A communication-debilitating illness or injury (CDI) presents significant challenges for patients as well as for friends and family. In a qualitative study of the effects of a CDI on close relationships, 28 individuals with loved ones who had experienced a CDI were interviewed. Participants described adjustments in communication with the patient and explained what it is like to experience a relationship with a CDI patient. Themes that emerged transcended the type of illness and relationship. Recommendations are made for further research that focuses on patients' relationships with a variety of social network members, beyond primary caregivers.