“Widowers have less opportunities to tell their story than widows,” says Colby of Fort Collins, Colorado, “since they frequently have fewer personal contacts and reveal significantly less.” “As a result, when they discover a willing partner, they’re usually even more eager to reveal it.” The following guide will be helpful on your journey dating a widow or widower:
1. Watch for red flags
It might be difficult for a widow or widower to feel at ease introducing a new companion to family and friends, or even to be seen in public. There’s a fear that if they’re seen dating a new partner, people will assume they didn’t love their spouse.
After losing his wife to suicide, Abel Keogh of Saratoga Springs, Utah, remembers delaying informing people he’d started dating. He’s written four books about widower relationships since then, including Dating a Widower.
While it’s natural to need some time to adjust to the thought of a new relationship, according to Keogh, there are a few clear signals that the widow or widower isn’t yet ready to date. Here are several examples:
- Over time you’re consistently not invited to the widow or widower’s family gatherings because, you’re told, “They’re not ready to meet you.”
- You’re in a serious relationship but introduced as a “friend” to someone your partner runs into in public.
- You’re asked to hide or leave the room when someone drops by your partner’s place unexpectedly.
2. Communicate your relationship needs and goals
Simply inquire if you have any questions about where your relationship stands — or is headed.
“If the widow or widower sees a future with you, they should be able to define it to some extent,” adds Keogh.
Is it possible for the person to imagine you two being exclusive? Or, whatever it is, taking things to the next level?
“When people balk and can’t explain what they want, that’s usually a clue that they don’t know what they want,” says Keogh. “Perhaps they’re just relieved to have someone in their lives.”
3. Don’t let yourself be a consolation prize
Similarities to the dead spouse observed in images around the house could indicate that the new partner is simply filling a gap. Also, pay attention to whether talks frequently recur to recollections that begin with “We used to…”
It’s time to have a heart-to-heart with your new significant other if you’re starting to feel like a consolation prize rather than a passionate companion.
Just don’t nag, get upset, weep, make demands, or whine about how you’ve been harmed.
Denise Medany, 62, author of One Heart Too Many: Facing the Challenges of Loving a Widower, who is herself a widow and engaged to a widower, advises against negotiating for first place.
“Calmly tell the widower what it feels like to be on the receiving end of these concerns and then wait and watch to see what he does with this information,” Medany advises individuals who begin this dialogue. If nothing changes, it’s better to withdraw and disappear, giving him an opportunity to realize what he’s missing out on in the present due to his reluctance to let go of the past.”
“People make the mistake of saying, ‘Well, I’ll get used to it.’ ‘Things will improve.’ And then they’re a year or two in and nothing’s changed,” he points out. If you’re dating a widow or widower and haven’t gotten comfortable with the parameters of the relationship within 90 days, “it’s probably not going to get better.”
4. Tread lightly when it comes to children
Parenthood can make things more difficult. It can be difficult to get youngsters to accept a new relationship, which is another reason to take things carefully. You don’t want your children, whether young or old, to think you’re trying to take their mother or father’s position.
A lot of the anxiety is based on doubt and dread on everyone’s side. That isn’t necessarily a problem, as long as the surviving spouse is actually ready for another connection in the end.
Sharon Walsh, for example, had no intention of dating six months after her husband died abruptly. That is, nevertheless, what occurred. The 53-year-old, who resides in Canandaigua, New York, first believed she wouldn’t be open to another relationship because she didn’t want to experience another loss.