Is it okay to ask someone you’re dating for emotional support?

boomandlove asks:

A somewhat close family member of mine passed away. We have strong blood relations but I wasn’t ever close to that individual due to geographical consequences in comparison to the rest of my family who knew this person well and felt their death much more than I have.

The girl is someone who I only went on a few dates with so far (I had to cancel our most recent) but I have been acquainted with her a couple of months prior before expressing how I felt about her. After not too many days, I asked to meet up for something really low-key (like coffee) with the intention of just talking to her (as I enjoy spending time with her). She rebuked my offer citing “shouldn’t you spend more time with your family/why don’t we wait a bit”.

I thought this was a bit of a weird response as I felt that as the “grieving individual”, I was the one to set my standards for how long I grieve and shouldn’t be told to spend time with family. Afraid of coming off as being insensitive to the needs of my family or as a heartless individual, I agreed and left it like that. While my grieving period was admittedly shorter than normal, I felt a little embarrassed and pressured to conform to her own standards. I kind of wanted to talk about the person who passed away with someone who wasn’t my immediately family member as we share a different kind of relationship (my parents are immigrants, I was born in the US) and was almost tempted to clarify that I mostly longed for a little emotional support from a non-family member but thought that may come off as a little pushy. I want her to be there for me but I also don’t want to rush anything especially since I haven’t had the chance to ask her to start a formal relationship yet. For all I know, she may not even reciprocate my feelings despite agreeing to a 4th date (which would be odd to accept if you didn’t like someone, but it’s also careful to not assume)


Demetrius says:

Do I think that it’s inappropriate to ask a someone you’ve been dating, recently or not, for emotional support when you need it? No, definitely not. Did you pick the wrong person to talk through your mourning? Yes, yes you did.

As long as someone is okay with being your support and you’re comfortable having them be your sounding board, your relationship to them comes secondary. Whether it’s a new friend or love interest, or someone you’re close with doesn’t matter as much as their willingness to talk and listen to you. When I read the title of your question I actually just assumed that this was a person you previously dated briefly and no longer date, and my answer was still yes. It’s okay to ask anyone you know for counsel. What matters most is if they’re willing to be that person for you. If you have the sort of connection with someone where you feel more comfortable talking with a relative stranger about your grief, by all means go for it. That’s always been part of the appeal of going to a therapist to me, besides their whole being a trained professional thing. The objectivity and distance definitely helps people open up.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to discuss your feelings with someone who is relatively new to your life, or not as close to you as a friend or family member, sometimes you just want an objective view. I’ve actually done this fairly recently (asking someone who isn’t a close friend for advice), though it wasn’t about death. Long story short, about a year ago I had come to a critical decision point in my last relationship. I knew that I either needed to end things, or learn to accept what my relationship was and wasn’t. Rather than asking for the opinion and counsel of my closest friends and family, I got advice from a fellow dating blogger who helped put things in perspective. That blogger, in case you were wondering, is Michele from Rules of Ungagement who you should be following and reading and generally interacting with on Social Media because she’s the best. I’m not saying that I couldn’t get objective advice anywhere else, I just knew that in my case I wanted advice from someone who hadn’t met my ex-girlfriend.

So yeah, nothing wrong with getting counsel from someone you aren’t super close with, but the part that matters is whether or not the person in question is comfortable being your sounding board. My whole deal is “Sex, Dating, and Relationship Advice for an Indifferent World” which sounds cool, but it also very clearly states what I’m comfortable discussing. Because of that, people have no problem asking for my advice, whether they’re a relative stranger or someone I know personally. I’ve had people who within 15 minutes of hearing about the blog and podcast, start telling me some pretty detailed information about their dating lives, sex lives, and their ultimate relationship goals.I say that I’m open to talking about dating, sex, and relationships and sure enough that opens me up to conversations about whether or not lube goes stale, or what the deal is with non-monogamy, or how to talk about a touchy subject with a partner. I’m open to this (and it’s genuinely fun for me) and thus, I’m okay with talking about it. The girl you’re three dates into dating? She was not comfortable with talking about your grief.

Now just to be clear, I don’t think that makes her a bad person, just not the right person to talk about these things with. Some people just don’t want to talk about certain subjects, no matter the person. Maybe she just has never really dealt with death so discussing it makes her uncomfortable. Death makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It doesn’t make someone a bad person if they can’t talk about death, just a bad person to try to talk about death with. I don’t think you’re a bad person for asking her to listen to you, nor do I think she’s a bad person for rebuffing you. There are no bad people in this scenario.  There’s nothing wrong with her saying that she didn’t want to talk over your loss with you. Just because you’re the “grieving individual” does not mean that your loss supersedes someone else’s ability to make choices in their own life about what they discuss. If she doesn’t want to talk about your grief she doesn’t have to.

You’re not wrong for wanting to (initially) talk to her about your grief, nor is she wrong to tell you she doesn’t want to talk to you about it. You are wrong in thinking that your grieving entitles you to anything. If you don’t want to talk to someone who you’re close with about your loss, you need to find someone who is willing to talk about it with you. Emphasis on willing. Whether that means making new friends, going to a bereavement support group, seeing a therapist, or whatever else, you need to find someone who is willing to hear you out. The fact that she said no and suggested that you reach out to family isn’t her dictating how you should grieve, it was her telling you “No” and suggesting what she assumed was a better alternative. You don’t have to follow those suggestions if you don’t want to.

Good Luck Out There.

p.s. My condolences, and sorry for your loss

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