Health issues or family problems can destroy your love, no matter how strong it is. If you tried everything to save your relationship but it failed anyway, you may find hope and encouragement here.
These tips are inspired by a reader’s question…“We’ve only been dating for six months, but I developed very strong feelings for her,” says D. on How to Cope With Depression in a Relationship. “She has made me feel something I’ve never felt before. The other day she told me she can no longer be my girlfriend. She just wants to be just friends because she has lost her emotions towards me. She says, ‘How can I love you when I don’t love myself?’ She was extremely upset when she broke up with me and I feel that it just was not her breaking up with me but the depression that has overtaken her. Can you give me some insight?”
I can try, but I’m not making any promises that I can see your relationship successfully. Relationships fail for different reasons. A mood disorder like depression can wreak havoc in someone’s life, and make her feel like she has no control, no power, and no energy to deal with everyday issues – much less be in a relationship. These tips aren’t just for relationships that failed because of depression. They apply to all relationships that faltered or have totally jumped the tracks.
When You Tried Everything, But Your Relationship Failed…
Remember that you can’t make your partner happy. “I did everything I could – I tried so hard to make her happy,” says D. No matter what you do, you can’t make another person happy. She has to find happiness within herself – she has to be her own source of fulfillment, peace, security, and self-esteem. Actually, I don’t think we can be our own sources of all that. I believe we need God to fill us up emotionally and spiritually.
No matter how “good”, smart, attractive, sexy, or wealthy you are, you can’t make someone fall and stay in love with you. Sometimes our partners make decisions about love and life that baffle, hurt, and shock us – and it’s not because we failed to make them happy. Sometimes what’s going on in their minds, hearts, and souls is beyond our relationship, beyond our love for them. I think that’s what’s happening with D’s girlfriend: her life and emotions are beyond her control. He didn’t do anything wrong, and he couldn’t have done anything differently.
Try to separate the reason for the breakup from you. “I felt she was my soulmate and in the beginning she felt the same way,” says D. “Will she ever regain her feelings for me? I want her to get better and I care about her a lot. She cares about me a lot, too. But it just shatters my heart that she has lost feelings for me when I continued gaining feelings for her. What do I do?” She hasn’t lost feelings for him. One of the many problems with depression is that it suffocates all feelings – there’s just numbness, blackness, grayness, lack of feeling. Love could be there, but it’s tamped out by the depression.
She loves you, but she can’t find the emotional strength to be in a relationship right now. It’s not about you. Depression causes chemical changes in the brain that severely affect how people react to life, love, and everyday experiences. When you tried everything but your relationship failed anyway, you have to remember that there are things outside of your control – and even outside of your girlfriend’s control. This is one of those times that you have to just let go of someone you love.
Realize that there are few “clean” relationship breakups. “I haven’t texted her since the breakup, but she has texted me every day,” says D. “It kind if gives me mixed signals, you know? We are both in college and actually have a class together, so it’s not like we are never going to see each other. What can I do?” I think you should tell her the truth. Her texts are giving you mixed signals, they’re prolonging the pain, and they’re stopping you from healing and moving on.
Also, you need to decide if you want to be friends with her. It’s fair and reasonable to NOT want to remain friends with someone you love. In fact, most people can’t handle friendship after being romantic. If you want to remain friends, then you need to be prepared for her texts and emails. If you decide you’re better off with some distance for a few months, then you need to figure out how to tell her this.
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When you’re wondering, “Will we get back together?” “When people overcome depression, do their feelings come back?” asks D. “That is, will my girlfriend feel what she used to feel for me? Will there be any hope for us in the future? I mean I love this girl and she is everything I could ever ask for. It just scares me to know she doesn’t feel emotions for me, and there might not be an ‘us’ in the future.”
Whether or not a relationship is truly over depends on so many things. Some people never overcome depression – they learn how to live with it and/or manage it with medication, therapy, or a combination of both. Other people go through sporadic bouts of depression, but it doesn’t affect their lives significantly. I don’t know if your girlfriend will feel the same way about you after she copes with the worst part of her depression. I don’t think anyone can predict that; I think it depends on the severity of her depression, how long it takes to stabilize her mood, and where you are when she’s ready.
For a few more tips on the end of relationships, read How to Get Over a Bad Breakup.
I think it’s important to learn as much as you can about depression. When your relationship fails because of health reasons (eg, illness, mood disorders, etc), it’s often helpful to learn the facts. You may find Can Your Love Relationship Survive a Serious Illness? Perhaps… helpful.
Did you try everything to save your relationship, but it failed anyway? I don’t have the answers, but it may help you to share your story below…
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