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Dr. Paige
Dr. Paige, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1427
Experience:  Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist
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what to do when you cant escape the sadness you feel in a

Customer Question

what to do when you can't escape the sadness you feel in a relationship? I have been with my partner since I was 23yrs old (I am now 47yrs old). In the past 10yrs, I have moved out as the only way to breath and to get him to take me seriously. I came back each time out of love and guilt. I moved out properly about 4yrs ago and now live in my own place. I decided it was best to cut all ties. The relationship had started to get abusive. In the last 2yrs, we have gotten close...we see a lot of one another, but we live separately. I don't want to move back, he doesn't want to move in. We are falling into 'dating' but his pessimism and depressed view on life is killing me...there is a sadness that hangs around him and his family. If makes me fear the future will be dark and joyless. I try to speak to him but he just becomes defensive making statements about me being positive and outgoing and him being dry and sarcastic, he doesn't want me to 'raise the mood'. He seems to be wallowing and I am crying inside because it is heartbreaking. I believe I need to move on, but I feel so guilt and sad for us and him. And, of course, I am scared to walk away again because there will be no coming back...I love him, but am bored and sad and being selfish. We are in a holding pattern, both of us now 'not talking'...I know the right thing to do is to move on, but I can't help feel like I am going to tip him over the edge. Any advice?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Paige replied 2 years ago.
Hello. I'm so sorry you have had this depression in your life for this long. You seem to have your choices laid out in front of you, it's just a matter of deciding what option you need to choose which will bring you the most happiness. It seems as though he is a depressed person with issues that need to be addressed. Has he tried counseling? Or both of you together? If you are generally a happy person, which it sounds as though you are, then the problem lies in him. You cannot "fix" him. He has to want to charge himself, it is out of your control. If you are supporting and encouraging him, as you say, there isn't much more you can do.There is a point where he needs to take responsibility for his own depression.
If he brings you down when you are around, then you should move on, or at least not go back to him. I know you said you are not speaking right now, but if you were to continue an occasional "dating" type relationship with him, where you could be around him when you wanted and leave when you wanted, would this be something you both could agree on ? If this was talked about and agreed on, there wouldn't be pressure to advance the relationship back to a place where it was.
With that being said, I do believe the best thing is to move on. You already know how difficult it will be, but again to my original point, you have to weigh your options. Move on, deal with the difficulty of the process, but be happier in the end, or continue seeing him and dealing with his depression. That is pretty much what you are looking at.
Remember, you are not responsible for anyone except yourself. You cannot change him, only he can do that.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi, thank you for responding....and at such a late hour. I understand and agree with everything you have said. However, I may not have been clear on a few points....we do not live together anymore...I moved out with the intention of cutting all ties because it was abusive (verbal and emotional) and he had started to get physical. I recognised 'red flags' and raise them, tried to resolve them as and when they happened but, he 'played me' and I did not make any real progress. I continued to stay because I didn't recognise his behaviour as abuse because I have a lot of abuse in my past. I have had counselling, he belittled that, I then did it in secret, but could only get so far as I was going back to the situation. The counselling was for me (to unlock the affects of my past), not for us. I recognised our siutation as 'difficult' but only realised our situation was abuse when a friend used the word when responding to something I told her in confidence (i.e. his rage and him attacking me)...and it took me 16yrs into the relationship confide in anyone about this.


No, I have my own place and have had for 4yrs. I cut all ties, but he tracked me down after about 8mths. I kept him at arms length, but we have gotten close over the past 2yrs.
Especially after I had another difficult sutuation with a business partner who told me that he loves me (not mutual, strictly business) and he stalked me and ripped me off financially. My ex, became the 'rescurer' in this scenario. I guess this has made me feel guilty about my feelings toward the sadness he emotes and cannot (will not) shake. I feel I can't trust people (well men) and now I feel beholding to him and as if he is the only one I can really trust, in spite of what he has done in the past.


Ps. My abusers were all male i.e. a babysitter, a boy at school, an ex boyfriend, my father, an ex boss, an ex counsellor etc.


So, I know if I say, I will have to find a way to live outside this sadness that he (and his family) exude....but my lack of trust is making it hard to walk away.


And, yes, he went to 4 counseling sessions with me...he used it as ammunition to attack me. Then, not so surprisingly, admitted they/I was right and apologised. the usual cycle...attack, apologise, normal....attack, apologise, normal...lots of days ruined with silent car journeys, seething and looking out the window...

Expert:  Dr. Paige replied 2 years ago.
I understood that you did not live together anymore. I was saying that if you were comfortable with the "just being friends" arrangement, that maybe you and he should make clear that this is the level at which your relationship should remain.
I do believe that in order to break the cycle of his behavior (which is classic of a controlling man) that the best thing is to leave the situation altogether and surround yourself with the positivity which seems to be at your core personality.
When you say "lack of trust" what do you mean ?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX just wanted to be clear.


Re. Trust. I have never considered myself as someone who does not trust...if anything, I am confident, if reserved, sociable person and am able to make normal, happy friendships. But, I am beginning to feel that I am afraid to trust anyone who wishes to get any closer than that.


I have had a lot of unwanted attention, and although I listen to my instincts, I am finding that I don't listen to them because I question if my radar is 'on pointe' or if it is my 'I have had my trust abused, so maybe I am being overcautious and not cutting this person some slack'...that's when things like my ex-business partner happen. I never liked him really, he was 'harmless', energetic and very sweet. But, he slowly creeped closer and closer...I ignored my 'I need to get as far away from him as possible' signals by looking for other queues to support my feelings. But everyone else just 'smiled and put up with him because he was harmless', the door was nudged snowballed from there...


So, the trust issue is...not trusting/acting on my instincts...because they do seem to be right...I guess I am used to my action being 'ignored' or 'questioned' by someone who had an agenda...


Expert:  Dr. Paige replied 2 years ago.
It is perfectly normal to feel like you can't or might not be able to trust people. After 20 years of that treatment, it is surprising you are just beginning to feel that way! It will take time. None of this is going to be easy. No matter what you end up doing, its going to be a tough road. By the things that you say, you are not a broken person. You will probably go through a series of emotions, but through it all I think you will come out in a better place in the end. If you have trust in yourself, the rest will follow.
Dr. Paige, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1427
Experience: Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you :) and thank you for your advice at such a late hour.


I guess there is no avoiding it...I just need to do what I know I need (and want) to do...a little bit of courage is called for....and little less guilt, if I can...


Have a good evening.


Take care,



Expert:  Dr. Paige replied 2 years ago.
Please keep me posted and let me know if I can be of help and support.

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