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Pregnant Woman Furious After Boyfriend Starts Experiencing ‘Sympathetic Pregnancy’ Symptoms

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For most women, pregnancy is an incredibly difficult experience, from a changing body to getting ready for the baby to be born to the day of birth itself.

Unfortunately, some women don’t receive nearly enough support during this time.

Ironically, sometimes the focus is on someone else, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor NamesJustinSutton became the focus of his girlfriend’s pregnancy, whether or not he intended for that to happen.

When he heard his girlfriend’s frustration, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he was being selfish.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for calling my girlfriend ridiculous after she accused me of ‘mimicking’ her pregnancy?”

The OP developed pregnancy symptoms while his girlfriend was pregnant.

“Me ([Male] 27) and my girlfriend ([Female] 23) recently found out we’re expecting.”

“It’s been difficult for both of us so far. She deals with several symptoms like morning sickness and nausea which are the worst to manage.”

“I try to do all I could to help but very recently, I started experiencing similar symptoms myself. I too started having morning sickness, nausea, open appetite, etc.”

The OP’s girlfriend didn’t appreciate it.

“My girlfriend absolutely hates it. She hates that I have these symptoms that I can’t control and say I was purposely ‘mimicking’ her suffering for laughs, which I’m not.”

“Every time I throw up or get sick, she would say, ‘Oh my god, you’re such an a**hole!’ or ‘You’re enjoying making fun of a pregnant woman and stealing attention, aren’t you?'”

“The doctor and my mom said it’s called sympathetic pregnancy, but my girlfriend refused to believe it and told me to stop, despite my saying I can’t control it.”

“She reminded me that she’s the one who’s pregnant and I needed to cut the crap and take medication for ‘whatever I’m dealing with,’ because this is so ridiculous and embarrassing.”

The situation got worse at a recent family dinner.

“The final straw was when her parents came over for dinner.”

“I wasn’t feeling well that night. I just got off work and was feeling nauseous the entire day.”

“My girlfriend prepared dinner and I had to join her and her parents.”

“It didn’t go well. I started gagging and my girlfriend kept staring at me, while her mom asked if I was ok. I excused myself to the bathroom and threw up really loudly.”

“I heard her mom say that pregnancy must be hard on ‘us,’ which caused my girlfriend to lose it, and go on and on about how I was just fine and was just mimicking her for some reason.”

The OP and his girlfriend had a huge argument.

“Her parents left and we got into a fight when she called me horrible, attention-seeking AH for putting on a show in front of her parents when it’s her who’s truly suffering.”

“I told her she had me sit to eat dinner with her parents, despite saying I preferred to have something light for the night.”

“She said I could’ve held it in or not make such a fuss about it but clearly I did this to steal attention from her.”

“I blew up and called her ridiculous for making such accusations.”

“She started crying, saying she’s dealing with enough and I was making it worse for her.”

“She packed and went to her sister’s and won’t come home until I stop this.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP’s girlfriend was wrong to doubt his symptoms.

“When my friend was pregnant while living with me, I got it too. The morning sickness was possibly the worst. I felt so guilty too because we only had one toilet and inevitably one of us was gonna be relegated to the sink or tub every so often. Especially the first time I thought to cook is salmon for dinner.”

“I worry for OP in this relationship. I know his GF is going through a hard time actually being pregnant, but I worry about the future. What if OP gets depression? What if something happens to him? Will his girlfriend still treat him so horribly and call him an attention seeker?”GlobsofKnobSlob

“My brother and I both got sympathy symptoms with my sisters’ pregnancies!”

“Girlfriend sounds some combo of emotional because hormones are ridiculous, but also super self-centered?”

“Like, it’s all about the attention? What? Everyone knows YOU’RE pregnant, girl. If your boyfriend got hit by a car would you still cry about him taking attention from you?”dramaandaheadache

Others agreed that sympathy pains, or “Couvade Syndrome,” are valid diagnoses. 

“I know this is a real thing but I get why it would be weird to deal with! All the girlfriend probably wants is sympathy and to be taken care of, and instead this happens.”

“Idk (I don’t know) what can be done to convince her if the doctor didn’t though. She’s only 23, maybe she needs to talk to someone else who had this happen?”Creative-Training175

“It’s also common enough that every one of my 3 pregnancies it was mentioned at ob orientation at the military clinics I was seen at before I’d even been assigned a doctor. There’d be a group full of pregnant women and they’d ask all our SOs if they’d experienced any couvade symptoms yet.”LlittleOne

“NTA, it’s a literal documented phenomenon that happens to men, sometimes men literally experience pregnancy symptoms.”

“It’s literally like you telling her you have depression and anxiety, the doctors telling her the same and her not believing it and saying you’re faking it.”

“You literally cannot help it and honestly don’t think anything besides couple therapy can fix it because you can’t FORCE her to believe you, the doctors, or random people on the internet.”

“So please see if she can be open to that otherwise reactions like that to your own suffering will cause the relationship to be lost before it even gets anywhere amazing.”UndeadNo-1827

But some said the OP was wrongfully taking the focus from the mother-to-be.

“I’m 36 weeks pregnant, and my husband has had sympathy symptoms MY ENTIRE pregnancy. We found out at 3 weeks so it’s been a very long pregnancy.”

“He had nausea, cravings, and all-around fatigue just like me. And I can assure you it is INFURIATING.”

“That being said, I agree NAH due to this. Because the hormones inside me make me uncontrollably unsympathetic towards him but I also know he can’t help it.”

“I am lucky that my husband recognizes that I’m dealing with the bulk of the pain/discomfort and he tries his best to try not to make it about him.”

“I 100% agree OP should start saying it’s a mental disorder and not pregnancy because he isn’t pregnant. She is. And sympathy pregnancy symptoms are different than the real deal.”ThatB***hStaceyFR

“I relate more to his girlfriend. I have cancer. And while I understand my husband and family are upset, it would absolutely p**s me off if they used my cancer to gain attention.”

“I’m the one going through chemo, I’m the one that lost her hair, I’m the one who is in pain and sick.”

“And while I understand he has a mental illness, I can see why a pregnant woman would have trouble having sympathy for the person who is not actually the one carrying the baby.”A-Handful-Of-Pills

“I wanted to add that OP’s GF is very limited in what she can take for her symptoms and the one I was given was also a sleeping aid (work + first-trimester tiredness = I can’t use a f**king sleep aid for my all-day nausea).”

“OP can, so when his GF tells him to take the medication, it makes me wonder if the doctor sent him home with anything or if he’s tried any OTC (over the counter) stuff.”Yay_Rabies

“It’s hard because the girlfriend’s language is so strong but the ‘we’ stuff is a huge problem. Pregnancy can be dangerous. It can change your body permanently. It’s more than the morning sickness symptoms.”

“I looked it up and didn’t go digging for sources, but according to Scientific American, attention-seeking and jealousy are causes of sympathetic pregnancies. Which doesn’t make those symptoms invalid, but explains frustration. And the idea that your symptoms are worse than hers may be hard to grasp. It’s super understudied.”

“I don’t know if I’d go NAH or ESH. I think that her refusing to take it seriously is probably worse, but the ‘we’ stuff is kinda messed up.”

“Also, there are things you can do, like talking to a psychiatrist, that might help you that won’t help her.”whatthewhythehow

The OP was insistent that there was nothing he could do to improve his symptoms, but the subReddit was divided.

Some sympathized with him, while others suggested ways he could improve his symptoms that his girlfriend could not safely use, like medication.

But most could agree that the OP’s condition was making things harder for his girlfriend, intentionally or not. Being pregnant, she needed someone to support her, not someone she’d have to care for besides herself all pregnancy long.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.