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How much should I lean on the boyfriend when my dad's ill

(16 Posts)
cfje Thu 07-Jul-16 14:43:43

Hi all,

This is my first post on Mumsnet. In fact, I joined because I needed to ask people who seem sensible for views on something specific.

Situation is as follows. Been with my boyfriend for about a year. He is loving, supportive, wonderful. My father is old and has recently had a lot of heart problems. Last year he nearly died (just before I met my bf) and it was a tough time for the family. In the last few weeks, dad's been in and out of hospital for a variety of things, some heart-related, some other stuff. I have been down to see him there and help mum out at weekends, also a few nights during the week (I have a full-time job in London and a cat that needs looking after!).

Every time I get a call from mum or a brother about dad I can feel my heart begin to race and feel physically sick. It's hard seeing him, this great strong man from my childhood, looking all little and frail and barely conscious in a hospital gown. I know though that every child goes through this with their parents - I am hardly unusual!

So I end up ringing my boyfriend and texting him, just to hear his voice. I never cry on the phone to him, never really need to because just speaking to him for 5 minutes and hearing his calming words and voice and love makes it feel better. I have friends who I am close to and can talk about nearly everything with but they are all having babies/getting married/have their own problems.

I ring him maybe once or twice a day, whenever dad gets significantly better or worse (so every 3/4 days). Obviously we text each other in between. But I feel guilty and worred for relying on him. I'm used to being independent (own flat, own cat, nice group of friends etc.) and he fell in love with the happy, confident person that I usually am and was when we met. I worry that I am relying on him too much - that I am being needy (though I do need him) and clingy. And that he will go off me because right now, I am worried. And I feel so comfortable with him that I let the worry and the need show.

I would really appreciate advice or views on: am I relying on him too much? We've only been going out a year. Or tips for how to cope with an elderly relative or... well, I suppose I just needed to put this down in writing a bit as well.

Thank you if you got to the end of my very long spiel!

RosieandJim89 Thu 07-Jul-16 14:48:15

I think you should be able to lean on him as much as you need to.
That is the whole point of a partner, to be there for you and provide love and support for eachother.
I think as long as you make the effort to show an interest in what is going on in his life and despite your worries, spend some time, the two of you being together not discussing your Dad, then all is good. If he leaves you over it even though you are making the effort, then he is not meant for you.

cfje Thu 07-Jul-16 15:16:35

Thank you! I think you are right - it's as if intellectually I understand that is what a partner is there for but cannot stop worrying. I hate the idea I might be a burden but does feel like I am going through a not-so-great patch atm.

Somerville Thu 07-Jul-16 15:28:11

Yes, I agree. The time you spend dating, before making long lasting commitments, is exactly so that you can see whether you're a good fit for each other. And a big part of that is supporting each other through tough times.

If he's flaky about this then it'll be a big sign that he can't or won't meet your needs at a later date.

Sorry about your dad. flowers My only advice would be to not forget about looking after yourself, amidst all the stress and fear and busyness. And the best way to do that is to call on support and help, and when people ask if there's anything they can do, take them up on it, either for yourself or for your mum.

cfje Thu 07-Jul-16 15:46:45

Thank you so much (to both of you) - the replies are much appreciated. Am not hugely good at taking up offers of help but you are so right, I need to. I never think people are imposing when they ask me for help so why should I worry about imposing when I ask them?

Somerville Thu 07-Jul-16 23:10:45

Yes, exactly.

And actually, when people see someone they care about struggling with caring responsibilities or grief, they feel powerless and they want to help.

That was my lightbulb moment, when I realised that and could finally give people things to do when they asked how they could help.

cfje Fri 08-Jul-16 08:59:08

That's so true - if the same thing was happening to my boyfriend then I know I'd be doing everything I could to support him.

I just hope that ringing once a day (and sounding sad) isn't too much - I know it sounds silly but I'm not great at the phone and try to avoid phone calls mostly. But then I compare myself to my female friends who ring their new bfs 20 times a day and I ring far less in comparison.

I just have a fear of turning into someone who is unhappy and needy - but then I need (to talk to) him. And if he wants the happy, chatty, confident me then he needs to put up with the unhappy, things-aren't-going-so-well me too.

Somerville Fri 08-Jul-16 09:50:55

Yes he does. smile

And is he responding well?

I'm wondering whether your insecurity over this is because you're understandably upset about your dad and thinking straight isn't easy, or whether you could be picking up a bit of disinterest, or being treated like your being needy, from your boyfriend? Hope not the latter.

cfje Fri 08-Jul-16 10:10:35

He really is. He sends me little messages to tell me that he's thinking of me and whenever I call him he always says that "it's lovely to hear my voice, even if not under the best of circumstances". He is being very sweet and calming.

I think it's my head - and also partly because he is such a nice man - and I have spent years seeing my male friends roll their eyes and talk about the woman they're with being clingy/needy/emotionally draining - that I am keen not to do the same...

cfje Fri 08-Jul-16 10:11:49

I think I'm just so tired at the moment that my brain isn't quite working properly... I don't do well on only a few hours' sleep a night!

Joysmum Fri 08-Jul-16 10:29:33

I'm with the others, lean as much as you need to.

However be sure to remember to show him how much you love and appreciate and do nice things for him when you're having good days to ensure he doesn't feel taken for granted.

Somerville Fri 08-Jul-16 10:30:32

I'm really pleased - he sounds so nice smile

I hadn't been seeing my boyfriend for long when one my my children had an asthma attack and was admitted to hospital for 3 days. Especially hard as she was in the same hospital that my husband died in.

He hadn't met my kids yet so there was nothing he could do to help on a practical level, which I found out later he found really hard. But he was so relaxed about me cancelling our weekend plans at short notice, and responding to my texts sweetly and, best of all, he didn't contact me except when I contacted him. He had picked up on the fact that I was being pulled in too many different directions already and getting texts asking for updates would have just been another demand.
Our relationship took a big step forward over that - even though we didn't see each other for a week. smile

cfje Fri 08-Jul-16 11:20:14

Thanks, Joysmum, that makes a lot of sense. Have been asking about his day etc. and telling him how much I appreciate his being sweet. I must make sure I remember to do this, no matter how tired I'm feeling.

Somerville, your bf sounds lovely. Must have been a horrible time for you. Sounds like he responded in the best way possible - must have been tough for him not to ask for updates when worrying about you and how you and your child were!

cfje Fri 08-Jul-16 11:20:14

Thanks, Joysmum, that makes a lot of sense. Have been asking about his day etc. and telling him how much I appreciate his being sweet. I must make sure I remember to do this, no matter how tired I'm feeling.

Somerville, your bf sounds lovely. Must have been a horrible time for you. Sounds like he responded in the best way possible - must have been tough for him not to ask for updates when worrying about you and how you and your child were!

Viewofhedges Fri 08-Jul-16 13:18:05

I second the advice to lean, but also to let him know that you realise that you're leaning at the moment, but that you really appreciate how much he's supporting you through something that is particularly difficult. I have had significant problems over the past year and my DH has been wonderful. I make sure I take the time to tell him how I appreciate what he is doing - and that I realise what's happening, and don't take it for granted.

Can you make sure you arrange a date or two where you talk about other things ('you know what, the situation with Dad is really sad, but let's just concentrate on us this evening'), and also have a think about who or what else might give you some support with your dad so it's not just him? We all need support networks that are wider than just one person, so for the long term it might be a good idea to think about who else you can turn to - if that's friends, family, or even a charity/service.

Giving yourself time off and letting your boyfriend know as well that you're looking after yourself (healthy food, early nights etc) will also help him know that you're not only relying on him, but that you're able to look after yourself too.

Sounds like this guy is great and you're being wise to consider how your situation could impact on your relationship in the round, and that both of you are real keepers! Good luck with it all.

PS when things have been awful for me, I do find that utterly crap films can be very good - just daft, silly popcorn comedy. A proper laugh. And you can share that!

cfje Mon 11-Jul-16 07:41:05

Ah, thank you, Viewofhedges - just seen this (weekend got hectic). I think you're right about a broader support network; I've been speaking to a couple of close friends this weekend too which has helped. I'll make sure I keep doing this! My family's not doing so well under the stress of this so they're kind of ruled out re: support at the moment.

I've been doing ok on the healthy meals and early nights front. I've also discovered a fabulous TV show called UnREAL that has helped me unwind.

Thank you all so much again - this is my first experience of Mumsnet and you've all been really helpful, I appreciate it. Was a time when I just needed to hear external views from sensible people!

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