Wedding Woes

Do you want a present partner or to be an unpaid caretaker?

Dear Prudence,

After six months of a whirlwind romance, my partner’s mum passed away. He’s in his early thirties like me, and we both felt like this was an important love. We were committed to one another early on. He fell into a depression and I supported his move back home to be closer to his brother, as they lost their father eight years before. We’ve been long-distance for a year, half of which has been lovely, happy, and warm. My partner even proposed to me last summer.

But now, his depression and suicidal ideations are back. He isn’t able to be present like he used to be and our conversations are mostly about his depression and recovery. I love him dearly and want our relationship to work. My friends around me see how unhappy I am, and signal that it’s time for me to leave him. I don’t want it to end, but how it is right now is not an equal or stable relationship. I also don’t want to live a life where you give up on those who are suffering. Am I wrong to stay with him even if my needs aren’t being met right now

— Torn

Re: Do you want a present partner or to be an unpaid caretaker?

  • IMO, if your partner is not in therapy then that's already a big sign.  IMO, I'd start seeing my own but also think that if you're with someone who needs help and isn't getting it then you aren't in a mutual relationship.  It's awful and it's painful but the answer isn't that you stay engaged because he's dependent on you either.
  • You have to take people as they are. He is telling you that this is what he has to offer. (Perhaps that will change in the future, but you can't rely on that.) Are you willing to stay in a relationship (and potentially a marriage) with someone offering this forever? If not, move on. 
  • I'm seeing two things.  The LW seems surprised their friends are telling them to leave and they are point blank saying they are not going to leave their SO.

    But they also twice used the phrase "right now".  As if they are seeing the SO's depression and suicide ideation as only temporary.  It's extremely important they realize it might not be and make their decision based on that.

    For me, the SO being in therapy and at least trying to help themselves would be a major factor on if I was willing to stay or not.

    It's one thing to help and support a partner while they are going through a hard time.  But it's an entirely different thing to sign your own self up for a life of misery because your SO won't get help.  Or they are getting help, but the relationship is still almost one-sided and there is no sign it will ever change.

    Another thing the LW needs to realize is, since the relationship is long distance, they might only be getting a taste of how bad things will be.  Maybe things will be better once they are living together, because some of the SO's depression is related to the distance.

    Or, maybe it doesn't and then the LW's day-to-day, 24/7 life is never having a break from the partner's emotional vampirism.
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