This will be a long psot. I have a lot of bottled up emotion on this scenario and I hope to be able to get some advice and encouragement on here.
Basically, I've known this guy for a few years. We became closer and closer, spent nearly a year talking daily, were best friends, and decided that both of us really wanted a relationship almost a year ago.
It was great dating someone I already trusted completely and knew so well.... He's always been a very caring guy, attentive, never pushed me, looks after me and we share many basic beliefs and morals... The first 6 or 7 months were more than I could have asked for.
Guess I should have been more wary of all the promises.... the typical things like talking about buying a ring, having a future. I am not an idiot, and I tried to disregard his words entirely.. but he's a sincere speaker and over time, hearing such wonderful things come out of the mouth of someone I trusted so much wore me down.
It came as a shock to me when around January he suddenly started to withdraw and then told me out of the blue that he didn't know if we'd last. We decided to give it a month, see if things improve.... He has a tendency to be a bit moody at times, so I figured he was just in a funk. He pulled things together and we were great again until around early-mid March. He withdrew again... looking back now, I can see that he's been slowly withdrawing since January, it's just that things became more exaggerated in March. Feeling rejected, I tried to get answers or at least justification out of him as to what was with the sudden aversion towards me, the only wanting to talk maybe once a week, not counting a 4 or 5 hour weekly date. I know now that I shouldn't have pushed him; I should have been more patient. I feel horrible because although a small part of me suggested it might be depression (he had an episode of 4 or 5 months of it 3 years back), I didn't believe it....
Someone who I've always known to have a little pent up rage, but who was stable and kept it controlled, is now becoming extremely hard to be around. Most people in our group of friends assumed his off putting behavior meant he didn't want to talk to them any more and stopped making efforts to reach out, although they always welcomed him.
I have gotten him to talk, and from what I understand he is buried under immense amount of guilt. Guilt about everything, from tiny matters to things like all the former friends he lost to drugs, alcohol, and intense partying. In the past, he's had all of his 'friends' turn on him without warning and betray him- a scenario that ultimately resulted in a conviction dependent upon falsified evidence. Understandably, he feels rejection quite acutely...
It feels like I haven't seen more than a handful or glimpses of the man I fell in love with for months now. It's the depression talking, and although I know that, it's getting harder and harder to not take it to heart when he says he doesn't think he can be in a relationship much longer. He puts on some of the most convincing masks I've ever encountered and lies to make me feel better (something that is the opposite of his nature)... he aims to keep me happy, since he isn't any longer. Then he turns around and says he wants to break up, because he isn't happy with me any more... I try to explain to him that relationships are not magic, and that if he doesn't feel fulfilled and content with his life, he can't expect to feel joy in a relationship... He sees it as making excuses, says I'm blind because I still love him. Then he also says he doesn't want to lose me... It's just a cycle of ups and downs, and the more time drags on the longer the downs last.
Since we were friends for a while first, I tell myself that I need to put the friendship first and toss the relationship aside for a while... and it's true, he needs a good friend right now..... but I'm scared that if we break up, I'll be too emotional to be there for him properly for a few weeks. I get this feeling that he wishes to split because of the guilt... he blames himself for all the things that he's ever done that caused me pain, especially now. But if he ends it, he could also end up feeling more guilty about how badly I took the break up.... plus there's the fact that ending things is something he'll most likely regret once he gets through the depression, but I doubt he'd ever try to get back with me because he's be frightened of hurting me. He's already told me that if we were to split, he'd want me to "find someone you deserve.... a better man than me."
I don't know what would be best for him, and I loathe my selfish desire to stay with him :/
I feel as if I'm at war with his depression, but the past few days I realized it's something neither of us can deal with alone... I want to get him help as soon as possible, while suicide is still out of his mind. Do you guys know of good ways to present the idea of seeing someone, without giving it the "weak/unmanly" connotation?
I'll do what it takes to get my best friend back. I miss him and feel lonely without him by my side...
Thank you so much for any help/advice you can give :)