Top 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers
No matter how you slice it, trying to meet someone new after the death of your spouse is a trying experience.
It will be a challenge, but keeping these ten dating tips for widows and widowers in mind will help you get the wheels of romance turning again with a little more ease.
Take a few deep breaths, put your shoulders back and get ready to leap into the dating pool once again. Put these pointers to good use and you will be happy you did.
You Aren’t Looking for a Replacement
First things first: nobody will ever take the place of your spouse. Long before you begin dating again, you must come to grips with the fact that you are making room in your heart for someone new – not a substitute for the loved one you have lost. Many widows and widowers find this step the hardest, yet it will help you fight off the feelings of guilt you might naturally have.
Only You Will Know When You Are Ready
The wound caused by having a spouse pass away will cut very deep – the more you love, the more it hurts. Everyone knows time is the ultimate healer, you just have to be certain that you are far enough past the heartbreak to give your full attention to dating again. As mentioned before, the scar will always be present. If you move forward on someone else’s timetable, though, you will feel uncomfortable and are more likely to have a bad experience that will only make things worse.
Keep Things Casual and Light-Hearted
As you begin to dip your toes in the water of the dating pool, avoid the temptation to put a lot of pressure on yourself from the get-go. You don’t have to connect with the right person at your first attempt (you probably won’t) and it is actually better for you to easy your way back into things with some time to “see how it goes.” Enjoy meeting new people. Go out for a few cups of coffee. Laugh at bad jokes. It’s supposed to be fun!
Be Honest About Your Past, Yet Open to the Future
One of the toughest challenges widows and widowers face as they get out there again is discussing what happened. For the person you are dating, assuming he or she has not had the same experience, it might be uncomfortable to talk about the spouse that died. By nature, most humans will ask some questions to learn more – to be polite, at least – but you must be careful to express some optimism about going forward. Otherwise, why are you out with someone new?
Some People Might Not Be Happy For You
Searching for a new partner in life is tough enough, but you will find one or two (or maybe more) people that have a hard time with you moving on. Children, for example, might find it odd to see Mommy with another man. Likewise, your former in-laws might voice displeasure when you begin seeking a woman to fill their daughter’s spot in your bed.
This is part of the grieving process for them, too. It’s difficult for you, but you must realize it is expected. You cannot, however, allow it to keep you from dating again.
You Are Going to Stumble Early On
Remember how many different people you went out with before you met your spouse? If you are like most people, you had a series of awkward encounters and then landed on the right person. It’s part of the rich experience that comes with finding someone to share life with. (We all have to have horror stories, you know?
It’s been a while. You are going to make mistakes when you get back out there. Roll with it. You are human.
Stay Tuned In to Your Conversation
This is something a lot of widows and widowers don’t realize they have to do, which is why it is one of the most important dating tips on this list. When you are out with someone, what do you talk about? How much time do you spend talking about your spouse? Does the subject of your heartache linger a lot?
Besides being a sign you aren’t quite ready, fixation on the hurt is tough on the person you are now with. Therapy sessions – which are a good idea – should not be held over drinks with someone who is interested in you.
Time is On Your Side – No, Really
You probably have a list of dozens of things you miss about having someone else there at the end of the day – companionship, emotional intimacy, even simply the feeling of another warm body beside you. Your spouse was a big part of your life and the little things will make his or her absence acutely painful. This is why you must not hurry. You have time to find someone new – rushing into stages you aren’t prepared for to fill the void in your life is bad for you and the person you are dating.
Pursue Happiness Instead of Wholeness
This will sound kind of harsh, but you must know this, if you haven’t accepted it already: you are going to have a hole in your heart for the rest of your life. Though you will certainly heal and be able to have a great relationship with another person, you will still have a gap he or she is unable to fill. That spot would be filled by the love you lost. It is completely reasonable.
Avoid the Comparison Trap
That said, one of the most dangerous things widows and widowers do when they start dating is evaluating the person they are with alongside the one they were married to. This is very unhealthy and, to some extent, dangerous. Why? It sets you up to fail over and over again.
Nobody will be exactly like your spouse. Sure, you might find someone who makes you laugh and displays affection in similar ways, yet the differences will still be there. If you are expecting your date to match up, you are being unfair to him or her – and you’ll constantly be disappointed with the results.
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