Dear Dan: 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
Dear SAD: “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.”
Not following @RobDelaney on Twitter? You’re the only one. Go to robdelaney.com to buy his new book.
Dear Dan: Setting sexually transmitted infections aside, is it safer for a woman planning to have a one-night stand to take the guy back to her place or to go to his place? Does this apply if both are staying in hotels?
—Reader Is Seeking Knowledge
Dear RISK: When you’re having sex with a stranger, RISK, it’s generally considered safer — some would argue only marginally so — to go back to his place. The reason for this is kinda depressing: A stranger is less likely to murder you at his place because then he has to dispose of your body, which is apparently a real pain in the ass. But if he murders you at your place, RISK, he can jet in the morning and stick your landlord and loved ones with disposal duties.
This week on the Savage Lovecast, Dan chats with an expert about sex after weight-loss surgery: savagelovecast.com.
Respond: firstname.lastname@example.org Send questions for Dan to email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @fakedansavage.