She's ill - How do I Stand By Her?

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Male
I have been going out with my girlfriend for about a year. I love her dearly. Our relationship was wonderful and she would reciprocate my love for her. Lately, she has fallen ill and has quite a few medical problems that can only be resolved over a period of months. Since she has fallen ill she has withdrawn into herself and although I have said to her I will stand with her 100% and attend to her every need, she cannot bring herself to even say "I love you too" when I say it to her.

I know she needs time to herself, she has had a difficult childhood and I respect and understand that. It is difficult for me to ascertain where I stand with her. Am I being selfish? How can I estimate how much time she needs to herself? If I ask her how she is - it seems to annoy her. She has said to me that she has things to deal with inside her head but at the same time I cannot help feeling left out. I think it boils down to the fact that I am scared of losing her. I am the only one that has loved her as much and cared for her every need - she has said this herself. How do I handle this? Advice
This is a tough situation that many, many people have gone through. We all get sick at some point in our life, sometimes very seriously. The person who is sick often wants to "set the other person free" so they can be off having fun instead of being "stuck" tending to the sick person. But love is about "in sickness and in health" and your desire to stand by her is very admirable and shows you have a mature form of love, that can withstand things like illness.

Yes, it's going to take a lot of patience to get through this. She may even try to break up with you because she feels it's for your own good. Just stay with her, even if you have to call yourself her "best friend" for a while. Be there for her but don't press her to say things. It's always more important to feel things than to say them. Lots of couples don't say "I love you" but they show it to each other daily.

So remain a part of her life, be as supportive as you can, but there's no need to rush things. When you ask how she feels she probably feels torn between telling you the truth (and depressing you) or lying and saying she's OK (and feeling guilty about not telling you the truth). So find ways to just talk to her without putting her into those situations. Talk about TV shows, or about books you've read, or other things. She'll tell you how she feels when she feels ready. She probably looks to her time with you as a way to temporarily forget her problems and worries. So bring along books, and games, and video games, and give her the mini vacations she and you both need.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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