Duct Tape for the Heart: How to Cope with Compassion Fatigue in Relationships
Sometimes we care so much that we develop compassion fatigue, especially if our relationships are one-sided.
By Dr T J Jordan
"There is a soul weariness that comes with caring." Beth Hudnall Stamm
Sometimes we need a break from loving, especially if the balance of giving has gotten lopsided. When one partner invests much in the relationship while the other gives little, burnout is just around the corner. Beyond burnout lies a place called compassion fatigue where our empathy reserves run dry and we feel that we can no longer care.
We all need a generous helping of reliable warmth and affection seasoned with positive emotional expressions in our loving relationships. While some of us are better than others at the business of loving, nobody can last forever in one-sided connections.
Sometimes our best efforts at loving leave us wounded and disappointed when our partners just don't step up to loving us back. And in those times, some of us nevertheless continue trying to keep love alive. But our minds, our hearts, and our souls grow weary.
Too much trying in the absence of partner warmth pushes us into compassion fatigue. Some partners exhaust our empathy and leave us feeling too drained to continue caring. Our attempts at offering love get extinguished.
Compassion fatigue is a combination of emotional and physical exhaustion that was first identified in helping professionals. It has been characterized also as secondary traumatic stress. This kind of traumatic stress can arise from closely knowing about the burden of trauma carried by our partner.
Compassion fatigue is a negative cost of caring.
In romantic relationships, compassion fatigue is an end product of caring for someone who doesn't…