Two years ago after a gut-wrenching breakup with a total JERK who basically criticized my caregiving (after pretending to be helpful in the beginning), I decided to give up on dating. This wasn't my first failure at dating while caregiving as the relationship prior to that broke down considerably after I moved my Dad closer to me and started the whole caregiving process. That guy was super nice, but I was a mess. It took a toll on the relationship and we mutually decided to end the relationship. there's this guy...

who has been relentlessly pursuing me for over 6 months. We've known each other casually for almost two years, but I've ignored his efforts because I don't think it's fair to share my caregiving burdens with some unsuspecting soul. He's aware from coworkers that I help out with Dad, but no one can know the full magnitude of our plight unless in it.

Anyway, I FINALLY gave in and decided to go out with him and we had SUCH a great time. He was attentive, understanding, and I haven't laughed that much in years. Of course, I gave him the spiel "I'm not in the position to date... blah, blah, blah", and he said he understood, but he wants to take me out again... and I'm TERRIFIED.

My life is about to change in a month when I have Dad at home with me essentially full time. I have a caregiver helping out 4 days a week, but I would essentially have a curfew (gotta be home before she leaves at 11 PM). Dad will be with me, so that would mean having eyes and ears around should we want to spend time together at my place...

I like the guy, but I think I should quit while I'm ahead. Besides, maybe I just liked the ATTENTION (haven't even remotely entertained anyone in two years) instead of the guy.

Why did I open this can of worms? How do I let him down easy?

TinyBlu, I'm going to suggest that your Jerk from two years back was pushing you to enforce boundaries with your dad that you were not ready to handle yet. You have come a long way and tried an evening out to balance the stress your life brings, and you had fun.

What I hear you writing is that you really enjoyed your time with this new fellow but you are committed to living your life devoted to a man (dad) who physically abused many people you love and who leaves a load of guilt on your doorstep daily. You don't think the new guy would understand why you would do this to yourself since your previous friend/jerk could not understand your lesser involvement with dad at that time.

I feel like your future caring for your dad that you describe is that of a hermit or a monk. Instead of doing this for religious devotion to God, you will be doing this in an effort to be the one person who your dad might find worthy of affection. Perhaps that is a religious devotion, as our parents are our first image of God, and you are still trying to please that first god in your life. You are not going to find that affirmation from your dad with all of his emotional and cognitive deficits.

You *will* find the affirmation you need from one of these fine young men who encourages you to have less involvement in dad's day to day life. If a man is fine with you having this super high level with involvement with dad after your cloistering begins, I would see that as being a red flag that he does not want to have a serious relationship with you where he has to have a higher level of involvement and committment in your life.

I think it would be an ***excellent*** idea to pursue a relationship with this man so that you will have support as you realize your limitations. You would also do well to find a therapist so you don't rely on the guy to help you set boundaries/ listen to you complain about the life you have chosen. I have a feeling that is what caused you to react to the "jerk" who saw that you were not taking care of yourself.

Tiny, I know these are hard words to hear. I do hope you can use them. <3
Helpful Answer (18)
Reply to surprise

I am the caregiver for my wife, who is stage 6 alzheimers. 8 months ago I felt that my life, what's left of it, would be spent taking care of her. I have since come to the realization that I still have many years left and they shouldn't be spent in seclusion and devoted exclusively to her. While she is the priority in my life I also now realize that I need time for myself. She goes to day care twice a week, all day and I have the the time to do the things I want. And thus includes seeing a lady for lunch and just having a good time together. I have told many of our friends about this, some say go for it and some think it's terrible. I choose to go for it. You should do the same. Life is short enough as it is. Live it to the fullest each day. Don't become a hermit. If you enjoy the guys company and he is willing to stay the course, then go for it. But you need to set the boundaries for your dad and stick with them and enjoy the companionship of the guy as long as he totally understands your commitment to your dad.
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Reply to stephen1946
faeriefiles Aug 3, 2018
Well said Stephen and I'm in a similar situation and I agree. If boundaries and expectations are clearly outlined to those directly involved and such things are re-addressed as needed there is no reason why one cannot be a loving caregiver while also maintaining a life. It's not a can of worms if open, honest communication is the base the relationship is standing on.
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Is there any reason why you can’t be friends first? Instead of bona fide “dates”, go out for coffee when the caregiver is there, or a quick lunch. If you need to be home by 11:00, go to an early movie. I would not worry about not having privacy for well, you know...That’s a while down the road. You should get to know him first, after all.

just because we are Caregivers doesn’t mean we can’t have any life at all. It’s not easy to balance a social life and caregiving. But, you know what. If we really want to we can do it. We make plans and arrangements and we just do it. If you spend time with this man, you will learn whether he truly understands your life and duties. If you don’t, you’ll never know. Give it a chance. This could be something really good for you.
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Reply to Ahmijoy

Forget about letting him down easy. Enjoy the time you have with him however long it lasts. Be honest about your limitations and let him worry about "fairness". He might not be interested in a deep relationship either - there's nothing wrong with just having some fun and companionship.

Years ago a coworker and I had a platonic relationship. We liked each other and enjoyed each other's company but there just wasn't anything else there. Neither of us enjoyed going to couple events alone. We had dinner together a couple of times a week; went to movies, ballgames and concerts; and were each others "dates" for company parties and weddings. We live in separate towns now but still get together every once in a while.

Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to TNtechie

Stay in the present.
Take a date at a time. Stop future tripping.
You've had one date and perhaps another one date.
Change the scary word DATE to getting together with a new potential friend-that is what this is at this point (okay, perhaps with benefits). Still, he is a support in your life now - when you need it. Appreciate that - and him being there for you.
I hear overwhelm and self-protection (against getting hurt).
This person could be a HUGE emotional-psychological support to you, if not much more than that -
If you are honest with him, as it sounds like you are, there are other reasons why you feel terrified, which may have nothing to do with your Dad.
Take 'the dad' out of the equation and how would be feel about dating this person?
Go out for dinner, have a drink (or not) and enjoy yourself.
You need this balance in your life and most certainly deserve to feel good about yourself, with another person who cares about you. Gena.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to TouchMatters

you like him, he likes you. you told him about your dad.
so... what if you never see him again and he was the right person and it could have worked out?

is it a fear of failing.? but if it doesn't work out deal with it later? at least you gave it a shot. maybe it is ~worth~ finding out and not having a regret later
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to wally003

Why are you denying yourself a life???? Do NOT put yourself on hold for what may be years to come. You deserve a life. Unless you want to be a martyr.
Just be honest and tell the guy up front. If he cares he will be still be interested.
You are imposing a curfew on yourself. Granted it may be an occasional thing, but there are people willing to caretake those hours, or even a few hrs. It could be every Friday night, or occasionally. Maybe you can be home during the day and swap times with the caretaker. Or get a college kid if dad sleeps thru the night. Or a backup caretaker who is familiar with dementia if m9re care needed.
If dad is sleeping boyfriend can come over and have a quiet evening there. It is about spending time together, not what you do.
A lot of caregivers who don't have outlets other than caregiving and working, usually are at the breaking point.
Don't let that be you.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Jasmina

You’re overthinking it. Just spend the time you can with the new guy, have fun, and stop thinking so much 😎
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Reply to Daughterof1930

I think you need to do some work on yourself. Your post was indicative of someone who is angry and given to hyperbole and exaggeration. You start the post of by telling you dated a JERK (name calling), and express "terror" (really, dating is not an act of terrorism, it just is to you), and then you proceed to liken your current and budding relationship to a "can of worms". Taking this from the new guys perspective, if I read what you wrote, I would know this relationship is D.O.A. You actually have no decision to make, due to your present attitude, it is already over. Instead, why not express some confidence in yourself that you can handle whatever comes your way and also a degree of thankfulness that you are well off enough to have someone interested in you. Your whole attitude is what needs to change.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to deserwest
gdaughter Aug 4, 2018
Thank you for demonstrating the dangers of posing a question publicly. Hopefully the OP will recognize it is just your thoughts and listen to the majority. One can hardly know another person on the basis of one brief post.
Wow everyone! Thanks for the support!

Well... I have definitely kept the communication lines open and this guy said he's willing to take things as slowly as I need, and that we will figure out how to spend time together Sunday he took me to brunch. This wasn't just any brunch. It was brunch at a FANCY restaurant (did I mention he's a sous chef), and he and the executive chef prepared me a meal!!!! It was so great!! When I tried to give him the speech about how I didn't want him to spend a lot of money on me, his response was "Are you kidding? This was a chef's special! I used to work here!!!!!"

He made so many of my favorite foods. I didn't realize that over the two years that we've interacted (he works at my part time job), he's been paying attention to what I liked, so the meal was great!

I'm still a little afraid, but the fact that he's not rushing or pressuring me is a big plus. He knows that I am about to face a huge transition with moving in with Dad, but he said he's willing to take it one day at a time

I'm cautiously optimistic... and we're going go kart racing next weekend (daytime dates are working well).
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to anonymous262233
gdaughter Aug 7, 2018 like, we're all going to be invited to the wedding, right? LOL. Tell us now, because I need time to find something to wear!
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