General Question

Glow's avatar

Is it normal part of growing up for a guy to get super pessimistic and depressed when he is in his early 20s?

Asked by Glow (1366points) June 21st, 2011

I just have to know…. is this just a phase or something? I have been with my boyfriend for 4+ years and it feels like he has just been getting worse with his pessimism and depression since he was 20. When he was 18, he was not like that. Now it’s like, he can’t be optimistic about anything. Not his future, not his physical health, not us, not his friends, not school, not family, not his potential career…. NOTHING. Everything and anything is worthless and pointless and I just can’t take it anymore. I love him so much, that’s why I have been with him this long, but I have to know… is this going to end?

Guys…. do you remember going through this when you were younger???? ):

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40 Answers

Tay122's avatar

I think you should try to make him happy. take him to interviews, come home one night with his favorite dinners. Right now it’s all about him. Once he’s passed this it will be about us. (as in you and your boyfriend)

FutureMemory's avatar

I was a mess at that age, but it was because of certain experiences I had gone through. Has he had a rough time with anything specific?

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
rock4ever's avatar

Everyone goes threw their phases. As long as he doesn’t show major signs of depression he should be fine. Like not wanting to get out bed, not wanting to eat, loss of interest in his favorite activities for over 2 weeks. If he doesn’t show those signs than he’ll eventually get over it and be happy again.

filmfann's avatar

that is a hard age. You are expected to be moving towards establishing your self and your future. Even after I got my career job, I had awful moodiness. That didn’t really go away till I married, and even then occasionally crept back.

Glow's avatar

@Tay122 – I have tried a LOT to make him happy…. taking him out every weekend, cooking him dinner and breakfast, treating him nicely, helping him to pass his classes, helping him to find internships/jobs, etc etc. A lot.
@FutureMemory – Not that I know of. All his current problems are caused by his lack of desire to do anything good for himself :/
@rock4ever – I think he is really starting to show those signs. He sleeps irregularly, and stays up all night. He has loss interest in basically MOST things.

rock4ever's avatar

@Glow how long has he been like this?

ninjacolin's avatar

He’s lacking a productive philosophy about how life should be lived.

ninjacolin's avatar

It’s frustrating not to have good ideas about your own existence.

Tay122's avatar

and thats great that you’ve done alot.
maybe he needs someone professional.
have you tried a doctor or a therapist?

gondwanalon's avatar

We are all different. But I’ve been there and done that but not quite so severe as your boy friend. I got better when I graduated from college and went into the U.S. Army.

Glow's avatar

@rock4ever – Probably around the 2nd year of our relationship, so about 2 years now, I believe.
@ninjacolin – that seems to sound like him. Thing is though, most people I know just develop that themselves. He seems to have given up altogether on developing it at all….
@Tay122 – I have suggested it. He won’t do many things…. especially see a doctor. I will be lucky if he listens to any advice I give him….

trickface's avatar

I’m a moody bastard aged 21, I don’t know how you’ll make him happy but remembering my dreams and ambitions cheer me up when I’m perma-sad, also a little light mockery sometimes and a little hard discipline other times.

If all else fails… MASSIVE GUILT TRIPS because I don’t like to make other people sad if it’s just because of my own bad mood.

rock4ever's avatar

@Glow well in that case what he really needs is something to wake him up. Something to shock him out of it. He likely needs some sort of adventure. The best that you can give him… endless support and a trip to a psychiatrist.

Glow's avatar

@rock4ever – I agree. Only problem is motivating him to seek out that adventure, because adventures need to be sought out, they rarely ever come to you.

Glow's avatar

@trickface – Haha, I like your hard discipline idea :)

rock4ever's avatar

@Glow does he have a dream he’s always wanted to carry out, but never could? That could be the cause. Make his dream come alive!

Tay122's avatar

Then, even though this may be a lie in some peoples eyes, it’s for him. Tell him your taking him to a suprise place as in a therapist or doctor. Buy depresion medicene and tell him your only doing all of this because you care

ninjacolin's avatar

@Glow “He seems to have given up altogether on developing it at all….”

He would only do that if his current philosophy required him to forgo self improvement. It’s not that he’s lacking a philosophy at all.. what I’m suggesting is that he has a very strong philosophy in place already and it’s causing him to be the person that you’re seeing.

I’m suggesting that he has a strong and shitty philosophy that needs to be dealt with.

@Glow said: “most people I know just develop that themselves”

He still might but there’s no rules saying that you couldn’t help him to self-discover the ideas that are keeping him away from his own comfort with life. No pressure though, just saying

Glow's avatar

@rock4ever – Great idea! I am going to ask him that today.
@Tay122 – Hmmm….. I don’t think I can do that ): Thanks though. It’s kind of trickery and against my morals, plus… I think ti would be kind of hard to get him registered into a docs office w/o his permission lol.

Tay122's avatar

do whatever you can
plead your heart out to him

Coloma's avatar

If this has been going on for several years he may have depression issues that need treatment.

Dependent on his basic personality testing he could lean towards a passive aggressive, depressive nature. Is he more of an introvert or extrovert?

He may have a negativistic personality structure that without serious intervention and motivation could be detrimental to his life and relationships.

There is NOTHING you can do but offer encouragement for him to get some help, an assessment of his mental and emotional health.

I’d recommend not continuing the relationship if he is not open to some professional intervention. It’s too bad, but, someone like that is not going to be a healthy relationship choice in the long term.

There is a big difference in experiencing a situational depression due to a life crisis such as death or divorce or job loss, but, to be negative for years on end signifies something deeper that needs attention.

You cannot fix him, that’s his job, and it is perfectly fine to say that you are not able to cope with his issues, nor should you, without some serious motivation to get better that can only come from within himself.

Glow's avatar

@ninjacolin – I agree that he has a shitty philosophy… I just wonder how he is going to learn to find the strength to deal with it…. I obviously can’t influence it…. I just hope it’s a phase in his life… like a growing pain or something…

@Coloma – I want to say he is an extrovert, but lately he has been more of an introvert. I guess he sort of shifted since we first met. I know this is mostly something he needs to deal with on his own, I just can’t help but worry so much. I do love him, and the last thing I want to think of is leaving him, as I can imagine that may make his condition worse. I know he loves me too, but I just wish I knew why he was this way and if it’s going to stop. I used to be this way in HS and it lasted 3 years. Maybe it’s the same for him??

rock4ever's avatar

Don’t just straight out ask him. Start a real conversation first. Tell him your dreams first.

ninjacolin's avatar

@Glow “I just wonder how he is going to learn to find the strength to deal with it…. I obviously can’t influence it”

It’s defeatist to say that you “can’t” influence it. Don’t say stuff like that.

How will he find the strength? There’s no strength required. It doesn’t take energy to believe something is true or false. It only takes conviction. If he believes his ideas are sound, then he will continue to pursue them. If he believes they are unsound, if he believes there are better ideas that he could be living by.. then he won’t have a choice in the matter. He will simply pursue those ideas instead of the ones he’s been following.

ninjacolin's avatar

That method is exactly how he got to where he is now. He was convinced that this is better than the alternative. He needs to know that he was wrong so that he can make another drastic change, but this time towards the good.

I know this is a different kind of admonition than the classic: “Tell him to go to a therapist” type of suggestion. Forgive me, I’m an experienced optimist.

Glow's avatar

I know I shouldnt say that, but the only reason I do is because I have tried so many things and it has basically done nothing…. I could be wrong about that, but it seems to be the case… I’m an optimistic person unlike him, which is why I am hoping it is just a phase, but the reality may be that he has something far more serious going on… regardless, I will trudge on….

ninjacolin's avatar

If we were talking in person I could probably give you more tips on how to be useful to someone in that position. It seems strange, but it has a lot to do with selling skills and being able to appeal to his better judgement through your choice of words.. especially your questions.

ninjacolin's avatar

There’s technique involved.

perspicacious's avatar

No, it’s not a normal expected part of growth. It is something specific to you yourself. If you cannot manage it alone, get some help.

Coloma's avatar


Not to be harsh my darling, but, YEARS is NOT a phase. Your boyfriend is very emotionally/mentally unwell. Do not be a co-dependent, trying to fix and save him. Take it from a mature woman, you CAN’T make a difference! Don’t learn this lesson the hard way like so many women who have gone before you, if you stay with him or marry him it will either stay the same or, most likely get WORSE.

If you want to be happy and healthy you give him an ultimatum, you tell him he a 3 months to DO something to help himself or, you’re outta there. Trust me, you’re signing up for a lot of misery if you remain loyal and optimistic in the face of, what is, CLEARLY, a serious mental health issue.

If YOU are willing to sacrifice your OWN happiness and well being for an unhealthy person, you need some intervention too.

Chronically negative and depressed people do not make good husbands, wives or parents.

Glow's avatar

@Coloma – I know what you’re saying. honestly, I doubt many women would have tolerated as much as me. Only love and hope is keeping me here. Even he has mentioned that he is not sure why I stay with him considering how he is and how much I dislike it… I know ): I have given him the ultimatum before and he would straighten up for like the moment. I know this has been going on for too long…. I can’t help but care for him… In a way I guess that makes me weak too?

ninjacolin's avatar

it’s so interesting how different views can clash in some ways. I agree with @Coloma that you shouldn’t stay too long but I’ve also seen cases where depressive types get left only to turn into zombie stalkers of their ex-loves. There’s bad all around to experience sometimes.

Coloma's avatar


No, that doesn’t make you weak, but it makes you a bit masochistic. YOUR happiness and desires count too!

Let me tell you my story. I was with a guy from 17.5 until 43 years old. I finally divorced him after 22 years of marriage and 26 years of relationship. It took ME that long to wake up and throw in the towel. Women are programmed to stand by their men, the problem is, we often stand by them until we are on the verge of a breakdown ourselves.

I have been free for 8 years now, and I wonder what took me so long! lol

I am just the voice of experience sharing some wisdom. :-)

As I said, don’t fool yourself thinking that things will get better on their own, and whatever you do, don’t marry the guy of have kids with him. Trust me, it won’t be a good thing.

Glow's avatar

@ninjacolin – Yeah I have seen those types too… I doubt he is that way though. Most of all, I imagine him getting more pessimistic and depressed.. like “great, I can’t do anything right, not even keep a girl”.
@Coloma – I am definitely still pursuing my own desires and happiness. I will definitely not let his ways get in the way of my life! I plan to leave the country and travel, whether he comes or not! I plan to get my masters and become a teacher and exhibiting artist… so many things I want to do whether he is there or not. But my heart will always feel his sting…. how emo (as the kids say these days ha)! That is an interesting experience though… I don’t want that to be me (no offense to you). So I definitely won’t marry him. No kids and no ring until I am 30! ;) Maybe ha.

Coloma's avatar


Good job girl!

My generation was still on the cusp between womans lib and stand by your man, most of us chose the man. Blah!
We got the raw end of the deal, we were expected to bring home the paychecks AND still cater to them like good little Stepford wifeys. haha

Glow's avatar

@Coloma – Ya know, things don’t seem to be too different from that… I notice many guys still have those same expectations!

plethora's avatar

Neither you nor anyone else is going to make him happy. We are all responsible for our own happiness. You (nor I) can change anyone else’s behavior.. Personal experience is that I have never in my entire life (which is several decades longer than 22) been super pessimistic or depressed. He may be suffering from clinical depression, but you cannot solve that problem either. It’s up to him to go to the doc.

Go find a guy with whom you can be happy.

mrrich724's avatar

Has he considered clinical depression? Has he considered seeing someone to be diagnosed?

Magdalene's avatar

He needs extra love and care that’s probably missing in his life as a result of which he is unable to foresee any optimism in anything!

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