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How can I make my disabled boyfriend feel masculine?
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How can I make my disabled boyfriend feel masculine?

My partner has cerebral palsy (so he can't use his legs properly, and heavily relies on 2 walking sticks), we have been in a relationship for nearly 2 1/2 years, but gradually over that time i have moved from being girlfriend to also being personal assistant, and even partially a carer.
I'm not thrilled about being PA and carer, that isn't what i signed up for, but i can't bare to see him struggle or suffer.
It doesn't help that he suffers with depression, stress, and panic attacks.
I did suggest relationship counseling, which isn't very common here in the UK, but he refused.

So my questions are this;

How can i make him feel masculine in this relationship when i take control both our lives?

I know men like to feel like they're taking care of their girlfriends, how can i make him feel like that, when i take care of him?

I want to be looked after and taken care of (non-financially), but he doesn't even try to make those sentimental, looking after, chivalry type gestures.
How can i change that? (Without direct conversation, as most direct conversations end in him having a panic attack and a severe headache)

Thank you. I appreciate your input.
10 Comments Post a Comment
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134578_tn?1404951303
You have a boyfriend who has depression, stress and panic attacks.  You've slowly been maneuvered into position as his assistant and caregiver, beause you feel sorry for his struggle and suffering.  He is not balancing the nursing role you've taken on by acting confident, manly or romantic.  When you try to talk about it, he has a panic attack and a headache.

What is the good thing about this relationship again?  Being worried that if you leave he will have a bad time is not a basis for a romantic partnership.
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2037781_tn?1370639096
He is a good person, and i love him,.. and before he came down with depression a year and a half ago things were brilliant, we use to go out all the time together, and have long conversations. The depression stress and panic attacks has put a massive strain on the relationship, but i'm trying to stand by him through this, for as long as i can,... hence my questions, because i believe if i can heal the small problems in our relationship, and make him feel happier in the relationship, hopefully that will go at least some way towards fixing it.
Thanks.
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973741_tn?1342346373
Sweetie, he is disabled.  Anyone in his life will most likely BE a caregiver and assistant lots of the time.  That is part of being with him.  As he gets more comfortable with you, he relies on you more.  

I don' think this is about making HIM feel more masculine to feel good about himself but rather you trying to make him make YOU feel better which is a very different thing.  I wouldn't play games with that or be convoluted in how you think about this.

If you want him to do something for you like make YOU feel cared for, the only way that will happen is if you communicate your needs.  TELL him you'd like him to do X,Y and Z to make you feel taken care of.  If he can, I'm sure he will.  Most people do want their partner to be happy.  And then you can tell him what you are willing to do in terms of his care.  It's alright to set boundaries.  He may need someone that is more mentally prepared to be with someone with a disability.  I don't know.  It may come to that.  

I've had to be very direct with my husband on my needs.  That is not uncommon to need to do.  So, try that approach.
good luck
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Avatar_m_tn
As a guy with a disability I think it's pretty cool that you are looking for ways to help him feel whole. I know that I wrap up a lot of my self image in my masculinity and with a disability that image has changed significantly over the years. This is my issue alone I know. It can be very hard to rely on others for your care yet maintain self confidence and all the things that attracted you to him in the first place.

I have been attending counseling for the last year and it has helped tremendously toward helping me to not get wrapped around the axle so to speak about my physical limitations. It is hard to explain but for me living with a disability has affected me mentally to a large degree as well. I have constant bouts with depression and feelings of hopelessness. This affects most every area of my life at times and I sometimes hurt those closest to me in the process.

The bottom line is that you can not change the way he feels about himself. This plays out in everything we do and how we care for and interact with others on a daily basis. HE has to realize that even with a disability he can still provide, protect and have self confidence. It is not easy by any means and I know that for me it takes constant affirmation, guidance and spiritual growth to maintain it on a daily basis. Many times it is the smallest of gestures or acts that make all the difference in how we feel towards ourselves. I hope that should you decide to stick with him you are both able to love each other and grow together. I have been with my wife for 23 years and although it has been challenging for both of us (certainly more for her I would venture) it has been one of the most rewarding gifts I have been blessed with.
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Avatar_f_tn
I was very moved by Bosifus' words to You as He relates on a personal leveI .  I note He has been in counseling for the last year and that it "has helped tremedously".
You might suggest counseling for Your BoyFriend - and for YourSelf as well.  You both have special challenges in this relationship, so maybe separate counseling and even couples' counseling would be very helpful.

I agree with Bosifus' "bottom line" as well.  You cannot change/heal Him - these are things He needs to address for HimSelf.  

You mention depression, stress, panic attacks.  There is medication for those issues.  He should seek relief for that as well.

The "changes" You would like to see are workable.  He would be happier also.  
Good Luck
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Avatar_m_tn
Very commendable indeed . But if you read more on the net and even logically  when we care for another person some strain on us may be there .

The solution is recognising it and working on it .  I have chronic depression and over the years i learnt to get support without straining the relationship . Therapy will help as well as honest discussions in therapy  
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2037781_tn?1370639096
Thank you.

It is really helpful to hear the perspective of someone who has been in a similar type of situation as my partner.
He isn't much of a talker, especially about how he feels, but what you said has given me an idea about how he might be feeling.

I hadn't realized about how closely related his disability and mental health could be linked. He always puts on a such brave face with his disability.

I'll carry on trying to nudge him towards counseling. I'd almost given up trying to nudge him in that direction, but as it helped you so much, i'm hoping it will help him too.
(I don't suppose you know anything i could do or say to encourage him to do the counseling?)

I'm not very good with people, i always have trouble knowing the right thing to say or do. Is there anything i could do, or say to him that could help him feel better about things?

Thank you so much for helping me... You have really given me hope.
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2037781_tn?1370639096
He did try medication, and even Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but they didn't help. I think the CBT helped only in the regard that he had someone new to talk to. But 20 minutes a fortnight for 6 weeks wasn't enough... and that is all the NHS was willing to provide.

I suggested counseling, even offered to go with him, but each time he rejects it. In the UK there is a stigma about counseling, mental illness, and depression. I think that may be helping discouraging him, along with the general lack of motivation caused by his depression.

I will keep trying, Thank you for your help.
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2037781_tn?1370639096
Thank you.
I don't mind the strain it puts on me, but i never know what to say, or do.
I'm not great with people, i try my best, but knowing what to say to make him feel better, requires more social skills than i seem to have.

I wish i could get him into therapy. But i have no idea how to motivate a depressed person to try something they don't want to do.

Do you think me doing a course on counseling or physiology could help him? Or would someone with depression react better to someone outside his normal life?
Thank you.
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Avatar_m_tn
Sorry for late reply ...
My dear friend ... dont worry too much about social skills in intimate relationships ... Thats to deal with random people .. You are a kind and loving person .  

Hey as the other people told some psychotherapy and medication will help u tremendously .

Also there had been times i had cried on my girlfriends lap when i was depressed  but that doesnt make me less manly  .. Therapy helps us to understand that . And she always looked upto me in so many things  including job hunt etc etc  ... The point is being a man doesnt begin or end with one aspect . Once therapy kicks in and with lots of reading on the net our insecurity lessens  ... Gently help him to get help  ..

If he refuses as a beginning u see a therapist and discuss these issues as professionals can help u guide "how"  .. pls feel free to message me  .. as somehow i still dont know how this site fully works \
(today only saw ur reply but i see messages everyday )  .
best wishes . pls update  
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