Hello. I’m not a caregiver at this time, but I’ve recently found myself in a situation where things may head down that path.

Here’s some background. My boyfriend and I had a little bit of a rough start. We are long distance (across the US from each other) and he was in a relationship when we met. He decided to leave the relationship to pursue me but still lives with his ex due to financial issues. We met for the first time in person several weeks ago. I’m in my early to mid 20s and this is my first true relationship, and due to a lot of anxiety and mild spectrum disorders is also one of my first experiences of physical contact ever, aside from the quick hugs I’ve learned to give family and friends. It was very fun but I clearly have a lot of exploring to do to figure out how to function in such a new situation. I’d planned not to move in with him or anything for a while as I didn’t want the situation of him going right from living with his ex to living with me. I wanted to date for a while first, hopefully move closer if things go well, and after that see how things progress.

Fast forward to now. He experienced sudden symptoms and was diagnosed with what is most likely MS. I’m heartbroken for him and also scared of what this means for our future together. Of course it isn’t going to change whether I stay with him in the long run because I adore him and I care about him. But on the other hand, I know we have a lot of adjustments to make before I can just decide he’s the one; he still lives with his ex and I’m fairly clueless about myself and how I am in relationships. Neither of us can drive due to anxiety, and these new symptoms have impacted this further on his end, and currently his ex girlfriend is taking him to appointments.

I just want some tips on how to handle this going forward. I’d already communicated some of these things prior to what has happened, but a lot of these concerns were put aside due to dumb puppy love as we were hopeful they would iron themselves out with time. Well, now I’m not so sure.

Thank you!

Of course you can be his friend and be supportive, but frankly it sounds to me like he and his ex aren't done yet, or at least not emotionally. And it's a huge commitment to be a caregiver to someone who has a disability. In fact, commitment is an understatement. It often becomes overwhelming.

You sound very concerned about his feelings and not wanting to upset him, but what about yours? They matter too, and it's not healthy to go on stuffing them down.

I agree with a previous poster that having a good therapist that will help you navigate this situation and cope with your own anxiety will be very helpful. Mine has many times helped me to realize when I was about to fall off a cliff, so to speak.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to FrazzledMama
Goldfishie Jul 21, 2018
Wow, I think this post really hit the nail on the head because I’ve been crying on and off since I read it lol...

I do like him, I do care about him, but I also do feel like I’ve been stuffing my emotions down, especially the ones that I’m afraid will hurt him. I want us both to be happy and I’m scared. I was already worried about the other issues before this diagnosis came up, and although I have brought it up several times, I’ve been afraid to put my foot down because I want things to be okay. Now I’m even more afraid to be firm after this new development. I think I will look into therapy and talk to someone about this. Thank you.
Imo only, dear Goldfishie,
You should rush to end this relationship now.
1) He pursued you while still in a relationship.
2) He is still in a relationship.
3) You talk of him moving in with you, after he moved out of ex's.
That is a grave error, this boy/man is not available for a relationship, and you have your own challenges, therefore you are not available to be his caregiver. Imo.

This sounds so familiar, so close to a scam, it is not worth the risks you are taking.

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It is a good thing to depend upon your family right now. Talk to them, let them know what is happening with you.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Sendhelp

I agree that I shouldn’t consider this the only one. I planned to use the opportunity to try things out and really see how things work and if it’s not for me and things don’t work out then, well... that’s that and I’ll move on. But I do feel more hesitant to bring up these issues with him now that he’s under this stress. If I do realize it’s not working for me and call it off, I don’t want him or other friends to assume it’s because of the diagnosis. Because if things are great otherwise I’m not gonna let that be the thing that stops me, but if they aren’t I know I shouldn’t force myself to stay.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Goldfishie

I agree with everyone. don't think for one minute this person is the 'only one'

and you are still long distance?

relationships can get very complicated - you need to look past your feelings and look at the big picture.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to wally003

Thanks for answering. I think you’re right that I shouldn’t rush. I don’t want to be stuck with something I later find out I’m not prepared for, but I do want to give things a try. Even though we met in person weeks ago we’ve known each other for a lot longer online, which I know doesn’t say much. I do agree that living with an ex isn’t ideal and I wish I could discuss it with him further but I feel like what he needs right now is to digest this diagnosis. I’m worried if I start bringing up issues right now or saying we should slow things down and be friends, it would add to his stress.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Goldfishie

Take time to become real friends before you start calling yourselves a committed couple and planning for the future. Several weeks is not long enough to decide he is the one for you. It may seem very romantic to you to “be there” for him if he does have a chronic disease. If he does have MS, your romantic feelings of being his angel and hero will quickly dissipate as you are charged with caregiving. This is especially true if you jump into this relationship as quickly as you seem to be doing. It could be years before he needs true caregiving, but by that time, you could be locked into a relationship that you may not be able to get out of. You may feel morally and ethically obligated to remain with him. There may be children. If he is unable to work, can you support him and yourself on a cashier’s salary? Have you sought treatment for your anxiety or do you feel you might have another episode and lose another job? Will your family support you AND him if that happens and you are together?

Slow down. Find a job and get some life experience. Maybe take some classes at your local Community College. Decide not only where you’d like to be in 20 years but WHO you’d like to be. If you picture yourself caring for this man 24/7, maybe with young children, having to support him if he cannot work any longer (or just doesn’t want to), or, maybe on your own with children from this relationship that didn’t work out...

Diving in head first with your eyes closed is exhilarating. But sometimes there’s no water in the pool.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Ahmijoy

As someone said above, there are many red flags here. I just want to tell you to seek counseling with a therapist. If you were my daughter, (and I've got 2 older than you) I would beg you not to do this until you talk to a professional. No excuses. Sometimes relationships are like building blocks. Each one gives us information of what we want and do not want. You learn from each one. Keep your mind open to the possibility this may not work out. A therapist can point out all the pros and cons without judgement. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to JanieR

Oh dear, what you have is a fantasy and a pen pal, not a real boyfriend. DO NOT commit yourself to this man until you have had a long period to get to know him better, so far you have inevitably only seen (read) the best of him! Aside from his heath problems the fact that he cohabits with his ex is a huge red flag, if he was truly done with that relationship you can be sure he'd find another place to live, even if he had to couch surf with friends. I sense you are feeling pressured to start a relationship because unfortunately our culture tends to assume everyone is paired up and having sex in their teens - it's not true! Don't jump into something you can't easily extricate your self from if need be, first you need to stand on your own and then perhaps you will be ready to share your space, time and energy on this relationship.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to cwillie

Oh and to add—I am currently unemployed and fairly dependent on my family, but I’ve been applying for jobs and hope to have one in the near future. I had a job in 2013 as a cashier but at the time my anxiety was too severe and I broke down crying in the middle of work and quit the following day. Here’s to hoping this time I can do better!
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Goldfishie

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