Welcome to "Ask Joe," our RealJock advice column, written by our regular contributor, Joe Weston. Joe is a life coach, workshop facilitator, lecturer and peace advocate with a deep commitment to the possibility of individual personal fulfillment. Looking for some clarity on tricky issues in your life? Share what's on your mind with Joe—concerning work, personal awareness, love and romance, meditation and spiritual exploration, or just about anything else that's getting between you and your life goals.
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My boyfriend and I have been in a six month relationship, and everything was going fairly well until two weeks ago. I first met him two months after he was laid off from a well-paying job. Since then, he has gotten increasingly depressed because he can't seem to find a job, even though he has a BA with Honors, and over twenty years of work experience as a banker.
The problem is that two weeks ago he asked me on the phone to not bother with him until he is able to find a job and is feeling better. I reassured him that I accepted him into my life for the person that he is and that his employment or social status was irrelevant to our relationship. He replied that sooner or later I will get tired of him, because usually most people don't like to be with a loser.
I have not gotten in touch with him since that break-up day, but I do call his mother from time to time to check up on her as she is an elderly woman who has many health issues. Yesterday my mother called his Mom and she sounded very concerned about her son's increasing depressive state and isolation in his apartment upstairs from her. I don't know what else to do at this point, and neither does his mother. His older brother suggested to just leave him alone and allow him to hit bottom on his own. I kind of agree that he needs to deal with this issue on his own, but I am still very concerned for his life as he had expressed suicidal wishes to me in the past.
I am very confused but I am also angry at him for not being sensitive to my feelings, and for not appreciating everything I have done for him. I have been there for him all the way for the past seven months, but I am afraid that at this point my feelings for him are not the same, as I am emotionally and spiritually drained.
I do get a lot of support from friends and family who, like me, have been helping him with getting a job even when he seems to have given up the search. And yes, he has voluntarily seen a gay psychologist for his depression, but lately he has given up on that too. Do I walk away, or is there something else I can or should do?
I’m sorry to hear about your partner's predicament and the pain it is causing everyone in his life. This is, of course, a delicate situation because in the end your partner has to find within himself the self-worth needed to get himself back on track. No one can do that for him.
But what you can do is let him know that you are prepared to support him in the best way you can. I assume you love the man. What are you doing to let him know that you will be there for him if he reaches out? Does he know that? No, you can’t fix things for him, but just knowing that you are there will offer him a beacon of light as he journeys into his own darkness. So, I suggest you find ways of letting him know that you are there for him when he reaches out.
It seems that he derived a lot of his self-worth from his work. Now that it is no longer there, it seems that he has convinced himself that his life doesn’t have much meaning. Well, career isn’t the only way to determine how much you value your life. There are many things to value, like family, contribution to the world, spirituality. Many people feel a deep sense of purpose because of how they have cultivated their relationships.
It sounds like he has many people around him with whom he has strong relationships. Maybe he needs to see that from you and others as a way to build up his confidence. If he can see that he is loved, even without a job, he may start loving himself.
At the same time, you have to stay aware of your own needs and boundaries. What do you need from him? In essence, he has made all the decisions. He decided that you wouldn’t see each other. He has decided to cut off contact. How long do you go on with this until you have to make your own decisions? You need to decide how much and how long you are going to give. If he doesn’t show any signs of wanting to engage with you again, then you have to make choices. The first person you need to take care of is you!
Good luck to you,
So a little about my background. I am 23 and originally from Mississippi. I went to undergrad in Arkansas and am now in Florida. for graduate school. I am at the point of being tired of just looking at eye candy. I say looking, because I have never really been the hook-up type. Call it being raised in a conservative atmosphere. I know that I have a lot of schooling left. Even after the masters in clinical psychology, I could have up to five years more of school, possibly in another state. The problem is that I am in South Florida, which is practically a gay haven. There are a lot of decent guys here. With schoolwork and limits on budget, I feel like I am limited and torn between having a personal life, and a deeply important/personal career. Add to that that the majority of South Florida is very image-conscious, and I have to fight my own self-doubts. I guess on many levels I am just really afraid of being with someone, and at the same time, I don’t want to be alone. What’s my next step?
—Frustrated in Florida
Sounds like even though you feel you aren’t in a good place geographically, it seems like you are in a good place within yourself. I think it is a strong statement to say that you are tired of the eye candy. That says that you are ready for some substance. Great! I always talk about the candy store mentality. It is fine to spend some time playing around, connecting with attractive guys, etc., but at a certain point our bodies and souls require some “brussel sprouts,” something of more value that truly nurtures our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
So you do have a challenge in that everywhere you look there is yummy candy that is always in your face. Plus, it is more challenging to find the deeper, more satisfying connections that you are seeking. But it is not impossible to find it! Have faith. I think it is great that you are committed to your studies and your calling with psychology. Keep it up. But I do think it is possible to make some time to nurture your needs and desires in a way that feels right to you.
Start looking around for organizations, clubs or centers that share similar values to you. I know that there are gay people in Florida who are committed to a spiritual path or looking to cultivate lasting intimate relationships.Are there any fellow students that you feel a connection with? Any student organizations that speak to you and where you might meet some interesting people? Have you thought of putting out an ad where you dare to speak what you are looking for—intimacy? Even though I support you in your desire to find meaningful intimate contact with others, don’t forget to have fun! That is also a way to nurture the body, mind and soul.
Remember, it’s nice to have your sweets after eating your greens,
About Joe Weston: Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator and personal life coach. Born and educated in New York, Joe lived in Amsterdam for 17 years and now lives in California. He is committed to helping others embody spirituality and supporting them on their journey towards personal fulfillment and empowerment. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan and a variety of spiritual traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings. He also volunteers for the Liberation Prison Project, teaching Buddhism to inmates. To find out more about his workshops and his personal coaching, visit www.joeweston.com.
Joe will be offering a monthly class in Oakland, CA: Full Body Meditation, combining different physical disciplines as a preparation for a successful mediation. Check here for details. He is also leading a Respectful Confrontation one-day training in Amsterdam on April 17 and in Oakland on May first, and offers a 25 dollar discount to RealJock readers. For more info, click here.