After having been married, possibly for many years, and going through the trauma and grief that comes with the death of a spouse, widows and widowers may find dating daunting. When is the right time to start dating again? Should one date exclusively or date several people at the same time, and should it be casual or serious? There are many right answers to these questions, and it all comes down to what makes the widow or widower comfortable. Just make sure that you can honor your spouse and still be emotionally prepared for this new chapter of your life. However, dating should not be a therapy session, according to Keogh.
Those shouldn't be passed up because society might think an individual's timing is tasteless. It can be quite healthy, though not always. Grief doesn't have a set timeline but I would be concerned about someone I know moving on after only 2 months after the sudden death of their spouse of 20 years. Like a PP mentioned, I might be concerned that they are being taken advantage of in an extremely vulnerable state, or I might worry that they are avoiding their grief and choosing denial instead by jumping quickly into a new relationship.
It would depend on a lot of individual factors whether I would be concerned or not, but I can see how it could be a potential red flag for a bigger issue. Your response got me teary-eyed. You sound very mature. It would be awful to leave my babies without a mom above all else I don't believe i would ever want another man. I have to admit that i have been very hurt by the short amount of time between a death of a spouse and a new girlfriend.
I have seen this more with men. When my mimi died, my grandfather had a new girlfriend within a month. I was as shocked as you and very angry. I was very close and i couldnt look at this new woman in my grandmothers house. It took me a long time to get over it and i m still resentful.
My great aunt died two years ago, and my uncle had the maid moved in within a week literally! This woman took everything down ans threw away all my aunts stuff. She threw away our ancestry papers my aunt had in the house. She took my aunts jewelry, whitch belongs to my family.
It was my great grandmothers jewelry and her wishes was for it go to my great grandmother granddaughters, including my mother. Its really my uncles fault, he allowed this woman to this. It would hurt my aunt so badly to know he went against her wishes like this. It makes me so sick and angry, i do not want to visit. Id be hard pressed to be civil to either of them and not go to his funeral. A timeline should not be placed on companionship or love after the death of a spouse or partner.
If I died suddenly or by illness, I would hope my husband would be dating ASAP just to have someone to share life with and enjoy good times. The idea of him cooking a fun dinner, traveling or dining alone makes me want to cry.
I forgot to mention that this woman is my mother's age and he is seven five. She has been given all his bank accounts, all his money, redecorated the house for herans and she spends money like crazy.
She doesn't live with him all the time, she lives in another city party. I think she has another man in the town. Find someone who is also ready. I hate when you say that the child has no right as to how soon a widowed parent dates. From my experience, what do you think about this? My beloved mother passed suddenly and due to medical error 2 and a half years ago.
My parents were happily married 34 years. During most of which I saw my father be completely goo goo over my mother,. It has had a profoundly negative effects on me and my grief recovery and I will always hate her and see his lack of ever having to deal with the death by just getting a replacement. I never could even have anyone have a loss like I did, no one to talk about it cuz they were in the honeymoon phase. And I heard them have sex one week after. I never heard my parent have sex. The reality, whether we like it or not, is that our parents are adults and the relationship they had with each other has nothing whatsoever to do with us.
Certainly you and he should have been able to talk about how you felt but just as he has no say so in your personal life, you have no say so in his. But, this is all a done deal, right? And the only person in this scenario you have any control over is you. And see what he has to say. My guess is that by keeping silent both your dad and his girlfriend felt that you were okay with things.
They only know how you feel if you tell them. Life is far too short to hold grudges or to pass up opportunities to rebuild relationships.
Thanks for your opinion I needed it from an outside perspective. And you are very fair and pleasant. My whole life is on hold for grandma. Mind you this was my moms moms house. Ok sorry, thanks any input is welcome. Your feelings are your feelings. And you are in a stressful situation and grieving. And being a caretaker for someone with dementia is very stressful. They can be very helpful. Ultimately, having a one on one calmly with your dad is something you should consider.
At the very least, he needs to know how hurtful it is for you to hear the things his girlfriend says about you and feel that perhaps he agrees because he is not defending you. And although it might appear that your dad holds all the cards, stop and consider that you are holding down the fort, so to speak.
You probably have more power than you think. It could be your father is just dating because he is lonely. Post anytime but please do think about finding a sounding board in your real life. If for nothing other than to listen, validate and remind you that you are probably doing better than you think you are.Wife Passed Away. Time to Date Again @AllanaPratt
I am 16 years old , and i was very close to my dad, he was my best friend. Anyway, I was on my moms phone a few times and every time i have it she gets a message from this guy. I decided to click on the messages and although reading them broke my heart i kept going. I get consumed with so much anger, i have tried talking to her but i dont have the guts to.
Im close to her but not that close to actually talk to her about it, i guess i always trusted my dad more. I notice that sometimes at night she sneaks out, i assume to see him. I just need someone to give me their opinion, i need someone to talk to. If your mother is younger under 40ish say , the odds go up on how soon widowed people begin to date. I can only speculate, but it appears as though your mom does not want you to know she is seeing someone.
You do need someone to talk to about this. Do you have an older sibling, friend, teacher, school counselor, aunt? Someone you can trust to help you decide what you should do next because you do have options. Her grief is going to be different from yours because she had a different relationship with your dad than you did.
So, if you are able, you could just elect to do nothing and trust that your mom knows what she is doing and is keeping her dating under wraps to give you time. Second, you could confess. Either way, you should give some thought to finding someone you can really talk to about your feelings. You could check with your local hospice about grief groups for teens. There are online groups and organizations too.
I would start with Soaring Spirits. They mostly deal with widowed people but they have a wide network and might be able to point you in the direction of organizations for people your age. I would imagine that you are feeling let down by your mom and pretty alone given that your dad was your go-to.
The first months can be quite difficult. A lot of what he had told me about past relationships now seems cloudy and I wonder whether I should give him a second chance. I lost a lot of weight last year he did too, and now I understand that weight gain to have been related to depression and so he is aware that feeling desired by someone I am dating is a concern to me. My issue is, I was telling him I did not like where things were at right now.
Then i gave it some thought, come and read your blog and 3 and I become confused all over again — he has stated very clearly he is looking for a relationship.
He had even had a year long relationship since he became a widower. Maybe you can shed some light on all this confusion I feel. I firmly believe that men who want to be in relationships are very clear both action and word-wise.
Love is more reserved. Those people exist but can someone like that be a good fit for you long term? You would need to discuss this with him and really think about it for yourself. A lot of times, people show up here and are looking for me to give them their answer.
So, what do you want? It really is that simple. Do you want to give him another chance? This time really consciously working on creating the kind of relationship that works for you. But still, this is about you more than him. Talk to someone you know and trust if you can but ultimately, you just need to decide what is going to make you happy and work in your best interests. Thank you for your reply Ann. He has told me a lot about past relationships and his marriage but all under the guise of him having filed for divorce from this woman.
His words and actions show he is not ready for a relationship, but when I brought this up he basically asked me not to leave him. This has been difficult for me to accept and act on. We are going to discuss it further on Sunday, but to me, this is not a where is this relationship going conversation.
I am merely going to reiterate what i want, which is not unreasonable, affection and interest shown in me in words as well as actions, and he will have to decide for himself if he can offer that or wants to offer that to me. If not, I am going to tell him I need to see other people. They should be ready at the very least to be honest about where they are at, what they are able to give and should recognize that they need to treat prospective partners with the same respect and care they want in return.
Thank you so much for this article and your follow-up responses. I am probably unique here in that I am both the adult child of a widower my mom passed away when I was in college and now a widower myself. You are absolutely correct about not allowing children to have veto power over if and when their surviving parent starts dating again.
We all thought he was crazy and obviously would have vetoed it had he asked us , but looking back at it 20 years later, I can see that it was the best thing that could have happened to him — and they are indeed still very happily married to this day.
My husband met me around the four month mark. It is perfectly normal to want to date again and to get back to it quickly. I wrote in reply to this article close to 2 years ago. I was widowed at 29 when my husband chose to end his life.
I knew from early on that I wanted to date again. I was ashamed of wanting to date so early and afraid of what people would think or say. To be perfectly honest I was also afraid if this was not good for me, maybe I did need more time and I now had emotional baggage in any relationship I would begin.
My friends and family, including my in-laws, were all very supportive and wanted me to be happy. The truth is there is no manual for being a widow and everybody heals in their own way and in their own time.
You will know when you are ready. I married at the age of 20 to a widower with 5 children ages 15,14,9,8,and 5 and it was love at first sight so I married him right away not realizing that his children would cause problems for me. Through out our whole marriage my husband kept pictures of his late wife and other items belonging to her for his children which I understood. Again his children were horrible to me at his wake,at the memorial,and after that.
So after my husband died I decided to get away from his 5 children and I moved closer to my own family, I keep in touch with our daughter and my son lives with me. I wore black the whole year in support of my love for my late husband, and even had dreams every night that he was still alive, but I knew better. So now I am much stronger now after the 10 years have gone by.
Right so I broke it off. And it seems like everyone I meet are widowers when they are scammers. I recently meet a seemingly nice widowe with a 8 year old son, I still have trust issues. So is it OK for me to go back to dating?
My heart tells me differently when I am chatting with him. Perhaps there are valid reasons for not dating this guy or maybe you are projecting emotions on this situation because of the issues with earlier guys. As I was once told, a date is not a commitment for anything other than a date. Coffee is just coffee. A movie is just a movie. Take things slow or take a pass. This is your life and you are calling the shots. Do what makes you feel happy and safe and if you have a good, trusted friend who you can run things by without worrying that they will judge or they have their own agenda , by all means — talk to them.
As often as they can stand it. Sounding boards are good. I read your article, and have read a good amount of comments. My brother is about to turn 19, and I am about to turn We are both college students, but I go to school 4 hours away from home while my brother goes to a commuter school. My Mom just turned 53, and my Dad was 56 when he died unexpectedly. They were together for 32 years.
I want my Mom to be happy, and I understand that she had a different loss than I am experiencing. My brother also understands, but disagrees with it entirely. I try to be really supportive to compensate for my brother. She was very upset that I was upset, which made me even more upset and feeling hurt and rejected by my mother.
She started dating another guy, and I have been really stoked about this one. He treats her very well, and I even have some common interests with him.
She is visiting me at college in a few weeks, and she just announced to me that the guy is going to meet us there for a dinner one night. At first I was excited to meet him, but then I realized that she was still texting, and calling, other men. I told her this and tried to be gentle with it, but she got really defensive and angry, and told me that they were hanging out whether I was there or not. Her best friend who is essentially my second mother was there, and at first agreed with my sentiments, but then flipped sides once my Mom got upset.
Am I wrong to be uncomfortable with this?
She and I have entirely different dating styles, so that makes it harder. I agree that my Mom has the right to date whoever she wants, but am I wrong to not want to meet this guy, especially in my college town? I am still devastated that my father is gone, and she throws this at me 4 days before Christmas. I try to avoid the topic as much as I can, but she brings up something about dating in every single conversation that we have.
You are absolutely entitled to your feelings and to your own value system when it comes to dating and I can understand how upsetting it is to disagree with your mom especially at your age and given that you are very close to her generally. She probably talks to you a lot about it because she views you as peer in this respect.
How soon is too soon?
This is more likely the root of your problem. She wants you to be a part of her dating. Talking about the guys. Reading between the lines. All that kind of thing that you might do with your friends. You need some boundaries. And doing this might cause some initial hurt feelings. Eventually we all develop relationships with our parents that allow us to speak freely and frankly but usually that happens when everyone is much older.
Circumstances dictate otherwise here. Personally, I always opt for honesty and I usually tell people that it is better to just have a conversation and put everything on the table and see where things go from there. If she objects you could reinforce your point by asking her how she would have felt had her mother put her in the same position. She will likely understand that. For this upcoming dinner.
You could still say no. It would force a boundary talk though. Or you could simply change the dynamics by bringing a friend with you, moving the meal to lunch or scrapping the meal in favor of coffee.
You can also have another engagement that you have to get to in order to keep dinner really short. Sometimes, we have to do things to keep peace and for the greater long term good a sucky side of being grown up, I know and sometimes, we need to stand up and assert ourselves — also for the greater long term good.
Before you do anything, run your options by a friend that you really trust and get some in real life feedback. And then just do what you think is best and trust that things will work out. You seem to me to be a very smart young lady and you are, in my opinion, a very good daughter.
Thank you for taking the time to respond so quickly, and as fully as you did. My Mom believes on mother and child boundaries, so I believe that this will go over well. The dinner is going to be with a really great man, so maybe meeting him could give her the confidence she needs to settle with just him, or maybe not. Thanks again for your advice. There is no right or wrong way to grieve in terms of time frames.
And many people do grieve and start new relationships while doing so. How all of this will turn out depends a lot on how honest and open you are with each other. Communication is very important. Your complicated history is going to influence your current relationship and so, in my opinion, it might be a good idea to make sure that all history is settled. There are no hard feelings, guilt and ideas that the past can be changed or fixed by your relationship now.
The past is past. It would be good if you both periodically made a point of talking about where you are at and where you want to go. You are fortunate that you have found one another again. There is risk in love. Be patient with yourself. He should cut himself some slack too. Just take it a few days at a time. Interesting artical, are people still discussing this topic here?
Stewart, this is by far the most read post here but not many ppl do more than read and those who do are generally women who are dating widowers. I read and reply to most things but this is a topic I have moved away from. I have found that most people have to simply discover for themselves that dating is dating and relationships are relationships and the rest is merely details.
The only thing we have control over is how we behave and the standards we set for ourselves. Those kids are just kids right?! Regardless of how old they are, why would issues that concern their family realllly matter?
And, I am realize that I am going out on a presumptive limb here, my basic impression of the majority of widowed folk is that they are not rendered emotional simpletons by their losses and are still able to make sound judgements of suitability and character about the people they may date and or marry.
Hi Ann, I appreciate your perspective and am finding some reassurance in your article. I am a widow of 5 years, having lost my husband suddenly after 21 years of a quite difficult marriage. He has been widowed less than 5 months. He is clearly grieving and devastated by his loss, which is compounded for him by the deaths of two other close family members in the last few years.
For my part, I have a mentally ill and volatile teenager. I guess my question is whether two people who are at times quite fragile should even contemplate a romantic relationship? Or when can they begin to contemplate it? Or, how can we do this without risking hurting each other? Our time together is so very special and fun, but I am worried that the freshness of his loss means that our budding romance is doomed.
I feel like if we were able to wait at least a year, perhaps the most acute grieving will be behind him. I guess that is true for any relationship tho…. Anytime you begin a romantic relationship, you run the risk of possibly getting hurt or hurting someone else. You kinda have to be okay with this in advance or you might wind up regretting taking the chance in the first place, and there is nothing wrong with risking. We risk all the time when we encounter new people or run into people from our pasts.
I understand you concerns about your friend being relatively fresh in terms of widowhood. There is a big difference between five months and five years out. That said, it can be challenging to begin a relationship while still working through the loss and sadness.
Grieving is a nature reactions to loss. Some people master the balancing act sooner than others. A few people never do. I see nothing wrong with letting him set the pace at this point as long as you are comfortable with it and you are both communicating your feelings. Look, you are just dating. We date to see if there is something there worth pursuing and maybe building a life on.
Sometimes we find life-mates. Nothing ventured, however, nothing gained. I am going to assume that you and he have discussed what you are doing and agree that it is dating?
Otherwise, try not to over-think. You are having fun. Dating should be fun. There are no rules, and if this feels like something worth pursuing — do it. Need to be clear in my own mind what is going on and keep those communication channels with him open at all times. It helps to talk to someone or write things down — like you just did. Thanks so much for such a kind, understanding, well written article. We had a great life and love, dating for about eight years prior to be married for exactly two months short of fifteen years.
Much of what you wrote has been on my mind, including the perception of others, ranging from the friends we had together, to the reaction of family, This morning on the way to work I was actually even thinking that perhaps a good time to start pursuing dating is right after vacation in July, which will include the scattering of ashes where we were engaged and at another spot special to us. That will be just past the three month mark of her death, and about four months since she was last conscious and able to converse with me.
The whole dating thing is a scary proposition to me right now…like I said, I tend to be shy and am not at all experienced with the dating scene and none with the modern version of same! I know I have mentioned this in replies here and there on widowed dating posts, but my husband was just a bit past the four month mark when we met, and many, many widowers seem to begin dating, or trying to, somewhere between 3 — 4 months and the end of the first year.
Dating after death of spouse- how long?
Just the typical double standard stuff. Lots of folks, and not just widowed, tend to jump in without any plan at all. This is what leads to issues and disaster, again in my opinion. As long as you know yourself, know what you want and expect and are open and honest about it with people — things are likely to be just fine.
This way, no one is taken by surprise and who knows, someone might even know someone who is looking to date as well. Volunteer organizations or church related. You could take a class. People should be judged in the present tense and not by their relationship resume, but when people are new to each other, our pasts are all we have to form opinions. And the opinion of many women is that widowers are hot prospects.
Half the battle to get out into the dating world again is preparation. Knowing what to expect of yourself and others can make it easier to deal with when situations arise because you will have already thought about how you might respond. Just remember that going out for coffee is just going out for coffee.
Getting to know someone is just that and nothing more unless you both decide it could be something more. I have been a widow for two years now and I have such mixed emotions to get back to dating.
It is very scary these days, you see my husband was my first and only man for 45 years. I was 17 and he was 19 when we got married. I was 63 when he died with Colon Cancer.
Things and people are so much different now. My husband and I had 2 boys and 2 girls, but loss our oldest boy four months before my husband. They are behind what ever my dicission is.
I mostly worry about the man and what he thinks of me and if I would be pleasing to him no matter the weight, but to want me for who I am. Thank you for allowing women like myself to be able to express my thoughts and feelings without being looked down on. But you have a lot of positives going for you because your children are supportive and you have good relationship experience under your belt.
There is a man for every way, shape and size woman there is. And they worry too. If it is the weight thing that is giving you pause, there are things you can do — not necessarily to lose weight — but to give you confidence. Take a fitness class or start walking or try a yoga class. Sometimes just being physically active is enough to remind us that our bodies might be aging but they are still capable of more than we give them credit for.
You might also think about dance classes or joining a league of some kind — bowling or golf. Nice active pursuits where you might meet someone and you can regain some body confidence.
You are correct that you should be appreciated and loved for who you are. Understanding that going into dating will save you trouble later on. Just remember, dating is simply the process by which we choose companions.
Meeting for coffee or dinner or a movie is just that and nothing more unless both parties agree to progressing. Know what you want. Your husband thought you were awesome and someone else is bound to have that kind of good judgement too. I started dating a widower over six months ago. He has two grade school children and his LW passed some time ago I think over 7 years. I have come to this site as I am looking for insight.
On a separate cell phone no less another story of texts and charges. He has met my family and some of my friends. I have met only an old high school aquaintence of his that he connected with on FB… not any of is other friends or family. With regard to his children: I had not expected to meet them right away, having it happen when the timing was right. Drama abounds with the sisters-in-law and he runs to their aid even though they have other men in their lives. He has broken dates with me, does not call when he says he is going to, is constantly late, apologizes, then repeats the same disrespectful behaviors.
I opened my heart to this man and thought we might have a future together as he has discussed that as well. Any insight or even a good swift kick in the ass would be appreciated.
Dating right after spouse dies
He is overly concerned about his in-laws feelings on the subject of dating. The question is, is this okay with you? Are you okay being a secret? With not having the relationship you want? It is your relationship too. That should carry no weight in the discussion. He is either in or he is playing games — whether he thinks he is or not.
You are allowed expectations. In fact, I encourage you to have them. What do you want? What would make you happy? What needs to change for this to happen? There are a lot of men in the world though sometimes it might not seem that way. Men who would be more than happy to have a relationship where both parties are happy, committed and working to a common goal.
You say he has discussed a future? It will probably not be easy. He has allowed his children too much power. Success breeds overconfidence in kids. They will not give him up willingly. You should expect issues there too. And he has come to rely after 7 years on the widow card. No more special treatment. Ultimately, your primary responsibility is to yourself.
You deserve to be loved and happy and a participant in your own life and relationship. Ask yourself, what do I want? What do I need to do? And then make a plan and execute it. Unless status quo is okay with you and I am guessing not since you are here , what do you really have to lose? My wonderful husband died days ago. I have been honest with my new friend and we are both well aware that this is complicated.
I feel like I need permission to date…especially so soon. I did not go looking…in fact these feeling blind sided me…. I know it is my life…and in order to go on without my husband I need to join the living…. My husband was just 4ish months out when he and I met online. We started out as friends and when it became quickly clear that there might be much more — we made the decision to explore it. We were never secretive but it was only on a need to know basis that we slowly enlightened others.
I have a very dear friend who listened and gave advice sparingly and encouragement often. She was a great help to me. But there will be people who question and even have the nerve to judge and call your love for your late husband suspect when you begin to date, explore commitment and even fall in love and really move on.
Not much can be done about this. It helped enormously to take that stand from the beginning and to not engage in any debates about it. It may take them longer to be happy for you, but most will put on a brave face for you if you seem sure and happy. People come along and you make the decision to seize and explore the opportunities or you decide to wait for the next one. In that way, dating and falling in love again after changed much.
Internal conflict is inevitable. Mixed feelings and second-guessing happen. We are not meant to grieve intensely or continuously forever. Most people are or have started to move on within the first year or shortly after.
Take it a day at a time. Allow yourself to be happy. Good luck to you. What is the most common action towards a daughter 17 years old who feels that remarrying a widow I am her dad and I am a widower since November in ? My daughter told my girlfriend it was too soon. My stepdaughters were 22 and 24 when he and I remarried. I asked him what he would have thought if one of them had come to me and told me it was too soon for us to marry.
My husband then went on to say that he would have been angry had something like this occurred because while his daughters were welcome to bring their worries and concerns to him, it would not have been okay for them to try something as manipulative as going behind his back to me to try and scuttle our plans. Being there to listen and reassure them is part of the parenting job, but allowing them to decide who you date and when you remarry is out of bounds and they need to know this because once you let them have veto power over your personal life, they are unlikely to give that power up.
I am going to assume that you and your late wife did not allow your daughter to dictate the terms of your marriage and see no reason for you to let your daughter have that power now.
Allow her to grieve in her own time. But expect her to respect your decisions and to behave like the well brought up young lady that you and her mother raised her to be. Thank you for writing this article. I am only 32, and am career oriented, intelligent, and a strong person. You gave some great advice, and thank you to the other commenters that have been in a similar situation, it makes a lot of this mess more clear, and I hope that I have courage to accept a date sometime this summer!
Online sites are a good place to start. The person you are dating has a right to know that you have been hurt, and have sorrow and memory that might be different from their experience.
Even if you are happy, thoughts of the old partner can come back. We are human, not computers. But that is true in any situation. People are strange and difficult creatures, and every relationship has tension. As long as you are open with what you are feeling , and respect that your partner has a right to sometimes be jealous of a ghost—a perfectly human reaction—you can work things out.
There are things that drive apart most relationships. They do so because the people in them are willing to work through problems and respectful enough of the other person to do so constructively.
We both suffered a loss—we met in a support group. But we love each other and have helped each other grow. I know that he sometimes needs to think of her, and I sometimes need to remember him.
But you know what? Everyone has a past. You understand how that past made the person you love who they are, and you walk with it. The most important thing to remember is that you have a right to be happy. After all, he or she loved you, and part of love is wanting the object of your affection to feel joy in life.