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Parallax - Advice

October 1, 2001

Down, but not out

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I've never felt more incapable of making a sound decision of the heart. I met my current boyfriend at a time in my life when I was trying out the 'normal lane.' At that time, I was an artist settling into a money job with computers in a high-corporate environment. We have lived together for just over a year, dated for the last two years, and are very 'committed' to each other. I recently quit my job and find myself lost. I'm struggling to find what I want to do and what kind of life and lifestyle I want to live. I'm also going through another depressive episode and am aware of how prone I am to mood disorders and the whole chemical, non-circumstantial side of it all. All I can think about is my freedom. My boyfriend is a traveling software consultant. He is lovable in so many ways, but he does limit (whether intentional or not) the person I am - not with bad intentions, but just because he cares about me and tries to protect me from the world. He doesn't like any of my friends and he doesn't like me going out without him. Sometimes I feel he really only accepts me when everything is fine and happy (although it could also be that he wants me to be happy and is frustrated at not being able to 'fix' my sadness). I don't know if it's my depression or if it's time to move on. How do I deal with a broken heart in the midst of loneliness? What if I find I made a mistake? We just bought couches together. Am I just freaking out? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Indecisive,

It sounds like you have a lot of factors going on all at once. Frankly, it is impossible to disaggregate what is causing your suffering. So, rather than throw out the baby with the bath water, you need to get yourself together and then make a sound decision about your boyfriend. When people are unhappy, they become unhappy with all sorts of things unrelated to their unhappiness. Your poor devoted boyfriend may be in that category.

You should let him know you are going through a difficult period (though I'm sure this is quite obvious). Tell him that you will behave a bit strangely and that you are sorry in advance. Then get yourself on a plan to figure out your life. If you need to stay with friends for a while, so be it. Whatever you need to do to get this done, just do it. Tackle it head on.

When you've got yourself all squared away (at least to some point of thinking clearly) you can then think about your relationship. My guess is that the two of you are just fine together and that you are simply cranky in general. I think when you come back from all of this you'll be very happy to have him.

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His view:

Dear Indecisive,

I think your boyfriend is struggling as much as you are. On the one hand, he is committed to the relationship and trying to make it work; on the other hand, he is frustrated by his inability to affect the outcome. Maybe he doesn't have the tools - the understanding of your illness - that could help him to better live with it. Perhaps this is an effort worth making.

Being limited by someone else is - in one way - part of a relationship. Some people limit more than others. Some like to be limited while others don't. You seem ambivalent about where you and he are in this continuum of limitations. I wouldn't jump up and leave before figuring this out.

I don't think you should make a decision either way for the moment. I'd say wait until the couches are six months old...maybe a year. Then reconsider.

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