DEAR ABBY: I recently started dating again after ending a very difficult marriage. To say I am guarding my heart for fear of getting hurt would be an understatement.
I have met someone that I can see having a future with, but some things concern me. He has been hospitalized for mental health reasons in the past. He's constantly saying, "I'm sorry I'm so screwed up" or remarking about being "crazy." He mentions his depression almost daily, and he hates being, as he puts it, "messed up in the head." He just can't seem to move past his issues.
I feel like he doesn't want to move forward and start living his life again. I have lived with depression for most of my life, but it doesn't define who I am. If I don't respond to his calls or messages right away, he gets hurt and assumes I'm mad at him.
My question is, am I being overly cautious based on not wanting to get hurt again, or should I take a step back? I would like to see a future with him, but I'm not sure he is ready to see any kind of a future with anyone. -- GUARDED HEART
DEAR GUARDED HEART: You are not being overly cautious. You are asking yourself intelligent, insightful questions about someone who appears not as far along on the path to mental wellness as you are. Is this man still being treated for his issues? If not, he should be encouraged to talk with a licensed mental health professional not only about his depression, but also his glaring lack of self-esteem.
From your description, I would have to say he needs a friend now more than a romance, so take plenty of time if you proceed in this relationship. If he makes progress, see where things lead. If not, then in light of your own history, it might be better for you to find someone who is stronger.