After the unexpected death of a partner, it can take awhile for the one who was left behind to recover.
Their life will likely never be the same. But with time—and in some cases therapy—they can adjust to a new normal.
But a key element is time. So what should someone do if their family refuses to give them the time they need?
Redditor “AITA_nomorecourtship” asked:
“AITA for telling my parents to stop hooking me up with single girls from their church? AITA for not wanting to get married?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“The last year and a half has been hard for me, to say the least.
“Last March, my brilliant and hilarious and beautiful girlfriend Natalie suddenly passed away. Everyone always gave [us] sh*t about us because of politics.”
“We met in college when were were poly sci majors: she is very liberal (think AOC) and I’m pretty conservative. We actually met because we were serving as treasurers for our school’s College Democrats and Young Republicans clubs, respectively, and our groups would get together for drinks or bowling or laser tag once a month.”
“Well, Natalie and I bonded over a lot of shared interests and we hit it off. Even if we didn’t see eye to eye on many issues, debating her was stimulating and formed the cornerstone of our relationship. We’ve had debates that went on until dawn. We just bounced off each other. She liked to joke that we were ‘drift compatible’.”
OP was definitely serious about his girlfriend.
“I wanted to marry this woman, but she passed away before we got a chance to talk about marriage. I’m in therapy and I’m working through not having her in my life anymore, but it’s been rough. Then ‘Rona happened and I got laid off, so I had to move back in with my parents and figure out what I am supposed to do now.”
Then his parents decided it was time to start dating again.
“My parents mean well, but they got married really young and are more conservative and religious than me. They’ve been trying to set me up on dates with single girls from their church since I moved back home. But I don’t want to date these girls.”
“No offense to them, but it’s a small town in the American Breadbasket. They don’t share the same interests as me and it feels like their only goal in life is to be a good Christian wife and produce a lot of babies.”
“Trying to talk to them about current events is excruciating for me. The girls my parents tried to set me up with take everything they read on Facebook or hear from Fox News for face value. It makes me miss Natalie and our debates more.”
But his parents have grandbabies on their minds.
“My parents mean well. I know they want me to find a nice girl and settle down with her, but not like this. They are nothing like Natalie and never will be. I miss her, even if my folks didn’t like her ideas.”
“But when I told them the other night that I wanted them to stop setting me up on dates with these girls, they freaked out and told me that I needed to consider settling down since I just turned thirty. They’re good girls from great families, I know that, and my parents like them more than they liked Natalie, but she was my one and only.”
OP felt it wasn’t right to fake moving on when he wasn’t ready.
“I don’t think it’s fair for anyone when I still love her.”
“They are even more angry at me because I told them that I just don’t see myself getting married anytime soon. But like I said, Natalie was my soulmate and I just can’t see myself being with anyone else but her. Yet, they are insisting that I need to find a woman and settle down and give them grandchildren.”
He returned to the post to add:
“We were seriously close to talking about marriage. But around the time she died, it was more like how funny it would be if the bridal party wore blue and the groomsmen wore red because the bride is a Democrat and the groom is a Republican/Romeo and Juliet deal.”
“F**k, I wish we got to do that. Natalie thought it was hilarious.”
Then it was time for his fellow Redditors to weigh in and decide if the OP or other people in his story were:
- NTA ~ Not The A**hole
- YTA ~ You’re The A**hole
- ESH ~ Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH ~ No A**holes Here
Reddit seemed pretty one sided on this one.
“NTA ~ If you have no intention of settling down and marrying any of these ‘girls from good families’ then NOT dating them is the considerate thing to do.”
“If these women truly are only looking for husbands to impregnate them, then you aren’t that guy.”
“It’s insensitive of your parents to put you AND these women in this situation just to fulfill their desire to have grandchildren. Get a pet and tell them THAT is the only grandchild they’re getting from you until you’re ready—which may be never.” ~ LakotaGrl
“NTA, I’m very sorry for your loss…”
“Your parents should stop meddling and respect your grief.” ~ apochere
“NTA in any way. I’m so sorry for your loss, and you need time to grieve.
“You’ve taken all the right actions to try and lift yourself back up, but them pushing girls onto you is not helping and is only making things worse. Try and explain it to them, but I don’t think this really warrants an explanation.”
“You don’t have to get married, there should be no pressure for that. Stay strong and focus on yourself and your wellbeing <3” ~ VaguelyHelpful
People felt the OP’s parents were more focused on making sure they got grandchildren than their son’s wellbeing.
“NTA. Some losses are to deep to heal in just a year or two or five. I am sorry for your loss and can only say it will get better.”
“Your parents seem to underestimate the depth of your feeling for Natalie. You are not going to be able to change that.”
“I suspect they are too desperate for grandkids to see your pain.”
“All I can say is stay in therapy. You need to work through your grief before even thinking of committing to someone else. Good luck.” ~ Zombiesquirrel57
“NTA. Even if you turn 50 and still single, they shouldn’t try to make you date anyone. You’re old enough to decide when and under what circumstances you will be ready to date again.”
“I’m sorry for your loss, OP. It must’ve been devastating.” ~ Legion27_1
“NTA. I’m so sorry for your loss. It is so unfair to you.”
“You’re grieving and they’re only thinking of themselves. They’re really selfish actually.”
“I hope you find another job soon and get out of there. (And believe me, I get it. I bailed from the town I grew up in as soon as I was able and I would rather be homeless or live in my car than move back to that depressing area. No one there has any original thoughts or aspirations and most think mayo is exotic and spicy.)”
“I think it’s totally natural to not want to date any of them, they (parents) don’t really know you anymore. Truthfully, if your mom has got baby fever so bad, tell her to adopt a puppy or something.”
“Your parents are being unreasonable for trying to force you to fit into their mold and turn you into them. The fact that they’re yelling at you for grieving is just so awful. I really hope you get away from there soon and maybe one day find love again, when and if you are ready.” ~ diabolicaldeb
“The part that’s especially gross about it is that the parents seem to view Natalie’s death as an opportunity. They’re pouncing on the chance to try to get OP involved with the sort of girl they’d prefer.” ~ kal_el_diablo
No one begrudged the OP wanting to take his time and grieve before deciding to date.
But many thought he needed to take a look at his relationship with his parents.
“From the sound of things, you may want to review your relationship with your parents. It seems very much like they don’t respect you as an adult, able to make your own decisions and speak for yourself.”
“Observe what they do and say. Do the phrases or attitudes of ‘we know best for you’ or ‘we only have your best interests at heart’ come through? These are a sign that they don’t respect your independence as an adult and may still regard you as a child that they need to guide and even order around.”
“My own dirty lens is that my parents were very much like this, even into my thirties. It took many years of minimal contact for me to build myself up to standing up to them. I had to repeatedly embarrass them in front of other people before they got the message.”
“My own $0.02 is that you should not be afraid of making them look bad in front of others. You don’t have to be rude to the young ladies that they invite, but you can say out loud and in front of everyone that you are still mourning the unexpected death of your longtime girlfriend.”
“Perhaps this is an aspect that you might want to work on with your therapist? Good luck and I hope you find your way to your own acceptance and inner peace.” ~ plsuh
While the OP works through their grief, it might be a good time to examine their relationship with their parents.
Hopefully both situations can be resolved with a healthy and happy future ahead for this man.
The book It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand is available here.