Hi, it’s my first time here and my first time doing anything in the way of reaching out like this so apologies if I’m in the wrong place but could use an unbiased view on a situation and would like some guidance, please?
We lost my mum suddenly, 6 years ago, I was a teenager then and I’m now a young woman. We all miss her so dearly, she was truly the powerhouse of this family & household.
For background, my mom and dad had celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary the same year and had been a couple since they were teens and were very much in love.
My dad is a very typical man of his generation who doesn’t open up about his feelings much and I do believe this is because genuinely has no idea where to start or how to do so, I also think he struggles talking to anyone who isn’t my Mom and naturally wouldn’t want to pour his heart out to his youngest daughter, or even to my older siblings.
In the years since we lost my mom my dad drank a lot and worked excessively, often not taking any of his annual leave entitlements and doing overtime every weekend. So he wasn’t really living life, just existing.
Near the end of the pandemic he met someone through a dating app, I think the Netflix series After Llfe was really relatable for him and inspired him to get back out there. I’m happy he feels ready to do this and think my dad absolutely deserves companionship and happiness and I know my mom would want this too, he’s very much a man that likes to be looked after and I know he feels comforted by having a woman’s touch around the house.
Him and his new partner are getting on really well and have been for about a year, she bases at our house and has a key to the house so lives with us although she does still have her own place (I think) .
I like her and she seems very nice, having her around has absolutely put a smile on my dads face and a spring in his step, which warms my heart as I desperately want this for him.
Although, I’m very conscious that she’s divorced and my dad is bereaved and worry that she doesn’t quite understand how complex my dad is, which would be difficult for her to understand as he also struggles to open up and tell anyone!
She’s recently encouraged him to redecorate, which looks nice but I’ve noticed that all the family photos and photos including my mom haven’t gone back up since the redecorating. My dad is on the bigger side weight wise and he always has been, ever since I’ve been born! All of a sudden, she’s pushing him to diet and cut out drinking. I accept that losing a bit of weight could be healthy for my dad and want him to do this if it’s what he wants to do, but I don’t think she knows much about nutrition and has been making him incredibly small portions & I can tell he’s hungry; I can tell they both are actually. My dad specifically struggles with binge eating and I’ve heard him apologising for “cheating” on the diet by having s bag of crisps, but I know this is because the meals aren’t sustaining him at all and realistically, he would still lose weight while eating portions that are enough for him.
My sister struggled with anorexia when she was young, and I’ve struggled with disordered eating in recent years. Which I’ve mentioned. She continues to write weight loss milestones on the fridge, which I can understand if she doesn’t know this is triggering but it’s very much not the dynamic of our family household or of my dad - I can’t help but think that she’s coming into our house and our family and is trying to make a lot of adaptions and changes.
She also enjoys things like hiking and walking and my dad has a chronic bad back and has for years, so he can’t really walk or hike often due to pain. Which is another thing I know she wants him to do which he will try his best to do but ultimately, it’s not who he is.
I’m worried that in my dads desire for companionship through an incredibly lonely pandemic lockdown that he’s willing to do anything and will try to change who he is for love. I accept compromise but it makes me sad to think that anyone would want to change him in order to love him.
Am I being protective? Is this normal?
From losing my mom at such a young age I grew up very quickly and for the past 6 years I have got to know my dad very well and I have looked after him (as he has me) . I know he’s a creature of habit and ultimately, I want him to know he never has to change to be loved.
He truly deserves companionship from someone who loves who he is and accepts his flaws and the good with the bad and accepts the complexities of being in a relationship with someone who has suddenly lost their much loved wife of 25 years and haven’t “dated” since he was 16, so might be a bit naive and is definitely vulnerable .