Dating as a widow comes with unique challenges. By now, you’ve handled the grief and set yourself up financially, but it still seems strange to jump into the dating scene. I lost my husband when I was 26, and I did not know any other widows in my life. Every time someone gave me dating advice, I shrugged it off because no one understood what I was going through. That’s why I wanted to put this guide together – realistic dating tips for widows, from a widow.
Work through Your Grief before You Start Dating
I cannot emphasize this enough. You really need to be in a good place emotionally before you start dating. Talk to a grief counselor and learn how to cope with the emotions you’re going through. Take time to mourn, to build your self-esteem and to reduce the stress in your life as a whole. This will make you much better prepared to handle the emotions of a new relationship.
Don’t Feel Guilty about Dating
This is a feeling that all widows face. I know I did. Your spouse would have wanted you to be happy. Dating is not disrespectful or inconsiderate. It is a step you will take to move forward in your life. Your counselor will tell you this time and time again, but remind yourself of it as well. No guilt, just hope for the future.
Take However Much Time You Need
Don’t feel pressured to start dating at a certain time. If you need a year to heal, take that year. If you only need a few months, that’s fine too. You know your body and, more importantly, your heart. Trust your gut, and you’ll begin dating when you feel ready.
Don’t Let Time Stop You from Dating
While it’s important to take time for yourself, you shouldn’t set a time limit on your dating life. I was 26 when my husband passed away, so I knew I would eventually date again. I originally told myself “Six months. No sooner than six months.” But that rigid timeframe didn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things. You’ll know when you’re ready to date. If it happens sooner than expected, that’s okay! Don’t let your mental timeclock stop you from living your life.
Be Honest about Your Situation
When you start dating, you may feel tempted to hide the fact that you’re a widow. For me, I felt like I was “damaged goods,” like no one would want to be with someone who had emotional baggage. Everyone has emotional baggage though, even if it’s not the same kind. The person you date may have lost a parent or may have battled with addiction at some point in time. You went through a traumatic experience, but that does not define you. You can acknowledge your past, but try to stay open-minded about the future as well.
Avoid Comparing People to Your Spouse
You won’t be able to find someone who is exactly like your spouse. Truth be told, you are no longer the same person that you were when you got married. Avoid making comparisons when you’re dating and focus on finding a genuine connection. You’re not looking for a better relationship or the same relationship. You’re looking for someone new to spend time with. You will find that in time.
Dating is frustrating for anyone, regardless of age or circumstance. Try not to get too discouraged along the way though. You might have to sift through some bad seeds, but eventually you’ll find a good one. Talk to your therapist along the way to work through any emotions you might be feeling, and make the most of the journey you’re on.