How Should I React as an Adult if My Dad Is Dating?
Whatever the circumstances may be, it's natural to experience a range of emotions when your dad starts dating someone who isn't your mom. The idea of your father dating again can bring on disappointment, confusion or anger, according to psychologist Offra Gerstein in the “Relationship Matters” article “Adult Children's Reactions to Their Parents' Dating.” While feeling these emotions, it may be hard to figure out how to react to the situation. Keep in mind a number of factors - - the most important being the love you have for your dad.
1 Try to Be Empathetic
If your dad starts dating again, you should try to put yourself in his shoes, says sexuality counselor and author Ian Kerner in “CNN Health” article “When Mom or Dad Wades Back in the Dating Pool.” Your dad is human, and he has the same wants and needs as everyone else does. When reacting to the idea of his new love interests, consider the alternative - - your father being alone for the rest of his life. Though it may be hard, you should try your best to be understanding and supportive of his decisions.
2 Be Mindful of What You Say
Take some time to think about what your response is going to be when your father asks how you like the woman he is dating. Given the situation, you may have some resistance to, or feel replaced by, this new woman, suggests psychotherapist Donna F. Ferber in the article “Dating in Midlife: When Your Adult Children Refuse to Meet Your New Love.” In cases where there's a significant age difference, you might question a woman's motives for dating your father. According to Kerner, it's better to keep negative opinions to yourself. If you absolutely feel that you have to say something, choose your words carefully.
3 Set Boundaries With Your Dad
With Dad being new to the dating scene again, he might feel that it's okay to ask you questions or share details regarding situations you'd rather not think about. In the “Psychology Today” article “When a Parent Starts Dating Again,” staff writer Josh Bailey highlights the importance of speaking up about your feelings if your father starts bringing up topics that you aren't ready to discuss, such as sex or having more children. Even as an adult, there are certain things that you just don't want to hear about your parents doing. Since you're trying to be understanding, your dad should have no problem doing the same.
4 Be Honest About Your Feelings
Your dad needs to know the truth about how well you're accepting -- or not accepting -- his reentry into the dating world. If you're still working through your own feelings about your parents' breakup or grieving the loss of your mom, let him know that, says Gerstein in the “Relationship Matters” article. At the same time, make sure you aren't blaming him for not feeling the same way you do. Moving on may not be as easy for him as he's making it look. Take your dad dating again as a chance to show that you'll be there through thick and thin.