This is likely to be a long post, and I am sorry, but I would really like some reassurance and impartial opinions.
My ex boyfriend and I were together for 5.5 years, and were friends for about a year before that. The beginning of our relationship was in person, but the latter half was long distance, but we saw each other frequently and talked everyday.
Since the beginning of our relationship, it was indicated he may have mental health issues, but nothing ever really happened about it. After about 2 years of happily dating, I found out that he had been lied about being friends with a girl and had hidden their friendship. We had a discussion about this, and about why, he showed me some messages and I felt (and still do) feel certain it wasn't cheating. This was our first big fight and red flag about his mental illness. We talked a lot about it, and he told me that he struggles a lot, and that he really loved me and wanted to get better.
Fast forward through our relationship, there were more ups and downs, but never more than my friends who were in a relationship without any mental health issues. Overall the relationship was good, we communicated, were happy, and it felt right - there was a lot of love there. We had fun together, we both had our own lives and it always felt like a good healthy balance of life. He still struggled to be fully honest with me, but worked on it the best he could, although he never lied about anything malicious (it was always silly things like that he had ordered pizza instead of making dinner or had put on a little bit of weight). We had a conversation about us, and for the first time nearly breaking up, neither of us wanted that and he made it very clear that he wanted to be with me and loved me, he just struggled with his mental health a lot, he would name symptoms but was not diagnosed at this point. He told me that he was hanging out with people that he didn't care about to drown out the voices in his head and that he felt guilty even talking to me because he was letting me down and wasn't good enough. We agreed he put me on too much of a pedestal and that this needed to be solved to continue our relationship. He has a lot of issues with his abusive family members, the root of all this (had to lie a lot in his childhood to avoid more abuse), and he started to go to therapy alone and with his family as well. We discussed a lot about this and he opened up more about his past and seemed to get stable (although to me he never really seemed unstable), the therapist after some months diagnosed him with cyclothymia and he was doing well. He removed this idealised image of me, and things were going well, we had lots of chats about his childhood and he opened up to me more about things he never had, and had never told anyone else. We had a lot of good chats and things felt good. He was recommended to go on medication, but never followed up, and I didn't want to push him as he seemed to be doing well.
Things then went downhill following the death of his grandfather and one of few close family members. He told me he was using alcohol to deal with everything and that he was really out of it and anxious and disassociating. He started going back to therapy and he stopped drinking, he was finally being fully honest with me. He got a job, college was going great, he made new friends, and things were really good between us. Honestly, 95% of the time the relationship felt good, we had the odd arguments as all couples do about a myriad of things, but overall we saw each other a lot, talked a lot, and were happy. I never for a second doubted that he loved me, he was sweet, caring, thoughtful, and a great friend to me. It always felt like a healthy boyfriend - girlfriend dynamic, I never felt even with his mental illness I had to care for him more than he did for me, it was very balanced. We also had a very healthy sexual relationship throughout this whole period. We got along like a house on fire honestly and have since we met. He lost his dog, who was very important to him, but he coped with this well and didn't drink as he did previously. The relationship was good, and we had had no fights about anything for months - we were doing our own things and really thriving it felt.
Fast forward to December 2018, we had been talking a little less for about a week as we were both busy with work prior to the holidays, when we were going to be together. Everything seemed fine, he was making plans and we were discussing family gifts and christmas day. Then next thing I know he starts to freak out about the distance, I sort of dismissed it and told him we shouldn't worry, we would be able to close it soon (I think this was triggered by me getting a new job). He said he was being silly and cares about me, and he just doesn't want to hold me back.
The next day he started being really distant, I asked him what was wrong. He said he had to think, and then an hour later he sent me a long text saying that he loved me so much and always will, but he can't be in this relationship with his current mental health. I was shocked, literally two days before I thought things were fine, he said something just snapped and changed. I tried to call him and he didn't want to talk, eventually we spoke and he said he is confused about life and felt he needed to make ALL life decisions about his future NOW. He wasn't good enough for me, he was holding me back, and he didn't want me to wait for him to get better. I told him that I loved him and wanted to support him, that I will always care and if it is really what he wants we can break up but I will always support him. He said he didn't really want to break up, but felt we had to.
The next day we spoke again, and he told me he doesn't love me anymore, and then stopped talking to me and starting hanging out with this girl, we will call her Bryony. He is spending all this time with his friend Bryony, and she stayed over at his house he wouldn't respond to my calls, and I just told him I will give him some space. Eventually we speak again, he is nice and normal, he told me he said a lot of things he didn't mean and didn't understand why. He tells me multiple times he has no feelings for Bryony and it is just nice to talk to her because she distracts him and he doesn't have to think about mental health. He says he loves me and doesn't want to break up, but feels like we have to because he isn't healthy. He again says he is unsure about everything, we decided to give it a break for a few days to give him space to think. The trip to see each other was cancelled as he didn't want to see me in person or FaceTime while he wasn't 'right'. I left him alone and didn't message him until he contacted me again, we spoke and had nice conversations like we used to and then he would snap and refuse to talk to me again. Eventually it got to the point where I had to stop fighting for it, I loved him so much, but I couldn't deal with the rollercoaster. He told me he needed to be alone, and couldn't heal while he was with me as he didnt want to let me down. I agreed with everything, as much as it hurt me, and told him that I will always be here and love and support him. He said he loved me and didn't want me to be permanently out of his life and we could talk when he felt he was in a more stable place and he would contact me. I told him that I cared about him and always would, and wished him all the best and thanked him for a great relationship. He responded with nice things about me, saying things like I was irreplaceable and made him happy, and he will miss me.
We hung up and that was that. I had suspicions that he had bipolar, but obviously myself cannot confirm as I am not a professional. This officially ended at the beginning of January, and since then I have only messaged him a few times, exclusively about my belongings I wanted returned, not about anything else - not even how are you? He responded to most of these saying he would send the stuff, but he was busy. He finally sent me the money he owed me, but never sent my belongings. I told him my parents would be in town and could collect it from him.
Throughout this time he still followed me on social media, and watched all mine and my friends stories (something that he didn't frequently do before), he didn't remove me from anything and viewed it religiously. I ended up removing him myself as it made me sad to see this when I couldn't talk to him about anything. He then removed all pictures of me from his social media about 2 months after. Throughout all this he moved in with Bryony I found out from a mutual friend, and they got a dog together. I couldn't believe this after he made it so clear he had no interest in her, but I didn't contact him as it was his decision to make and I just hoped he actually was getting healthy for his sake. I moved on with my life over these few months, despite missing his friendship a lot I am happy, I was always independent and the distance made the break up easier. I figured I would never hear from him again, I just wanted my belongings back (they were quite pricey and can't afford to replace).
Finally, this weekend my parents contacted him which he responded to and then stopped, he was very cryptic and then my mom arranged to meet his Dad to get my stuff (which my ex said he would just leave on a porch!). Then out of the blue yesterday he decided to meet my mom himself with the stuff, and he called me.
We spoke for around 2.5 hours about a lot of different things, he began by apologising for how he treated me. He told me he is seeing professionals and that he has been diagnosed with Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar, and PTSD, and was now medicated for them. He then proceeded to tell me he never loved me, which hurt so bad to hear. This is what I held on to the whole time, that even though it ended so painfully and suddenly we still loved each other in the past. I remained calm and we discussed this, and he essentially said all I was to him was a support system that he was sexually attracted to (sidenote though maybe relevant he was only sexually attracted to me during our relationship, and is now only sexually attracted to Bryony). He told me he is happy and healthy now, he refused to tell me about Bryony at first only hinting about the fact he may have been in a relationship. I told him I knew and would appreciate honesty, he told me he had moved in with her right after to keep each other accountable for going to therapy (they both had bad childhoods he said) and that it developed from there and now they were dating, living together, and got a dog together. He told me this hadn't happened until 'well after' we were over, which made me chuckle since we haven't even been broken up for 4 months after 5.5 years together. He asked if I would ever meddle in his relationship, which I felt very offended by since I haven't contacted him. He was saying this stuff about never loving me, but told me he was thinking about me a lot, that he couldn't listen to certain songs that remind him of me, that he cared about me a lot and wanted to know how I was doing. He seemed so excited to talk and asked me to keep talking every time I went to leave. He noted how nice and comfortable this conversation was, and I agreed, it felt like talking to an old friend. He told me that he thinks about me fondly (but then at another point says he didn't pay attention to my life or social media, and then talked about things he had seen on them). He acted weirdly coy, he said it didn't bother him at all to think about me with other people, because he knows he was better at sex than them, that he thinks he will marry Bryony and that this is real and forever. Then again back about how they thinks about me and knows I am kicking ass and doing so well, and will have found someone so much better than him (emphasised that a lot). He really contradicted himself, saying he missed me and cared about me, but also that he never loved me.
At the end of the conversation he suggested being friends, and I essentially shut it down.. It was sad to have such a nice conversation which felt like friendly - we chatted about life as we used to and were both making jokes. The call disconnected, he apologised for that via text, and I said that I was grateful for our relationship and that I wish him all the best. He didn't respond, and that I think is that.
I guess - I don't want to be back with him ever, and I knew that since we first broke up. But I am upset about him moving on so fast and so intensely? It may seem petty, but I thought this guy was the love of my life, and he made it clear so many times he felt the same. I am unsure if you can really be healthy and move that fast (Bryony also got out of a 1.5 year relationship when ours ended, and she has not been single for more than a week since she was 15), moving in an getting a dog seems a little rash? Is it likely that this is part of his mental illness?
I guess what upsets me most, and I am so confused about is that he may have never loved me. It felt and looked like a healthy loving relationship, with no more ups and downs than others. Do you think it is possible that he never loved me when he treated me so well? - he supported me, cared for me, was a friend, was attracted to me etc - often pointing out little things that he loved about me. His friends always noted that he was so much happier around me, and he also had a specific tone of voice he used only when talking to me and his two trusted family members, even looking at photos the way he looked at me was one of love. Is it likely that this is the case? Or can mental illness cause people to believe they feel one thing when they don't?
I feel very lost and confused and any experience or advice, or just solidarity would be nice. I know I need to think about myself, and I am, I have put myself first through all this and will continue to. Nevertheless, that doesn't dull the pain of having such a long term partner deny your relationship that meant so much to you.
Many thanks in advance.