Can You Be Both A Lover And A Caregiver In A Relationship?

What makes a relationship strong is surviving challenges together.

woman comforting husband Arthur Bargan / Shutterstock

By Tylia Flores

The following words came from Dr. Phil’s mouth in a 2019 episode, and they have stuck with me ever since:

“In a relationship, you can’t be a lover and a caregiver.”

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The episode focused on an interabled couple: a young woman named Harley and her boyfriend Chad, who is paraplegic. The show narrowed in on how Chad was unable to get around on his own and needs 24-hour care.


Dr. Phil shared his opinion on the relationship, saying that Chad’s girlfriend can’t be a lover and a caregiver. He even went further into his ableism, stating that 100 out of 100 times, a relationship will not work if your partner is also your caregiver.

Well, with all due respect, I think you are incorrect, Dr. Phil!

If someone is paraplegic and their partner wants to look after them, who is Dr. Phil to say that they can’t? Who is he to say that 100 out of 100 times, the relationship will not last if your partner is your caregiver? I don’t believe in that “statistic.”

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To top it all off, Chad’s girlfriend seemed to agree with Dr. Phil’s statements, which also rubbed me the wrong way.

I am not saying that interabled couples don’t face unusual challenges. Of course, it can be difficult to be a lover and a caregiver. However, the couple should learn and grow together, overcoming the barriers they face.

I believe in love. If you truly love someone and plan to build a future with them, then you should be able to look past the flaws that person may have.

I should note that I am not saying that being a paraplegic is a flaw! What I mean is that everyone faces challenges in their relationships.

Some obstacles may be more challenging than others, but in every relationship, there is going to be something, and if your partner can’t accept your difficulties, then it’s time to move on.


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For instance, this young man’s girlfriend agreed with Dr. Phil that she was the “caregiver.” I think she was playing the “caregiver” card as a way to get out of the relationship.

But, if she truly loved her boyfriend, she would have stuck up for him and their relationship. Instead, she continued to agree with Dr. Phil’s critical feedback.

I want you to know that interabled relationships do work out as long as you have patience. Dr. Phil is usually a smart man, but he dropped the ball on this one.

Like any relationship, an interabled relationship takes time, commitment and boundaries.

This doesn’t mean that the relationship won’t work or will have a high chance of failing (looking at you, Dr. Phil). What makes a relationship strong is surviving challenges together.


When you truly see people for who they are instead of for their abilities, you are sure to build a strong foundation in your relationships.

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Tylia Flores is an author, and a writer for Unwritten and Digital Fox. She writes primarily on topics of relationships, mental health, and lifestyle. Visit her author profile for more of her work.