How do you act when your partner gets sick?
To be clear, I don’t mean anything life-threatening or something that can keep an individual down for quite some time. I’m referring to the somewhat simple stuff like the stomach flu. A bad cold. An infection. Something that can really mess with your energy levels for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. If you’re in a relationship that’s lasted for a short time, the most you might be expected to do is bring over some soup or pull the ol’, “Is there anything I can get you?” out of your hat. But if you live together, is it unfair to expect more?
I have a girlfriend who was dealing with food poisoning last week, and while she wasn’t completely bedridden, she was very weak. She has a live-in boyfriend, and they’ve been together for almost two years. Aside from a short-term cold, they hadn’t experienced any real illnesses together. When she contracted food poisoning from some bad Chinese food, she assumed that he would step up and take good care of her for the few days she was down when he got home from work. But she was disappointed to find that he’d already made plans and was set on keeping them.
“Every Friday, *Aaron and his friends usually go bar crawling,” she text me. “But last week, you know, I was sick. I started feeling bad on Thursday evening, but by Friday, I wasn’t able to go to work. So he comes home, tries to bring me food and sit with me for a little bit. Maybe like an hour at the max. And then he gets up and says he’ll be back later.”
She didn’t like that.
“‘I said WTF? Where you going?’ And he says, ‘It’s Friday. You know I go out with the guys on Fridays.’ I was heated. I’m like, ‘But you see me here ill. I need your help, and I’ve been by myself all day.’ He’s gonna ask me if I want him to bring me back somethin’. Girl…”
I don’t think she wanted him to play nurse and be there at her every beck and call, but my friend felt like it was shady for her boyfriend to leave her in a weak state so he could go off and have fun.
“You can’t just leave people like that,” she said. “It doesn’t speak well to how he could behave in more serious situations, you know?”
We all have certain days in our calendars that we allot to other people, or even better, to ourselves. Whether it’s date night Fridays, brunch with the girls on Saturdays or a meetup with the Lord on Sunday mornings, there are particular things that we just don’t like to miss out on every week. It’s how we stay connected to the people and things that matter to us. So when our significant other asks us to cut our plans to check out a live show with our best friends or to go to our mother’s house to check in just so that they can spend time with us, it’s understandable to want to stand firm on those plans. But when the people we love are sick and seem to need us, there’s definitely something petty about having more of an allegiance to a weekly activity than to our daily partner. And if something is weekly, the opportunity to do it again next week will likely be there (God willin’).
I know what you might be thinking: “Really? What can I do for you if you’re sick? You need rest!” But sometimes a sick person just needs someone to help them get back and forth to the bathroom. They need someone to bring them water when they’re low. They need someone to encourage them to eat when they feel like they can’t. And sometimes they just need someone present to at least give them an emotional boost, because being solo while sick can be sad. Take for example the time I contracted what was believed to be the Swine flu in college and knew damn well I had no business coming out of my room. Still, after two full days sequestered in a dark room by myself with roommates leaving food by my door, I finally came out. I sat as far as I could away from them while still in the same room just to feel in the company of others.
I say all that to state that people underestimate how positive contact with others they care about, and who care about them, can help someone feeling much less than 100 percent. So it’s not a good look to be that partner who feels more of a commitment to their mates and their weekly fun than to their romantic mate. Because Lord knows if a man was sick and you wanted to leave him to go drink with your friends, all hell would likely break loose…
But as always, that’s just my opinion. What say you? Is it petty to leave your sick significant other to go hang out with your friends?
Image via Bigstock