I'm a single male who’s age 33. My dad passed away in March, and I'm going through the grieving process. I realize this takes time, even up to a year.
I'm in no rush for dating given my current emotional feelings. It’s hard to date in the pandemic with COVID-19 restrictions anyway, so that's the bottom of my priorities now.
When I am ready to date again and look for a serious girlfriend and life partner, should I have the mindset that I need to find a new dad and hope that I find a great potential father-in-law?
I cannot expect anyone to replace my dad, but I'd like to have another father figure in my life. Is it natural to feel this way after a recent loss?
I get along very well with my mom and she would like me to find someone too. She doesn't pressure me to date and remains laid back and hands off.
Feeling the Loss
My condolences on the loss of your father. A parent’s death almost always evokes emotional pain, deep reflection, and inner questions about a future that won’t include the person you’d expected from childhood to always be there for you.
Your thoughts about a future “father figure” arise, of course, from feeling the gap. He was a man you could turn to on almost any question about your choices and your future.
Now, you need to know this: His absence needn’t leave you to struggle alone.
Many of us who’ve lost parents have, over time, built relationships with people who’ve shown themselves to be wise and caring about us. In some aspects, they become our mentors and advisors.
I’ve missed my wise and loving father every day since his long-ago passing, but over the years I’ve found caring male, and female advisers, too, among my trusted friends.
It would be wonderful for you to meet, through dating someone, a “great potential father-in-law.” But honing in on that goal would be a distraction from what you’re seeking in a life partner.
From your letter, I believe that you’ll only be attracted to a woman who, herself, is very understanding and supportive. In that case, she’s likely to have parents of the same character.
So, focus on the potential girlfriend first.
You may also come across likely mentors - through work, business matters, or someone you meet through a hobby, a sport, or as a neighbour.
In times of grief, you may also find that the kind of support and advice you seek is available within your faith community.
If someone you meet reflects the guidance of a “father figure,” he won’t ever lessen your fond memories of your dad, but he’ll ease your loss over time.
FEEDBACK Regarding the wife’s dilemma about her infertile husband who won’t consider either adoption or his wife getting pregnant with aid of a sperm donor (May 1):
Reader – “I’m sure that any marriage in which the couple does not agree on having children or not, is doomed.
“The man who is infertile should not be a father. If he reluctantly agreed to adopt, he would resent both his wife and their child. And the child would suffer most.
“When we had fertility issues, we had to adopt internationally. It was expensive, but I was on board. I am happy we had children, and they know they are loved. That's the most important thing.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the widower dating someone for a month before she learned that his wife had died two weeks before they met (April 8):
“Several of my girlfriends recognized my letter and they 100% agreed with your advice.
“On the one-year anniversary of meeting him, I ended the relationship. I wanted to celebrate with a mid-week dinner but he brushed that idea off.
“Recently, his daughter visited him. He didn't introduce us. These two incidents sealed it for me. He wasn’t showing up emotionally or physically beyond our weekend "dates".
“I’m relieved but a bit sad. There was so much potential. When I said I couldn't continue our relationship, he was stunned. He thought things were going so well.
“Of course... he got all the benefits of a relationship without having to do the hard work to keep it real and growing.
“Thanks for helping me see what was so obvious.”
Tip of the day:
Grieving is a time of reflection that shouldn’t include firm decisions on unknown matters like whether a potential girlfriend provides a “great father-in-law.”