A depressed ex

Joey Garcia

I was with this girl for six months, but she has depression and it really impacted the relationship. I had to be careful about what I said and how I behaved or it would set her off. She also talked about her feelings all the time. It was exhausting. I broke things off, but try to be there for her because she doesn’t have anyone else. She keeps telling me she wants to get back together even though I’m only up for being friends. She got kicked out of her place and in a weak moment I told her she could stay one night with me. I offered to sleep on the couch so she could have my bed. It’s been two weeks. I want her out. How do I deal with this without causing her to be depressed?

You have to see her as your equal, not as someone to rescue. Trust that the restoration of balance in her life is possible, while simultaneously understanding it will not necessarily look like your concept of balance. Believe in her ability to get her life on track once she receives the right kind of support. Clinical depression is a serious mental health condition. The sweetest thing you could do is to help her find a competent therapist and encourage her to show up for her first appointment. After that, let her be responsible for herself.

She might not think she needs a therapist because you’re available to listen while she talks about her feelings. But it’s not a therapeutic process, so nothing changes. She dumps emotions and briefly feels better. You hold her dump and feel badly. This cycle doesn’t serve either of you.

Why not explain, kindly and gently, that you will not continue in this way? Tell her: “I’m not capable of being in this conversation with you. It’s too hard for me. I think a therapist could help. I can’t. Would you please see a therapist?”

Be consistent. Repeat these words every time she begins talking about her feelings. If she asks why, don’t defend your position. Offer to talk about why with her and her therapist, but not with her alone. She may become angry or even make threats because she is afraid of losing you. Stand your ground but add: “I care about you so I hope that threat isn’t true. I can call 911 on your behalf, if this is an emergency. But I’m not capable of listening to these feelings anymore. I’m not a therapist.”

It’s essential for you to understand that you didn’t cause this woman to be depressed. You can’t control her response when you ask her to leave your house, either. Rather than getting too wrapped up in her crises, be certain you are tending to your own sadness about life or love. One last thing: After the breakup of a romantic relationship, it’s nearly impossible to begin a friendship right away. Romantic feelings interfere. Some experts suggest six months or more without any contact. Otherwise, it’s confusing and that’s why your ex keeps asking to get back together.

Meditation of the week
“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace,” said Buddha. Can you sweet talk yourself out of your bitterness?

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