Supporting my boyfriend who feels like a ‘failure’
My boyfriend just recently opened up about having failed almost all of his subjects over the past two semesters. He told me he didn’t want to tell me earlier because he thought I would leave him for being a ‘failure’. I am a high achieving student and have been on the Dean’s list multiple times and I feel like that’s also part of the reason why he feels unable to tell me sooner. I really want to support him to continue to pursue his studies but I think he is depressed and doesn’t have any motivation to do so. What should I do?
It can be very hard for any relationship if we try to follow our partner’s footsteps. To some people wanting to do well academically assists them to excel, while to others this can result in anxiety, low mood and lack of motivation. The main issue for your boyfriend appears to be “that you will accept him for what he is and support him regardless of the outcome“. In order to do that you need to separate your value of doing well and try to focus on what he needs.
– He may need to speak to the student advisor in his faculty to discuss what his options are. This could include being considered under the SEAD Policy which looks at a person’s circumstances or attributes that substantially impact on their academic performance and participation.
– Working through practical issues which may have contributed to him not doing well. For example, he could see a tutor at the academic skills unit.
– If he needs to go through Unsatisfactory Progress Committee he can receive assistance from the student union advocacy service who will help him prepare a submission and look at the options available for next year.
– The other option could be for him to consider taking some time off or even changing his course.
– As you mentioned the other important thing to look at, is whether there may be some undiagnosed mental health issues. Do your own research on anxiety and depression. Learn about the signs and symptoms and treatment options.
If you think that anxiety and/or depression may be an issue, you could sensitively encourage him to see a counsellor at the Counselling Service where he can get support to work though negative thoughts and feelings, or a GP at the Health Service who can make an appropriate referral for further psychological assistance.