Breaking up is hard to do at the best of times, but when your partner is depressed it seems impossible. Here are a few suggestions for breaking up with someone who is depressed to help you end the relationship gently.
You can’t control how your partner takes the breakup, but you can take care of yourself. Break Up Survival and Recovery: How to Get Over a Breakup by Kathleen Rao will help you deal with your feelings and go through the five stages of grief.
To learn more about your depressed boyfriend, read What Depression Feels Like. That article may help you understand your boyfriend’s mood and feelings, as well as how to talk to him. But don’t let your sympathy for his depression and emotional health affect your decision about breaking up. Don’t stay in a relationship with someone who is depressed because you feel pity or guilt. No matter how loving and kind you are, there is no easy way to end a relationship – but you need to do what you know in your heart to be right. These tips will help you break up with someone who is depressed, and may be helpful for both of you after the breakup.
If you take time to learn how to break up with someone who is depressed, you may find it easier to end the relationship gently. But – and I hate to say this – it will be difficult, no matter how much information you have. Depression is a serious emotional health issue, and it will probably complicate the breakup.
Breaking Up With Someone Who is Depressed
Breaking up hurts no matter how gentle, kind, loving, and thoughtful you are. Even if your partner knows that breaking up is the right thing to do, both of you will still hurt for awhile after the breakup.
Free yourself of guilty feelings
I don’t believe anyone should stay in a relationship out of guilt or fear. If you feel guilty that you want to break up, I encourage you to deal with those guilty feelings. It’s your life, and life is too short to stay in relationships that are unhealthy or abusive! Your first step is dealing with your own emotional obstacles to the breakup.
If appropriate, talk to your partner’s counselor or doctor
Does your partner see a psychiatrist or therapist regularly? It may be a good idea to talk to that person, and let them know that a breakup is in the future. This health practitioner may also help you figure out how to break up with someone you don’t love anymore without making the depression worse.
Take time to think about what you want to say
It takes time and energy to carefully, thoughtfully break up with someone who is struggling with feelings of depression. If your partner is seriously depressed or taking medications for depression, things get even more complicated.
Remember that you can’t control how the breakup is received
This may sound contradictory to my first tip on how to break up with someone who is depressed, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong! Contradictions and paradoxes are part of life. All you can do is prepare yourself to gently, kindly, and lovingly break up. You can’t control how your partner reacts or feels…or what he or she does after the breakup.
Know that breaking up is hard, whether or not depression is a factor
Even if your partner wasn’t depressed, breaking up would still be a huge blog. This may not make it easier, but it’s important to know that depression isn’t the only reason breaking up is hard. Knowing how to break up is complicated for everyone, depressed or not.
Write down what you might say
You might plan to say something like, “I don’t know how to say this because it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but there’s something you need to know.” You may not say those exact words when you’re breaking up with someone who is depressed, but it might help you to write your words down in advance.
Don’t let the breakup last longer than it has to
After breaking up, you may be tempted to keep in touch with your ex because of the depression he or she is experiencing. I don’t know if this is a good idea – it really depends on your partner’s mental and emotional health. It also depends on your ability to cope with the fallout.
Own your feelings and actions
Your partner may automatically feel even more depressed and bad about him or herself. Don’t add to the burden by blaming him. Take responsibility for your actions and feelings in the relationship.
Say things that represent how you feel – not how your partner has been acting. For example, “I don’t have the strength to be in a relationship right now, because I feel overwhelmed by my life” might be more effective than “Your depression is an emotional burden that I can’t handle anymore.” Let your partner blame you for ending the relationship. After all, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, does it?
If you still feel uncertain and anxious about learning how to break up with someone who is depressed, I encourage you to talk to a counselor. The most loving thing you can do is when you’re ending a relationship is take time to proceed carefully and thoughtfully.
What do you think about my tips for breaking up with someone who is depressed? Please comment below. I can’t offer advice, but it may help you to share what you’re going through.
In How to Let Go of Someone You Love, I share 75 ways to cope with a breakup – it’ll help you heal and move forward.
May you find strength and courage as you carefully consider how to break up with someone who is depressed. I pray for wisdom, peace, and freedom for you and your partner.