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Dysthymia and Relationships

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Dysthymia and Relationships

Postby WriteOnTheRun » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:59 pm

Hello All,

I’m a 60-year-old man who’s long battled with dysthymia, and I have a question – a complex one, perhaps – about the link between this condition and a propensity toward failed relationships. I’m not looking for coddling here, but rather for some good, honest feedback.

A bit of history: Undoubtedly, I’ve been grappling with attachment issues and dysthymia for most of my life, as my mom and dad were away from me during most of my infancy -- a time when I was very ill and left in the care of my maternal grandmother. If we flash forward a couple of decades, you would find that I’ve done a great deal of work to understand this ruptured attachment, along with the ways in which it’s left me with an “anxious” and grasping style of relating to others – mainly, in terms of the ways in which I relate to women. And apart from these relational difficulties, I’ll remind you, once again, that I do suffer from a chronic low-to-medium grade form of depression.

Despite all of this, I’ve spent much of my adult life in committed relationships, with 23 years of that time in a chronically troubled marriage. Since the failure of that union, I’ve had a series of difficult shorter-term relationships in which: (1) I accelerate the level of intimacy too quickly; (2) my partner stays with me, quite enthusiastically, for a little while; and (3) things then become difficult, as we both sense that I’ve been grasping for connection (including sex) without quite fathoming the other levels of intimacy that are necessary for the development of a stable, committed relationship. If you look at all of this through the lens of family theory, I seem to be not-well-differentiated at times, with the consequence that I end up in relationships in which my tendency to become “enmeshed” rather quickly is a significant problem.

The relationships I’ve had over the past seven years have sometimes ended at my request, and some of them ended when the partner in question couldn’t abide things any more. Some of these relationships can be chalked up to my poor choice of a partner, with a couple of these women mired in significant emotional difficulties. Other relationships seemed to hold some promise, but eventually broke down, nonetheless.

Right now, I find myself exasperated and lonely, and have had a couple recent bouts of major depressive disorder. I would like to have a stable and committed relationship with a woman, but don’t seem able to find the right match. It’s not an issue of getting dates, or of the lack of friendly, intellectual or sexual attraction. Nonetheless, something feels awry here, and I can’t help but think that this has something to do with my dysthymia… or, despite my good self-work, a profound failure to heal my old attachment wounds.

I would truly value any insight you may have about these dynamics, whether that insight is based on personal experience or clinical expertise. Of course, I’ll be happy to provide any further details that would shed more light on the situation.

Thanks in advance for your time and help…
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Re: Dysthymia and Relationships

Postby quietgirl2538 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:12 pm

I have left a shadow to this post in the Dysthymia Forum, but have moved it to Significant Others, Family and Friends Forum because I feel it could get more replies here as well. This means it can be seen in both forums.
“There’s an Asian expression that ‘a burden shared is halved.’"

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Re: Dysthymia and Relationships

Postby WriteOnTheRun » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:24 pm

Thanks so much, quietgirl!

Mike
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Re: Dysthymia and Relationships

Postby quietgirl2538 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:31 pm

You're welcome. :D
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Re: Dysthymia and Relationships

Postby WriteOnTheRun » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:37 pm

OK, let me rephrase my original post in a way that's a bit tighter and easier to read.

For those of you with dystymia, or some other form of depression, what difficutlites have you had in forming and maintaining romantic relationships?

Any tips on navigating the dating world... for those of us who often feel that we're operating at only 70% of optimal functioning?

Mike
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Re: Dysthymia and Relationships

Postby realityhere » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:53 am

Good that you understand your attachment problems and have worked on them thru therapy. Attachment issues often reflect a fear of abandonment, a very primal feeling in a baby that loses the strong bond with its mother. The child develops coping methods to deal with that fear and carries those coping methods into adulthood. That seems to explain the "grasping" style and the enmeshment with another that you experienced in your previous intimate relationships.

The depression may be a result of this (anxiety and depression often accompany feelings of abandonment) or it may be the cumulative effect of the relationship failures in your life.

Functioning at 70% of optimal functioning is way better than rock bottom and not acknowledging that one needs professional help. Hopefully you've discussed this depression with your therapist and are getting some treatment for it?

I look at it from this perspective: it's better to have loved and lost than to never have experienced love. You've loved before and you may again, and just maybe this time works the charm because you've already put a lot of hard work into yourself.
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