Is it possible to date successfully and be a caregiver?

unrecognizable couple holding hands at sunset

The world of dating is a challenging one, and as a divorced, working woman in her 50s, I have wanted to explore this topic for some time.

I have been dipping my toes in the murky waters of online dating on and off now for over 2 years. It has allowed me the opportunity to meet some great people, some of whom have become good friends. Additionally, it has helped me figure out what type of person I am looking for, and what is most important to me.

Getting back out into the dating world is incredibly daunting at this age, as it has changed so much over the last 20 plus years, and in the age of Covid-19 even more. Who knew someone putting fully vaccinated on their online profile, could suddenly make them seem more appealing?

I am a firm believer that life should be about balance, but as a caregiver that is oftentimes much harder to accomplish. You feel like you are pulled in so many different directions at times, it can be hard to know which way is up some days.

So how do you successfully incorporate dating into your already very busy life?

For me, I consider dating as an off-shoot of the self-care part of my life. It is important to carve out time to make connections and be with other people, but I am realizing that it needs to also come from a place of self-love and joy, and not just a sole desire to find someone to be your next partner.

As a caregiver, we give so much of ourselves for the care and wellbeing of others, that it becomes very easy to forget about ourselves. When we do this, we lower our own value, which is not a good starting point when looking for love.

Part of my personal growth over the last few years has been to figure out not just what I wanted in a potential partner, but also what special qualities I brought to the table. Why would someone want to be with me?

Asking yourself that question can be challenging, but it allows you the opportunity to see yourself objectively. The parts that need some work, and the areas where you shine.  It is an interesting exercise to try, and one in which you must be honest with yourself, which is not always easy to do.

I am big on writing things down, so I started by making a list of what I was looking for in a potential partner and then did a similar one for myself to see if anything I was looking for was also something I was able to offer in return.

If I want to date someone who is kind, caring, optimistic, and has a good sense of humour, is that something I mirror back? Thankfully, I believe I do. Now does that mean I have all the exact same traits on my wish list. Absolutely not, but it is helping me make positive changes going forward.

Being transparent with a potential partner about what your day-to-day looks like is important. Now that does not necessarily mean baring your soul or painting a negative picture of a caregiver’s life on a first date, but if you think this is someone who you would like to get to know better you must have good communication.

I have had situations in the past, where I have started dating someone and enjoyed being with them, but as soon as I mentioned I had an autistic child they seemed uncomfortable and then I never heard from them again. Unfortunately, I have heard this same story from other caregivers as well.

 At the end of the day, I like to believe that the right person will come along when the time is right. I have begun to take more of a hands-off approach to finding love and continue to spend time with friends and focus on doing things I enjoy for me, and not in the hopes of meeting Mr. Right!

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