First to give you a little background we meet online last June. He is 46, divorced once (marriage lasted ten years), left by his fiancé a couple weeks before a second marriage would have taken place. Both his first wife and fiancé left him. I’m 38, never married, longest relationship has been three years.
He disclosed he suffers with bi-polar three months after we meet. He wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms of depression or mania and said he hadn’t had an episode in more than a year. Admittedly I didn’t know much about bi-polar at first but did a lot of reading and speaking to a family member who is a psychiatrist about the illness so I could learn what to expect, signs of mood cycling, drug options and side effects, and how to be supportive without being an intrusive harpy. We talked about his history with the illness and he answered questions when I asked about specifics. Mostly I tried to remain cognizant of his mood changes and be there for him emotionally when he needed reinforcements. He felt comfortable talking to me about his struggles and I’m a nurturer so it was easy for me to listen and lend support when he asked for it.
We always had a good time together, rarely had an argument, enjoyed a satisfying sex life, and had similar attitudes about what we wanted in our lives.
Mid-December he started exhibiting signs of depression. He admitted that he had stopped taking his meds and seeing his counselor but assured me could manage through the depression without intervention. He was feeling better between Christmas and New Years, he meet my parents for the first time on Xmas eve and remained upbeat and engaged the whole evening. I felt very close to him at that point. We talked daily and were spending more nights together than apart.
He dipped into severe depression in January and realized he screwed going off his meds so he got back on them and leveled back out within 2-3 weeks. During that leveling out from late January through mid-February our sex life dried up. At first I thought the meds were robbing him of his libido because from what I’d researched anti-depressants are real boner killers. I wasn’t concerned about it being an emotional disconnect since he was still affectionate with hugging, kissing, and holding hands like we always had done and we were still spending the same amount of time together.
I tried numerous times to initiate sex in March without success. I started to feel things were “off” and it was bigger than just a med problem but my heart over-ruled my brain and I began to ignore the red flags that were starting to wave.
First week in April he invites me to spend the weekend dog sitting with him for his kids at his ex-wife’s house while they were in Hawaii (she remarried and has full custody of their two teenage sons). The first night we ended up naked in the hot tub. Things were working huzzah!! Before we got too far along I asked him to go inside with me because it wasn’t warm enough (April in Seattle ain’t that warm at 1am even in a hot tub). He agreed and said he’d follow but wanted to power down the tub first. No problem, I went inside climbed into bed and was ready to go when he came in ten minutes later. We resume the sexy-times and just as I climb on top of him he starts loosing his erection. I didn’t make a fuss about his sinking ship and did everything I could to maintain the mood with eye contact and soft words (reminding him how sexy he was, telling him how good he felt and how much I enjoyed being with him). Eventually he asked me to get off him and with a shrug said we could try again in the morning. I kissed him sweetly on the lips, snuggled up next to him, and we held each other until we feel asleep. The next morning he was out of bed without so much as a word spoken. We spent the day with friends and didn’t talk about what didn’t happen in bed. The second night we feel asleep watching SNL without even kissing or touching one another. Sunday morning he was out of bed again before I even woke up. I tried bringing it up with sensitivity but he didn’t want to talk at all. I left the house and only cried when I was in my car alone. I cried over being denied that conversation, cut out emotionally, and the realization that he wasn’t going to hold onto me – the disconnect had begun.
We continued to see each other a couple times a week and he would ask me to stay over but he wouldn’t stay over at my place anymore. When I did stay over he would hold me until I feel asleep but he had zero interest in anything else. I woke up one morning with him spooning me from behind and I could feel his erection pressing between my thighs. When I started to roll over to face him he rolled in the opposite direction so he wouldn’t face me. I ended up getting out of bed, asked to talk about what was really going on, he didn’t want to talk so I left the house.
Two days later I left for Europe. We talked the first seven days of my trip via text and FB then he stopped returning my texts. Five days later I came home. I called him from the Chicago airport while waiting on a connecting flight to Seattle – he said he was with his kids and he’d call me the next day. He didn’t call, just sent an apologetic text for not calling. He invited me to diner two days later but cancelled at the last minute. 11 days passed from the time I got home to the time we saw one another. Female intuition was screaming “he’s breaking up with me” at that point. When he arrived at my house that afternoon we had a nice diner and full evening of conversation and playful kisses. He told me after diner that he was cycling up into mania and from what I’d learned about bi-polar the flighty behavior of the past couple weeks made sense. Again I choose to remain supportive while his mood was shifting. We continued to talk daily but he kept canceling dates with plausible excuses. I tried one last time to ask him what was going on but was shot down with “I’m just too busy to do anything right now.”
Two weeks later I login to Facebook and see a post on his wall telling everyone he’s taking another woman (a name I’ve never heard before) away to the San Juan islands for the weekend. I immediately called him and asked him what his weekend plans were (not mentioning what I read on FB)and expressed how disconnected I thought we’d become since my Europe trip. He said he felt disconnected too that he had a full weekend of house sitting and that we should get together after the weekend to talk. That’s when I said I read the post on FB about the other women. He immediately got defensive and told me that he didn’t think we were in a serious relationship. Never mind the fact that we’d been exclusive for the past 11 months and he’s the one who asked for that exclusivity a month into dating. We had a very heated and hurtful conversation. I ended up telling him that we all make decisions, because he didn’t want commitment I didn’t want to hold on anymore. He emailed the next day to apologize and to say the situation was all on him. He asked if we could be friends. I accepted only because I was afraid to loose him totally from my life. With some distance now I think that his friendship is a second rate consolation prize offered only to absolve himself of whatever guilt or shame he felt for not handling the break up better. That Facebook post was his passive way of drawing me into an argument where it would be easier for him to break up with me.
A week later we had a civil email exchange where he told me he had love in his heart for me, just not romantic love. He was deeply appreciative of the support I gave him through the mood shifts and that I have all these great qualities he’s looking for in a partner. Looking back I think he had those gooey romantic feelings but when they wained he didn’t have the skills in his mental toolbox to tell me the truth.
Last weekend he called me from a cooking/chef shop he discovered. He said the place reminded him of me (we both loved to cook and spent a lot of time in the kitchen together while dating). Anyway he asked me to take some cooking classes with him at this place. I immediately said I thought that was a bad idea and he got all glum. I’m seriously trying to move on and have no false hope that we’ll get back together. He’s dating others so this wasn’t a win-me-back gesture.
I felt very deflated and angry at myself for holding on the past couple months when it was clear things would never get back to normal. After reading this blog for 2+ years I failed to use the advice I’ve read here simply because my heart didn’t want to accept the truth. I accept my faults and realize I need to get real and open my eyes when warning signs begin to go off.
What do you think his motivation was in asking me to take classes with him? Do you think exes can be friends without agenda?
Mostly I’m just curious about your overall feedback. I don’t recall reading any past posts about dating people with mental illness or other manageable health issues.
He is 46, divorced once (marriage lasted ten years), left by his fiancé a couple weeks before a second marriage would have taken place. Both his first wife and fiancé left him.
Okay. I do not know enough about bi-polar disorder to be able to discern how that played in to the outcome of your situation. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. The two could very well be mutually exclusive. What we know is that his last two relationships ended with the women leaving him. In one situation, the woman left him two weeks before they were to wed. To me, the fact that the women were the ones to end the relationship sets off all kinds of warning bells.
Why did he ask you to take cooking classes? I have no clue. Why does it matter? You’re trying to unravel an unsolvable mystery. This guy obviously stopped having feelings for you. Whether it was due to the fact that he is bi-polar doesn’t make a difference to me. He wasn’t interested. He stopped having sex with you. He behaved like an asshat. That’s all you need to know. Trying to figure out what motivated this behavior is a waste of energy. This guy clearly has trouble with relationships. End of story.
Do you think exes can be friends without agenda?
Again, I have to ask why this is your question. Why would you want to be friends with this particular ex? I can certainly understand being friends with someone that you dated. Just because things didn’t work out romantically doesn’t mean that you and that person can’t be great platonic friends. But when the ex shows the clear cut signs that this guy has displayed, I have to wonder what you’re actually trying to hold on to.
Looking back I think he had those gooey romantic feelings but when they wained he didn’t have the skills in his mental toolbox to tell me the truth.
Or….he’s just an asshole who happens to be bi-polar versus someone with bi-polar who, on occasion, happens to act like an asshole. Like when he decides to take you for a naked whirl in his ex wife’s hot tub. Maybe I’m over reacting to that, I don’t know. But it doesn’t sound terribly respectful.
He admitted that he had stopped taking his meds and seeing his counselor but assured me could manage through the depression without intervention.
And how did that work out for him? This guy is reckless with his own well-being. Why would he care about yours?
You need to stop trying to figure him out. I highly doubt even he knows why he does what he does. (Again, that might have nothing to do with the fact that he is bi-polar.) You’re trying to figure out if there is still hope that you and he might have something. Even if you could, why would you want that? There are plenty of other men out there. You don’t have to cling to this one.