Is it possible to have a significant other while taking care of your parents?
a couple out on a date

Many people put their lives on hold when they first step into a caregiver role. That’s fine for short-term caregiving, but putting your life on hold for years or decades means a life unlived.

Finding someone that fits into the lifestyle is difficult but not impossible. I found mine, just took 4 yrs lol we are still strong and loving one another 8 yrs. He is a home body too (perfect as they get). – Donna Marie B.

I had tried dating a few men during the course of taking care of my Mom and they were either too needy, jealous, or did not understand. Deciding not to date eliminated dealing with any of that and just focus on her and what she needed. So it’s not impossible, but finding that one person who is willing and able to not be 1st but maybe a close 2nd and understanding of your caregiving job is like finding a pearl. They are very rare. If you have found or find that person hold onto them. – Michelle R.

I tried [to date]. I take care of my mom, and she gets so upset thinking that I will meet someone and leave her that she ends up in the hospital if I go on a date. I’m not exaggerating. So, I don’t date anymore. I’ve never married or had children, never had a LTR, and I have to let go of those dreams. My mom doesn’t really like me to go out except to grocery shop or to doctors. – NC L.

I just found mine. It’s only been a little over a month, but he is so understanding about my situation. – JoZena G.

I’ve been a caregiver for my Mom for about 10 years now, and have had zero dates in that time. Besides not being able to get out much, I’m afraid I might also slip back into being almost painfully shy around women. – Ed R.

I am a live-in caregiver for a lady and have no time or means to meet any body. It’s a 24/7 job. – Karen P.

I’m the youngest of four and at 47 have given up hope of meeting anyone again, either. I was in an abusive relationship, was always accused of caring for others more than her. She’s a chronic alcoholic who when sober (rarely) was fit and able to look after herself and hold down a job. Meanwhile, I was caring for my niece who is now 36 and has a brain injury, my Dad who passed away about a month ago and I am about to officially take over care of my Mum who totally dropped her bundle once my Dad took a turn for the worse in May and she is not able to take care of his affairs or her own. Somewhere amongst that I lost myself. My siblings won’t speak to my niece or my Mum, who tells me she needs me and I am better off alone after the last one. I kinda don’t blame her for that. I have multiple physical disabilities and PTSD due to her actions. I feel so alone and wish there was somebody out there who would care for me and my ‘baggage’ as my ex called them. I call them my family. My fault is I love and care too deeply and get hurt. Some people are so cruel. Something I will never understand as long as I live. I care because to the core of my being it was what I was bred to do. It’d take one very special person to lure me away from doing what I do out of love. – Beth C.

I just never tried to find a husband as I’m to busy with taking care of my two elderly parents suffering from Dementia. They always acknowledged that my being single was the reason I was/am a 24/7 caregiver to them. But it would break my heart if I felt my parents wouldn’t support me finding happiness. – Janet S.

I sacrificed my college choice to help take care of my Father when he suffered strokes. He passed in ’03. Then I vowed to always care for my Mother who passed 2 years ago. Almost 10 years after my Dad. I sacrificed more than just college in the process, though. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was falling into a comfortable trap of not getting out to meet people and got used to not dating. I had squashed that need for so long that I let loose after my Mom died. I still would prefer to be out instead of staying home but its not as bad. Now I’m 44 years old with no kids or husband to speak of. Yes, true, my choices. But given the circumstances of being an only child, they were choices I had to make a certain way. I would never do anything different either. I’m not complaining, don’t get me wrong, because in a bittersweet way I have my life back, but it’s without my best friend in the entire world, my confidant, my soul mate — My Mom. And it just so happens that now that I do have my life back I have no one to share it with or no little ones to pass the amazing lessons onto that my amazing Mother taught me. – Michelle R.

Even for people who are in a committed relationship, maintaining a relationship takes work and time. Caregiving brings some couples closer and tears others apart.

It has definitely brought my husband and I closer – a new dimension to our relationship; first his mom lived with us and now, we have been caring for my mom under hospice for the last year and a half. Precious moments! – Lemia L.

Trying to take care of two parents with no siblings, turned down for medical assistance, has taken a huge toll on my relationship. – Jacqueline A.

When my mom was diagnosed with ALS, my husband (of 14 years) said as long as I didn’t forget about him, he didn’t have a problem with me taking care of her on the weekends. It only lasted for 2 months, as she passed away very soon after diagnosis. My dad was a mess, so I helped him as much as I could, being an hour away. 14 months later, he asked for a separation. Which worked out, as a year after we separated, my dad was diagnosed with FTL dementia. – Deborah C.

I cannot begin to tell you the strain that categorizing has put on my marriage. I would like to just be able to go out with my husband without having to use subterfuge. Our lives…our privacy…are gone. It is what it is. We are trying very hard, but it is indeed the hardest thing that has ever hit our marriage.- Beth S.

Are you ready to give dating a shot? Here are Allison’s tips for dating as a caregiver.

Written by Michelle Daly

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36 Comments

  1. My girlfriend is a prisoner. For real.

    Reply
  2. Hardest thing ever in our family/lives. My mother is in the bedroom right next to ours and the loss of privacy is maddening. Difficult to be a wife, lover, parent, etc w ‘ears’ always ready to chime in with a comment. She sleeps odd hours and we never know when she’s asleep or awake, even at 3 am! No one takes her out anymore and we are never alone! I just want my life back!

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  3. It’s possible as long as u live your live consciously trying to please someone and never yourself

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  4. Yes, if you have a wonerful careing living hubby like mine. I love him so much for knowing and respecting that I have to care for my Dad. They are both amazing people. I would not trade them for the world.

    Reply
  5. It’s all about balance and if you really want this relationship you make the time. It can be difficult because you are committed to the person you are caregiver to first and foremost. If that relationship with that person is worth it take the time it’s so important. I Always think to myself it won’t be this way forever. One day my caregiver days will be over and I can focus on me. I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful man in my life that understands and never puts pressure on me. He knows I have a lot on my plate caring for my elderly dad. I’m very lucky to have him.

    Reply
  6. You can. But you can’t ignore that there will challenges and your situation will be unique. I was with my boyfriend for 2 years when my mom developed neuropathy in her feet and had to retire because she couldn’t get around by herself anymore. I had dreams of moving out and being independent and possibly moving in with my bf. Instead we ended up getting a house together. Me, my bf and my mom. We were still able to have date nights and things worked out. Three years later my mom’s kidneys started failing and she was constantly in the hospital. Last year my mom started home dialysis. Because of her neuropathy, I act as her personal tech at home setting up the equipment and everything. She’s hooked up to a machine every night for 9 hours. Needless to say, our lives were instantly changed. I’m on a schedule now. I even work full time but can’t do anything after work during the week unless it’s pre-planned and I rearrange my schedule at work. Me and my bf can usually only go out on Saturdays. And we can’t travel anymore because there is no specialized home nurse services for dialysis patients. So we try the best we can to have somewhat of a life outside our home but it’s exhausting. We’ve been together for 7 years now.

    Reply
  7. Unless you are dating someone who has been there. ..no….they don’t get how hard it is…

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  8. It almost seems impossible. It’s so hard to find time for eachother between 24/7 care giving for my mom ( she lives next door ) and 4 kids we rarely even get 5 minutes to talk. But when we actually get to have an hour or 2 to actually get to go somewhere together, we have a hard time finding anything to say to each other. I always find myself venting and complaining and mentioning future worries when I do I catch my self and change the subject but no matter what subject it is he hasn’t got much to add to the conversation. This makes me feel completely alone and resentful, I know he resents me too. Its a very rare moment when we actually connect, but when we do its wonderful.

    Reply
  9. Yes, but they have to be very understanding and have a ton of patience.

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  10. Being in a relationship when one is a caregiver is an impossible fight to be together! We are so in love, but yet, his Mother cannot be left alone at all, and everything is a struggle. In order to maintain a relationship, you have to get time alone without all the stresses that come along with the nightmare of being a caregiver for a person with dimentia.

    Reply
  11. Do I even want to read this? I’ve been alone all my life, with a few failed attempts at dating. I get the message from far too many people that this is how it should be, this is my lot in life, my job is to take care of people but never have anything for myself. And, it’s an incredibly sad way to “live.”

    Reply
    • Oh my gosh! I was quoted in this article! I’m NC L!

      Reply
  12. sacrificed for decades…so that’s a big fat ‘nope’

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  13. Nope it’s not unless that person can understand the situation and work with you

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  14. For better or worse, thru sickness & in health!!

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  15. That would be a negative.

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  16. I would like to go out with my husband for dinner….sigh

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  17. I am married for 42 years so I do not have any idea about dating however it would in my opinion depend on the level of need the person you are caring for has. My husbands needs are 24/7 so there would be none if he was not my husband but I was his sole caregiver. I had a senior ministry for years and some had simple small needs while others took more hours than a day had, so I guess it depends on the situation one is in.

    Reply
  18. My experience hasn’t changed since my comment in the link.

    Reply
    • I take that back…I one dinner date and met for coffee once.

      Reply

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