Originally published November 27, 2013.
I recently ended a relationship that lasted a year and five months. While I loved this woman, for much of the relationship she was, to varying degrees, depressed. I tried to be as helpful and patient as possible, with the hope and expectation that she would get better. I got her into counseling. We went to couples counseling together. She got on medication. I encouraged her to eat well (I cooked her many healthy meals) and exercise daily (which she was never able to do). I tried to get her out into nature. I tried to listen and practice strong communication skills. I encouraged her to explore the benefits of a fulfilling and GGG relationship, but our sex life faltered because of the depression and her low libido. I kept helping and waiting, but she was simply unable to assert herself to make healthy changes (both physical and mental). I felt trapped dating someone who couldn't take control of her life, and the patterns kept repeating. I eventually ended the relationship, which was the right decision for me, but she was crushed. I'm hoping we can be friends in the future. Do you have any advice for dating someone with depression? Can relationships and depression work? I found it to be soul-crushing.
Serious About Depression
"I think SAD did the right thing," said Rob Delaney, the comedian, Twitter supernova, and author of the new book Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. "And not only 'the' right thing, but a series of right things." Delaney's book is a collection of personal essays—most of them hilarious—in which he writes about his own struggle with depression so crippling, it almost took his life. Delaney is now the official spokesperson for all people everywhere who struggle with depression.
"This guy went above and beyond, motivated by his obvious love for this woman and his decency as a person," Delaney continued. "One might 'suck it up' for a bit longer if there are kids involved, or if you've been together for years and years and this depressive state is an anomaly, but this guy can't be expected to weld himself to someone he's been dating for less than a year and a half when there are people out there he'd truly enjoy himself with."
Delaney not only felt that you had done right by this woman, but that your actions could serve as a template for other readers dating people struggling with depression.
"SAD was kind, patient, and proactive, and when that didn't work, he ended the relationship," said Delaney. "He didn't assume that she would implode without him around. He seems to have a manageable enough ego to realize that he's not the sun and the air and the only doorway through which this woman can walk to happiness; he's merely another human being (albeit a kind one) whose happiness has value, too. And maybe this breakup will provide the jolt she needs to recalibrate her approach to her depression and really get better. He also showed her another person taking care of himself. I sincerely hope she develops this skill herself, but as anyone who's been around for a while and witnessed trouble and had troubles of their own knows, you cannot will that behavior into people. That does not mean you don't love them."
After his appearance in Savage Love, Rob would go on to co-create Catastrophe, one of the smartest and funniest shows on television about love, marriage, children. This was not a coincidence.