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Periodic Contributor

Achievable??

I am a caretaker for an elderly family member (mother) plus I am juggling a relationship in which my partner feels slighted and resentful that we aren’t able to spend much time together due to me taking care of my family member 24/7, and also due to Covid. My partner doesn’t understand or cares not to try. well they say that they understand that my family member comes and the pandemic has limited interactions but they often express their unhappiness with the situation. Should I breakup with them because I believe that an achievable successful, prosperous relationship can happen still in the dynamic , and they’re unsure of it? I give up my moments of solitude and free time which may vary from a half an hour to an 2 hour each day to see them, but they feel it isn’t enough and are feeling unwanted and unsettled. Should I just not date anyone due to my situation, until it improves? Everyone that I’ve ever dated has had a problem with it. Maybe they just weren’t right for me? Can a successful relationship be achieved while being a caregiver?

 

 

Periodic Contributor

Please give me words of advice or encouragement or something to me so that I may not have a weak moment and want to be with him again.

AARP Expert

@SaraL137371 Here's what I try to do - I ask myself what I would tell my best friend to do. I am sure that if your best friend was in this situation you would have a clear idea of what she/he/they should do. So think about that and tell yourself that advice! You've got this! 

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Periodic Contributor

I do not believe I am at fault for the demise of the relationship. He has control issues, lacks empathy and compassion sometimes, and he places expectations and sets goals for people, and if his demands for them aren't met, he throws a hissy fit and leaves.

Here I am a physically disabled, often limited 40-year-old woman taking care of my sickly elderly mother whose 89 has memory problems, mobility problems, and just problems associated with aging, and also due to a stroke she survived back in 2018. I live with her. I am her caregiver. Also, I take care of my 9-year-old aging dog that has health problems as well. I reconnected with someone whom I went to high school with online, we talk online, we hit it off, we reunite in person, hit it off. I was very honest about my life, and he said that it wasn't a problem and that he still wanted to date. He was honest about his bi-weekly visitations with his daughter. I told him that I am childless and never dated a partner with a child, but I was open to it. He told me that he understood. He maintained that mindset throughout most of the relationship. We date a few months and time was made for visits. We saw each other the full week that he didn't have his daughter. He works the graveyard shift at his job, and when he got off we would see each other for about an hour or two before he went home, since he passed my home before going home. A lot of time during that time together we would walk my dog and sit in the park and talk, or sometimes talk in front of my house (I would bring out chairs). During that week we would spend about 5 hours in my home at night once a week while my mother was asleep. We spent time together in my fully furnished secluded basement then because of the pandemic. We stayed in communication via text, sometimes phone calls (depending on my health) frequently when not in the presence of each other. I was under the impression things were going well, seeing he was speaking of a long-term future, and possibly meeting his daughter in the future. I told him that I would only meet her if our relationship continues to progress in a positive direction, and also if I was sure that I can offer her some kind of permanency in her life, firstly before anything I would have to meet the mother of his child. He agreed but told me he didn't understand why I needed to meet her. I told him because I am not the parent of his child, and she is. I told him there's the respect element and comfort element as well. things continue to go well or so I thought.. He started asking firstly, then demanding more time. He started to become visibly upset that the time spent was not away from my home, and that I was unable to come to his and also participate in more outside activities. He became distant and started making excuses not to see me, and if he would promise to see me, he'd blow me off knowing that I was excitedly waiting at the possibility of seeing him. He became resentful and bitter towards me (still is). He stopped seeing me altogether, stopped trying to maintain much contact with me himself (i had to text or call if I wanted to hear from him) There were no more texts from him to start my day. It's been about 4 months since I have actually seen him, he blames it on needing time to study and achieve his goals, and also focus on his 3-year plan (Like he wasn't doing the same things before but still making time for me, like people in the world don't make time out for what's important to them). He gets annoyed at me when I just want to talk or find out what's happening in his and daughter's life. He also started using his daughter as an excuse as to why he couldn't talk to me when she was over, (like she never went to sleep or was under him 24/7) I told him that he could if he wanted to... if I was important to him as well. like he couldn't take a few minutes a day to see how I was, and how things were going for me. Even when we broke up, I had hopes that we would finally see me after a good friend of mine committed suicide last month. but he hasn't.. still making excuses. I asked him what the problem was and if we could fix it. He lacks personal accountability for anything and ultimately blaming me and my "commitment" towards others. He also said that as much as he wants us to date, that it's unacceptable. I was supportive, encouraging, engaging, attentive, I listened, I gave feedback, etc... all throughout the relationship but he somehow thinks that his "efforts" exceeded mine because he said the next suitor I find to make sure to match his efforts. Despite knowing that I'm physically disabled and limited(congenital heart malformations, leaky heart values, heart disease) and am personally responsible for a lot, he has never offered to help with anything, or have just done things out of the kindness of his heart, such as shown up with food so I didn't have to cook, offered to cut the grass, give my dog a bath, maybe take the leash from me as we walked her, etc.. small gestures. He spoke of trying to have a long-term relationship with me but gave short-termed results. He gave me constant pressure, sometimes he was offensive to me, chose to pout, and run when things aren't going his way. He also complained that he wasn't given enough attention. Even when walking my dog he told me he wishes that I could give him more attention, I told him I am very attentive even though I have to pay attention to my surroundings during them. I thought him being a parent, he would have understood the responsibilities taken on when someone is under your care, but I guess not. I mean it is very challenging for me to do things that come easily for a lot without having my energy completed depleted, such as walk, talk, clean, attend to my mother and answer her questions, and fill out paperwork, and explain things to her. He added stress on me that I do not need, and I hope to never date him again. I believe that despite my given circumstances, I can have a meaningful loving relationship with someone, just the right one. unfortunately, he isn't. Also, I am a paid caregiver for my mom, and I collect disability. I will probably have to remain unemployed and on benefits for the remainder of my life given my health. which also severely depresses me, and that is something he knows but I feel as though he looks down on me and thinks that I'm a loser.

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AARP Expert

It is clearly not your fault, Sara, and I'm sorry you had your hopes raised only to have them be dashed. Some dating folk can only be nice and seem generous on a short term basis and then their agenda shows through eventually. You are so not a loser. You've been thrown a bunch of lemons and you're working hard to make lemonade for you and your mom. I hope you will find friendship and companionship while you take care of you, your mother, and your dog.

 

with a virtual hug,

Jane

Periodic Contributor

Yes it did mean that i saw him every other week, i never judged him, nor complained about him being a full time parent. We broke up though because he misrepresented himself all through the relationship and was very judgmental and harsh. He was a very controlling person wanting things his way all of the time. I told him how things were with being a caregiver from the beginning, he went throughout almost the entire relationship saying that he didn't care about that and that he didn't mind seeing me. he would tell me how he wanted to be with me long-term and everything. He never did really accept me. He began making excuses as to why he didn't see me (its been 3 months since weve last seen each other) blaming it on his schedule and sometimes his daughter's visits. he would play games and say that he would see me on certain days and on that day was a no show, or no apology which severely depressed me, still kind of does because i would be waiting excitedly and then nothing. When i speak to him now and asked him to discuss thing to possibly work it out, he takes no accountability in anything that went wrong but constantly now telling me what he thinks my faults are. he tells me that he was in it for the long haul, but my commitment to others is a problem, but yet he takes care of his daughter and everything. i think he really wants someone to submit to him and be at his beckon call 24/7. just because i take care of my mother doesn't mean that I won't find a good stable relationship. Problems arise with the person, my mother isn't the issue, the person is. i am depressed and sad because alot of forums blame me, and make my mother an issue or problem when its really the person that i was dating. 

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AARP Expert

I think its for the best that you broke up with him. He sounds very self-centered,and it has little to do with you being a caregiver. I'd just let him go completely. Life's too short. You sound like a caring woman and you don't have time for games. I hope for your sake that you can build a satisfying life around the free time you have left from caregiving and i hope you can hire someone to help, or see if your mother is eligible for free help at home, to make sure you do have a full and rich life for yourself. And in the course of things you might meet a kind, generous man. But your happiness won't be dependent on that.

 

All the best, and keep sharing

Jane

Bronze Conversationalist

@JaneCares   This is such a totally awesome post, that I decided to delete mine!  Very compassionate and positive,  wise and true!!   Nice, Jane Cares!!!!👍

Contributor

If you are lucky enough to still have either of your parents through it is undebatably a form of personal sacrifice and a lot of work, at the same time it is both a blessing and an honor to be able to give back to a parent in appreciation for raising you and assisting in helping make you the person you are today.  This is also a time for you to have an extra opportunity to really listen and learn and here your parents stories about you, themselves, and the family you grew up in.  As children we are innocently selfish as we are simply young and learning about ourselves and our life.  As teens we tend to think we have life all figured out.  😆  

As adults we're often so easily preoccupied trying to make a living and often for many raising a family.  Eventually we too soon arrive into the later half of our lives and for most of us so many and for some those loved ones we so often took forgranted would always be there are now gone on ahead to our Creator or elsewhere depending what you believe.  

I would give any and all possessions I have in this world today for even just several more hours to be with my Grandparents, other relatives, and my Father again if not only to say thank you and express my love and appreciation ❤ for them even just one more time.  

Relationships between couples are a give and take, with compromise on both sides.  That said I don't think anyone who genuinely attempts to care for any loved one, especially our parents will ever regret later for being of service to them in their time of need both physically and emotionally as well.  One of the ten commandments is to honor our Father and Mother.  Though you may not be expected or required to assist, I think you have been doing what is right from within your inner spirit and following your own personal integrity in doing so.   

God bless to both you and your loving parent.  Obviously you are both such wonderful and special loving people!  

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AARP Expert

Hi Sara,

You have an inspiring example with Amy, Bill and Rosemary, below. Let me just share my thoughts. This person you are involved already shows you disrespect for your choices. It sounds like you are doing all the work, the 'emotional labor' if you will, of keeping this person happy. And when you do make time to be with your person, they waste it by complaining that you don't give them MORE? Hm. Where do you get your social support? Whether you get it from this needy person or from other folks, friends, family, faith community, crochet club, bowling league, wherever, you need an outlet and support. Doesn't sound like you're getting much if any with then.

Jane

Contributor

Agree! Difficult times to take care of elderly parents and having a new relationship in dating!

 

AARP Expert

@SaraL137371 YES! It IS achievable. My boyfriend and I got through it. And I moved across the country to care for both of my parents. For about a decade we were very long distance (me in Phoenix, him in Baltimore). He stuck with me. I traveled east frequently for work and saw him when I did. He came out to AZ 2 - 3 times a year. He has been extremely supportive of my choice to care for my parents. He felt it was the right thing to do, and he couldn't move as he was a Capain in the Fire Dept and needed to keep working, also he helped his older Mom. 

 

It does take understanding and it does take shared values that what we are doing is important. I know there were times when he was unhappy and there was only so much of me to go around (always wished I could clone myself). But he never wavered in supporting what I was doing and being there for me when I was overwhelmed and exhausted. He did his best to get me away for a trip every year. 

 

I would say quality time was the key to our success - and text messaging! 🙂 He actually guest wrote a column for me in my AARP column - perhaps you'd like to read about it from his perspective. I can't seem to find the post online anymore, it was from 2014, but here is the text of it:

 

It’s Not Easy Being in a Relationship with a Caregiver

2-11-14

Editor’s note: We asked Bill Carter, the long-time companion of AARP's Caregiving Expert and blogger, Amy Goyer, to write about being in a long-distance relationship with a full-time caregiver.

My relationship with Amy began seven years ago. At the time she was a busy professional working in Washington, DC and her parents were enjoying their retirement in Phoenix. Our relationship was somewhat long distance from the beginning since I live in northern Maryland. However, we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and made it work. We lived close enough that we could make spontaneous plans.

I'll never forget the day that changed Amy's life and our relationship. We were in New Orleans for a rare vacation enjoying Jazz Fest. Amy got a call that drastically changed her work situation, and then I took a call from Amy's sister who said her mom was ill and hospitalized. At that time there was also increasing concern about her dad's cognitive abilities. Amy soon left for Arizona to help her parents, which quickly turned into her living in Arizona full time. For the past five years we see each other when Amy comes to DC for her work or I go to Arizona. It does make things difficult to say the least.

Amy jumped into caring for her parents with both feet while continuing to work full time. She takes great pride in her work and truly does her best to help other caregivers. This means that most of the time when I talk to Amy on the phone she is in her car going to or from her office, running errands or in the middle of caring for her parents. Our conversations are short and the distractions are numerous.

I travel to Arizona several times a year. The daily household activities in the Arizona home are frequently overwhelming for me. I never realized how little time there is for anything when you are a caregiver. Amy's parents are wonderful, engaging people, but they have needed assistance for every basic need. I frequently worry about the tremendous stress and strain on Amy as she tries to balance every aspect of her life.

Sadly, Amy's mother, Patricia, passed on in October. I wondered if this would lighten Amy's burden but it really seems to have added a new difficult dimension to her frenetic daily life. Her mother, Patricia, had many physical disabilities and had difficulty communicating from a stroke years ago, but she was Amy's rock. Now grieving affects our relationship, and in addition, her Dad, Robert, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, has had a downhill slide without his beloved wife.

I try to support Amy, as she has so much to juggle. When I visit her in Arizona, I spend a great deal of time fixing things around the house and helping out in the yard or taking walks with her Dad. We do our best to spend quality time together, since quantity just isn’t an option for us. We take at least one vacation together every year, and take shorter weekend trips or I travel with her when she goes on business trips. Texting has been a big help for us to stay in touch more regularly and we sometimes Skype.

The important thing is that we share the same values. I help my mother in Maryland also, and I support Amy’s choice to care for her parents when they need her the most. So, Amy and I stay together and I can't imagine life without her. I don't know what the future holds, but I'll soon be traveling to Arizona again to try to carve out some quality time with my busy caregiver.

Amy Goyer is AARP's Family, Caregiving & Multigenerational Issues Expert; she splits her time between Washington, D.C. and Phoenix, Ariz. where she is caregiving for her Dad who lives with her. She is the author of AARP’s Juggling Work and Caregiving. Follow Amy on Twitter @amygoyer and on Facebook.

 

Bronze Conversationalist

@agoyer  Three words of advice:   MARRY THIS GUY!   😁

AARP Expert

@RosemaryF433825  Ha! Well I would if he was willing! So far no proposals 🙂 

Bronze Conversationalist

IMO, and having LOTS of experience being a caretaker/caregiver to various members of my family either as co-caretaker or total caretaker, my answer to you is....

Yes!  A successful relationship can be achieved while being a caregiver with the kind of person who recognizes and appreciates that your family members 😊 must come first in your life.  

Contributor

Hi Rosemary, Your words are so true.  When my mother needed me I was not there. The guilt I feel is palpable.  My spouse resented my one trip home per year.  And now I am his caregiver which keeps me from seeing any of my extended family.  His was a subtle form of emotional abuse using divide and conquer.  

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AARP Expert

@df44968383 I'm so sorry to hear this. Unfortunately I do hear it a lot. It's so hard to be pulled in different directions and to have someone be so dependent upon you. I hope you are getting support right now from other family and friends - and I'm glad you're here! You might also want to check out our AARP Family Caregivers Discussion Group on Facebook. 🙂 

Bronze Conversationalist

Good Morning, df...

I was so sad to read your post.  I hope you will use the services of someone else at times so you may visit your friends and extended family.  It's just as important to care for yourself as well.   I care.

--Rosemary

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