A year ago, I was dumped by my boyfriend of two years. Months later, I reconnected with an old friend.
By fall, we’d become best friends and started dating. He confided his clinical depression and often sought my advice or company when experiencing an episode.
However, I don't intend to take this relationship past senior year.
But I fear that he’s growing increasingly attached to me, despite my efforts to emphasize our friendship, rather than our relationship.
I’m afraid of what’ll happen to him if this relationship doesn’t work out, as he’s admitted to thinking about socially isolating himself, and also about suicide.
He pushes everyone away because he’s convinced he’s a problem to the people he gets close to.
I don't intend to give up on this relationship because I really care for him, but I don't want to be too serious about him either.
What should I do?
Make up your mind – you ‘intend’ to end the relationship after senior year, but you “don’t intend” to give it up…
I’m betting you have no idea what you’ll do, but you fear the future. However, a real “best friend” doesn’t leave a pal dangling, especially one who’s mentioned suicide.
Your discomfort comes from your gut feelings that he’s already relying on you too much. And the “dating” (sexual) factor increases the emotional bond.
Start talking up the friendship side, and urging him to get help for his depression. That means checking in regularly with his doctor, staying on medication if it’s prescribed, and his getting counselling too.
He’s young, with years ahead, and needs to learn to manage depression, but not by depending on others to get him through. Especially not by depending on someone equally young who can’t – and shouldn’t – be responsible for his low periods.
Be a good friend and cool the “relationship.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the stepmom whose stepson spent almost no time with her and her husband (Jan. 14):
Reader – “My friend’s daughter, 16, wouldn’t see her, talk to her, have any contact for a year. My friend didn’t know what she’d done “wrong” and her child wouldn’t tell her.
“She’d send her notes, showed up at school functions. The girl would walk by her.
“At Christmas, she was on her way out to deliver Christmas gifts to her daughter.
“I told her to put those gifts in the closet, get a Christmas card and write, “Merry Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful New Year” - no gift, no money.
“I asked why she’s rewarding the girl’s bad behaviour? It’s saying to her, treat me like garbage, ignore me, but here are some gifts for you.
“NO WAY. For every action there’s a consequence.
“I said, put the gifts in the closet and if and when she comes around and you become comfortable again, say, “I couldn’t give you the gifts before because of the way you treated me.”
“My friend did just that. When her daughter finally came around, she showed her the gifts and said “you may’ve forgotten about me, but I didn’t forget about you.”
“The problem? She was angry about something, went to live with her dad, he filled her head with all kinds of garbage which she never confronted her mom about.
“Soon, she felt that she could no longer approach her mom because she was embarrassed.
“Now they’re the best of friends.”
Ellie – A happy ending that most parents would love, but many find hard to wait out.
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother who feels that her daughter, 38, is “missing the opportunity to have children” and will end up “lonely and regretful” (Jan. 12):
Reader – “When I was 26, I chose to have a vasectomy, after being forced by the doctor to whom I made the request, to “think about this” for three months.
“I’d known since age 17 - and informed my mother - that I would have a wife, but not ever want to have children, no matter who or when I married.
“Perhaps people who’ve had children just aren’t aware that childless couples are enjoying life just as much, or more, than if they had children. It is a PERSONAL CHOICE!
“People shouldn’t be “forced” to have children just to please someone else. I’m 67 now, and have no regrets.”
Ellie – Thanks for providing another perspective on some parents’ misguided belief that all childless adults or couples aren’t fulfilled.
Tip of the day:
To support a clinically depressed friend, encourage maintaining treatment and counselling.