Dating as a widow or widower can be an especially tricky situation to navigate. After all, a lot of emotions are at play as you’re trying to find love again while still honoring the memory of your late partner or spouse. It can be challenging to process your grief and give yourself permission to date again, but you do deserve to be happy and have the opportunity to explore new relationships.
We understand how difficult it can be to begin dating after a loss, and that’s why we’ve gathered some of the best dating advice for widows and widowers. Above all, our advice encourages you to do what’s best for you when it’s best for you.
Go at Your Own Pace
There is no magic timeline to follow when it comes to dating as a widow or widower. Some people wait weeks or months after their loss, while others wait years. No matter if it’s been one year or 15 years since losing your partner, there’s no rush to get back into it until you feel like the time is right.
Go at your own pace. If it feels too soon, wait a little while longer. And if you’ve already started dating but it seems like it’s all moving too quickly, take your foot off the gas pedal, slow down, and maybe even take a break from it. You get to call the shots, so go as fast or as slow as you please.
Make Sure You’re Dating Again for the Right Reasons
There can be a lot of pressure when it comes to dating after a loss. These outside influences can make you feel like you need to rush back into the dating scene. For example, maybe you feel like your time is running out if you want to have kids. Perhaps it’s been a few years since your loss, and your friends are nagging you to get back out there. Or maybe you think dating someone new will heal the hurt you still feel from the grief.
From societal expectations to the personal pressures you place on yourself, you may feel like you’re thrusting yourself into something your heart isn’t ready to tackle. If your heart isn’t in it, then it’s not the right time. Be honest, compassionate, and forgiving with yourself, and only start to date again when you feel like you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Give Yourself Permission
Guilt is a major component often associated with dating after loss. For instance, you might feel like you’re going against your vows or ignoring the memory of your late partner. And if you have children, you might feel even worse about the idea of moving on with someone new.
If you are ready to date again, then you need to give yourself permission to love again. You can form a relationship with someone without compromising the feelings or commitment you shared with your late partner. And you can still grieve and cherish their memory while opening your heart to someone new. Remember, you deserve to love and be loved again.
Understand You’re Not Replacing Your Partner
Opening yourself up to a new relationship does not mean you’re replacing your late partner. They will always have a special place in your heart, and no one could possibly take up that space.
Therefore, when you start dating again, it’s important to understand that you’re not looking to fill that void or find someone who will stand in for them. You will never find a love like that again, but you may discover a different kind of love, and you are worthy and deserving of it.
If you have children, this is something that you’ll want to share with them as well. Be sure to emphasize that you’re not interested in finding someone to replace their mother or father, but instead, you’re looking for someone who will bring love, comfort, and delight back into your lives.
Stop Making Comparisons
When dating as a widow or widower, it can be tricky not to compare every person to the partner you lost. In fact, you may find yourself searching for the exact clone of your late partner without even realizing it.
While you likely had a lovely relationship with a lovely person, being ready to date again means being open to new people. Maybe your date isn’t as tall, charismatic, or handsome as your late partner, but if you’re so focused on that, you won’t notice the other things they bring to the table, like their wild sense of humor, brilliant mind, and big heart.
So, do yourself a favor and try to see your date exactly as they are, without comparing them to your late partner, and you just might notice some welcome qualities and characteristics!
Don’t Let Your Friends and Family Interfere
No matter what you do, your friends and relatives are likely going to have opinions. Maybe they think it’s high time you started dating again, or perhaps they think it’s way too soon.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is sit them down and have a discussion about your decision. If you have kids, this may need to be a series of conversations, as you will need to be sensitive to their needs and concerns. However, if you’re just dealing with opinionated friends or relatives, listen to them, but remember that at the end of the day, you have to do what’s right for you.
Be Kind to Yourself
No matter if it’s been weeks, years, or months since your loss, you’re likely still mourning and processing this profound sense of grief. It’s only natural to experience highs and lows along the way, so go easy on yourself. Have compassion for yourself, love yourself, and don’t beat yourself up if you feel confused, sad, or even excited about the prospect of dating.
This one is another important piece of dating advice for widows and widowers. You’re entitled to share your story and situation with your date but try not to let it dominate your entire conversation.
Now, it’s totally fine to be open and honest about your loss. In fact, we encourage you to discuss what brings you to the dating scene again. However, it’s important to remember that this date isn’t a therapy session in which you unload everything you’re thinking and feeling regarding your loss.
If you don’t think you can hold a discussion without constantly circling back to the topic of your grief, it may be best to take some more time to heal before trying your hand at dating again.
Be Open to New Channels of Dating
Chances are, it’s been a while since you’ve been on the dating scene, and a lot of things have probably changed.
For instance, in the modern dating world, online dating and matchmaking are considered perfectly acceptable avenues for looking for a partner, and they no longer hold the same taboos they once did. While things might be a little different, be open to it all—create an online dating profile, swipe right on dating apps, and sign up for your own personal matchmaker!
Consider Grief Counseling
If you’re having trouble allowing yourself to date again, feeling worthy of finding love, or overcoming your sadness, you may want to consider meeting with a grief counselor who specializes in partner loss. When you meet with a professional, they’ll work with you to overcome the things that are limiting you, so that you can open yourself up to the prospect of finding love again.