Can You Handle Dating While Caregiving?
Dating and caregiving may seem as likely a pair as oil and water. With so little time on your hands, it is easy to question whether or not dating is a possibility for caregivers. The reality is caregiving should not stand in the way of your dating life. Dating can be very rewarding, if only for the fact that you get a much needed respite from all your responsibilities and instead only have to focus on first date butterflies. Dating while caregiving will present some unique challenges, but it is no reason to avoid the experience all together.
Introducing Your Significant Other to Your Parents
If your parent lives with you in your home, sooner or later, you will have to introduce your significant other to your mom or dad. While introducing your boyfriend or girlfriend is often stressful enough, add to the fact that your parent may be suffering from dementia, or have become argumentative and controlling in their current state, and the stress level of introductions may skyrocket. If you feel as though the person you are dating is someone who you want to invite into your life, and you have decided to introduce him or her to your parents, it might be wise to educate your date on your loved one’s condition before the rendezvous. If your parent has dementia, cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, or a plethora of other diagnoses, it will be helpful for your date to know a little bit about the condition so they are not thrown off guard. If your current dating partner seems particularly uninterested in discovering more about your parent or your caregiving duties, you may want to look at this as a red flag. After all, caregiving is a major part of your life, it consumes most of your time and happens to be one of your job titles. It is a position that deserves respect from those you bring into your life.
Caregiving is a lot to handle, so don’t be offended if your new partner does not understand the circumstances right away. Being thrust into the caregiving world was a completely new experience for you, and you cannot expect someone else to understand what you and your parent go through on a daily basis right away. If the person you are dating is someone who is willing to get to know more about you and your parent’s situation, they may be someone worth keeping around. You also may need to give them a little room when it comes to feeling at ease with your care recipient.
It’s Your Life, Live It
As a caregiver, your main purpose is devoting your attention to someone else. So it is not uncommon for caregivers to feel a little selfish in devoting their time to someone new. However, when it comes to caregiving the only way to maintain your sanity is to take time for yourself. If you feel as though you want to find someone to love and spend your life with, you should not let your role as a caregiver stand in your way. You deserve to be happy, however you go about seeking it.
Don’t be Affected by Guilt
Since your care recipient is used to monopolizing your attention and having you available to them at all hours of the day, you can expect to experience some guilt tripping on their part. If your loved one is making you feel guilty, it may be best for you to detach in a loving manner. Reaffirm your love and commitment for them, but do not let them guilt you into sacrificing your dating life. Look into hiring a respite caregiver for when you are away, or ask friends or family to step in when they can.
When you are living a happy and fulfilled life, you are better equipped to fulfill your caregiving duties. While your new foray into the dating world will definitely take some getting used to on all ends, if it is something you are interested in doing, you should not let your role as a caregiver stand in the way. By making sure your loved is in good hands and receiving excellent care in your absence, there is no reason to deprive yourself of dating.