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When Should I Call It Quits? I Feel Like Just A Carer.

Lemon Zest
Community Member

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 10 years. For the last 5 years, it feels like there is little left of our partnership. I feel like I am only a carer now, and it doesn’t look like things will ever change.

We don’t live together. I never moved in with him as he was always financially irresponsible and high maintenance. As we went along, I could see a really self-destructive pattern develop in his behaviour. He has since been diagnosed with bipolar. He also has multiple chronic health conditions, and since having open heart surgery 5 years ago, he has been unable to recover from depression.

i Have always looked after him, as his self care capacity was low. But over the last few years, any reciprocal relationship has almost entirely disappeared. He eats, showers and hangs out at my house, only going home to sleep. I wash all his clothes at my home. His children visit at my home and I do the work to take care of them, feeding them, making up beds, washing, with no input from him at all. His house is a hoarders mess, which I have stopped cleaning for him, as he shows no interest in trying to maintain it. When he comes to my house, the arguments that it takes to just get him to pick up after himself are beyond ridiculous. The more I do to help him, the more he expects. There is no boundary, no point where he thinks, she has enough to deal with, I won’t ask that of her too.

We have no physical relationship left, he no longer seems to even see my emotional needs, let alone respond to them. And if I bring up anything in our relationship that is upsetting me, he says I am inconsiderate of how he’s feeling and making it harder, that I don’t make allowances for his mental health. Most frustratingly, when I’ve spoken at length with him about what upsets me, he minimises down to the most insignificant point raised and says I’m blowing things out of proportion, being unreasonable, over reacting.

I am not an impatient or uncaring person. I have raised 3 children, 2 of them autistic. They are wonderful, we’ll adjusted, emotionally aware people. Everywhere I look online for support, everything centres on caring for the person with mental illness first and caring for yourself only as part of that. I’ve been doing that for years. I’m ok with caring for and supporting him. I’m not ok with having a one way relationship indefinitely. I want to be a partner in our relationship, not just a carer. When do I give up hope of things getting better?

7 Replies 7

Community Champion
Community Champion

Lemon zest

welcome to the forum, Thanks for your very honest and detailed post.

I have always felt that the carer needs to care for themselves or otherwise they will get run down.
It is reasonable for you to be able to express your feelings without being told you are over reacting for suggesting calmly things that concern you.

Your partner has many issues and of course you realise this and are helping him in many ways.
i was diagnosed with bipolar many decades ago and I realise it is hard fir me but also harder fir those I live with at times.

I worry as you’re doing so much for him and his children and not being acknowledged or respected it seems they maybe taking you for granted..

I see you as very patient and caring. Sometimes when you have a mental illness and other illnesses as you partner has, everything is focused you and others get neglected.

I wonder if the reciprocal relationship you want disappeared at the time if his heart surgery..?

Have thought of counselling or contacting the carers association in your state..?
Thanks for sharing your story. I feel when you have tried everything to improve and it has not, then you can make a decision. Only you know when you feel it is time.

Thank you for your reply. You’re right, he does have many issues. I am very experienced with supporting mental health issues and have always very deliberately looked beyond the behaviour to see the person behind it and the pain causing the behaviour. I guess my struggle now is that I’m seeing the behaviour as more than just a mental health issue and more as a symptom of a relationship that isn’t working. My trouble is that I can never be sure if I’m being fair in my judgement or if I’m losing perspective due to carer burnout. What I can say I’d that I’m unhappy and feeling unvalued and am not sure if I want to continue feeling so. Thank you for your input. You’re right. I think some counselling to untangle things might help to see things more clearly and come to a decision I can live with.

Hi, welcome

Like Quirky, I'm bipolar. That has zero effect on my input into my marriage including chores and satisfying my wife's needs so we can have a happy life. Her ex however played on his arthritis so he didn't have to do his share. It wore her down, the cuddles drifted, his hobbies were more important and in the red...who cared for the carer?

I think counselling is essential as is ultimatums but I'm pessimistic on a favourable outcome.

Be brave. Good luck.


Thank you for your perspective. I think I have been conditioned to feel guilty for expecting more of him. I appreciate your opinion.

Community Member

Hi Lemon Zest! You sound like an amazing, caring person.
My partner and I had relationship difficulties for about 10 years before we found happiness. I was the bad guy.
I am depressed, anxious, and in the past have coped by binge drinking (and associated bad behaviour). Thankfully I am now in control of my alcohol intake and keep it in moderation.
Thing is I didn't realise how much my behaviour was affecting my partner until he sat me down one day and said he couldn't see our relationship continuing unless I made some positive changes. That jolted me back to reality and I slowly got my act together after that conversation. Sometimes we really have to spell it out for people, even be a bit brutal - maybe even take a holiday far away to wake them up & learn to appreciate us... I was oblivious to subtlety. If and when you feel you have made it clear you will not be hanging around to be taken for granted I would recommend leaving him if there is no improvement in his behaviour.
Carers are beautiful people and when they are appreciated they can truly shine 🙂

Hi again

This might help



Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear Lemon_Zest! 

Lovely lady, you are dealing with too much! 


You asked: "When do I give up hope of things getting better?" 




If you could watch your daughter or best friend do EVERYTHING you do for this person, would you advise her to keep on? No. 


It's inhumane to treat another person as their personal slave, nanny, housekeeper & still expect them to clean up their horded home. It's beyond my comprehension, not beyond my own personal experience! Being you not him. Enough. 


Don't mean to sound cliche, is what you're doing enabling him to continue being "meh"?

It's NOT your fault at all. 


I believe your post answered your own question. 


Time for firm boundaries.
I would move this to a "friends only zone" at best asap. A weekly call or No Contact. 
This man is not your child, you are not responsible for him. 


You are responsible for you. 

You are precious, kind & very much worthy of your own time & your own energy invested into FRUITFUL directions where you have the return of feeling empowered (as opposed to exhausted & gaslighted). 


Imagine if you'd invested the last 10y in a small business? 
Now your next 10y is yours to re-imagine. 


Here for you