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Potential new partner still very involved in caring role for ex.


nutbrownhare

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I had a bad breakup a little over two years ago, and have used the time since to get my life together - very successfully - in a new town. I've got a good social network now, activities that I engage in and am generally very happy.

 

At the beginning of December I met a nice man through a mutual friend; I wasn't particularly looking for a relationship at the time, but he was very keen to pursue things with me. It transpired that he'd been in a long term relationship with a woman which had come to an end about six years ago; but she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour shortly after that and he became her official carer. Her own family have not been particularly involved and he took on all the responsibility for her. He stopped being her full-time carer about a year ago, but it seems that nobody else has really stepped in to fill the gap. He'd tried internet dating but without success.

 

During the two months or so I've known him, it has become obvious that he is far more involved with her still than he suggested when we first met. I can understand why he wouldn't just want to walk away from someone in that unimaginably awful situation; I have no problem whatsoever with him spending the day with her, all the rest.

 

However, after two months I'm getting to the point where I'm wondering about whether this is just casual dating, or possibly something more long term - and whether he's actually, realistically, available to anyone else. If it were a relative, and we were already an established couple, I'd have no problem supporting him, getting involved to an extent if that were appropriate (I've experience of working with people with mental health problems, AND the elderly). In fact, I'd have no problem supporting him with a relative even in a new relationship.

 

But it isn't. It's his ex. This means that I'll be put on the back burner right from the start and kept out of sight, until such time as this poor lady passes away. It's a heart rending situation and I feel for both of them. But neither of them is my responsibility - my own welfare is.

 

I have fears that I may be walking into a situation where I'm going to end up feeling used and sidelined. He talks about her often - either because he finds her company really draining, and needs to offload - or, understandably, fond memories of a shared past.

 

He is a very nice, kind, warm-hearted man and in other circumstances I'd have very good vibes about our relationship. But I have to deal with circumstances as I find them.

 

Has anyone else been in a comparable situation, or can offer any suggestions?

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I think you have a very caring yet healthy outlook. Life has you sidelined in his/his ex's dynamic...and it will only get worse as she approaches death...and then he will need time to grieve that. I think he is using you, albeit unintentionally... as his emotional support. As he supports her.

 

I think it would be in your best interest to step away...

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However, after two months I'm getting to the point where I'm wondering about whether this is just casual dating, or possibly something more long term - and whether he's actually, realistically, available to anyone else. If it were a relative, and we were already an established couple, I'd have no problem supporting him, getting involved to an extent if that were appropriate (I've experience of working with people with mental health problems, AND the elderly). In fact, I'd have no problem supporting him with a relative even in a new relationship.

 

 

This is the big question. You may have to have a very frank but kind discussion with him. It sounds like he has to much going on to fit a girlfriend into his life. Its like in Love Actually, one character really like another but she is also taking care of a mentally disturbed brother who takes up all of her time.

 

Here is the wiki description:

 

Sarah, Karl and Michael[edit]

Sarah (Laura Linney) first appears at Juliet and Peter's wedding, sitting next to her friend Jamie. She works at Harry's graphic design company and has been in love for years with the company's creative director, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro). A tryst between Karl and Sarah is interrupted by phone calls from her brother, Michael, (who has undisclosed mental problems) from the care home he lives in. This effectively ends their relationship. On Christmas Eve, she visits her brother at the institution where he lives, wrapping a scarf around him as he hugs her.

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I agree with the 'using', too - albeit not in a calculating, mean-spirited way - but using me as a regular supply of good feelings, company, social life etc. I think I'll have the gentle discussion ("You're in a heart-rending situation and believe me, I'm not unsympathetic!") and suggest that if/when he's in a situation where another relationship doesn't have to be kept secret, and is still interested, that he contact me.

 

Or that we just drop any idea of a relationship and just go back to being friends. It's just that I've got a strong gut feeling that I shouldn't be getting overly emotionally invested right now.

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I think you have a very caring yet healthy outlook. Life has you sidelined in his/his ex's dynamic...and it will only get worse as she approaches death...and then he will need time to grieve that. I think he is using you, albeit unintentionally... as his emotional support. As he supports her.

 

I think it would be in your best interest to step away...

 

Sadly ^ this. There is a deep attachment there of many many years and I doubt that he is in any way, shape or form emotionally available for you. He needs you, but I doubt he can really invest in a full relationship with you and once she passes away....who knows....it may be a long time of grieving. For you, this is a one sided deal and doubtful it will end well. In some respects it's similar to being a rebound crutch - needed until you are not.

 

This may be a sad situation, but probably best for you to seek a partner who is in a good place and available wholly for a relationship with you.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Whoopee! We've had 'the talk', and it was far and away the easiest breakup conversation I've ever had. He told me he wasn't in the right frame of mind for a relationship right now and I could say, hand on heart, "I know!"

 

I could offer support and understanding, having already emotionally disengaged; Victoria, I particularly liked your description of 'right person, wrong time' and put that into the mix. I could also tell him that he's somebody I want in my life, and there really won't be a problem with staying friends.

 

Result!

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