Elderly Parents and Dating

Many people can remember what their parents thought when they first started dating. In some cases, they may have been okay with it, but in others they might have been against it. So how can we handle it when the roles reverse, and we’re the ones having to deal with the situation of someone we love dating someone new? Even though we might have been on the receiving end of disapproval at times and we thought we knew what we would do if it was the other way around, we can still have issues figuring things out when that time actually comes. 

So, in this article we’ll take a look at how you can better deal with your feelings, as well as provide a few coping techniques if you are in this position yourself. Let’s get started:

Dealing with Your Feelings:

  • If the new relationship happens shortly after the death of a spouse, this isn’t unusual. Remember that, although one’s death happened quickly in your own mind, the spouse may have been letting him or her go for a long time now. And while it can seem too soon to us, our parents can and often do still desire to have companionship, even shortly after a death. Do your best to sort out your own feelings on the matter so you can be more supportive of your parent’s new relationship.
  • It’s understandable that a parent or loved one’s new relationship can sometimes be difficult to deal with. But, while it’s totally normal to feel that he or she isn’t honoring their loved one’s memory by dating so soon, it’s also normal for them to still need love, affection, and intimacy.
  • While it’s true that you might not approve of the new partner your parent has chosen, it is also important to remember to deal with your feelings on the subject of new romance. Perhaps you are worried about how a new relationship or marriage could impact the family, or maybe you won’t get to see them as much now. But no matter what, you have to be able to work through any issues so you can be present and supportive for the rest of your parent’s life.
  • A helpful way to think of a new relationship might be to see it as helping to lessen your burden as perhaps the sole caregiver. You might still be the one in charge of providing care for your parent, but the new love interest can help as well, by providing needed companionship and affording you the opportunity to decrease visits to the nursing home and have more time for yourself and your own family.

Coping Techniques:

  • Be mindful of your feelings, and know that how you’re feeling about this change in your parent’s dating life is totally normal. Don’t be afraid to give yourself an adjustment period to the new changes that come with a new partner for your loved one. Go easy on yourself and try not to scold yourself (or your loved one) for the way you or they feel.
  • If these feelings about the new relationship don’t go away on their own, you could try journaling about it. Get your thoughts down on paper. Even something so simple can work wonders in helping us to feel better about the situation.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings with your parent, but keep in mind you should be mindful of how they feel too. They could see this relationship as a very good thing, especially after a tragedy like a death. Be honest about your feelings, but you shouldn’t expect your feelings to dictate how your parent or elderly loved one should feel about someone they may love.
  • Talk to your own spouse or a friend, neighbor, or other family member. Just find somebody you can share your feelings with about the situation.
  • Try and find a caregivers support group and talk the matter over with others who might be going through the same thing.
  • If you still require help with sorting things out with your feelings, don’t be afraid to try speaking with a counselor.
  • Finally, just relax! It’s their love life, not your own. So unless you sense some real danger with the relationship, just stay out of it and let them take control of their own life.