Girlfriend’s illness requires an honest reckoning

Boyfriend takes umbrage over notion that he lacks compassion for girlfriend who has been diagnosed with lupus. The stress leaves him questioning whether he does have the wherewithal to continue the relationship.



April 6, 2020 - 8:54 AM

Dear Carolyn: I have been with my girlfriend for five years, and while I have loved being with her, we have issues beyond our control. Four years ago, my girlfriend was diagnosed with lupus, and she has periods where she’s too tired to leave her bed. I understand this, and while I try not to get upset, it does sometimes feel like I am in a relationship by myself. However, I love her and do what I can to accept it.

Recently we had an argument and she said something that made me very upset. Every day — and I do mean every day — she tells me she’s tired or not feeling well. I used to say something like, “I’m sorry,” but I’ve recently stopped because I feel the words have lost meaning, and, as shameful as this sounds, I don’t have the same emotional reaction I did when she first got ill. She said that I lacked compassion and that whenever she told me she wasn’t feeling well, she wishes I would ask if there was anything I could do to help, or, as she put it, “be there for [her] emotionally” again.

This filled me with both anger and sadness. I feel she’s not acknowledging that I can sometimes be disappointed in canceling plans. I’m also upset that she feels I’m not doing enough to help her — which I feel I am. Some days I’ve taken off work, or worked from home. I try to take care of her when I can.

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