Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

A Chat with Dad

My dad isn’t a chatty , in general. And he’s one of those people who hates to talk on the phone.  I can recall many times when I’d be on the phone with my mom and she’d call out to him (usually from one part of the house to the other, loudly, as I come from a of screamers) to say that I was on the phone and did he want to talk to me.  His answer was almost always no, just tell me hello.

I didn’t take offense.  That’s just the way he is.

I guess that’s one of the reasons why I don’t put much stock into whether a guy I meet online comes off as interesting on the phone (and why many times I just skip the phone thing altogether). Some people just don’t like to talk on the phone. I get it. I don’t think it has anything to do with whether they’re a good person or fun to spend time with.

Anyway, now I have to make an extra effort to have those phone conversations with my dad. He doesn’t live far, but I don’t see him every week. And if we never spoke on the phone, it would just be awful.  So I call and force it.

Last night I called with the express purpose of talking with him about a kinda important family matter. It’s something that’s been weighing heavily on me.  But we never got to talk about it.

About 10 minutes into the call he asked me about my “social life”.  I knew he meant, was I dating anyone, but I tried to play dumb. I said that I’ve been busy with work but that I made time to get out and have fun.  He then said, with a little stress in his voice, that he knew I was busy but hoped I was making time for a “social life”.

So I sighed loudly and said, “Dad, I don’t know what you want me to say.  I was dating someone recently. For a little while.  He was a very man. And I liked him and he liked me.  But I wasn’t in love with him and he wasn’t in love with me.  And we were never going to be in love with one another. And I’m 40 and he’s 48. At our ages we’re too old to waste time dating people we don’t love.”

I couldn’t believe I’d said that.  To anyone, much less my dad.

And then he said the thing that kills me every time. That he was worried about me being alone.  Being alone forever.

I told him that I understood and I appreciated that.  But that I wasn’t the kind of person who could marry someone I didn’t love, or stay in a relationship that didn’t make me happy.  That I didn’t have it in me.  And that given the choice between being alone, forever, and marrying someone just for the sake of being married (like some of the people I know), I’d rather be alone.

And then, to my complete astonishment, he said.  “I understand.  I was married for 40 years to a very nice woman.”

And then I changed the subject.

Tags: , ,

13 to “A Chat with Dad”

  1. Jolene says:

    Wow. 1) what a great convo you had with your dad, especially for a non-phone talker (I know what you mean!) and such kind words (even though, if it were me, I’d be a little frustrated that my dad thinks I’m going to be alone…not saying that’s what your dad thinks, but i think you know what I mean) and 2) quite the revelation about being married 40 years to a “nice” woman…

    • Simone Grant says:

      I don’t know what my dad thinks, honestly. And I’ve learned better than to ask him. I know he worries about me. And I know he doesn’t understand the choices I’ve made.

      I’ve pretty sure he wishes I just stayed with one of my exes. Regardless of what that might of meant.

  2. anny says:

    wow! ditto what Jolene said. my mom has the same fear of me being alone…we have the same conversations. must be a generation thing. sometimes i wish so much that she’d feel as strongly about me being content, at peace with myself and the world, happy with the life (and successes) i’ve built for myself….

    • Simone Grant says:

      I’m sure it is a generational thing. I’d like to believe he thinks my happiness is important. But he never really thought about his own life in those terms, from what I can tell. I can’t expect him to change the way he sees the world.

  3. My 19 year-old daughter is in a relationship that will probably end up in marriage and I worry that she will spend her entire life alone regardless.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Interesting. Perhaps it is a normal parental fear?

      • The kid is empirically stupid and not at all intellectually curious. She is really smart and artistic and I’ve watched her tuck away her brains and creativity when he is around. And he is mostly always around.

  4. Sandyvs says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. I’m asking ANYONE that can explain how a person that is widowed can tell a person that has never been married that they don’t want them to be alone when THEY are now alone? How does getting married mean you won’t be alone? Very rarely do both of the people in a relationship die at the same time. WHAT is the big deal about being married?

    • Simone Grant says:

      Well, I certainly can’t explain any of that. But I can see how hard it is for him being alone now. And I guess that’s part of it.

  5. Kelly says:

    Wow, that’s tough to hear as an “aside”.
    About the other comment—I’m glad you brought this up, because the fear your dad conveys is really HIS fear, and nothing to do with you. For some reason, people of our parents’ generation feel that life isn’t “complete” for a woman or man until they are married. I hope this belief changes with our generation.

  6. Simone Grant says:

    Yeah, it was a tough chat. I don’t know when I’ll work up the courage to talk to him about the really important stuff I needed to talk to him about.

    Interesting your point about things changing with our generation. I find that most of the people I know in their 20s are actually more conservative in this regards than the people I consider “my generation” (35-50). Not sure what that’s about or if that’s just a misperception on my part.

  7. Kal L. says:

    I have similar conversations with my dads. It’s heartbreaking when one of them told me that they would like to see some grand kids before they die. How does one respond to that?

    Then he shares his assumptions of why my relationships don’t work out.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Honestly, I’ve never shared enough of my private life with my parents for them to have a clue as to why my relationships don’t work. Not sure that’s better.

      As to the grandparents/kids thing. I heard it for the past decade. And then my mom died w/o any. I still haven’t gotten over feeling bad about that.