Dear Captain Awkward:
My father and his lovely new partner – she’s really nice – recently visited my area. They planned to spend a day or two with her relatives first, but wanted to know if I wanted to meet up with the two of them after that, for a meal at my brother’s new restaurant.
I agreed. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of spending cab-fare to the city for a sub-standard meal (my brother hasn’t changed things yet), but wanted to see them, so sucked it up, gathered up my introvert spoons and headed out into the wilds.
I got a text about an hour before the meal – my father asked me to change the booking from 3 to 5 people.
Apparently they wanted to bring along NewPartner’s granddaughter (teenager) and one of her teenage friends.
I didn’t handle that very well.
The next hour was a tangled blur of considering “calling in sick” to the meal, changing the booking at the restaurant, frantically checking the number of social-interaction spoons I had remaining (not enough for sudden dinner plans with strange teenagers), and resigning myself to my fate.
The reality was even more awkward than I’d feared. I sat there for a good 30 minutes of tense, stilted conversation.
I made my apologies and fled before the mains arrived (I hadn’t ordered anything).
Dad called after I got home, worried that I might not have been feeling well.
I ended up admitting that I just hadn’t wanted to stay. That I didn’t want to spend time with his partner’s family. He said he was disappointed in my behaviour.
I’m honestly not sure what to do.
I love my father, and want to be supportive of his relationship. I also really like his partner, I’d hate for her to feel bad in any way.
But I don’t want to spend time with her family. It feels weird and creepy when they’re around. I feel like my father is thinking of us as one big, happy family – when I barely know their names, and don’t actually want to get to know them better. I end up feeling stressed and resentful.
Part of me thinks that the best thing to do would be to talk to my father about it – to come to a new shared understanding of what our expectations are of each other going forwards.
But another part of me worries that, if I do that, I might end up with no relationship with my father at all. That I might have irreparably damaged it anyway. So I’m currently a little bit paralyzed with fear.
Am I being unreasonable? What do you think?
– Possibly unreasonable person.