. Is he willing to take responsibility and action? Are you willing to hear his point of view and compromise? Etc.
posted by smorgasbord at 7:34 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

By the way, when I said I thought you were jumping the gun, that didn't have anything to do with the amount of time you were together. What I personally meant by 'jumping the gun' was that I think you're jumping to the end of the solution-finding process before you've properly begun it. You've come up with a solution (him moving out) before you've talked to him about the problem and heard his perspective. To me, if you're having a problem with someone, the first step is to approach that person and let him know in a clear, direct manner what the problem is, and let him know that you need to find a solution to it. That gives the other person a chance to have his perspective heard, which gives you more information to use when trying to find a proper solution. It also gives him a role in hammering out a solution that works for both of you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you're obligated to do it that way. You don't have to ask permission to not live with someone. While I don't think you have the right to make anyone do anything for you, I do think you have the right to make someone go away. And if you know in your heart that him moving out is the only solution you're willing to accept, then I don't see the point in beating around the bush and pretending to take his perspective into account. But if your ultimate goal is to keep this guy in your life, and to still have a good relationship with him, I think you're better off coming to him with the problem, letting him have his say, and trying to come up with a solution that feels good to both of you, if you can. Who knows? He might come up with a solution that didn't occur to you, but which you really want to try. But, if the best solution turns out to be him moving out, so be it.
posted by sam_harms at 12:24 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

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