Why do I feel so guilty about having a relationship while taking care of mom?

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i have been the sole caregiver of my mom for 7 years now. no help from siblings. i have been there for her day and night. she has early onset dementia. she can get around and do things for herself, just needs a little guidance now and then. i am divorced and never really thought about getting into another relationship because of caring for her. i think i used that as an excuse to stay out of long term relationships.
well about 6 months ago, i met, by accident, a wonderful guy. he is very understanding about my situation with my mom. he tells me to make sure that she is taken care of before i go to his place and spend time with him. i am with my mom monday through friday, all day, he works during the week. on the weekends, he wants me to spend time at his place with him. i have to admit, i enjoy going to his place and spending time alone with him. he lives 6 blocks from me and mom, so at first i felt like it was ok to be away. but lately i feel like i am abandoning her to go and be with him. she doesnt say anything, but i can tell that she misses me. i mean during the week, she stays in her room, watching tv, polishing her nails, reading. i cant get her to go out. she wont go to the senior center, even though ALL her doctors feel she should. I know that she has become dependent on me, and i really wish she wouldnt. but i cant help but feel guilty about being happy in my relationship. she tells me that she is so happy that i have someone in my life. she loves him for how good he is to me. he and i have talked about getting married in the future (its only been 6 months, but we do talk about it). i cant see starting a marriage with my mom living with us. my sister wants to move closer and help, but i just dont think she is ready for the amount of responsibility that comes with this.
i just feel so guilty for being happy and wanting to start a happy life with this man. i never thought i would meet a man who would be so understanding and care so much about her and i. i know that it may be some time before i will have to make a decision about her care. and i know it may be some time before i will have to make a decision about my future with him. but i just dont know what to do.

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Look at the situation from a different perspective. You enjoy this man, he makes you happy, and that makes your mother happy. It's a win-win-win situation.

If you're happier, it's easier to care for your mother. That's one of the most important factors in this situation.

She's already etched out a lifestyle for herself, which doesn't include much socialization. That was her decision, not yours. So be glad that you've met this man and enjoy his company, and instead of feeling guilty, feel good that you've found a special guy.

(I think a lot of women in similar positions would envy you!)
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Listen to me... if this guy is this understanding about your mom and even is willing to consider her wellbeing - and you have a sister wanting to help - you should count your lucky stars and hold on the him. Your mother is happy, you are happy. What else do you need? Maybe there are friends or relatives that would be willing to spend a hour or so with her so she wouldn't be lonely.
Assisted living would be an option, or maybe hire someone to come in part time... divide up other times with your sister....
My parents told a relative not long ago - 'heaven forbid that she should meet someone and take off.'
Take advantage of a chance at happiness.
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Sounds like now would be a good time to consider Assited Living for your mom. These days there are many places that are very nice - more like living in ones own small apartment with push of a button help moments away. You are very, very lucky that your mother is happy for you and your BF - that she recognizes that you need and deserve to have a life outside of her and her needs. So many elderly come to expect that their children's lives revolve around them and when the dementia kicks in it becomes 1000x worse. Try to make this move now while your mother still cares about your needs and happiness instead of only her own.
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I think you may be experiencing guilt because you feel your mom cared for you when you were younger and feel obligated to care for her now that she is older. I personally do not subscribe to that thought process.

As for your relationship, you are very lucky to have met an understanding man but caregiving long-term will put a strain on your relationship. From personal experience, i would suggest you allow your sister to move closer and share your responsibility since she is willing to do so. Also, you need to set boundaries with your mom and the boyfriend. The fact my boyfriend does not set boundaries causes alot of tension, anger and fights.

I suggest, you step back and figure out what you really want in your life. You stated that you used caregiving as an excuse to stay out of a relationship in the past. Do you want to be a caregiver or marriage? Im not sure how old your mom is or if she has any medical problems besides dementia but she will not be around forever. Are you willing to potentially give up future happiness because of guilt which in my opinion you shouldn't have to begin with.
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