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My sympathy has run out: is that fair?

Community Member
Hi there, my partner and I have been together almost 10 years, with one child. My question to this forum is: am I being too unsympathetic towards my partner? He is frequently gloomy, irritated or both, and was diagnosed with depression many years ago but has never really treated it. I'm also on a low dose antidepressant. I showed him so much patient understanding and empathy from the moment we got together, with one life problem after another after another, many of them self-made. He has hardly ever taken action about these problems, just turned them over and over in his mind and in endless discussion with me for months on end. He certainly has dealt with some huge and very real problems in that time, but so have I (hence my own antidepressants), and frankly so does everyone! After 10 years of me constantly giving sympathy, but him never changing any of the things that upset him, and also not treating his depression, I've got to the point where I'm sick of watching my life get frittered away by being tied to his endless melancholy and inaction. Tonight he was very angry with me for not picking up the hints that he has low self esteem about his new job. I was frank and admitted to him that I haven't been showing him as much empathy lately as I could because I've run out of sympathy. Am I justified, and does there come a point where its ok to have run out of sympathy? Or am I being too hard towards a fragile person? This is a genuine question!
2 Replies 2

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hello NashiPear

Welcome to Beyond Blue Forums. It's good to have made your way here. You'll find many supportive people who respond to your post.

You sound like you've had a very hard time with your partner over the years. Your experience is valid and you and your child are also important.

From your post, you seem to want support that you are justified in running out of sympathy for your husband. Unfortunately I can't provide that support. I would have to listen to both sides and have much more details about your lives. I'm not sure you want to do that at this stage.

Some of the things I do think are relevant and something you need to consider include:

  • does your husband understand how you feel?
  • are you prepared to help him if he does something constructive, e.g. going to his GP, getting a referral to a therapist, and if necessary take medication?
  • are you and he prepared to go to counselling? Either separately or together (your GP can arrange that)?
  • are you prepared to give him a ultimatum if he doesn't do something about his depression (e.g. leave him)?

It sounds like you have given him every opportunity to make changes, but he hasn't. My thoughts are you have to make him believe you are serious about the actions you want to take.

You may be hard, however, it does not make it right for him to not do nothing about his mental health. Sometimes it is necessary to be hard. It's called tough love.

Your wellbeing is just as important as his.

I hope this helps. Would be good if you can let us know how you get on.

Kind regards


Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear NashiPear~

Welcome here, I hope you can get some perspective from other's experiences, you are certainly in a difficult position and sound as if it all getting to you.

I guess the first thing to say is it is easy to assume one is an infinite resource of patience, cheer, support and strength. We tend to expect it of ourselves when someone we care about is in need. Sadly we all have our limits, and the closer we get to them the more toll it takes on us. An example would be a lack of feeling for someone we have always loved. Another is becoming unable to cope with the day to day hassles we managed before.

So there really do have to be boundaries, and one really does need to take oneself into consideration, that is not being selfish, just realistic. Time out, doing things for you, trying for a more equal relationship are all very necessary. He has to pick up on the times you are upset too.

Another matter is self help and dependence. You said your partner is not being treated for his depression and by the sound of it has come to rely upon you long-term to help him though each crisis. This may of course become a habit, with the healing process stalled.

If I was in your position and I admit I'm not, I would press my partner to get medical help with maybe meds and therapy, and to cooperate, not be halfhearted about it. I'd expect, depressed or not, his love for me would spur him on to make my life more tolerable. After all a partnership is two people caring for each other. Maybe you can have a discussion in the times he feels better?

Do you have anyone in your life to help you and give you support. Soldiering on alone is very hard.