Living With

6 Tips for Improving Relationships with Chronic Pain

Karen Lee Richards Mar 30, 2012 (updated Jan 9, 2014)
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Reassess your relationships
Reassess your relationships
Chronic pain tends to impose limits on what you can do.  When you were healthy and active, you could juggle lots of friends, but now you're probably finding that you need to focus your limited time and energy on a few close friends. 
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Don't talk about pain constantly
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It can be tempting to talk to your friends about how much pain you're in because pain has a way of grabbing your attention and trying to control every aspect of your life, but try to resist the urge.  Frankly, no one, no matter how much they love you, wants to hear a blow by blow description of your health issues every time they talk to you. 
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Keep up with current events
Keep up with current events
With chronic pain, it is easy to become so isolated that you have nothing else to discuss with friends other than your pain.  Make an effort to keep up with the latest news in whatever areas of interest you share with your friends, be it sports, politics, literature, or celebrity gossip.  Today with computers, smartphones and TVs, it's easier than ever before to access the latest information on whatever subjects interest you. 
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Make friends with other patients
Make friends with other patients
Let's face it: Sometimes we all need to talk to someone who truly understands what we're going through because they've experienced it themselves.  As much as our healthy friends may love and support us, if they haven't lived with chronic pain, they can't really relate to what we're feeling.  If you don't already have friends like this, you can reach out and make new friends through local or online support groups.
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Make plans with a caveat
Make plans with a caveat
While it's not a good idea to talk about your pain all the time, your friends do need to know about your condition and your limitations.  You need to establish an understanding that whenever you make plans together, you may have to cancel at the last minute if you're having a really bad day. 
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Remember that friendship takes two
Remember that friendship takes two
Sometimes we become so concerned about other people understanding our problems and needs that we forget to try to see things from their perspective.  Try to remember that your friend's life is just as important to him as yours is to you.