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Guy Stirs Drama By ‘Noticing’ Girlfriend’s Fibromyalgia Only Flares Up At ‘Convenient Times’

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Dealing with a chronic pain condition can be debilitating and majorly disruptive to a person’s life.

But for one guy on Reddit, it seems that his girlfriend’s chronic condition might be even more disruptive than the norm, because he suspects she’s using it as an excuse to get out of things she doesn’t want to do.

When he brought this up to her it caused major drama, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the username Dazzling_Layer3212 on the site, asked:

“AITA for noticing that my girlfriend’s fibromyalgia sure does seem to flare up at convenient times?”

He explained:

“My girlfriend Jenny (26 F[emale]) and I (30 M[ale]) have been together for a year. She moved in with me about six months ago partially because she had nowhere else to go, but we’re living happily together most days.”

“Jenny suffers from a condition called fibromyalgia. It is a really complicated condition that even doctors do not understand all that well, but from what I’ve researched as a layman, it is a generalized pain condition.”

“It makes it hard for Jenny to hold down a job, but I legitimately used to believe that she at least tried.”

“I know I’m already going to sound like an a**hole with this, but I believe at this point, Jenny is milking it. It isn’t that she isn’t able to work, or she isn’t able to do the dishes most days.”

“It’s often about what she is able to do. For example, before the weekend, Jenny had a job interview for a position that was a really great opportunity.”

“The job interview was mostly a formality because she was strongly recommended by her aunt for it. Jenny ended up canceling because of a fibromyalgia flare up.”

“Two hours later, she went out to lunch with her friends, in a perfectly fine mood. When she got home, I asked if she could wash the dishes she left in the sink.”

“She said her fibromyalgia was flaring up again and she needed to lay down. I washed a mountain of dishes by myself.”

“Later, Jenny came out to watch one of her favorite TV shows. I asked how she was feeling and she said she was fine after resting.”

“I then pointed out that her fibromyalgia sure seems to calm down before things she wants to do, and then flare up again before things she doesn’t want to do.”

“Jenny stood up without a word, walked to the bedroom, and locked the door. I have seen her about three times since, and she doesn’t have a word for me.”

“If her behavior with the interview, lunch with friends, being unable to do the dishes, and then wanting to watch TV were a one-off thing, I’d get it. But this happens all the time. More examples:”

“Jenny loves concerts. I have never heard of a flare up before one. She’s always good to go to a concert.”

“Jenny has never had a flare up before going out to dinner or going to see a movie. She has never said that she just couldn’t make it.”

“Jenny has constant flare ups right before doing chores, or she uses them as an excuse to not do any housework.”

“I feel like a monster but I’m sadly really confident in my judgment here. Was my comment too direct?”

People on Reddit were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And most of them agreed that OP’s girlfriend’s behavior seemed rather suspicious.

“NTA: Hey, person who’s had Fibromyalgia for 10 years now.”

“Flare ups last a few hours to a few days. Speaking from personal experience, unless she has stellar pain medication, it’s not going away to where you can jump up and have an afternoon out with the girls.”

“She would also have a specialist and/therapist to help her manage her condition. Ex. I have a Physical therapist, a GP, and a pain specialist.”

“It is NOT ableist of you if she is taking advantage and selecting when she has flare ups. This condition gets a bad rap as it is and I hate seeing people use it to be lazy or an a**hole.”

“She may be gaslighting you and it’s not fair to use one’s disability to excuse their sh*tty behaviour. Let it be for the moment and keep a journal of when she has her flares and when she does not. This isn’t a subject to bring up when you’re frustrated or angry.”

“I’m glad you have been patient in trying to understand her disability as everyone’s pain threshold is different, but I can tell you with certainty it doesn’t magically disappear when you want to do something fun. She would be missing out on things that interest her too.”

“Edit: I was not meaning GF would have, but rather NEED to have stellar meds and a team to be able to get up and function quickly.”

“I didn’t have insurance or specialists until I was deemed legally disabled so, I understand not everyone has access and did not want to imply such.” –Swededuck

“While I don’t know about fibromyalgia specifically, I have a different chronic condition so it’s something I am familiar with. I think we aren’t in a great position to judge whether or not she is faking/milking it, I don’t think OP is automatically TA for noticing this.”

“It’s really hard mainly because of the spoon theory. Basically, people with chronic conditions like this have a limited amount of, well, “energy” is the best way to describe it.”

“So sometimes people have to prioritize what they want to spend their energy, or spoons, on. For example, if I have plans I want to attend, but limited spoons that day, I might not be able to do chores or cook or do other less fun things that day.”

“You would see me going to my fun activity while saying I can’t do my not fun activities as me lying. But it’s just that I have a limited amount of spoons and have to choose.”

“So if I have to choose between cooking dinner and doing a fun activity, I’ll be ordering takeout.”

“However, that is not at all regular, if it happens enough I will choose to miss out on the fun activity because I can’t, and even when I don’t have to choose I often have to miss out on fun things just because I can’t.”

“And I would absolutely never miss a job interview in order to save spoons for a lunch with friends. So occasionally not being able to do dishes but being able to go to dinner might be normal.”

“But only occasionally and if this were the case of having to prioritize one thing over another, she is very clearly prioritizing friends lunch over A JOB INTERVIEW.”

“Again most of this is based on my personal experience with chronic pain, not with fibromyalgia, so everyone’s experience with something like this will be different…” –ladancer22

“Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are two of the most stigmatized and disbelieved conditions right now for this exact reason.”

“So many people decide to take the ambiguity and fake it, or exaggerate it’s symptoms, for sympathy or getting out of uncomfortable things. It makes me so upset reading things like OP’s post.” –Sparkling_Otters

“This. I’ve had fibro for seven years and when I have a flare up I can’t even get out of bed. I’m lucky to have an employer who understands” –lasarrie

“Yes!! I have MS and Fibro and this person ^ is spot on.”

“I wish I could have a day out with my husband and kids for a lunch or even just play in the backyard however most days doing something most see as simple such as the dishes IS a win for me.”

“Everyday is a struggle and having someone/anyone who understands what your going through or is even willing to understand like OP seemingly has, is a win in of its own.” –MommyBurton

“Flare ups often (not always) have triggers and you can identify patterns. It takes time to learn how to manage it but it’s important to learn what you can control and what you can’t.”

“If the gf knows she needs to have a job then it’s a matter of learning what type of job she can maintain and how she can maintain it. It’s likely not going to be something with a lot of physical labor.”

“If it’s a WFH desk job then she would need to figure out how to manage how she sits, stretches, what triggers pain etc.”

“If I were OP I would ask her what makes the pain better or worse and help her find ways to manage how she contributes to the household. Anyone with a chronic condition needs to develop insight into their condition.”

“That doesn’t mean they can control everything, it means that they can communicate with themselves and others in their lives about expectations and limitations.”

“It definitely sounds like she has “convenient” flare ups but even if that’s not the case, she needs to work to better understand her condition. If she didn’t have OP she wouldn’t have a home or someone paying her bills so this is truly in her best interest.” –boycottSummer

Hopefully OP can find a way to deal with this with his girlfriend.

Written by Peter Karleby

Peter Karleby is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.