How are we supposed to date when we’re trying to take care of people we love? Making space for both of those things can be difficult. So let us take a look at the best ways for grown women to manage dating and caregiving.
To begin with, it’s vital to become grounded in the reasons behind why you are choosing to be a caregiver. Be honest with yourself about the reasons why you are choosing to be a caregiver to this person. Is it to avoid dating? Because what I see a lot of times with clients and with women, is they say, “well, because I’m taking care of my mother, or my grandchild or someone, I simply don’t have time to date.” Is that true or are you just avoiding dating?
Understand, what is your “why.”
Why are you choosing to be a caregiver? Finding the ‘why’ is going to help you get grounded and feel more love, even in the hardest situations. This is just a season in your life. Caregiving isn’t going to be forever. In addition to that, understand that this is only a part of you. This is not your entire identity. Now, if you had gone to school for hospice care and if you are a nurse, maybe that would be a bigger part of your identity. But at the end of the day, this is only a part of your life, and you are doing it out of love.
If you don’t feel like you’re doing it out of love, and you are feeling resentful, you may be doing it out of obligation and playing the family role of the dutiful daughter. Take a step back. Try shifting your mindset a little bit to be able to care for a loved one. Ultimately, we must be caregiving out of love.
Become very grounded in why you’re doing what you’re doing. Sometimes with caregiving, we have a tendency to not stop to think about that. Because, as caregivers, a lot of times, we are in reactionary mode. This is why it is so important to ground ourselves in our why.
- Why am I doing this?
- Why am I being a caregiver?
- Is it out of love?
- Is it out of obligation?
- Is it out of a sense of duty?
- Why am I sacrificing all these other things that I need to take care of?
- Is it because I feel I might be their only option?
I would invite you all to think about that and become grounded in your answer to those questions. Because of what I have seen as an auxiliary caregiver myself and the folks who are primary caregivers in my family and my circle, they tend to skirt over their why. (I share more about my experience with caregiving in my video training.) Becoming grounded in the answers to your why is going to be very important.
Remember to practice healthy boundaries. As you learn how to navigate dating while caregiving, aim to create two sets of boundaries. The first set of boundaries is with the person you are caring for. If you are the primary or auxiliary caregiver, it is absolutely crucial to set boundaries with the person you are caring for.
Because in this situation, you are kind of the parental role as the caregiver. You have the right to figure out how to best care for that person. Remember you are doing this out of love.
Second, set boundaries with yourself, and become disciplined. Anything within the caregiving lifecycle, so to speak, is going to be taxing on you. That’s stressful when you’re trying to take care of someone and advocate for them. It is going to require you to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself means making boundaries.
Boundaries in this situation might look like blocking out times for yourself for self-care, these are non-negotiable. It might be getting a workout, or getting to bed early because you know that maybe your mom, who you’re taking care of, wakes up really afraid and shouting. You must get the rest you need, because you cannot take care of them without it. If you are run ragged, you can’t take care of them. Taking care of yourself and your needs is absolutely crucial for you.
Delegating and Outsourcing help.
One way to lighten the load of caregiving is to identify what you absolutely have to do. Make a list of the must-dos each week and each month. Then, if there’s other health care support, such as a home health care person, CNA, or caseworker, you can delegate to them. That list is the required to-do’s of caregiving for your loved one.
- What can you outsource?
- What can you delegate?
If you are going to be solely responsible for having to do everything, you are going to burn out, and you are going to get resentful. When you have burnout and resentment, you are not in a good place to care for that person. Because remember, when we are acting as caregivers, we must do it out of love. If your glass is completely empty, and you don’t have anything to give, then you’re overwhelmed and not doing enough for yourself. This makes it very hard for you to try to take care of that person you’re there for. So clearly define precisely what you absolutely must do. Then outsource what you can, whether it’s with other family members, a certified nursing assistant, or with home health care, etc.
Start scheduling fun & dating into your life.
Also remember, you are still a living breathing person who is thinking about love, sex, and many other things. So if dating and finding love is important to you, within this current caregiving cycle, I invite you to schedule events on your calendar. Block out times that you want to date and want to socialize whether it’s monthly, or weekly. That’s the best way for grown women to manage dating and caregiving. Of course, everybody’s case is different.
As a long-term caregiver, you deserve and have the right to block out times on your calendar for socializing and for dating. However, be aware that it’s going to change depending on your situation. You know your schedule and your situation with the person you’re caring for the best. Don’t forget that your life is not over or put on pause if you are a long-term caregiver. Even in the realm of a caregiver, you can still prioritize dating, you do have the right to add it in your schedule.
When you make fun plans, you need to commit to them, or else you’re gonna make an excuse not to do it. This also goes with having boundaries with the person you’re caring for. In order for a long-term caregiving situation to be manageable and sustainable, you must commit to outsource and delegate to others.
Now, obviously, there are going to be situations as a caregiver where you’re not going to be able to date because of emergencies and unforeseen complications. But there will be more static situations as a caregiver, and you will have other people helping and supporting you and your loved one. If you still find yourself thinking that you cannot date right now because you are too busy and overwhelmed or have no time, I invite you to be curious about that feeling and where it’s coming from.
Ask yourself – Is that absolutely true? And maybe if your parents have been put into hospice care, that may be true. But at least ask yourself the question. Then it is time to be honest with yourself.
How to better manage guilt.
Something that a lot of caregivers deal with is guilt. We may feel guilty when it comes to taking a break, having fun, or doing things for ourselves. Especially, when the person you are caring for is suffering. Congratulations, you are human, because that’s a very common emotion when caring for people, especially when the family dynamics change. Taking care of a parent can be very emotional. The reality is we do deal with guilt as caregivers. Here are three tips on managing guilt.
- What you were doing is not easy. And you’re doing a damn good job of it.
- There is no way you’ll get through this and not have a nervous breakdown if you’re not taking time to rest, to recuperate.
- Be aware of returning to old roles that no longer serve you.
Now, this is something that my siblings and I deal with a lot with my ailing parents. Try not to fall back into those roles as a child who’s trying to please a parent. Also, they don’t get the carte blanche to talk ill to you or to be abusive to you just because they’re ailing. That’s not how it works. So it’s almost a full circle. The “why“ you are doing this is so important to be able to deal with other issues that come up with caregiving.
As a caregiver, the way we manage guilt is essential. One great way to manage guilt is to plan. As you know, I love a plan. So as a coach and your coach, I love to give you a plan.
I can be here as your coach, I can be here as your mentor giving you a very general overview of dating as a caregiver. Everybody’s caregiving situation is very unique and very different. Obviously, you are the best person to decide what is best for you in this situation. Ultimately it’s going to be on you. I’m here to give you tools, but you are the best person to decide for you.
So good questions to ask yourself would be: “how can I successfully date?” Or “How can I successfully get ready for love, while also caring for this loved one?” The number one thing I would invite you all to remember is, you are a complete full person who still has romantic and sexual desires, in addition to professional and career goals that you’re working on. I know sometimes that can be very difficult to remember when dealing with the stress and pressure of caring for a loved one. I would invite you to remember; caregiving is just a part of your life.
Your life is a GIANT pie. And your role as a caregiver is a slice of that pie. It is a big slice, and it is a necessary slice of that pie. But I invite you to remember, that it’s not all of who you are. You’re doing this incredible work rooted in love to care for a family member and/or a loved one. So, in addition, ground yourself in who you are beyond the role of a caregiver. Become clear on:
- Why is this role important to you?
- Why is this act of caregiving important to you?
- Why is this act of sacrificing your personal life, maybe sometimes sacrificing your professional life, important to you?
For example, my older sister had a great job opportunity in another town for her and her husband, but she chose not to do that because she knew that her love and relationship with my mother was much stronger.
To be grounded in love is vital. I invite you all to clarify with yourself. This role of a caregiver is important to you because:
- Is it because this is somebody who you love dearly?
- It is an ailing parent, and you feel that you can give them the best care?
- Is it because you have such a strong connection to them and you want to be there for them?
- Is it also because you feel a sense of duty?
- Is it because you do not want your family member to be alone in an assisted living center?
Don’t forget to be understanding and show compassion for yourself. There will be times that socializing and dating are going to come, second, third, fourth, maybe even 17th on your list as a caregiver, but knowing it’s not going to be like that forever helps keep your priorities straight. Being honest and very in tune and very mindful of, “Are you telling yourself that you can’t date and you can’t socialize because you’re being a caregiver? Is that really true? Are you saying this because your loved one is in hospice or are you simply using caregiving as an excuse to avoid dating and getting back out there?”
Remember that you’re doing this out of love, but then also remember that you have the right to pursue love at the same time.
Taking care of those we love while trying to date is challenging. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to sacrifice your own needs in order to provide for others. With understanding your “why,” boundary setting, outsourcing, careful planning, and managing guilt, it is possible to both take care of those you love and find time for yourself.
PS–I’d love to talk with you more about how to be a caregiver and successfully date at the same time. Schedule a discovery call with me. I invite you to book one, and I’ll answer your questions. Use this link to book: https://marthabodyfelt.com/schedule