HomeParentingLevel Up: Tips for Caregivers and Inter-abled Partners

Level Up: Tips for Caregivers and Inter-abled Partners

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New relationships can be exciting. Things don’t exactly become easier when you get into a serious relationship, though. Making it to the official status, it is only the first huddle.

Progressing in a relationship for disabled individuals is like succeeding in the next levels of a complex game. It takes a lot of will (and wheel) power to get to the end.

The Next Level

For most couples, the discussion of meeting the parents and other inner circles doesn’t take place in the first weeks of dating. According to Marni Battista, the three to six-month dating mark is typically considered the “safe zone” to move forward and meet each other’s parents..

This specific timeline is impractical for some inter-abled couples. Many disabled individuals like myself require full physical assistance with daily living and can’t live alone. 

So the meeting of the family or caregivers happens sooner than later. It can break or strengthen the foundation of the relationship. However, it helps you see how committed a person really is about dating someone as special as you. The longer you put off telling your significant other how he or she has to meet your family/caregivers soon, the harder it is for him or her to understand how important it is. 

I used to hate telling a guy that I still lived with my parents and how he needs to come to introduce himself before taking me out one-on-one. Most of them would cut it off as soon as I brought it up. They would instantly disappear from my life like ghosts. It was definitely discouraging, but I wouldn’t have found an incredibly caring guy without my parents setting good boundaries. 

Creating Boundaries

Tips for Caregivers and Inter-abled Partners

Worried about your parents or caregiver scaring off your new boo? Family members or caregivers focus on what is best. Not for them, but for you. All you need to do is communicate only how you want to approach the situation. Discuss what new boundaries need to be in place for both of you.

 Start with questions like:

  • How much independence does a person want when he or she is on a date?
  • Does the person need you to be close by at all times?
  • When and where will the introductions take place?
  • Is there anything the caregiver needs to tell the restaurant or the date? For instance, he or she should inform somebody about your allergies or dietary needs.
  • Will the person be ok with being dropped off?
  • When is the best time to sit and talk with the new boyfriend/girlfriend about the person’s primary needs?
  • When is it ok for the person to be fully in the boyfriend/girlfriend’s care? 

For example, going to places like town centers or outlet malls with restaurants and entertainment for first dates is an excellent idea because so somebody could be at the same place without intervening in your one-on-one time with a date. If you ever feel uncomfortable, all you have to do is go to the bathroom and send a text.  

You can always go on double dates or group dates at first If you are reluctant to let your primary caregiver take part of your dating life. However, your primary caregiver can’t stop being hesitant about letting you have more independence if you keep him or her out of the loop.

My mother really had a tough time giving me more independence when I started my first serious relationship. She was very welcoming and took the time to know my boyfriend (now husband), Brandon. He lived about thirty minutes from us. She allowed him to stay over on weekends, but she didn’t let me go stay at his place. After seeing how great a man he is over several months, she allowed it.    

 So always be honest and open. Let your primary caregiver see what you see in your significant other. Once the relationship becomes more serious, you can alter things.

The Intro to a New Chapter       

Tips for Caregivers and Inter-abled Partners

The first introductions can be nerve-racking for any couple. If you are in an interabled relationship, and you want to impress your partner’s parents or caregivers, consider these tips:

  • Plan a meeting in a public space, like a restaurant or coffee shop. You will be more stressed if you invite your parents to your home for a meal because you will worry about your home’s appearance or the excellence of the food
  • Also, avoid going to a movie or other spectator event. You won’t be able to talk and get to know each other.
  • Dress the part. You don’t have to be fancy or stylish, but remember to look fresh and proper.
  • Keep it G-rated on the PDA. 
  • Learn any family quirks beforehand to avoid committing a faux pas.
  • Don’t think too hard. Be open and respectful. If one of them asks you what your intentions are, be truthful. 
  • Prove your worth of being loved by their loved ones. Be attentive and show them you can take care of your partner’s needs. 
  • Ask questions and give comments. According to the National Institute for Physiological Sciences suggesting that receiving a compliment stimulates the same reward system in the brain that getting a raise.
  • Stay away from topics that could cause friction or defensiveness. For example, don’t tell protective parents or caregivers to loosen up and give your partner more freedom.
  • Bringing a gift to a first meeting shows you are thoughtful and appreciate meeting them. According to Cosmopolitan, It’s still ok to pick up a small gift without spending a lot of money, like a bottle of wine, flowers, or a box of chocolates if your partner tells you that a gift isn’t necessary at all.   

There’s no way to guarantee the first time meeting your partner’s parents will be perfect. Many special needs parents don’t trust easily, so it might take a while for you to feel accepted into the family. However, you can give yourself your best chance of making a good first impression by following these tips. After all, they might be part of your life for a lifetime.

Some levels will be hard to beat but keep remembering love is such a sweet treat.

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Brooke Smith
Brooke Smith is from Louisiana. She graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in History. She has a blog called Creative Works by Brooke Settoon Smith, which presents her most recent short stories and poems. She is a contributing writer for The Mighty and Coffee House Writers. The most unique thing about Brooke is that she was born with Cerebral Palsy and she lives life limitless.

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