I have found that the age normative experience of caring for a partner is violated when it occurs in young adult couples. I have had a patient remark to me that her boyfriend has “seen things I never wanted him to” in the course of visiting her during hospitalizations. At times I feel this can both speed up and delay the “normal” progression of a relationship. I have also seen guilt become a factor within relationships – both on the side of the patient who feels obligated to continue a relationship as their partner was present during their treatment and for the partner who feels they would be abandoning the patient if they left during tx (even if the relationship issues existed prior to the dx).
I’m curious what others have been as far as how young adults navigate relationships when put under the magnifying glass of cancer.