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Depression, mood swings ruining relationship

DEAR AMY: I'm a single mother of three who has been dating a single father of three, on and off, for just over a year. We both have good careers. I'm quite independent and levelheaded, with a positive outlook on life. This relationship is an emotional roller coaster. We've broken up every few months due to my partner's depression, lack of trust and negative outlook. He has been deeply scarred by his divorce and the several brief relationships he had before ours. I believe he might be bipolar. He told me he loves me and that I'm the best thing that has ever happened to him. He also says that I'm better off without him. One day he is making grand plans for our future as a blended family. Then he suddenly falls into a depression -- nothing is possible and the future is bleak. Almost every week, he requires a few days of isolation to brood. He excludes me from helping him or trying to make things easier for him. I love him very much, but we're not getting anywhere. I feel like I'm failing him as a partner if I choose not to stick by him. I've become nervous and indecisive because his moods affect me so much. A friend said that I'm obsessed with being his savior. I think I don't want to give up on him, or our relationship, because I'm an optimist. Am I acting logically or rationally? I don't know anymore.

-- Deeply Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: One downside of being an optimist is that optimistic people tend to forget yesterday's trauma in the belief that everything will turn out well. This can keep people in bad relationships because they genuinely believe that things will always improve.

Unfortunately, when it comes to people, patterns rule. Your guy's black moods will return, and yesterday's drama will repeat itself, no matter what your outlook is.

You cannot save him. He desperately needs professional help. You have three children to think about. They are the ones who need a savior, every single day. If you can't do what's best for you, do what's best for them.

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