The What Not to Wear co-host went on her first date with musician Cat Yezbak one month after the death of her father in 2018, and they've been together ever since

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Since her days on TLC's hit makeover show, What Not to Wear, Stacy London has faced a series of personal struggles and transformations.

She suffers from chronic illnesses, including psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, had spinal surgery in 2016 which lead to financial difficulties and a "debilitating depression" throughout 2017. And in 2018, two monumental life events happened: she lost her father, Herbert London, to heart disease and amyloidosis, and met her girlfriend Cat Yezbak, a musician.

Now, in a new interview with PEOPLE, the stylist, 50, is opening up about her journey since her days on TLC and how she's found a fresh perspective on life — and love.

"Dating was not at all in the cards for me," London tells PEOPLE about meeting Yezbak at a fundraiser for Cynthia Nixon’s gubernatorial race in the summer of 2018. "My dad was so sick, and he was the top priority. It wasn’t that I didn’t think Cat was amazing, or cool, or cute, I just wasn’t in that mindset."

stacy london
Stacy London and Cat Yezbak
| Credit: Tory Rust

London spent the majority of that year caring for her father, Herbert, an academic and founder and president of the London Center for Public Policy. He became "very sick" with heart disease and amyloidosis, an abnormal protein buildup in the tissues and organs, in April 2018 and died in November. "I was in the hospital every other day," the stylist says.

While London admits she'd "butt heads all the time" with her "hard-core conservative" Republican father, they were extremely close. "We loved each other so deeply."

During her time caring for Herbert, Yezbak, 40, kept in touch. "Even when we weren't dating, she was so supportive, and knew my dad was sick, and even came to the funeral," says London. “I knew that I was lucking out by meeting somebody who was smart and compassionate and so kind."

For more on Stacy London, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

One month after his death, the pair went on their first date and have been together ever since.

While Yezbak never met Herbert, London wishes she could have. "They would’ve liked each other," London says. "They would’ve sparred over a lot of things. But, I really do think he brought her to me. He was watching out for me with her."

London says Yezbak has brought "a lot of love and happiness" into her life, but she chooses her words wisely. "I am very careful not to be too cavalier because, being 50 and being a privileged white woman, it's very easy for me to date a woman and there are no serious repercussions," London says. "I work independently, so it's not like I could face discrimination at work. I am lucky that I have a family that loves me and accepts me for who I am. I stand on the shoulders of people who did not have that opportunity."

She continues: "I'm careful to be say, 'things are so different' because they don't feel very different for me at all. And that's with a huge nod, and gratitude, and respect for those people who have not had the opportunity to love who they wanted to love, or really had to sacrifice everything to love who they love. So I don't take that for granted."

The stylist publicly introduced Yezbak in an Instagram post in December 2019 and have shared sweet selfies together throughout the year. The pair are currently self-isolating in Brooklyn amid the coronavirus pandemic where they work on their vintage-collectibles business, Small Beautiful Things.

"I've been a collector my whole life. I love tchotchkes. I just don't trust anybody who doesn't have any," says London. "Small Beautiful Things is a company that I wanted to start, regardless, and Cat just wound up getting involved because she loved it so much as well."