a young couple hold hands and kiss

When you’re taking care of someone it can seem impossible to find time to eat, sleep, and bathe — nevermind look for love. It isn’t easy, but there are other caregivers out there who are going on dates and embarking on new relationships. Remember, everyone has their own situation. What works for one caregiver might not work for you.

Are you going on dates? Share your tips in the comments!

It’s good for you

Having a social life — and a dating life — aren’t just for fun. They’re important for your mental health. Caregiving is incredibly emotionally demanding and you need to maintain a balanced life in order to keep giving to someone else. Even an hour or two a week of social time makes you a better caregiver, because it recharges you. Plus, everyone loves bad date stories.

It’s good for the person you care for

It’s not healthy for one person — you — to be their only friend or source of support. It’s good for them to be around other people and get to socialize. Social isolation is terrible for you and the person you care for — don’t lock yourself up in solitary confinement.

It’s okay to ask for help

Needing to rely on others isn’t a sign of weakness — no caregiver should be on their own. Of course, the logistics of finding someone to provide care in your absence can be formidable. Some of us have an easier time than others — finding someone to keep an eye on my adorable autistic niece is a piece of cake, while I have to beg and cajole to get someone to keep my ornery uncle company, and neither of them requires complex medical care.

Find friends — and dates — online

Don’t know anyone you’re interested in dating? No problem. Sign up for an online dating profile, many of which are free. If you’re not comfortable joining a dating site, Meetup.com can help you meet other people to socialize and speed up the process of meeting someone the old fashioned way. Your local library will probably have a calendar of events, too.

It’s okay to cut corners

We all have only 24 hours a day — you decide how you spend it. Are all of your non-negotiable tasks really non-negotiable? Are there shortcuts you can take or corners you can cut with chores? Are you keeping busy to distract yourself from sadness? Take a look at the calendar and make a realistic decision about how often you can go out and then follow through. Don’t decide there’s no time for you in your life.

Get creative with finding help

Beyond asking for help from family and friends, there might be caregiving volunteers available through a neighborhood organization. Elder Helpers has volunteers around the country; Wake County, NC has the Center for Volunteer Caregiving; Caregiver Companion serves parts of Indiana. Please share information on other organizations in the comments below.

You can also trade time with another local caregiver. It’s also worth it to find a professional caregiver who you’re comfortable with. Even if you don’t use paid care often, having a professional caregiver who knows your loved one is priceless when there’s an emergency.

Fun can be affordable

Going on a date doesn’t have to mean dropping a bunch of cash. Many museums have free entry at specific times or free programs. Most art galleries don’t charge admission — and even have opening parties that the public can attend. If it’s nice out there are often free outdoor movies, dancing lessons, and concerts — or you can enjoy a stroll or a picnic. Ask around to find out which cafes have good specials and affordable prices.

You’ll keep the good ones

Some people will dismiss you as soon as they realize you’re a caregiver, but that might be a good thing.It’s better to realize someone’s not ready to deal with real life early on. People who stick around are going to be the type of people who will stick it out for the long-haul.

You’ll skip the bad ones

All too many of us have been guilty of going on second or third dates with people we aren’t interested in because why not? Well, when you’re paying $20/hr or have begged a friend to come over for a few hours there’s a compelling reason to not waste time with someone you’re just not that into.

Be understanding

You’ll find someone who understands that caregiving is your priority. Even if caregiving is your top priority, if you want to pursue a serious relationship with someone, they need to be one of your priorities, too. Things come up — a lot! — and that’s fine, but you need to be extra sure to let them know what’s going on. Being a no-show or vanishing for weeks on end isn’t an acceptable way to treat someone, regardless of your caregiving responsibilities.

 

Remember, no one thinks dating is particularly easy or fun all of the time. It’s okay to take a break from dating — or decide you’re not interested in a romantic relationship at all. But if you’re looking for love, it’s important to make that a priority in your life — and seek out the help and support you need to make it happen.

Written by Allison Powell
I live off of food from Trader Joe's. I spend my life in a cubicle, a la Office Space. I'm kind of obsessed with the internet. Confession: I take care of people but don't identify as a caregiver.

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20 Comments

  1. I watched every friend walk out when I went 24/7 with my grandmother, including my boyfriend. All except 2 friends.

    Reply
  2. It will only take away from the one you are caring for. Not much social life either…Have to save your energy for them and the professionals related to thier care.

    Reply
  3. I ended up marrying a caregiver. The first time he came to my house I was bedridden from my own surgery and he sat in a chair in my room and talked to me for hours. Brought me all kinds of goodies. He’s amazing.

    Reply
    • As a carer for my mum she has by poler I’ve been doing this for ten years but not for much longer looking after some one with mental health out look has not been easy I’m now 54 and have decided that l want my life back ldid this in the knowledge promised me by the pedis center at Hellesdon hospital Norwich since then we have had very little if nothing in help social services have been about as useful as a chocolate spoon in a mug of coffee! and when l tried to get counciling lwas told would have to pay for it! True! My lot in this job has been for me as it for you!? all we doing is being put on by the government saving them 75billion pounds in tax cuts for the middle classes remember they are on the beach your doing this miserable job and that’s just how they like it!? I can not do this any more because lcarnt give her the care and emotional support that really can only be done by professional trained people that l simply can not give her any more I’ve triad dating but sadly they run a mile as soon as the read you profile that your a live in carer! The loneliness is sole destroying every day I’m now doing this little bit more of me is dieing my depression is getting worse the down side is my mum hopefully will go into sheltered. Housing but l will be made homeless clarion have made it clear that im out and homeless lcarnt get on any waiting list because I’m still mums carer! That’s the thanks from you’re caring government! Thanks for doing this.bugger off there’s a good boy! It was a hard decision but if dont l feel l will emotionally scared for ever if you’re doing this there will come point when you have to think about you don’t! Let them use you’re life up because no one gives crap only you can do that

      Reply
  4. . Forgive me I needed a good laugh.

    Reply
    • What on earth is so funny about this?

      Reply
  5. It’s absolutely impossible. I haven’t had a date in over a decade. Although, about 3 years ago, I did get hit on by a creep in the grocery store. After that, I was convinced that being alone (and sometimes having to deal with loneliness) was, without a doubt, the best option.

    Reply
    • Being lonely is a part of being a caregiver

      Reply
  6. Who has time? Although loneliness does strike in the midst of chaos

    Reply
  7. Hang in there guys, it took me 3yrs to find my gorgeous man, he accepted that my Dad had to come first & he is a wonderful kind, patient man, so believe me there are decent men out there for you also never give up on finding love ❤

    Reply
  8. Rare, can’t find a good suitable grown up

    Reply
  9. This is probably pretty rare but my husband and I met on an internet dating site while he was caregiver for his grandmother. We emailed and talked a lot before we met in person and before I met his grandmother. Now we are married and we both work and tag team the caregiving. If you meet someone who accepts your caregiving they probably have pretty similar values and will stick with you through difficult things.

    Reply
  10. And too often those who are sole caregivers forget their spouse and family. I learned the hard way they are important too

    Reply
  11. There is no dating as a caregiver.

    Reply
  12. Love the part about keep the good and skip the bad.

    Reply
  13. Mary, how did you meet this person? Is there a caregiver only dating site you know of? I find it Impossible to meet women locally who would engage in a ltr with a man taking care of his elderly mother. People keep telling me that a woman would love this quality in a mate, but in my “research” this is patently untrue. Any advice you offer will be gladly received. Thanks.

    Reply
  14. I not only dated as a caregiver. I got married and my handicapped son lives with us! It takes a very special person to marry a caregiver!

    Reply

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