Not sure if this is the right place

Hi,I'm looking for some help/advice

I've been dating my partner (who's 36)

for a few months now!he has a brain injury!he was ran over 5 years ago :( and has had several ops to fix his skull which is now half titanium

Although he is much better now on the outside (he only really has the scars on his head) he is not the same person(I've known him since he was 20)

I don't mind that he's different now,we r just blessed that he is still here!but the problem I'm facing as his partner is the lack of emotion :( he very rarely gets excited or cancels plans because he's too tired!he lacks motivation and although he always makes plans he rarely sees them through!I work(he doesn't) and when I txt he rarely replies as he's in bed :(

He almost never asks about my day or txts to see how I am but will call me to complain about things that are going wrong in his day!hes also very direct and will tell me if he doesn't like my hair or outfit or that I'm carrying weight!When I try to talk to him about how this sometimes hurts my feelings he feels like I'm having a go and I won't hear from him for a day until he's finished sulking!ive looked up everything online and I understand these are common side effects of a brain injury and I guess that's something that I'm going to have to deal with,but I guess my biggest problem is that my previous relationship (6years Ago) was abusive and had a huge effect on my confidence!it took me a long time to build that back up and now I feel like my partner is having a negative effect on this n it's getting me down!i know he doesn't mean it and I don't want to leave but I'm struggling!any advice from partners would b a huge help!thank you for taking the time to read this xx

40 Replies

  • Hi Gemma I do understand how you feel. Although I have a brain injury and health problems, I have a partner that also had a bad accident, which caused a much more severe brain injury. The issues and behaviour you have said your partner is presenting is something I have had to deal with. Any brain injury can be so cruel it affects a persons moods, emotions, they can say things that people can be shocked by or find weird. For them they are stuck, inside he would give anything to be how he use to be, as do you. There's no quick fix, and it can destroy relationships, its certainly did damage to our relationship. It has been a constant battle and I've had to battle to get him into the system. Has your partner been assessed, this would link him to a rehab unit, there is also headway and in most areas there are local groups that he can go to, where he can meet people, or do an activity. Just as important for you, there is headways helpline, this forum and possibly look at a local support group where you can go and off load. The worst thing you can do is hold all this in, it will pull you down. On here there are fantastic people, either coping with brain injuries themselves, partners/carers or people struggling with both. So you will always have someone to talk to x

  • Thank u so much for taking the time to read and reply!he has been to rehab but isn't a great one for talking or showing emotion,I'm

    Not sure if this is a man thing,pride or an effect of the injury :( I will try and speak with him

    Again tho and maybe let him read these things to see he is not alone xx

  • He could either be in denial as my partner was or he could be overwhelmed by it all. He has lost a lot and he'll probably have a mixture of grief for the lose of the person he was, and yes probably some pride as he's probably always wanted to be perceived as a strong independent man. People forget when they have this kind of injury that that person has to go through grief. What you need to do which will probably help you both is explore what groups and support is available in your area. A lot of surgeries have a care coordinator that you can ask to be linked to. I have been linked to them to mine and given details of groups that are ideal for both my partner or myself. I would also have a chat with headway. I did regarding my partner and they sent me some brilliant links, one of which was a observation checklist. Where you could tick things off behavioural eg emotions, mood swings, iratic behaviour etc. This is then something you can show your gp and then request a referral. But headway will advise you if you do need to request a referral. If ever you need a chat Gemma you know where I am x

  • Thank u so much xx

  • Your welcome x

  • Oh Gemma, I think most of us know how you feel. My husband's favourite expression if I dare to criticise anything he does is 'you're moaning again'. Life is hard living with someone with a bi. One of my husband's problems is speaking - he can go all day without saying a word except things like 'shall I lay the table'. As you say, it can get you down. I know he doesn't mean to be like this, he just doesn't see a problem. If I knew an instant remedy to give you to make things better, I'd do it like a shot but I am afraid there is no quick fix. Really you just have to learn to live with it because it is unlikely that he will change = mainly because he doesn't see that there is a problem.

    Do come on here to let off steam whenever you like, we all understand.

    Lots of luck to you both.


  • Thank u so much for taking the time to reply.its comforting to know that this is "normal" or a BI that my partner is acting this way but also heartbreaking :( ur right when u say he doesn't see that it's a problem!i think that's the hardest part,when inside ur breaking and he thinks ur completely over reacting or just moaning again!i think I will get him to read these,see he's not alone and maybe it will b the start of a long needed chat xx

  • Welcome Gemma. I'm the one with the after-effects of brain injury so can see a different perspective. Your boyfriend has lost the ability to empathise, and cannot identify with any issues other than his own.

    And if you want to stay with him you'll need to decide whether you can accept a relationship which is emotionally one-sided, with someone very different to the partner you used to know.

    If he has memory issues, he won't even have an awareness of how concern/sympathy/tenderness towards another is supposed to feel. And he can't be taught these things because his damaged brain cannot retain new information.

    It's a cruel condition by its very nature and, although love can conquer a great deal, you need to understand the facts before committing to a continued relationship.

    In a situation where one person is so vulnerable and the other is struggling with the changes, you need to question whether the relationship will be beneficial for both, because a one-sided one can be soul destroying.

    I suggest you phone the Headway helpline when they open again on Monday morning and get all the information and advice available, from the experts. It's 0808 800 2244 (free call--office hours). They are friendly, helpful folk so please call ; there's nothing to lose !

    I wish both you and your partner all the very best. xx

  • Thank you for taking the time to reply!wot u have just said described my situation perfectly!he has lost the ability to empathise and cannot identify with any issues other than his own!the relationship is all very one sided and it's me constantly giving with him just taking (not in a horrible way although it is very draining) he does have memory issues and cab even forget what he's saying half way through a sentence which really annoys him!when I compliment him he doesn't notice but if he complimented me I'd b over the moon,sadly tho he does not!its really hard to get used to someone never noticing the effort uv made b it ur appearance or a lovely meal etc but I understand it's not his fault!when it's all written down like this it doesn't look great or sound like a relationship anyone would want to b in but I do love him and don't want to walk away!i just need a way of coping and not taking the horrible bits so personally even when they break my heart!thank you again for your time xx

  • Hi Gemma,

    When I had my tbi over 30 years ago, I was like your partner. There was little understanding about brain injury then and no support whatsoever after leaving hospital and unfortunately, my girlfriend struggled to accept me as I was. Even a short split, which helped me to become less demanding and more thoughtful towards her wasn't enough to keep the relationship going.

    Your relationship is different in that I recovered much of my previous personality within a year or so, whereas it seems less likely (though not impossible) that your partner will get his feelings of empathy back. You are both suffering - in his case unwillingly, and in your case because he doesn't realise what he's doing to you.

    It would be too easy and glib to give you a solution to this - I agree with the comments above about getting support from Headway and possibly some counselling. You both need to recognise that he's not the only victim here - you are as well, even if in a lesser way - and you can both work towards getting something positive out of the situation.

  • Thank u for taking the time to read and reply!i feel selfish almost as it sounds like I want the perfect relationship etc when almost all of the people on here have had their life's changed in a way they would never wish and cannot help :( I just don't know who else to talk to!i don't want to give up on him and I do love in hope but I'm also trying to realistic that this could just b the way it is now and I will have to try and adjust!i will

    Defo call for advice and suggest to him some joint counciling as I don't want to loose him and would like to play a big part in him feeling like a part of who he was as I know he misses this!thank u so much xx

  • There are always people worse off than ourselves - that doesn't make us selfish when we look for help with our problems. You're not being selfish coming on here because this is the place to find others in the same situation as you and your partner.

    Good luck with everything. I hope you find a way to improve both your lives.

  • Hi Gemma

    I'm so sorry to hear about your partner's brain injury, and the effect it's having on you. I can so relate to this, as my wife had a brain aneurysm in Oct 2015 leading to a serious brain injury, and the changes to our relationship are significant.

    I don't have your background so I can't comment on the impact in terms of bringing up material from your previous relationship, but I did have a traumatic childhood, and my wife's injury has definitely caused many of those feelings to resurface. It's been (and still is) extremely difficult, and I've spent the 9 months since she left hospital basically having a drawn out nervous breakdown.

    I don't have the answers, and I'm still muddling through myself. Every day brings a challenge or recurring anxiety of some kind, but I am beginning to get used to it. All I can say is the one thing that's helped me enormously has been weekly sessions with a therapist. Actually I sought out therapy just 2 months before my wife's injury and had only had 4 sessions when it occurred. However, having a safe, private and confidential space in which to express and explore the complex and incredibly difficult feelings that go along with having a partner with a brain injury has been the difference between staying at home caring for my wife and needing to be in hospital myself. The downside is that I've had to pay for this myself - and I have a very low income. But it's been worth every penny, and sacrificing certain luxuries is nothing compared with feeling like you can just about get through each week.

    It sounds expected and normal to suffer a loss of confidence at a time like this - I know I have - but it doesn't mean you won't get it back. We all cope in different ways and have different needs. I'm hopeful you'll find a way through it in one piece, and be a stronger, more confident person as a consequence.

    Take care of yourself,


  • Thank u so much for ur reply!im so sorry to hear about ur partner,and ur back ground :( I think ur incredible for realising u needed help and seeking it out!i know from dealing with past issues that it's not always easy to speak to a stranger on such a personal level so u have my respect for that!im definitely looking into speaking to someone,for further advice or just ways to cope and to find "me" again!u sound like a wonderful man and I truly hope everything works out for u and ur partner and u live a happy life together xx

  • Thanks Gemma!

    It's really bittersweet to be part of this group. So nice to be able to talk to those who understand from their own experience; so sad to hear what everyone's going through.

    Thanks for your kind words - I don't feel like a wonderful man though. But I am trying with all my heart and soul to be there for my wife, even though sometimes I can't be. She's angry with me right now actually because I snapped at her earlier when she got angry trying to tell me something I couldn't understand (she has aphasia, so mostly I can't understand what she says). My apologies land on deaf ears, so I just have to wait for her to forgive and/ or forget. She certainly doesn't think I'm wonderful haha

    I really wish the best for you and your partner too Gemma, and hope you find whatever helps get you through x

  • Oh I know wot u mean,I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers on here but heartbroken to see the amount of members on here!i have to ask u tho,How do u do it?does the good times outweigh the bad?is it purely the love u have for her that motivates u to keep trying?do u have the support of family and friends?how do u emotionally get through it when u know how hard ur trying and it's not appreciated? Xxx

  • Honestly? I don't know. The love I have for my wife definitely is the main thing that keeps me going, but I can't say the good times outweigh the bad - at least not yet. Although that's not just because of the brain injury. Being where I am in my life with the history I have and the health problems I've got make life really difficult before you factor in the BI. But I do have a little support - my father in law visits for a couple of hours twice a week, and I have headway support a couple of times a week, again for a couple of hours. I've asked for respite care which is still being arranged, but that's been set back by my wife's extreme reluctance to be away from home or cared for by anyone other than me. I've felt I had no choice but to run myself into the ground for the sake of her health and sanity. In hindsight, it might not have been the best decision. Back to your question - how do I get through it? One day at a time. With the help of my therapist, and a complete unwillingness to let this thing knock me over or destroy my relationship. But I don't know what the future holds, or how well my wife will recover. I know I have to find ways of meeting my own personal needs, which I've mainly failed to do so far. I've lost contact with my life before this incident pretty much, and wonder if I'll ever get it (or something like it) back.

    I'm sorry if this all sounds a bit negative - I'm just trying to be real. Of course there are good times too. And when I see my wife really smile or laugh, or say something with ease, I feel warm and hopeful. As for not being appreciated, I don't know the answer. There have been times I've broken down in tears because of this; it can feel so hurtful. Even though you know your partner doesn't know they're doing it. All I can suggest is to be explicit sometimes when you've done something you hope he'll appreciate. For example, tell him at dinner time "I've made your favourite dinner, do you like it?". Woefully inadequate it may be, but it might prompt him a little?

    How about you? Do you have the support of friends and family? I really hope you have people around you who can appreciate the sacrifices and effort you make every day to deal with this. x

  • I think ur amazingly strong and I admire ur honestly and I think ur wife is blessed to have u because it sounds like ur her rock even if she can't see it just now!i hope u get the help uv applied for in the hope that u find a little bit of u again!i admire ur strength and determination not to let this get u down because I know how easy it is to build urself up by making that extra effort or doing something to please them only for it to go unnoticed and ur left crushed :( my partner is always happy around friends and that's beautiful to see but I do sometimes wish it was me that made him smile that way!i know that's selfish but I just want to b the reason he's happy sometimes!i don't have anyone to talk to hence the reason I'm here,and so far ive had nothing but kindness and I'm very grateful to the people have took the time to talk with me and generally give me that extra bit of strength to try harder because is the grand scale of things my problem is tiny xxx

  • Oh bless you. Your problem isn't tiny at all - it's massive. Just because other people are dealing with things that seem 'worse' to you doesn't mean you don't have the right to declare your suffering. You're not being fair to yourself, and you deserve to have your sacrifices and efforts recognised - and that includes recognising them yourself.

    I know exactly what you mean about your partner being happy around friends. Sometimes that bothers me too, but then I tried to see the bigger picture. I'm willing to bet that the reason only you see the 'real' (sorry I don't know your partner's name) person is because only you have a deep enough intimacy with him. My wife is definitely more miserable around me, but also more comfortable. There's less pressure on her to put on a brave face, so she doesn't. I'm willing to bet there's an element of that in any close relationship. Consider how easily he'd be able to function if you weren't there. You say you wish you could be the reason he's happy sometimes, but I think you probably are the main reason. It's just unfortunate and heartbreaking that you're never made to feel like the reason.

    It's sad you've got no-one to talk to in person, but you did the right thing coming here, cos now you have me to talk to :)

    It sounds to me like you're being incredibly brave and strong. Your partner is very lucky to have such a supportive person in his life. While my wife was in rehab, I saw 2 people abandoned by their partners because of their brain injury, one of them by a long-term partner, the other by a fiancee. You've stayed by him, and you deserve massive credit for that. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it.

  • It's so odd u would say that,about putting on a brave face for others because that's exactly wot I said,that he has a face for his friends,almost a front if u will,so that to the world he presents as happy and brave and strong but when they go the smile fades and he is back to being tired and stressed and sad again!everyone is so glad that we still have him that they sometimes fail to see he is not who he was and he never wanted to b who he is now but they r just grateful he's here at all!i can't imagine waking up Tomoro and not being me anymore,trapped inside a mind and life i didn't want :( it's all very sad :( I don't feel strong,I feel

    Out of my depth and really I'm just winging it in the hope things will get better!do u see signs of progress in ur wife? Xxx

  • It doesn't bear thinking about does it? To wake up one day like you say a different person. It's one of the things I find hardest to bear. Yes, she's extremely lucky to be among the 40% who survive brain aneurysms, but sometimes she obviously finds it too much, and goes through deep bouts of depression.

    I'm winging it too, although as more time passes, I'm beginning to feel like I must be doing something right since everything hasn't completely fallen apart. I suppose the more normal it becomes, the more confidence we build. But everyone's brain injury is different, so maybe everyone's winging it? Wouldn't surprise me.

    I do see signs of progress, but sometimes weeks go by with no sign of change, so keeping my hope alive can be very challenging. The best I can do is probably to encourage her whenever I can without making her feel under pressure or inadequate - a hard balance to find. As someone said to me in my other thread, acceptance is probably the most important quality in getting through this. Easier said than done though isn't it? x

  • My partner is certainly in one of those depressions just now where everything is completely overwhelming for him to the point where I think he's about to have a breakdown!i think it's a sense of grief or loss for who he once was plus a great deal of uncertainty as to where his futures going with very little ability to control it :( I will add u and ur wife to my prayers tonite!i feel blessed to have met u,uv been more help than u will know and I feel relieved to know there are such lovely people out there xxx

  • I'm so glad it's been helpful for you to talk. Feel free to message me anytime. Really nice to meet you too, sending blessings to you and your partner as well.

  • Hi Gemma and Teabone

    I think most of us living with someone with a bi will understand what you mean about the different faces they show. We met up with friends today and my husband was chatting and laughing with them. Very few people who don't know him well would know there was anything wrong with him. He gets home and the laughter stops and the silence begins. It is so hard to live with and, more importantly, it is very difficult for all of us to manage this without getting seriously depressed ourselves. However much you tell yourself that it is the bi making this sort of behaviour, it is hard sometimes not to take it personally.

    Stay strong, it gets easier with time - at least you learn to build it into your lives so that it doesn't have quite such an impact.

  • That's exactly the hardest part,not taking it personally!!in ur brain u know they don't mean it and u keep reminding yourself of that but in ur heart it hurts because it feels like rejection :( part of me wants to be at the stage where this no longer hurts but the other part of me is scared that I become so cold because I've built up such a resilience,does that make sense? Xx

  • Yes, I know what you mean. I often feel that I have become cold because of what our life is like and I find it hard to be carefree now, even when I am out with friends. It isn't easy, is it

    Jan x

  • hi gemma,im going give you a completely different take my ex partner caused my bleeds to brain along with 8 hours of physchal.lengthabuse so I empathise with you as far as your past an difficulties was,its a hard one I think you need to listen to others above as im suffering but by your past is what made my future so il ask you this,are you having attacks of anxiety with the insults,lack of emotion as women who have been through violence at hands of there partners,it doesn't ever go away I think you should get help council ling for your problems as be ;less hurtful if you had coping mechanisms for your past,then you may be able to realise alot of this turmoil,can be rectified to a point your helped an what your partner says will not effect you in ways that causes angst,to you hard I know but only way I can see you helping eachother,hope this helps ,as person who's caused pain in your past is a man so im wondering whether you expected a person to be there for you but in hindsight more you for them hope you speak to headway good luck to both xps I wasn't with the man when he broke in an attacked me so I do find it hard to comtemplate,myself,

  • Hi there,thank U for taking the time to read and reply xx

    To answer ur question,as far as anxiety goes,that's a tough one!i previously had these attacks in the past to the point where I couldn't breath,leave the house or b alone!ive came a long way from that place and I'm defo on the mend although I don't think I will ever b who I once was!i was raped when I was 18 by a man I didn't know!i spent 3 years on my own after that then entered an abusive relationship,both mentally and physically!after 3 years I left and spent time alone before entering yet another emotionally abusive relationship!after that I stayed on my own for 6 years!

    My partner now(apart from the brain injury) is nothing like these men!i know he would never hit me and I know he doesn't mean it when he hurts me with words!i know this when I sit and think it through but when it happens,right in that moment,it breaks my heart and I have that same feeling in my tummy,fear probably!im not scared of my partner,I'm scared of my past that keeps coming back to haunt me!i had counciling after the tape but I think maybe I need help with how to be in a relationship :(

    I am so sorry for the things that have happened to u and if u want to talk then I am here xxx

  • You know, sometimes I think we make prisons for ourselves! Putting his injury aside, if a relationship is not working, you either stay with it, and hope it improves, or bail out, You say you have only been with him a few months, are you staying with him because you feel sorry for him, or do you really love him. If it's the former, then that type of relationships rarely work, if it's the latter, your love will help you stay strong.

    As you say, this relationship is having a negative effect on you It is not for me to say leave him, you have to make up your own mind about this. But if you read your letter back to yourself,it everything points towards you looking for a way out.

    Whatever you decide, good luck to you.

  • Hey thanks for your reply

    I'm defo not with him because I feel sorry for him!i knew he had a brain injury before we got together,I just didn't fully understand wot it involved until I spent every day with him!i do love him,so much,but finding it really hard at times,harder then I thot n I guess I'm feeling sorry for myself that this is the way my life is going to b if we are always together!i struggle most with the secrets n pretending to everyone life is perfect!to my mum n my friends everything is amazing because I'm not allowed to tell them it's not!my partners very private n doesn't like anyone knowing personal things about him or our relationship!that's really hard because my last relationship was all

    About keeping quiet n smiling!i think if I'd had a better past if b much stronger but sadly that's not the case xxx

  • Sorry to hear this. I'm the one with the brain damage and I changed from a nice guy to a moody horrible person. She can't put up with me any more and I don't blame her. If you love him enough be strong. We're here to help x

  • Hey u 😊 I'm really sorry to hear that uv changed so much and as a result ur partner is finding it hard!is it too late to try talking or seeing wot kind of help is out there?i love my partner dearly but it can b so very hard at times and it's hard to ignore or pretend things r ok!since joining here I let him read everything n seeing it all written down it really hit home to him just how much he needed to make changes!he is seeing his doctor today to make positive changes now for him and for me and because we spoke a proper heart to heart I realise that he's struggling with who he is too and I never knew that before!maybe writing it down in a letter or something might let u say everything u need to without the chance of a row n will also allow ur partner to take it all in? Xxx

  • I empathise with you. Try to find Happy triggers, small goals things & speak to him then, that you need to be shown Harmonious Love/ing gestures / little hows your day. Atleast you knew him before way back. I stay in Far too much when not at work. Watching Life walk past my window.. I'm single, no on dating radar. But weirdly I found a skateboard, it gets me out amougst the world, instead of hiding. My only connection of "out there".

  • There is someone for everyone,and even when it's not easy and even though there's tears and rows and days of not talking,there's so many times when it's just ment to be!please don't b alone,even if u just start by coming on here!if ur anything like my partner then I understand that finding the motivation to get up n get out there is so hard but I promise u it's worth it :) xxx

  • If that response is for me, thankyou. Will cherish kindness. It's so hard to break any cycle, sometimes takes me months or years to achieve or do that something. My Lifeline is a cat-cafe. I open up because everyone is the same there. Animal Lovers. Would some pet therapy open your man up? Trial somewhere. Budgie, cat dog is obviously a big commitment. It's like Breaking or understanding a hidden code within my Life & for you. My Life was warmed alittle & dated but she was my pearl Jam "Last kiss". A rare Life event meeting "The 0ne".

    Je regret rein.

    Does yr man have passions for uplifting music? Helps me loads.

    This is my first ever talking about it. Family don't know anything. Not Helpful on being family, easier.

  • I've tried to reply to u several times now but it keeps coming up "sorry something's went wrong please try again" xx

  • I'm sorry tech problems somehow on website? Look forward to an inbox :). Any Questions, feel free. x

  • I will try my best to remember wot I was trying to type previously lol xx

    Firstly I have never heard of a cat cafe however if it is a way of u venturing out and finding common interests with like minded people then I say it's a great idea 🙂

    I did mention the pet thing to my partner,we even visited the rescue centre although it was closed that day lol but he doesn't want a pet,too much hassle n commitment he said

    Secondly please don't give up on dating,even if u start with some online chat and progress from there once u have built up some confidence

    Yes my partner does love music,in the car and especially when he's laying in bed as it relaxes him

    Can I ask tho,y do u not speak to ur family about anything? Xx

  • Glad your man Loves music. I even you it to adjust my mood / try. Cat cafes are All around the world. Started in Japan I think. Edinburgh, Manchester, London etc. My family are as sensitive as The "white-walkers" in Game Of Thrones. So Never tell them what's on my mind or personal things.Messed my Life up on rare occasions taken their advice. They are Quite odd. No friends, belong to what I think is a Cult.. Very fussy on dating, would like too. Have Lost most of social etticate. Will try & remember to risk an interaction if the rare Attraction happens. easier if woman is walking a furry friend to engage! Thank you again for chat. got to sleep, as did rare night Duty. x

  • p.s, think it's going to be a accidental Day or migraine for me. Got the vibe. Try the Animal shelter when open. The TBI might of changed how he feels about pets when face2face!

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