Your relationship with others

Caring for a family member, friend or partner can affect your relationship with that person. But being a carer can also affect your relationships with other people around you.

Family

When a family member or someone close to the family is seriously ill, relationships may change. If there are already issues or tensions, these can get worse in stressful situations. Spending time together and talking openly can help. It can even bring you closer together.

Be honest with your family about how you feel and make sure you give each other space when needed. Conversations may sometimes be difficult or emotional.

Some people may want to talk about what is happening and express their emotions more than others. If you are the main carer, other family members may turn to you for updates and emotional support. Some people may find that talking to you helps them feel involved in the situation. But while it is good to talk, try not to take on other people’s problems. You won’t be able to please everyone, so try not to worry about it too much. It may also be helpful to ask another family member to help give updates to the wider family.

If you are finding family relationships difficult, it may be helpful to get support from a counsellor, health professional, or someone outside the family.

You will have a lot to cope with, and it may help to write down a list of priorities. If there are children or teenagers in the family, it may be their first experience of dealing with a serious illness. We have information to help you talk to children and teenagers when an adult has cancer and help them understand the situation.

Your partner

Your partner can be an important source of support for you if you are caring for someone else. Your caring role may also affect your relationship in other ways:

  • You may have less time to spend together.
  • You may find your sex life is affected, for example because you are often very tired from your caring role.
  • Caring could affect your financial situation. As a couple, you may both find this a worry. Our financial specialists can help.

It is best to talk openly and honestly with your partner about any concerns you have. If you would like advice or information because you’re worried about your relationship, the charity Relate can help.

The nurse helped us figure out what might be the best way to talk to our young children about her condition and explain it in a way that they would understand.

Anthony, who cared for his wife Waheed

Friends

Your friends, colleagues and neighbours may be able to give you practical and emotional support.

You may see your friends less often because you are busy caring. Sometimes people might not contact you because they are worried about what to say. You could try reassuring them by starting the conversation and talking openly about what has been happening. This could help them recognise that you want to talk about it, if that’s how you feel.

My friends drifted away, they still call me once a month or so, but I can’t go out anymore. I don’t think they realise how full-on my life is now.

Amy, who cared for her dad

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