I've been with my partner for about 18 months now. We had been together for 4 months or so when he told me he has depression. I guess there had been some signs (becoming distant and reclusive) but as we live a couple of hours apart and would really only see each other on weekends it was difficult to really see what was going on. He has told me that he was diagnosed about 15 years ago and I think he has been on medication pretty much ever since. I don't know a lot of details as he is reluctant to talk about it and I don't want to push him. I know that at times it can be very bad and that he has had thoughts of suicide.
I have not had much experience with depression and so have tried to read a lot of material and speak with a girlfriend who suffers from depression to get her thoughts on different things but it's clear that it is an illness that affects different people in many different ways so it's not always that helpful. I am very confused about it all because when we are together everything seems to be great. He is good at showing and telling me that he loves me and I feel positive about our future. The problem is when we're apart. We see each other most weekends and I travel to his town for work fairly regularly for a few days or a week at a time but on occasion for work or other reasons we don't see each other for 2-3 weeks.
Twice during two particularly long periods of not seeing each other he has broken up with me, firstly in November last year and then around Easter this year. There has been some tension before that time (mainly due to his poor telephone communication and me needing more contact) but I wouldn't say that there were any issues that would warrant ending the relationship - particularly when we have had discussions about our long term future including marriage and children. Each of the times he has broken up with me it has been over the telephone. Because of the distance we haven't been able to see each other for a few days or more but when we did finally seen each other again he told me how stupid he had been, how low he had been feeling and that he had made a huge mistake. Each time it has broken my heart but I've accepted his depression as being a major factor in him pushing me away and I haven't wanted to walk away from an otherwise great relationship.
The second time it happened (around Easter) was actually shortly before I was due to move to his town to live with him. We had discussed this many times and had agreed that it was the best way to move our relationship forward. I had arranged this with my work and having to go back on all of these plans was very difficult and, to be honest, quite humiliating. I have since decided that I am not moving to be with him until I feel some more security and certainty in our relationship.
The other day I found out he had been looking at girls (on Facebook) in his local area through a social networking group he belongs to in his town. I asked him what that was all about and he said that one night he was feeling really low and began thinking that something in his life had to change, which is the explanation he has previously given in breaking up with me. He thought that maybe what he needed to change in his life was me, because if I was the right person for him then having me in his life should stop him from feeling so low. And so he looked up these girls effectively to see what was out there. He told me it was a moment of weakness and that when he doesn't feel like he can love himself he cannot love me either. I'm not sure when he did this but it was in the last couple of months when I actually thought everything was going really well - we had been talking about getting engaged. He told me he had not contacted any of them and that it was just one night of him feeling really negative about us so, sitting on the computer, he looked them up.
My previous relationship was emotionally and on a few occasions physically abusive. I am a 34 year old professional woman who likes to think that she's not stupid and yet I have now found myself in two relationships with some very unhealthy aspects. I am worried that I am attributing these issues in my current relationship to my partner's depression when it could really be that 'he's just not that into me'. I have not previously been in any way concerned about his fidelity. He has never cheated on a partner and since his marriage ended 8 years ago I am the longest relationship he has had. I have met his sister when we travelled interstate to visit her and her family and we're again travelling interstate to spend Christmas with her and the rest of his family. In so many ways he seems committed to me but it scares me how quickly it seems to be able to change, lose any sense of his love for me and start looking at alternatives.
I know that I am the only one who can decide what to do but I really need some advice and information. I keep thinking that once we can actually be together 'full time' then may this will all get better because the distance and time apart seems to be a significant factor in all of this. Could his behaviour/reactions be in any way connected to his depression or am I just kidding myself?