Should you be lucky enough to find someone you want to spend your life with, you will likely be there for each other through some very trying times. Life is long and rarely without challenges. Your partner may be the long-time caretaker of a parent with a debilitating and at times violent illness. Your partner may himself go through a terrible illness. Your partner may have bouts of severe depression. One of you may be the victim of or witness a crime that leaves you traumatized. I hope that none of these things happen but the truth is that, as I stated, life is long. The world can be cruel and unfair. And the chances that something very difficult and even scarring happens to at least one of you in a relationship, over a lifetime, are high. If it’s your partner, then you will be there for the ride. You’ll be caring for him. That’s what it means to spend your life with someone—you’re there through good times and bad, and some times are unbearably bad. If this happens, you may suffer from something called compassion fatigue. Here’s a look at what that is, and signs you’re suffering from it.
What it is
The American Institute of Stress defines compassion fatigue as “The emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events.” In other words, you do, in a sense, go through whatever your partner is going through. Even if it didn’t happen to you, because you are there for him, caring for him, you will take on some stress due to exposure.