I met a girl a couple of months ago, we got on really well, connected on a lot of deep issues and ended up dating and eventually falling in love. Out of the blue a couple of weeks ago she begins to act very cold to me, a stark departure from the usual mutual affection. Eventually she admitted that she had stopped caring about 'us' (though she still cares about me), and that she had been feeling really down and had stopped being interested in romance in general, she said that it's not permanent. I asked her where this left me and she said that I was in exactly the same position as before. Any advice on what could be happening here? I'm at a loss as to what to do to be honest.
Hi, I'm Dr. Jackie and will try to help if you want to chat.
Hi Dr. Jackie
I read what you wrote; I'm sorry to hear what is happening. I know it's probably not much "comfort," but your situation is more common than you may think.
To be honest, I'm more confused than anything
Not exactly sure how to react
Well, that may be because you have never struggled with intrapersonal conflict. What I mean is, the human brain is very complex. Throw in emotions and one person at any moment can suddenly feel depressed, stressed, overwhelmed, etc. Sometimes it's external (a sudden job loss, another kind of loss or tragedy, etc.) or it can be internal (chemical imbalances in the brain are also more common than many people may realize.
So this girl may be experiencing one or more of the above mentioned conditions. And she doesn't know how to handle it. And until she "gets healthier" she probably can't be in a romantic relationship because whatever is going on will only serve to stress the relationship.
And even moreso, she probably can't articulate any of this or at least does not know how to communicate what she is feeling.
That makes sense and is what I was thinking. The difficulty is that she's been through rough times before, and let me help her through it, but this time she either says she doesn't know whether she wants me to help her or not. Which leave me slightly confused as to where that leaves me standing.
Do you think she would be willing to talk to someone? Everyone needs to vent, talk to someone professional, etc. EVERYONE. So this might be an opportunity for her to speak to someone who can help her through all of this. Once she understands, she may be more willing to let you help.
She's seen counsellors before but to use her words 'none of them have understood me like you' (referring to me), so she seems to have lost faith in therapists and the like.
What about someone who isn't say a psychologist but if she's religious, maybe a clergy person? They almost always counsel for free because that is part of their ministry.
But if she doesn't want to talk to you, she needs to talk to someone.
And more importantly, if this is not external but some internal issue (like a chemical imbalance), the stigma of taking anti-depressants is not nearly what it used to be. I read an article in JAMA a few years back with estimates that 1/3 of the U.S. population is on some type of mood-altering medication.
She may have a true physiological problem. Maybe she needs to see a medical doctor if she doesn't want to go the therapy route.
She's atheist so I don't think she'd see a clergy person for help. She does talk to me sometimes and certainly she has talked to me in depth about her issues, it's partly how we bonded because having been through a lot of the same issues I could relate.
I think part of the issue might be that she is struggling to articulate her feelings.
Yes, very probable. But I would also suggest a physical--with a doctor who doesn't see the mind as separate from the body. What I mean is, so many Western medicine doctors treat symptoms but do not always get to the real root of the problem. Contrast that with Eastern medicine, which practices a more holistic approach to healing the body.
There are more M.D.'s and D.O.'s who are more welcome to things like acupuncture, alternative remedies, etc. It definitely couldn't hurt for her to see one. It would be a terrible shame for her to feel down/depressed for a long time if she has a real chemical imbalance and that medication could help.
She does have some issues which she takes medication for I know, I won't go into them here but it's left her feeling quite hurt, the mind doesn't easily heal. My real problem is trying to work out whether she still has feelings for me or not? I certainly still care about her a great deal, there is just a lot of ambiguity and I'll admit, I'm not the greatest at dealing with such uncertainty.
And unfortunately, until she is able to articulate her feelings, like you said, the uncertainty is probably going to remain.
Are you willing to be her friend whether or not you resume a romantic relationship?
That is probably a question you should think about.
Do you think it might be wise to choose a time when she is feeling more open and secure and to have a frank discussion about it with her?
I think that is the best thing, along with trying to find her some form of therapy which might suit her better than the traditional talking therapies
would be to sit down and have an honest chat, work out where we both stand, and knowing her feelings, I can feel more secure in mine
You know, you mentioned she is taking meds already. But I'm sure you know that sometimes people's brains/bodies might stop responding to what used to work. I would not rule out a doctor visit and maybe trying something with fewer side effects in controlled studies. And yes, if you can sense she is in a taking mode, an open discussion would be recommended as well.
Thank you for the advice
Please let me know if you want to chat any more or Q & A. :-)
I think the situation as it stands is that I need to talk to her and determine how she feels, and with that I can work out how best I can help her. Thank you for the second opinion anyway, it's hard to think sometimes when you're confused and emotional :)