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Was I wrong to offer friendship?


Sunnierdays

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Hi there. I'm Sarah, single mum to my two teenage sons one of which has autism, OCD, anxiety and sensory difficulties and who I care for and home educate. I have no respite but my parents visit each week to support where they can although they do find it difficult at times.

I'm seeking a listening ear and hopefully another point of view on my situation.
I've been seeing a guy who I've been meeting for socially distanced walks over the last 3 weeks, and we've been chatting on the doorstep and when we bump into one another whilst he is out on his rounds (he's a postman) over the last 6 months..

I enjoy his company, our walks, and random chit chat and likewise he has said he does too. I was unsure how to proceed with regards to a relationship as this was what he was indicating when we first met up for our walks 3 weeks ago. I felt very cautious and unsure of what I felt able to offer. I explained my feelings of caution and the situation with my son to him and asked to take things slowly and see how it goes be that friendship or maybe something more.

I took things a step at a time, and I thought very carefully about things over the last 3 weeks. We went for a walk on New Year's day and he asked me how I felt things were going. I thanked him for being so patient and understanding with me over the last few weeks. I said to him that I had been feeling a bit unsure how to let him know my feelings for fear of hurting him, but I realised that I needed to be honest with both him and myself. I explained that my situation at home with my son is somewhat complex and unpredictable, meaning that with time constraints, lack of respite, support etc friendship is all I realistically feel able to offer right now. I told him that I value the friendship we have developed, and would very much like that to continue, and hoped that he would like that too. He said that he understood and was happy to be friends as he enjoys my company and he's just glad that I still want to put up with him. I told him I don't put up with him but that he is a nice person and I enjoy his company.

I'm feeling glad that we can continue to enjoy one another's company and our friendship. But if I'm very honest I know I would like more, and as far as I'm aware I think he still does too.

Is it wrong of me to offer him friendship knowing that deep down I would like it to have been able to become more? I didn't feel it at all fair on him to enter into a relationship when I know I won't be able to devote the time to nuturing all that comes with that. I chose friendship because I could see that I was enjoying his company and vice versa but I was fully aware a relationship is something I'm not able to offer.

I'd really appreciate your views/voice of experience because this is new territory for me.

Thanks for reading x

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Why do you have to decide right now?

If you enjoy one another's company I don't see why you can't continue as you are.  As time goes on you may start to feel comfortable enough to allow him further into your world.

And don't decide for him that he wouldn't want to be involved with you.  Let him decide for himself.

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Sorry to hear that. Where is your children's father? How do you two work out custody/visitation and child support?

Where are your and his extended families? It seems you need more support with caring for your children and you seem a bit overwhelmed and isolated.

Have you contacted support groups and respite care? Do you work?

You're not in a position to date. It's good you told him that.

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I think it's up to you whether you want friendship or not, this is your life. However me personally I would either date or not worry about being friends at all. The problem is you want more and from personal experience it's really hard to be friends when you have romantic feelings. Also if you're only friends then he's free to date other women. Wouldn't it hurt you if he got a girlfriend? Besides, women don't usually want their boyfriend to be close friends with another woman. 

What are your Iife long plans for your son? Do you plan on being his carer at home your whole life? Or could you maybe send him to a school for children with different abilities? That might also be good for him to meet friends and know more people? I work with people with disabilities and most of them went to a special school. One of them found his best friend of twenty years at his special education school. 

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11 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

Sorry to hear that. Where is your children's father? How do you two work out custody/visitation and child support?

Where are your and his extended families? It seems you need more support with caring for your children and you seem a bit overwhelmed and isolated.

Have you contacted support groups and respite care? Do you work?

You're not in a position to date. It's good you told him that.

My boys are 15 (nearly 16) and 17 (15yr old has autism etc). They both have contact with their father and chose to see him when they want to which is usually every other Saturday for the day, neither wants to stay over much anymore as they don't have any space or a bed to call their own, and end up on the floor of their half sisters room when they have stayed on the odd occasion. My ex husband (their dad) and I talk here and there and I update him with regards to our sons but he has never shown any interest or offered support or help including financially. I ended up resorting to the child support agency taking the money directly from his account after having tried for a number of years to agree maintainance mutually only for him to then not pay anything.

My parents are a 40 min drive away (as is their dad) and they visit twice a week, they're both in their early 70's and do their best to help and support me where they can. I have an younger brother (42) who has Asperger's and anxiety so he finds mixing with others difficult. My ex husband's mother (the boys paternal grandmother) died of cancer several years ago and his father (boys paternal grandfather) met a new partner and now resides in Fertaventura. I don't have any other extended family and have raised my boys pretty much alone with help/support from my parents.

I work part time as a support worker/carer and as a youth worker (about 6-8 hours a week). Over the last 6 or so years I have sought help from my son's school prior to him refusing to attend for good 5 years ago but to no avail. I fought for 3-4 years and secured my son an EHCP (individual education and health plan) and have recently secured a placement for him. Unfortunately my son refuses to engage face to face in person or otherwise and will only interact through me via email with them. He was completing the work set but since just before the Xmas break this has tailed off. He has now just been discharged from youth mental health services for the third time due to his non engagement with them. He will only interact with close family and no one else.

My son is nocturnal and sleeps most of the day and gets out of bed between 4-5pm. His OCD compels him to complete a number of rituals especially at night meaning my bedtime is usually between midnight and 1am.

It's very draining and I'm doing the best I can to manage whilst continuing to try to find someone that can help and support me/my son. I walk lots alone just to escape sometimes and to think things through or get things off my mind. I do meet up with my female friends from time to time all of which except one are married, work full time etc so we meet as and when we can and text in between.

That's my life in a nutshell.. I split with my ex partner two years ago and have been single since. We split mainly due to him wanting more from me (more time together, staying over more often, trips away an so on) as my son's mental health difficulties began to esculate further. He also found it difficult with my son, didn't agree with the way I parented him saying I needed to be alot stricter. I couldn't have him sleepover at mine either as my son would not tolerate people outside of our family in our house (it's still that way now, and my son won't even allow his dad to step any further into our house than the conservatory). I was the one to end things as I felt it wasn't fair on him with me not being able to offer what he felt he needed, and it wasn't fair on me either.

Sorry I've waffled on.. x

 

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17 hours ago, Sunnierdays said:

Is it wrong of me to offer him friendship knowing that deep down I would like it to have been able to become more?

Sounds like your emotions are kicking in for this guy?  So I feel YOU should be cautious then.

If not, your emotions may still continue to grow. ( since you admit you you'd like it to have become more...).

 

I'm not sure IF it's possible to pull back a little.. do you have that control?

BUT, if you feel you can do this - at only Friendship level, then good you've spoken up & were honest!   :)

 

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I think you're going about it very well. Good for you both for getting to know one another sensibly. Both of you started off as complete strangers (keep telling yourself that) and are now taking regular walks as friends. He doesn't seem like the hot and heavy or whirlwind romance type either so see how this progresses and allow yourself to laugh and smile more! 

Keep things lighthearted and don't be afraid to talk about yourself and your life. Ask him about his too. Keep getting to know one another.

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11 hours ago, Tinydance said:

I think it's up to you whether you want friendship or not, this is your life. However me personally I would either date or not worry about being friends at all. The problem is you want more and from personal experience it's really hard to be friends when you have romantic feelings. Also if you're only friends then he's free to date other women. Wouldn't it hurt you if he got a girlfriend? Besides, women don't usually want their boyfriend to be close friends with another woman. 

What are your Iife long plans for your son? Do you plan on being his carer at home your whole life? Or could you maybe send him to a school for children with different abilities? That might also be good for him to meet friends and know more people? I work with people with disabilities and most of them went to a special school. One of them found his best friend of twenty years at his special education school. 

I do have another male who is my friend and we are still friends to this day, I felt more for him than he for me, he just wanted friendship. He met someone a few years ago but we are still in touch. But perhaps my situation here and now is not quite the same??

With regards to my son, I am working to support him towards independence, he is a capable lad in many respects, but struggles with things such as finance, reading and writing (he's dyslexic) and understanding time. He would like to live by himself and have a family one day all of which are achievable but he will need an element of support with the above mentioned. The main barriers at the moment are his OCD and anxiety/social anxiety, as well as learning to accept his strengths and weaknesses and believing in himself.

School refusal as well as his high level of anxiety has obviously made getting him into an education establishment very difficult. I would love for him to make new friends and get out into and interact within the community but it is going to be a very slow process especially without the help and support I need.

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Okay I want you to take my advice from a man that has a disabled child.

I learned early on that I was making decisions for other people in regards to dating me.  By that I mean I would decide for them if they wanted to date me instead of being open and honest about my situation with my son and allowing them to decide for themselves.

You are doing the exact same thing with this guy.  You do not think you have the time to devote to any relationship so you stop yourself from having one. This is totally wrong.  Give this man the gift of making his own choice with all the information.  If he chooses to give it a try then he went into the whole thing eyes wide open.  Will it work out?  Who knows but I can tell you that nobody has ever won a race they never entered.

I will leave you with this one last thought that my sons therapist once told me.  For my son to be happy I need to be happy and fulfilled.  Would you be a better care giver to your son if you were happy and fulfilled?  I would say absolutely.  Having a disabled child does not mean you need to become a hermit, just the opposite actually.  For your families sake you need a full life full of love and intimacy.

Be honest with this man, make sure he understands what your life is like and if he still wants to be part of that then that is his choice to make so respect that.

Lost  

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29 minutes ago, lostandhurt said:

Okay I want you to take my advice from a man that has a disabled child.

I learned early on that I was making decisions for other people in regards to dating me.  By that I mean I would decide for them if they wanted to date me instead of being open and honest about my situation with my son and allowing them to decide for themselves.

You are doing the exact same thing with this guy.  You do not think you have the time to devote to any relationship so you stop yourself from having one. This is totally wrong.  Give this man the gift of making his own choice with all the information.  If he chooses to give it a try then he went into the whole thing eyes wide open.  Will it work out?  Who knows but I can tell you that nobody has ever won a race they never entered.

I will leave you with this one last thought that my sons therapist once told me.  For my son to be happy I need to be happy and fulfilled.  Would you be a better care giver to your son if you were happy and fulfilled?  I would say absolutely.  Having a disabled child does not mean you need to become a hermit, just the opposite actually.  For your families sake you need a full life full of love and intimacy.

Be honest with this man, make sure he understands what your life is like and if he still wants to be part of that then that is his choice to make so respect that.

Lost  

Thank you for sharing your experience with me.. it's helpful to see things from the point of view of someone in a similar (or who has been in a similar) situation as much as it is helpful to have other people's point of view too.. it's much appreciated.

I think looking back at my previous relationship I came to a tunnel visioned understanding that I don't have the time for a relationship so I stopped myself from having one, although there were also other reasons why I ended the relationship too. But I decided there and then for a couple of reasons that I need to be on my own, one of which was to focus on my son, believing that if no one else is involved in my life then I can fully focus on my son and make things better.. although I've not got very far with that one (yet). The other reason was that I haven't been single since I got divorced so thought some time to work on myself would be a sensible idea, to get to know myself and my wants/needs, which to be honest has been helpful.

I would like a relationship but I don't want to go rushing into things.

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35 minutes ago, Sunnierdays said:

Thank you for sharing your experience with me.. it's helpful to see things from the point of view of someone in a similar (or who has been in a similar) situation as much as it is helpful to have other people's point of view too.. it's much appreciated.

I think looking back at my previous relationship I came to a tunnel visioned understanding that I don't have the time for a relationship so I stopped myself from having one, although there were also other reasons why I ended the relationship too. But I decided there and then for a couple of reasons that I need to be on my own, one of which was to focus on my son, believing that if no one else is involved in my life then I can fully focus on my son and make things better.. although I've not got very far with that one (yet). The other reason was that I haven't been single since I got divorced so thought some time to work on myself would be a sensible idea, to get to know myself and my wants/needs, which to be honest has been helpful.

I would like a relationship but I don't want to go rushing into things.

  That is certainly understandable but make sure you are honest with yourself and this man as to the why you are not ready to be in a relationship. If you need time to focus on being the best version of yourself before getting into a relationship then that is very wise but don't muddy the waters with the care for your son.  In fact you would be surprised how well they can do when you are not there ready to catch them when they fall.  He is not so fragile that he will break is he?

  There is no rush to be sure and navigating the single parent of a disabled child waters has a steep learning curve but you cannot isolate yourself.  Ask for and accept help when it is offered.  I think you are being smart about all this just be open and honest with all involved and you cannot go wrong.

  Best wishes

  Lost

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1 hour ago, lostandhurt said:

  That is certainly understandable but make sure you are honest with yourself and this man as to the why you are not ready to be in a relationship. If you need time to focus on being the best version of yourself before getting into a relationship then that is very wise but don't muddy the waters with the care for your son.  In fact you would be surprised how well they can do when you are not there ready to catch them when they fall.  He is not so fragile that he will break is he?

  There is no rush to be sure and navigating the single parent of a disabled child waters has a steep learning curve but you cannot isolate yourself.  Ask for and accept help when it is offered.  I think you are being smart about all this just be open and honest with all involved and you cannot go wrong.

  Best wishes

  Lost

Having thought more about this of the course of this evening.. the other thing that weighs heavily on my mind is that my son is always saying that he thinks I shouldn't have a boyfriend again. The fact that he won't allow anyone in our house (as I think I've explained in a previous post above). To an extent I understand where this is coming from, the first being that I am his mum, and his anchor so to speak and he doesn't (and never has) felt comfortable sharing me with anyone, even his older brother. Secondly, of my previous relationships, an 8 yr one following the break up of my marriage, a 2yr following that - which I am ashamed to say I was emotionally abused in, and my last relationship which ended 2yrs ago, all found it very difficult to tolerate my son. My son also feels he was not wanted by his dad as his dad left for his present wife before my son was born.

Though I have done my best to explain my situation and to share with this guy how day to day life unravels for me in terms of caring for my son, and how my son presents/what he finds difficult, I feel very cautious and maybe a bit afraid of reaching the point whereby introductions to one another would happen, which I guess is another barrier I have put up in terms of entering into a relationship.

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After three weeks of having walks together, I would not have had any conversations about "feelings" with a man.  I would have just enjoyed walks and your chance to speak to another adult.  It may have never progressed to anything else.  Or maybe after months of walks, the guy would have felt that it didn't matter to him that you had a disabled son because he was not looking for a wife right off the bat.  Its not like you guys went to candle light dinners or had a romp in the hay.  I feel after a couple walks that you may have used the excuse of your son as a shield to protect yourself/so you could set yourself up to have no connection/make him okay that you are going to bail.

Your son is holding you a bit hostage in a way and I think that its wrong of you to use him as an excuse not to form adult relationships and to isolate yourself.  Whether that means you find someone besides your parents to fill in some gaps (a nurse or aide or something) so that you have a few breaks during the week to breathe or what.  Maybe if its not this mail carrier, you can gradually transition with your son so that you don't feel the only fate you have is his single for life dedicated caregiver for life. Remember, kids who have disabilities can be highly manipulative just like neurotypical kids

 

 

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I agree with the above.  My best advice with dealing with your son is to first ignore his disability when analyzing his behavior.  All to often I would make excuses for him because of his disability when in fact it was just a 3 yr old acting out and had nothing to do with the disability.

Your son is no dummy and has gotten used to having all your attention all these years and doesn't want that to end.  I would ask you this:  How is catering to his demands helping him to become more independent?  Sooner or later you be in his life less and less or even for a longer.  What then?

  This can be a catalyst for change in both your lives.  First things first which is deciding what is working and what is not and then figuring out how to make the changes needed to get where you want.  The fact that you have had more than a few relationships shows that it is indeed possible so where is this constant stream of excuses really coming from?

Lost

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